Friday, June 20, 2014

Common mistakes when operating clipping or shearing machines

Shearing and clipping can be a fun and enjoyable experience. It's always a surprise when peeling the fleece off a wool laden ewe and finding out how she really looks (hopefully it's a ewe in good condition).

However, if the equipment is having a fit, the ewe is kicking and bucking to get away while you're crouched over the ewe trying to hold her still while simultaneously adjusting the tension, it's not so fun.

Luckily it doesn't have to be that way. After reading the tips, tricks and hints below, the days of shearing a ewe and having the comb fall off should be long over. Don't worry, we also cover a few need-to-knows for clipping.

Clipping machine tips:

(left) The tension bolt that needs to be removed before changing blades. (right) Adjusting tension with the tension bolt.
  • Take out the tension bolt before placing blades into the clipping head. This bolt is what holds the blades to the clipping head.

  • Don't put on the bottom blade upside down. The polished side of the bottom blade (side with the name) needs to face away from the clipping head.

  • To properly set the tension on the blades—turn the tension knob until fully compressed, then loosen two full turns.

Shearing machine tips:

Keep the tips of the cutter set behind the tips of the comb. 
  • When setting up a comb and cutter, the tips of the cutter should not be even with the tips of the comb (unless using the Phantom S comb). Why? Most comb's tips are rounded. This means that if a comb and cutter's tips are even, the tips of the cutter have no surface to cut against. No cutting will occur. Refer to the manual for correctly setting comb lead. 

  • Don't put a comb on upside down. The polished side of the comb (side with the name) needs to face away from the cutter. 

  • Tighten down that comb! When you've painstaking placed the comb so the cutters sit just right, do not merely hand tighten the set screws. Use the comb screwdriver to tighten the screws. 
Tips for Tensioning:
There is no quick and easy way to tension blades or combs/cutters. The linked videos is immensely useful for setting up your combs/cutters.  

Oil - Oil - Oil!

Don't forget to frequently oil your blades, combs and cutters. Oiling cuts down on wear (the speed in which the equipment dulls) and heat buildup. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Here comes the sun…

Well, the sun has been shining on southeast Iowa for a few weeks but after a week or so of rainy weather it's a welcome sight. Especially for the gardens. While the cornfields are racing to be knee high before the Fourth of July, our garden is taking its time to reach its zenith. Until then, we weed, mulch, plant, harvest (early season veggies) and generally tend the garden.

Fencing around the garden with a few FiberTuffs, VersaNet and a PRS

We also fence. The local raccoons, wood chucks, rabbits and deer are a problem. They like our garden as much as we do. Maybe even more so, as they often abscond with the whole plant rather than just a nibble or two.

For fences we have a few options. All of which can be found here.
VersaNet 20" or 30" is the best option for short ground based pests. It has tight spacings that can stop rabbits, ground hogs, raccoons and the neighbor's dog. For taller pests (deer) there are several 5'+ nets available to deter them from demolishing a garden.

If you have any questions, send us an email to or call us at 800-282-6631.