Holly Lynton Photography

Photographer Holly Lynton documents creating new body of work on sheep farming.

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Shear Skill

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This spring, I spent a lot time following a sheep shearer around New England and photographing him while he sheared sheep.  He’s famous in my local world of sheep farmers as one of the few remaining hand shearers.  Most people probably don’t have much cause to think about sheep shearing or how it’s done.  Believe me, it takes some skill.  Like a dance, one apprentice said.  There are specific body positions and movements to be mastered.  And how to handle a sheep that is feisty, or skittish.  Some are docile and floppy, but when one starts kicking, the shearer has to swiftly move the blade away or else he or the sheep may end up hurt.  There are things that are par for the course, like nicks in the skin.  But overall, hand shearing is a lot better for the sheep.  It leaves more wool on, protecting their skin.  This is one image, of Kevin with a ram.  Minutes before there was a standoff between the two.  Kevin eventually won, the ram was sheared.  All 175 lbs of him.  A gorgeous creature.

While shearing, Kevin will not always hear you if you speak to him.  He’s in a zone, a meditation, just him and his shears and the sheep.  Their communication is felt not spoken.


Written by Holly Lynton Photography

July 7, 2011 at 9:15 pm

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