Saturday, July 7, 2018

Teaching... and Learning

Just over six years ago (at least I think it's been that long - now that I'm over 50, time seems oddly compressed), we offered our first Wool Handling Class as part of the UC Cooperative Extension Shepherd Skills Workshop Series. Among the students was a woman named Carrie Butler, who would be headed off to a sheep shearing school at the UC Hopland Research and Extension Center during the following week. Carrie was among the first group of students who came to all of our first series of workshops; a series that continues to this day. Here's a link to a post from that 2012 school. And here's a link to our current schedule of classes (see the calendar on the right side of this web page).

Fast forward to this spring. Carrie contacted me about coming to shear our sheep. She'd been shearing on her own and as part of a crew since attending the shearing school - all on a part time basis (Carrie is a programmer for the East Bay Municipal Utility District in the Bay Area). Today, Carrie made the 2-hour trek to Auburn and sheared our lambs (feeder lambs, replacement ewe lambs, and Shropshire ram lambs). While I sheared a handful, Carrie did the bulk of the work (and is a much better shearer than I am). As usual when I watch someone else shear, I learned something from Carrie - in particular, I learned a new technique for "clearing" (that is, shearing the wool from) a part of the ovine anatomy that's always given me trouble - the left shoulder and elbow.

Carrie came in gratitude for the education she'd received from our workshops. For me, as a teacher, knowing that my enthusiasm for and knowledge of raising sheep sparked an interest in somebody else is incredibly rewarding. My sheep partner, Roger Ingram, remarked today that the more we learn, the more we realize how much we don't know. Carrie's journey, from sheep novice to sheep shearer, is humbling to me. I've realized how much I don't know; Carrie helped me realize that the little bit that I do know (and share) about raising sheep can have a profound impact on other people. Thanks, Carrie!

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