Borrowdale Sheep Shearing

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to be allowed to Photograph the annual sheep shearing at one of the farms in the beautiful valley of Borrowdale. As far as I can remember it's the first time I've ever witnessed this mass clipping anywhere in my lifetime.

The sheep had been brought down from the fells the previous day into nearby fields and were then driven to the farm early that morning.

Sheep being driven from the bottom Field to the farmyard

This farm has a mixed flock of Herdwick and Cheviot sheep, the Cheviot's usually have twins when lambing where the Herdwicks in the main have a single lamb each year.

Sheep coming from the fells

Once all the sheep had been collected in the farmyard the next job was splitting the breeds and then separating out the rams. Wool is far from being a valuable commodity but if the different wools are mixed then this would make it almost worthless. The Cheviot's fleece makes the princely sum of around 70p a kilo and an average fleece would weigh in at around 2 kilo, whereas the Herdwicks fleece is worth around 7 or 8p a kilo due to its coarseness.

In the farmyard

Watching the Flock

Herdwick Ram

Once the Rams had been separated I was able to get a little closer to where they were penned up. Not sure that I'd want to be this close to these beautiful creatures and their horns without there being a fence of some kind between us. It looks as though they are smiling even though they may or may not remember the previous years shearing.

The Rams

Soon after the Herdwick ladies were all in their own pen where I was able to grab a few closeups.

Herdwick Ewes

Next came the actual shearing. I hadn't realised how much hard work this entails and it was taking roughly a minute per sheep with three people constantly working on this and with two more clearing away the fleeces. Although a difficult job the sheep were treated with respect throughout the whole process.

First up were the Cheviot's so that the wool could be kept separate, with the wool being worth more to British Wool. I must point out that, although the wool is worth something it will cost more for the actual shearing than is brought in by the sale of the wool itself.

Cheviot Ram

Next up was the ladies

Cheviot Ewes

More Cheviot Ewes

Once sheared the sheep were put down a small ramp into another pen behind the trailer. Not sure whether they were just inquisitive or just looking at the fate of the next but they seemed to watching through the small openings.

The Inquisitive

There's always one trouble maker, somehow this Herdy managed to get ahead of the rest and had to wait at the front throughout the shearing of the Cheviot's.

Trouble Maker

Next up were the Herdwicks.

I had a thoroughly enjoyable day photographing these fascinating creatures and I'm grateful to Richard for allowing me access to his farm for the morning.

Thanks for reading, Phil

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