Tuesday 24 June 2014

Shearing.... never again..

For several years now I have been convinced that I have the talent to make a marvelous sheep shearer. This belief is without basis and indeed without one jot of practical experience. Last year, our first year of shearing, my back decided to ruin my chances of learning, (too much extreme gardening with Lou's Poo Alpaca Poo!) and so I was forced to outsource the stripping of my girls to our kind neighbour.

This year I was fighting fit. I enlisted the help of our long-suffering neighbour again and he, in turn, brought his apprentice; his son. The paraphernalia they brought with them was amazing.

As I tried to construct a pathetic holding pen out of knackered hurdles in a tiny paddock outside the American barn, they suggested simply herding the sheep into one of the huge empty birthing stables. Hmmm, didn't think of that. Then they stood about a bit and looked at the metal joists high above our heads, before rooting about in their paraphernalia kit and hoisting a walloping chain up and over the bar. Next they attached a motor that weighed A LOT, followed by a pipe attached to the motor, and finally the shear.

Then they looked at me.

The hubby, deliberately dressed in his office clothes! the boy, the girl and her pal from school, all stood about looking at me. Oh poo.

I vaguely remember being asked if I was ready to go but clearly I looked so ashen that our neighbour suggested he do the first one, then I could go from then on. Right. Easy.

The first sheep, Cocoa, chosen for her monumental fleece, was naked in no time. There was no blood or histrionics. My turn.

I simply couldn't even remember where to start... was it the bum or the neck? Not. A. Clue.

Apparently it was the tummy followed by the nether regions and one lower side. Then the neck (which is terrifying) up the tummy and over the back as far the spine, plus a bit...... [are you lost yet?..... I was]

So, my victim was Pink. I raised her on the bottle in 2012 and helped her lamb her twins in 2014. Here I was clearly going to kill her.....

In truth, I didn't actually kill her, though I do confess to having nicked her several times. Having almost completed the job (though not well) I had to defer to farmer's son as I suddenly came over all Victorian and faint #pathetic and had to sit down. I was 75% there but couldn't yet claim to have sheared a whole sheep. I strongly suspected that I'd found an activity that I wasn't equipped for.The 11yo sprayed Pink's cuts with purple antiseptic while looking at me with regret. Pink was ushered from the barn, bleating and looking like mobile graffiti.

In my defence I was born in St John's Wood. The issue is trying to juggle a wriggly sheep, a life threatening weapon and a non compliant 48 year old body. So annoying.

The next sheep was thrust into my willing arms. I was determined to complete my quest. This time, bearing in mind that it was 24 degrees outside, I discarded my thick sweater. Now, added to the wriggly sheep, a life threatening weapon and a non compliant 48 year old body was the realization that my bosoms might fall out of my vest. Unfortunately half way through this shear my sheep companion decided to have a hissy fit and, in my desperate attempt to gently restrain it and my lady parts, I accidentally sheared the farmer.

I have now retired from shearing. Thank you for sharing this mortificado experience with me.

[Please note, my apologies for the orientation of the video - clearly video uploads are a mystery to me too.... If you can't see the video, click on the title of the blog post and you should see me butchering shearing a sheep but only if you tilt your head to the side and you're not on an Apple product.... and there isn't a full moon. #offtobedifIdidn'thavethealpacashearerarrivinginanhoursob!]

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