I was born and raised on PEI and I learned to shear sheep from my Dad (Valdis Petersen), who started taking me with him when I was about 10. My brother and I would work with him for the summers. We started with bagging wool, catching sheep, trimming hooves. We started learning to shear around 15. We travelled the maritimes covering most of NB, NS, and PE. As we got older and better at shearing, we acquired more flocks and even did some trips into northern Quebec and into the US. I started doing flocks on my own when I was 17. Some of my customers I have known since that time, and they have become like family to me.
I shear around 5000 sheep per year, covering PEI mainly. Shearers are few and far between and I hate to see sheep go without being sheared so I also do a few flocks in NS and NB. Many people ask me how many I can do in a day, the answer is not cut and dried, there’s a lot of factors that come into play, in terms of setup and condition of the sheep, the short answer is that I try to average 20 per hour.
I enjoy the physical and mental challenge of shearing. It’s not an easy job, but it’s rewarding. I also really enjoy my customers, I look forward to catching up with them and hearing about their lambing season, their wool crop and any new improvements to the farm. Farmers are some of the hardest working yet easiest going people, and I can relate to that and enjoy their company.
I’m very excited to be learning more about the fibre industry from Fleece & Harmony. Many sheep farms are focused on meat production and I feel there is a bigger picture sometimes missed on the benefits of wool. It’s a natural product that is durable, comfortable, and practical. Having a local mill will help island farmers shift their thinking from wool as a by-product, to being another reason to farm sheep.