Graciano Hernandez shears sheep and alpacas in Anza

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This Suffolk ewe receives a trim by Graciano Hernandez of Legacy Shearing as his daughter Sam assists. Anza Valley Outlook/Diane Sieker photo

Graciano Hernandez begins his day well before dawn. He checks his equipment, awakens his daughter Sam and hits the road in his Ford truck.

His mission is to shear sheep, alpacas, llamas, goats and the occasional camel all over Southern California. His work is the key to good health and well-being for these animals, and he said he visits them at least once a year.

Hernandez is one of the best shearers in the region, tending to over 800 clients. He worked over 100 straight days recently, taking on clients from a competitor who was injured. Although his workload increased dramatically, his same sense of humor, positive outlook and grin remain the same.

Graciano Hernandez of Legacy Shearing trims a sheep’s hooves as part of his shearing service. Anza Valley Outlook/Diane Sieker photo
Bodee the alpaca receives shearing by Graciano Hernandez of Legacy Shearing. Anza Valley Outlook/Diane Sieker photo

“My grandfather sheared right through the Great Depression. Wool had to come off no matter what. I myself sheared right through the recession and this pandemic,” he said.

Hernandez comes from a long line of shearers, and he is passing those skills onto his children.

“Farm school was in session today thanks to Graciano Hernandez and Legacy Shearing,” Gigi Theberge said. “Graciano keeps tradition alive with five generations of shearers in his family. Following in the footsteps of his father, grandfather and great-grandfather, he’s now teaching his daughter and son to continue the tradition. So many lessons to learn from this wonderful man who handles the animals so gently and with such skill.”

Hernandez said he loves to educate and share his knowledge of the animals. He is well-respected by herd owners and other shearers.

“So I had an interesting day shearing on Saturday as I was tasked with shearing the fleet of a competitor,” he said. “It’s always a bit intimidating, as often each shearer has his own style and method.

“He liked my setup and was impressed with Sam’s ability as a helper. I told him I was teaching her to shear, and hopefully by next year I would build her a station so she could train her own helper. He turned out to be a cool cat and gifted Sam his shearing gear to get her started, because he believes she has a lot of potential and appreciated her work ethic. The equipment included five shearing machines, an alpaca mat and leg ropes, Dremels, combs, cutters and most importantly, a grinding wheel. I offered to pay, but he insisted it was a gift because otherwise it would eventually be buried in the garage and forgotten and never be used,” Hernandez said.

Keeping track of almost a thousand clients and their herds and flocks this year has been an intimidating endeavor, he said. Hernandez runs his business in an extremely organized fashion and remembers every detail of the animals and people he works with. Ordinarily, he said he books shearing appointments a year in advance, but in taking on additional clients, he said he was scrambling to accommodate as many as possible.

This sheep is fat under all the wool sheared off by Graciano Hernandez of Legacy Shearing. Anza Valley Outlook/Diane Sieker photo
Graciano Hernandez of Legacy Shearing and daughter Sam work as a team to shear sheep. Anza Valley Outlook/Diane Sieker photo

Along with shearing, he also trims hooves and alpaca teeth and gives tetanus vaccines and oral worming medication to each one, as Sam stands by to assist. From show cuts to simple trims, he can do them all, he said.

To contact Graciano Hernandez with Legacy Shearing, call or text 951-927-4419 or visit him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/gracianos.shearing.

Diane Sieker can be reached by email at dsieker@reedermedia.com.