Johanna Walker's journey with sheep shearing began just before her 14th birthday eight years ago.
The Lower Mainland Sheep Producers Association was hosting a weekend-long shearing school in Chilliwack. The 22-year-old Langley native decided to give it a try.
"I thought at the time - and still do - that I could handle sheep very well considering every aspect of my life had been devoted to them since I was born," Walker said.
"It was also going to be a huge challenge, both physically and mentally, and a chance to do something I had never done before. If my memory served me correctly, I believe that particular weekend also just happened to include my birthday, and I felt that I would rather be shearing sheep on my birthday than playing in a band... I knew as soon as I had finished the first sheep (with my dad's help or course) that this was my calling."
Walker will be at Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Country Fest giving demonstrations and information about her experiences with shearing sheep - or removing wool from sheep - this upcoming weekend.
This will be Walker's fourth year demonstrating sheep shearing at Country Fest.
"Country Fest is what all of the fairs in B.C. should be, a public display focused on agriculture and teaching the public about all aspects of farming and where their food comes from. There are so many people today that know nothing about agriculture; we cannot continue depending on those who create food now since they will not be around forever and someone has to take the torch when it is passed."
"I love the fact that the fair allows me to display my shearing abilities so that I can teach the sheep shearing to other people, or at least show other people how it is done. The best things about being able to display my abilities to others at the fair are the people who want to learn, and I am happy to provide the information."
Walker recently graduated with a bachelors of science degree with a major in biology at Trinity Western University, and sheep shearing has helped her with paying for her education.
"The sheep shearing has helped pay for textbooks and other expenses that have come up during the school year, and it has helped pay for some of my tuition as well."
As for her future plans, Walker hopes to attend the Western College of Veterinarian Medicine in Saskatchewan and become a large animal or agricultural veterinarian. She would like to continue travelling around B.C. with sheep shearing in mind, and perhaps even participate in shearing competitions.
Meet Walker at Country Fest and watch her sheep shearing demonstrations on Saturday, July 28 at 1: 30, 3: 30, and 5: 30 p.m. and on Sunday, July 29 at 12: 30, 2: 30, and 4: 30 p.m.