BUCKHANNON — A United Methodist pastor who broke records, won championships and sheared 101,400 sheep has likely sheared his last.
Friday was the day when Rev. Calvin McCutcheon took up the shears one last time for farmer Mike Hicks. McCutcheon had been shearing sheep for Hicks for 14 years, and the farmer said he kept coming back to McCutcheon because of his skill and his personality.
“He’s gentle with the animals, he’s a good shearer and he’s a good human being,” Hicks said. “I just treasure his friendship.”
McCutcheon has been shearing sheep for 65 years. He got his start at his local 4-H club when he was just 14 years old.
“I started accidentally in 4-H,” McCutcheon said. “I was wanting to be on a livestock judging team, so we were doing a little practice judging and they were having a demonstration for the farmers so they could learn how to shear sheep and not have to hire somebody,” McCutcheon said. “No farmers showed up, so they tried to get us boys to shear, and I was a cocky 14-year-old and said I would try anything once.”
He said the first sheep took him 25 minutes. The next took 15 minutes, and the last sheep was sheared in just 11 minutes.
Eventually, McCutcheon was setting records and winning championships, with two state records and seven state championships under his belt. His records include shearing 300 sheep in one day and being the only living person in West Virginia to shear 100,000 sheep. The only other person in West Virginia to hold the record was the late Hugh Gooch, who passed away in 2010 at 86 years old. Gooch had sheared 110,000 sheep.
“He’s the only person who has ever sheared more than I have and I will never catch him, I’m too old,” McCutcheon said.
Sheep shearing became a family affair when McCutcheon taught his younger brother Randall how to shear as well.
“I taught my younger brother and he won 15 championships, and I was second to him nine times,” McCutcheon said. “For 23 years, I was first, second or third.”
While McCutcheon enjoyed his time shearing sheep, his livelihood was spent with a different kind of flock. McCutcheon has been a United Methodist Pastor for 54 years.
“I worked 41 years full-time, then retired, and since then I have been called back several times,” McCutcheon said. “I’ve actually retired twice. But I am currently serving three churches, preaching three times every Sunday morning.”
McCutcheon said shearing his last sheep felt different than it used to.
“It didn’t feel as good as it did four or five years ago, because I’m 80 years old.”