Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Half is Better...

Back in the days before electricity and fancy electric shears, people used hand held shears to get all the wool off their overgrown sheep. When we first started looking into having some sheep, I said no way would I have a wool sheep. No way. No how. Never.

I mean seriously, who the heck wants to shear a sheep? All that wool crusted with hay, dirt, filth. It has to be sheared once a year. Then if you want to do anything with it, it has to be cleaned and carded and spun, etcetera, etcetera.

But then I saw Muffy all overgrown with years of wool (and filth) on her body, and I fell in love.

And I got a wool sheep.

Never say never.

Last year, Angelica and I sheared her with scissors because that's all we had at the time. The feed store didn't sell sheep shears except for a rusty antique one hanging on the wall for like $80 that I doubt would cut through anything. So, we made do and we got all that nasty wool off and got a bunch of blisters on our fingers to show for our effort. Muffy was looking pretty dapper for an old lady sheep when we got through with her.

This year, I started with scissors. It went badly in the way that a haircut goes severely wrong and you have to live with it until it grows out. I stopped. I went home, got online, and ordered some old fashioned hand held sheep shears because they're way less expensive than electric ones and I don't like to run the generator too much. They came a couple days ago and today I finally got the chance to use them. Since it takes me about an hour to milk my cow (50 minutes today; I'm getting faster) I didn't have much time.

It takes two people to get Muffy to walk anywhere. Thank goodness my neighbor, Manny, dropped by for a visit. He was shocked by her rather un-sheeply man strength. She's good at digging her heels in and just stopping. I got behind her big, wooly butt and pushed while he tugged on her flashy pink collar. She cannot be bribed by food when she knows I need to take her to the stand. I don't know why. She lives for food. Food is the be all and end all to her existence.

We got her up there. She fell half off. Then we got her up there again. Then she laid down! Bear in mind she must weigh like a thousand pounds. I hugged her upper body and hauled her up. Then we shoved and shoved until we got her head in the lock. Whew.

She called to her family for help with her deep, manly sheep voice, "BAAAAAA!". They BAAed and BAAed back to let her know they missed her. Then I gave her some corn and she remembered that food is life.

My neighbor hightailed it out of there. He probably knew I might ask him to cut off some of that nasty wool. Smart man.

I had about an hour before I had to pick up my kids from school. That's just enough time for an inexperienced amateur farmer (me) to shear half an overweight sheep. Half is better than not at all, right? Maybe if I milk fast enough tomorrow, I can finish the other half.

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