WOOL GOES ON ITS WAY -by- J. David Engle Tau Beta Pi Llarch 29, 1943 Summary Shearing and summer range are tine things sheep men are always thinking about. It may be that the shearers will come late. He may not hare enough ^rood dogs to send out with the sheep. The snow might have stayed on the ran~e late that spring or there might have been heavy rains in- stead of the usual drought. A stockman has no slack seasons in his work. America's sixty-eight million dollar wool industr is not a olace for beginners. The smartest sheeuranchers have failed due to continued stores, a closed range , or just plain bad health. Ranchers are always high in the nraise of their dogs but never really admit that t^ej; are the one factor that make possible their whole business. \ sheen raiser always has good doe's. -I- f A ) Sheeuraising is practiced in most parts of the United States; the technique varying as to the terrain and the locality. The larger flocks -'.re found in the more sparsely pooirated parts of the states si r ice there is more unbroken grazing ground in these "narts. The dr TT cold o r the West fovors producing the heavy fleece of the Shnnshire and the P^ambouillet. The "erino x>roduces better miitto^ of is bred in the East where the damp weatl er "'o^ld r'lin a finer fleece. (B) The s v eer; are sheared and sent to t^e range i oarly summer when the danger of extreme cold is over. Even then some protection must be provided in late cold snaps or losses will be very ?reat. Shearing Is done by transient workers who work their way up from Arizona or Texas, shearing as they Eto, until they finish in Hon tana in late July and return to Arizona to make a second shearing there. They work for about three dollars a day plus meals. Each man averages a hundred sheet) a day or better, depending on the grade of the fleece, the burrs in it, and the 3ize of the sheen, I'ost men have sheds and runways so that the sheet) go in one side and out the other a^ter they are finished. As soon as the fleece is re-ioved, it is tied up, with mner T twine so it need not be removed at t^e voolen mill, and thrown into a burlnt* bag, ten feet long and three -^eet wide, and nacked down. The bfiFr is held unright by a wooden -2- frarae. After the sheep are sheared they are branded with the go "many brand and their number. This brand must stay on the Sheep while it is the range , but must be soluble in the cleaners used at the woolen mills? (G) At present no grading at the farms in the T Jnited States. The tags, or loose trimmings, and the blaok fleeces are the only pieces keut sepatate. In Australia the first grading at the farm E Homemade "as'stand used at shearing. has proved beneficial to all concerned. (D) Until recently hand shears were universal. They are wide-bladed scissors which are grin- ned between the two blades and the center of their arc. The two blades are connected by a semi-circular suring. Now the shears which emuloy the reciprocating blade within a comb are the most popular. They get their power from a long: flex- ible shaft revolving in a flexible cable which may be con- nected to a central or an individual source o^ uower. Power shears a r © faster, cut smooth and close, and are less likely to nick the hides of the sheep. The lambs, which are about t^ree months old at this time, are not sheared. -3- Hand Operated Sheep Shears. fS) About ten days after the sheep have beer shear- ed, they a re started out for summer range in groups of about four hundred f inol tiding lambs ) tended by a herder and two or three dogs. These sheep dogs seem to lore their work and do most of the work on the ran°*e. It is their job to brinp- up stagglers, keeo the lambs with the ewes, and to keer> the herd headed in the ripht dirction. A trained dog needs little prompting and probably knows the route better t^an the herd- er. T !e is invaluble at night when his sense of smell serves just as well as eyes. As the lambs become more able to sta? wit 1 ' 1 t 1, e flock, the flocks are combined until there may be two t v on- sand in a flock by late August ♦ When this number of sheer) are grazing, the herder may not be able to see the outer edges of the herd; it is up to the dosra to keep the herd together as well as keeo them away from sinkholes, cliffs, rivers, and wild horses. The dogs work with the sheep quietly and pat- iently and really seem to gain the confidence of the panicky woolgatherers. Often a whirlwind will put the sheep that see -4- it into a complete stampede, yet a s?ood dog rarely censes a sheep to move in more than a brisk walk. (F) The open range is rapidly becoming a thing- of the past, since the conservation program of the government is imposing definate restrctions on the use of the open range. The expense of owning or renting such large tracts of land as are necessary for sheep grazing is tremendous; however the work associatedwith summer grazing is reduced and the losses on the range are brought to a minimum. when on the range the sheepherder f s headauarters is the sheep-wagon, a sturdy, two-horse covered wagon with a stove, bed, and food supplies. 1 he wagons are moved and kent stocked by a camp tender, who is in charge, of several wagons. On the more crowded ranges, herds belonging to two different people sometimes get mixed. Such a situation would be boneless for the herders, but four good sheepdogs can easily separate three thousand sheen into their correct flocks in a few hours on the open ranee. (3) Bv early September the flocks number about two thousand and are started back to the ranch, a distance of from fifty to seventy miles. Heavy snow start in mountains soon after that and if the sheep are not out of the mountains by the middle of September, they ate likely to be trapped . It will be plenty cold on the home range and the sheen will grow a fleece heavy enough for any animal by spring. -5- Ribliography 1. Hill , John A. , Range Sheep and Vool in Seventeen Yes tern States , Hew York, John Wiley and Jon. I )3 I, p323. 2. Hill, John A., Range Sheep . . . . . t)324-5 3. Smith, H. H. , Run 'Sheep Hog Run . Readers Digest, 33:57-60, May, 1941. 4. Sheep. Encyclopedia Brittaniea, Brittanioa Co. New York, t e 1937 ) p4"3-7 5. Climate and Man. Government Printing Office, Washington, D. C, 1941. p4G0-4?4.