‘Born to be Shorn’: Sheepish haircuts at Fosterfields in Morris Township

THIS WON'T HURT A BIT! Margaret Quinn shearing a sheep at Fosterfields, May 1, 2021. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
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By Jeff Sovelove

 

There’s no such thing as a quick trim.

Margaret Quinn shearing a sheep at Fosterfields, May 1, 2021. Photo by Jeff Sovelove

Not at Saturday’s Born to be Shorn event, anyway.

Under bright, sunny skies at the Fosterfields Living Historical Farm in Morris Township, Margaret Quinn used her custom-made shearers to demonstrate how sheep got haircuts before the invention of electric clippers.

Quinn knows what she’s doing–she’s been shearing sheep for 22 years–and each one takes about an hour.

‘Born to be Shorn,’ May 1, 2021. Video by Jeff Sovelove for MorristownGreen.com:

Answering visitor questions as she worked, Quinn explained that the key to hand-shearing is being familiar with the animal’s body — both for efficiency and the sheep’s safety.

WAITING THEIR TURN: Sheep-shearing day at Fosterfields, May 1, 2021. Photo by Jeff Sovelove

Because they are herd animals, sheep tend to hide any illness, so the herd won’t drive them away. Gaps in wool growth may indicate a sheep has been ill, Quinn said.

A butter stamp for Jersey cow butter, at Fosterfields, May 1, 2021. Photo by Jeff Sovelove

Different breeds must be sheared differently, according to the coarseness of the wool and wrinkles of the sheep’s skin.

Sheep are sheared annually, starting when they’re a year old, to prevent overheating in summer, and to prevent overgrowth that can hinder the sheep’s ability to see and move freely.

Hobbs, the farm’s retired Belgian Draft horse, at Fosterfields, May 1, 2021. Photo by Jeff Sovelove

The first shearing is called a pocket fleece; all the wool from a sheep after that is called a fleece.

Fosterfields’ sheep are Shropshires, a heritage breed that would have been on the farm in the early 1900’s.

Saturday’s guests also had the chance to visit with lambs, wash wool, churn butter, see the chickens, and interact with Hobbs, the farm’s retired Belgian Draft horse.

All in all, not a baaaad way to spend an afternoon.

Waiting their turn at the Sheep Salon. Video by Jeff Sovelove for MorristownGreen.com:

A panorama of Fosterfields, May 1, 2021. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
NEED A WOOL SWEATER? Margaret Quinn shearing a sheep at Fosterfields, May 1, 2021. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
Alessia, 10 and Luchi, 7, of New Providence, with Hobbs, the farm’s retired Belgian Draft horse, at Fosterfields, May 1, 2021. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
Volunteer Linda French demonstrates churning butter, at Fosterfields, May 1, 2021. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
One of the farm’s lady turkeys, at Fosterfields, May 1, 2021. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
Johnny, 2, of Maplewood, looks on at Fosterfields, May 1, 2021. Photo by Jeff Sovelove

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