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Learning Laboratory: Sheep Herding and Shearing

border collies herding sheep with David Kennard of Wellscroft Farm

Besides an awesome wool-dying experience, the opportunity to see David Kennard of Wellscroft Farm demonstrate traditional sheep herding was a big part of our choice to return to Sturbridge Village for their Wool Days. The dogs were amazing! They could follow whistle as well as spoken commands. I was even able to capture part of the demo on film – see the video at the end of this post!

shearing sheep at Old Sturbridge Village

We also got to see a live demo of 1830-style sheep shearing! I learned that sheep originally shed their wool, but we bred them over the decades to keep it so we could shear them instead of gathering wool. Now if you don’t shear a sheep that has been bred for shearing, its wool will grow so long that, eventually, the weight of the wet wool when it rains will make it so the poor sheep can’t stand up if it gets rained on!
While some farmers still shear their sheep this way, most use electric clippers. You’ll see a clip of that in the video as well, along with a musket firing demonstration and my kids befriending (attempting to, at least) chickens!

 

Learning Laboratory is a celebration of fun, creative, hands-on learning for all ages! Here are some posts I enjoyed last week:

 

 

 

I hope you’ll share your favorite learning posts! Text links back or sharing my button is always appreciated, so that others can learn about this series!

learning laboratory at mama smiles

 

MaryAnne lives in Silicon Valley with her Stanford professor husband Mike and their four children. She writes about parenting through education, creativity, and play. Mama Smiles - Joyful Parenting is a space to share crafts, hands on learning activities, and family outings that enrich lives and bring families together.

26 thoughts on “Learning Laboratory: Sheep Herding and Shearing”

  1. This looks such an interesting place to visit and how wonderful that you were able to watch 1830-style sheep shearing! Thank you for sharing our dandelions post. :)

    1. I found that very interesting! I had heard of “wool gathering”, but didn’t realize that that was the main way to get wool, originally!

    1. It was very cool! I’m guessing clippers are much easier, though! The shears seem to require a certain skill level I wouldn’t expect from shears…

    1. It was a great day out, in spite of being very hot and muggy! And now today I have the heat on – gotta love New England…

  2. heather at wordplayhouse®

    Sheep shearing is a wonderful experience to share with children as you have. And, I sure to appreciate the beautiful wool they give us for our warm wooly sweaters, hats and scarves for our winters here!

  3. What a wonderful experience – we have a local sheep farm that shears the wool and passes on to be dyed to local crafts men, but we have never seen it being done – we have seen sheppards though and love watching them at work with their sheep dogs.

    Thank you for featuring our beach clean up

    1. I loved watching the shepherd with his dogs!

      And I thought your beach clean-up post was absolutely lovely :)

  4. How cool. they used to have sheep herding at Scarborough Faire, but they haven’t the past couple of years, which is a shame because it was really cool to watch.

    1. Your renaissance fair is called Scarborough Faire? That’s fantastic! Every time I make something with parsley, sage, rosemary, or thyme in it I have this irresistible urge to start singing that song…

  5. Elisa | blissfulE

    Yea! My kids still talk about the sheep shearing, cow milking, whip cracking time we had at a farm show a couple years ago. Maybe we should go again!!

  6. jeannine: waddlee-ah-chaa

    What a totally amazing day. It’s just so much fun to expose children to the world and so many fascinating experiences

    1. The dogs really do seem happy! The person doing this show explained that he breeds dogs, but only sells them to working farms, because he says border collies need something to do to be happy. He said you can own one as a pet if you are going to invest a LOT of time into training and exercising them to make the most of their inborn talents.

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