Photos: In Otter Tail County barn, sheep shearing takes center stage

Sheep shearing at Northcroft Farm
Tom Reinhart shears one of 35 ewes at Northcroft Farm on a recent Saturday. In the background, volunteer Greg Slotto of Pelican Rapids and shepherd Dave Ellison, far right, wrangle a sheep into position to trim her hooves and give a vaccination. Shearing each animal averages three minutes.
Ann Arbor Miller | MPR News

Sheep shearer Tom Reinhart isn't a warm and fuzzy kind of guy, especially when it comes to woolly creatures in need of a haircut.

"To me, it's just sheep and wool," said Reinhart, who learned to shear from an old-timer more than 40 years ago.

He visits Northcroft Farm near Pelican Rapids annually to shear Joan and Dave Ellison's 30-some sheep and an alpaca.

"When you find a good shearer you do what you can to keep them happy," said Dave Ellison.

Reinhart works with hobby farmers and folks like the Ellisons who raise sheep for their wool. His gigs are short in both duration — shearing one animal averages three minutes — and frequency.

"There's not a lot of sheep around so there's not a lot shearers," he said.

A welder by trade, Reinhart — who lives in Cayuga, N.D. — is semi-retired. Shearing, he said, is mostly a hobby — and a way to make a little cash.

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