Shearers come in all shapes and sizes.  We are young and old, men and women, skilled journeymen and apprentices.  But whether we shear sheep or alpacas, llamas or goats, there is one thing that really gets us down, without exception: last minute cancellations.

But there is a key difference in the service we perform:  it happens once a year.**  That’s it.  One day.  A few hours during one day out of 365.  And this service is 100% critical to the well-being of your fiber animal.

No, we don’t think we are better or more important than your plumber or your hairdresser, your mechanic or even your Amazon delivery person.  But there is a key difference in the service we perform:  it happens once a year.**  That’s it.  One day.  A few hours during one day out of 365.  And this service is 100% critical to the well-being of your fiber animal.

Most services in people’s lives are ordinarily performed locally.  Most can be easily scheduled or rescheduled (within reason).  And, with the exception of home maintenance work, most services do not come to your home. But shearers travel to you and your flock.

Most businesses have receptionists or office managers to handle the phones and wrangle the schedule.  Shearers, by and large, do our own scheduling at the beginning of “the season” and after that we are, well, shearing.

Another difference: most services can be performed at any time of the year.  But this is agriculture.  You know, weather?  There aren’t a lot of days during “the season” within which to work, e.g., between the cold of winter and the heat of summer. And in many areas, there aren’t a lot of shearers who come to your area when shearing is needed. So we’re a hot commodity for just a few months out of the year.

Many, perhaps most, shearers, travel to different states.  We have to calculate how many farms we can take care of in one day.  We have to book hotels.  We are not necessarily going to be coming back to your town or county or even state any time in the near future.  So if you get pushback from shearers when your schedule suddenly doesn’t fit with the date your shearer has had on the books for you for weeks or even months, or if we appear discombobulated when you cancel last minute, please know this:

  • The carefully planned schedule, leaving time for each farm’s work and time for each drive time between farms (and which has taken dozens of hours working the logistics) – it all flies out the door.  We either scramble to re-arrange your date/time, making impossibly long days, or cancel altogether or leaving us sitting around in strange cities with no work.
  • Hotel rooms booked near your farm are now inconveniently located … and non-refundable.
  • Farm sitters (for those shearers who also have farms) have been engaged specifically for the time we are away from home; they aren’t necessarily available for us to make another trip on another date.
  • Projected income goes down which can affect our ability to handle our monthly bills or even our travel expenses while we are away from home.
  • But the worst thing of all:  what about the animals?

We may only see you once or twice a year, but we care about your animals, and we enjoy seeing you.  Shearers care about the animals we shear. Believe it or not, we worry. And sometimes with cause; often we’ll go out to a farm the following year and find that that cancelled appointment meant that the animals went unshorn through the summer.

We, of all people, know that “life happens”.  But when it does and you know that you cannot keep an appointment, at the very least, just let us know.  Before we have driven 300 miles.  Before we have turned down someone else because we thought we didn’t have time in the schedule.  Maybe we can help you find another shearer to take care of your animals.

Modern life is more and more about doing things that are convenient, ordering things and seeing them show up at our door the next day, texting people and expecting instant responses.  But shearing doesn’t really work like that.  Shearing is a very, very old profession.  It doesn’t really pay much mind to mega-busy, multi-tasking, cell-phone-wielding modern humans whose priorities do not always coalesce with the needs of their animals, good weather, and the rare service offered to them by shearers.

Snagging a good shearer during shearing season is a bit like getting the brass ring on the merry-go-round.  Don’t let it drop.

** Yes, some animals are shown twice a year, but the vast majority are only seen once.

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