Well-made tools and supplies bring ease and relief to the most difficult sheep-farming tasks. This gift list is 100-percent sheep shearer tested and approved (I own and use every single item) and, with just one exception, entirely made in the good old USA for guilt-free gifting.
1. ARS Hoof Trimmers
When you give the gift of sharp, brand-new hoof trimmers, you give the gift of saved sharpening time and a clean, fresh start to a hoof-trimming job. These ARS brand hoof trimmers (made in Japan) are my absolute favorite. They fit well in hand, come in two blade lengths (neither of which is unwieldy), and are durable and reliable. Jeffers Pet is offering 15 percent off your entire order through Dec. 12, 2016.
2. Leather Work Gloves
It’s tough to resist the cheap three-pack of gloves from the big-box store, but the difference a high-quality leather glove makes is astonishing. This gift will pair nicely with really sharp hoof trimmers: If I have hoof trimmers in my right hand, I have a leather glove on my left. Womanswork makes my favorite pair for women ($30) and the Carolina Glove Company makes men’s leather gloves with a selection of linings for cold weather ($16 to $18). Both brands of gloves are made in the USA.
3. Red Ants Pants
These “Made in Montana” work pants ($139) are known as Workwear For Women, but they aren’t just for women. Men can wear them, too—just make sure to buy the straight cut style, not the curvy. I wore my first pair of Red Ants Pants for 10 years, and the pants weren’t worn in the slightest. Let’s just say my body changed more in 10 years than the cotton did!
4. Rosies Overalls
If you see a photo of me working with sheep, chances are I’m wearing Rosies Denim Overalls. Their loose waist band that doesn’t try to kill you when you bend over is nice, as are the pockets and the extra layer of protection in front. Rosies offers some products made in the USA, including their Classic Coveralls ($78), Denim Overalls ($70), accessories and tools. Be sure to call or email them about a specific item if you’re not sure. Rosies also carries the Womanswork brand leather gloves mentioned above. Sorry, guys: Rosies only carries overalls for women. Take a look at Round House for men’s overalls made in the USA ($40).
5. Duckworth Merino Wool Socks
These comfortable work horses are made with Montana-grown Merino wool and manufactured 100-percent in the USA, making for a rare, American grown-to-sewn product. Duckworth socks ($22 to $24) are unisex and available in various styles, sizes and natural colors: black, white and charcoal gray. Duckworth is currently offering a seasonal sock special: buy 3, get 1 pair free.
6. Fireside Sheepskin Slippers
These slippers ($120) are a gift from the sheep straight to your feet and are a cozy follow-up to Wellies and a cold day on frozen ground. I don’t want to own up to how many pairs of Soft Star Shoes and slippers I own, but it’s safe to say it’s greater than one. These slippers are made by Soft Star Shoes, which makes all of their products in Corvallis, Ore.
7. Farm Supply Store Gift Card
Winter feed costs can get expensive, and sheep owners always have needs on their wishlist: a new halter, sheep treatment, fencing or any number of things. Find your shepherd’s local feed or farm-supply store to purchase them a gift certificate—they’ll surely be grateful.