Newspaper Page Text
812-Lancaster Farming, Saturday, October 30, 1993
Barb Falvey and Karl Kaufman prepare to shear on of Barb’s sheep. In the back
ground Is the Merino display she plans to show at the Maryland Sheep and Wool
Shared Love For Sheep
Shearing Leads To Wedding
Bedford Co. Correspondent
BEDFORD (Bedford Co.)
With sheep shearing clippers in
one hand and a bridal gown in the
other, Barb Falvey is a woman of
the ‘9os combining career and
matrimony plans with ease.
And, it all started when Bedford
County sheep shearer, Karl Kauf
man said, “yes,” to a simple
“Barb’s dad asked me if I would
teach her how to shear,” remem
bers Karl, “And, I said, ‘Sure, I
have some time.’”
“I never saw anyone catch on
any quicker. And, she worked bet
ter than half a day without once
complaining about her back.
That’s almost unheard of.”
Delving even deeper into the
shearing world. Barb enrolled in a
sheep shearing school in New
York and, it was there she met her
finance, Vaughn Wood, better
known as “Woodie”.
Promising to help her land a job
in New Zealand, his native coun
try, Woodie persuaded Barb to
travel “down under” where she
stayed on his family’s farm. “The
Woods raise sheep and musk
melons,” explains Barb. “They are
a special type of melon that sells
for SIS to $25 per melon on the
Japanese market They are gour
met eating and very much in
demand by the Japanese.”
“Before going to New Zealand,
I thought I was fast at shearing,”
Barb laughs. “I could shear better
than 30 sheep a day. I soon found
out I was too slow for the New
Zealanders, they were doing 300
to 400. But with practice, I kept
improving. My record now stands
at about 180.”
Since she was a little too slow
to work as a full-time shearer.
Barb settled for a “roustabout,”
job. Every shearing crew in New
Zealand has six shearers, six rous
ies, two wool pressers, and a cook.
The rousies skirt the fleece, take
out the black wool and cut out the
heads and bellies. Because there is
practically no black wool on the
New Zealand sheep, the wool
brings a good price. “Much of the
wool in the United States is
imported from New Zealand or
Australia,” Barb explains.
“Wool would bring a better
price in the United States if we
would separate the Mack fibers,”
she continues. “Black wool does
not hold the dyes, therefore mak-
ing it less desirable.”
Sheep shearing New Zealand
style is a long, hard day that
begins at S a.m. and goes to S p.m.
Barb is quick to agree there’s
plenty to eat but the diet in New
Zealand is limited.
“We have mutton for breakfast
lunch, dinner, and even mutton
sandwiches for snacks. For meals,
we get cabbage,-potatoes, and
Barb’s stomach was ready for a
change when shearing ended in
New Zealand and the shearers
headed for Scotland. There, the
young American woman found
cooks to be of a more gourmet
“We were invited to eat in the
homes and we had delicious
soups, varied main courses, and
she recalls happily.'
By the time she reached Scot
land, Barb had enough experience
to start clipping on her own.
“There were a number of women
shearers,” she says.
One team consisted of Barb,
another girl, Alison, and her baby
daughter, Alison’s mother (the
baby sitter), and one guy. “With
that team, we sheared 2,000 sheep
in one week.”
“Scotland is a beautiful coun
try,” Barb said. “It’s a like a dream
come true to be able to work out
side in that kind of scenery all day
long. They have stone fences and
rolling hills, it’s just beautiful.”
It was somewhere in these
travels that Woodie and Barb felt
they would like to share their lives
with each other. And, in the proper
manner, Woodie called Barb’s
father, John, to ask for his daught
The wedding is planned for
Mi 21 ! the Falv ba r ' id
mals as quests, home cooked food,
great friends, and a good time for
Barb began showing sheep
along with her older sister, Susan,
at the age of nine.
Ho* first sheep were Suffolks,
but it was instant love when Barb
first saw the Merino breed. “We
went to a sale and when I saw
those sheep with all that wool, I
wanted one. Before I knew it, I
had raised my hand and bought
Merinos are a wool breed of
sheep. When Barb first introduced
them at the Bedford Fair, they
were rare. “But, I kept promoting
them,” she says. “And, this year, I
got the grand‘champion trophy at
the Somerset County Fair. It was a
first for a wool breed.”
“Merino wool is worth more
because it is very fine and excel
lent for weaving,” Barb says.
Barb has also participated in
and won prizes at the Pennsylva
nia State Farm Show and the
Maryland Sheep and Wool Festi
val. Despite wedding plans for
May 21, Barb and Woodie plan to
have a display of Merinos at the
Maryland Festival several weeks
before the big day.
Merinos, Barb says, originated
in Spain and, when first coming to
this country, sometimes went for
as high as $lO,OOO to $lB,OOO.
In late October, Barb returned
to New Zealand where they will
work out the shearing season
there. Then, it’s on to Scotland
before returning to the United
The pair hopes to work as a
shearing team until wedding team.
They will be available in the
spring of *94 and can be reached
by calling the John Falvey
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