Last weekend’s sheep-shearing thing was a hairy good time

Last weekend’s sheep-shearing thing was a hairy good time

Prospect Park’s sheep got a little off the top — and sides, and legs and chests — at their annual shearing last weekend.

More than 4,000 people came to Prospect Park for this year’s Fleece Festival, to watch the zoo’s sheep get their haircut.

The ovine trim is an annual pre-summer refreshing rite of passage for the zoo’s Babydoll sheep and the rarer Jacob Four-Horned and Cotswald breeds.

Expert shearer Donald Kading — who’s trimmed 120,000 sheep and counting — was the man with the blades.

“People always say, ‘Wow, I thought you had to sedate the sheep with drugs,’” he said. “But once the sheep feel secure and not threatened, they let you shear them the way that gets the wool off nice and smooth.”

And city slickers seem to like the process, too.

“It’s always fun to teach the people who don’t see or understand where their wool sweaters come from,” said Kading, a sheep farmer since age 3.

After the haircut, the wool was taken to the nearby Lefferts Historic House for a child-friendly primer on spinning, knitting and dyeing.

Veteran shearer Donald Kading gives a trim to Wallace, a young Cotswold sheep, at Prospect Park Zoo’s annual Fleece Festival last weekend.
Photo by Elizabeth Graham