UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Of the numerous tasks that must be done on her family’s 200-acre farm in Lehighton, one is “shear” fun for Christi Graver.
“Sheep shearing is an interesting activity that happens on our farm once a year in the spring, and though it is a lot of work, it is rewarding and can be fun,” said Graver, whose family owns Fairyland Farms and Miller’s Country Store, an operation that is known for its diversified livestock and crops.
Graver, an agricultural program coordinator with Penn State Extension, said the entire process of corralling the sheep, shearing, deworming and returning the sheep to their pens can take the better part of a morning.
When all is said and done, the sheep are free of excess wool that can cause discomfort and disease, and the family has about 200 pounds of wool that can be used to make hats, sweaters and other clothing items.
Folks interested in learning more about Graver’s sheep-shearing technique, or who are curious about what life is like on a farm, are invited to take a look behind the curtain — or in this case, the barn door — in Penn State Extension’s 10-week video series, “Agriculture: Working for You.”
The series debuted June 1 with Graver’s farm adventure and will continue weekly with short, home-recorded videos of extension educators engaging in agriculture-related activities, from vegetable production to livestock rearing and many interesting tasks in between.
“Many of us in extension are deeply rooted in agriculture through our own family operations, so we expect to yield some pretty amazing homemade content,” she said.
Educators hope the videos will grow consumer awareness of agriculture’s connection to food and fiber in Pennsylvania, noted Jennifer Fetter, water resources extension educator and program team leader.
“Only about 2% of the country’s population is involved with farming in some aspect,” she said. “It takes a lot of work to fill the shelves in our stores with food, plants, wood products, fabrics and many more of the things we rely on every day. No matter what is going on in the world, farmers and other agricultural workers are busy tending to their crops, livestock, greenhouses and other workspaces.”
Graver echoed that sentiment, saying that projects such as this can build agricultural literacy and help consumers understand where their food and other essential items come from.
“We want to celebrate the good work of farmers that takes place no matter what else is going on in the world,” said Graver, who hopes the series will continue beyond the initial rollout. “The story of agriculture is one that touches every aspect of life. We are excited to be showcasing snippets of life on the farm.”
The videos can be found at https://extension.psu.edu/
–Amy Duke, Penn State University