Paddy has his day-job as a farmer, his family-time, his strong-farmers-too-busy-to-shear to juggle; it's okay if we're low down on his list with our piffling small flock. And then there is the weather: it's wrong to shear wet sheep: the shearer gets soaked and it is impossible to dry wet fleece. Wet fleece ferments and has been known to spontaneously combust. It amazes me how efficient sheep are at drying fleece when it is still attached; shorn wool not so much. And everyone appreciates that shearing is an animal welfare issue. Sheep are really uncomfortable wearing woolly jumpers in high summer and fly-strike [and then maggots] is a real problem.
On the last Sunday evening in June we took a call from Paddy to say that it seemed dry enough; he could fit us in; and would be round in half an hour. Whoa, no! we replied as we looked out at a drubbing thunderstorm and down-pour. We had to "take a rain check" with the promise that he'd try again later in the week. Tuesday tea-time he put us on 30 minutes notice again, so we dropped everything and assembled our part of the necessary kit [fleece-bag, very old clothes, electric-cable, hat]. Then we druv the sheep from their paddock up to the sheep-handling unit to wait. Ideally ya should starve sheep for a few hours before shearing as they have been know to stress out and die under the clippers if they're brim-full of grass.
Last year the price of wool was 20c/kg. In 2016 is was €1.00/kg and 2015 'twas €1.45! We didn't get sheep-shorn until 17 July 2022, nearly 3 weeks later in the year and at least two of the sheep were (mildly) maggotty. Paddy is of the opinion that the higher the farm, the lower the cases of fly-strike. That is credible. Upland plots in Wicklow are used to grow certified seed potatoes which are much less riven with Potato-virus X PVX and Potato-virus Y PVY which are spread by aphids. The idea is that uplands are so windy that the poor bloody aphids cannot settle. In Netherlands, [because no mountains] they grow their seed potatoes in the windswept polders actually below sea-level.