Sunday, August 22, 2010

Mission accomplished

The sheep have finally been crutched, dagged, clatted, whatever you may call it. Their back ends are now clean shaven ready for a cleaner clip come shearing time or - in the case of the pregnant ewes - a clear area come lambing time. The wool around their other ends can be a problem too. Belinda the black ewe is from Corriedale stock and can hardly see now. Her Border Leicester companion on the right doesn't have this problem, nor that of grass seeds getting caught around her face which was one of the reasons we bred to Border Leicester rams in the past.

The day started out with showers which was mildly alarming as the previous date with the shearer was cancelled when he stood them up due to inclement weather and the yards nearly being under water. Everyone was put in the shed under cover which they didn't mind at all as they were warm and out of the wind.

It was about as packed as a mid-billed rock concert - crowded but everyone could see. Except those Dorsets like Isabelle.

Part of the whole crutching show was a part called "wigging" which is basically a short back and sides for those endowed with more facial wool than others. The sheep blink afterward with amazement as they haven't seen most of their surroundings for a few months outside the twin periscope sized areas through their fleece. For the lambs this was their first encounter with Mr Shearer and his noisy portable plant. It's run from a little generator on the back of his ute. His stand is a rubber mat which the sheep slip on so he can throw them over easily. The lambs, despite all my advice and encouragement, still kicked like mules, making a fiddly job just that more exciting.

Some of the end jobs were a bit rough around the edges, but they were clean nonetheless. Only one had started to clot up with dags and she was taken care of in minutes. The part Finn, part elephants we have in the Finn wethers got grunts from Mr Shearer with the effort of getting them down, but they were dealt with no less quickly.

Slowly the number of crutched and wigged individuals, dazzled with new sight and cold around the rear, increased in the yards and the number of waiting, pushing, shoving woolly bodies in the shed decreased to a comfortable level when only the pregnant ewes were left. For a while the sun came out, Mr Shearer's young sons came out, the birds came out and it was almost like we were running a real farm.