Every year for the past three years we’ve headed to Fremont in the spring for the annual sheep shearing event at Ardenwood Historic Farm. Ardenwood is a working farm with large wide open spaces – a perfect place for preschoolers to run around until they wear themselves out (like ours do).
Sheep shearing is much like a grain harvest, requiring a lot of back breaking work with long days of shearing. Sheep must be sheared at least once annually or their wool becomes heavy, soiled and unhealthy.
Every year, Russ Duguid, a popular San Francisco Bay Area sheep shearer (pictured below), heads to Ardenwood’s sheep shearing shed to give the sheep their spring haircut with a power driven tooth blade called machine shearers. It’s amazing to watch him work – he shears the wool in one piece almost like peeling an apple with only one peel leftover. And the sheep aren’t that easy to move around – some of the biggest ones in the flock weigh upwards of 350lbs. Russ makes it look easy though as he shears sheep in just a matter of minutes. The summer months are certainly more bearable for the sheep with all of their wool cut off.
Here’s a fun video that demonstrates and explains the sheep shearing process from start to finish (8 minutes). It also talks about the many products wool and lanolin can be made into, including skin cream and soap! Fascinating stuff. Be sure to share it with your kids.
If you’re interested in seeing sheep shearing up close and in-person, check with local farms in your area or head to the Golden Shears Championship – the worlds premier shearing and wool handling event held annually in New Zealand. Makes me tired just thinking of all the shearing that goes on there!
Or if your in the Bay Area, Ardenwood Historic Farm is a perfect place to visit with the kids. They have more than just sheep shearing – the farm holds many special events throughout the year with fun activities related to each celebration. Ardenwood’s sheep shearing event has wool carding and spinning, sheapdog demonstrations, quilt making, craft activities, live music, horse-drawn train rides, costumed docents, Victorian house tours, cookies and popcorn made on an outdoor wood stove, naturalist programs, and many animals including chickens, turkeys, peacocks, rabbits, sheep, horses, and cows just to name a few.
Here’s some photos from our recent visit:
Whimsical Kids Canvas receives no royalties for featuring Ardenwood Historic Farm on Whimsicalkidscanvas.com.