Thursday night was Spa Night for the ungulates of Five Green Acres. Boy, were they overdue for haircuts! A pedicure and Botox injection wouldn’t hurt either. This is Gloria, up first and ready to shed her winter coat. She’s shown here as she waffles back and forth between nail polish choices.
I have been waiting for the shearer to fit me into his schedule for a couple of months now. Missed opportunities had come and gone, 98 degrees had come and gone, and there they all stood in the pasture, still outfitted in a heavy coat of wool, wool that I was dying to start processing. On Wednesday of this week, I called it. I said, “Enough. If the shearer hasn’t arrived by Saturday, I’m shearing that damn wool myself.” We have a hand shears. I had that round of practice with Irene. She did it. Just watch me. (I said in a huff)
But I slowly, sheepishly, crawled down off that ledge and relented when the shearer called yesterday and said he could fit us in. Ok, fine. (again, said in a huff)
And when I say that much relief was felt, I am mostly speaking of my own. Shearing is hard work. My hands got tired just using the hoof trimmers to trim away gargantuan toenails; I shuddered to think how exhausting using a hand shears on four sheep would have been, not to mention the skills I don’t yet have in handling and maneuvering the sheep. It looks a bit like magic to me, that easy way a skilled sheep handler like the shearer deftly moves them about, shifting them so easily onto their butts, knowing just how to put them at ease. He’s gentle yet firm. And quick. Those poor things would have been at the “spa” for hours at my hands. And the results would likely have been like those I received as a young girl, leaving the beauty school’s salon with a student-executed perm of questionable quality. (But what a bargain those perms were, right?) Yeah, like that, but I would have been trained far less even than the student who, unbeknownst to me, walked out of school forever and left me sitting in the barber chair waiting, perm rods cutting off the circulation on only half my head; the other half yet to be rolled up, waiting with dumb blind faith that when she said she’d “be right back” she would. And for these sheep, there would be no swarm of instructors to notice the poor, pathetic customer sitting there, unattended for a good quarter of an hour or more. For the sheep, there would be no instructors to swoop in and fix the gigantic mess left behind by the flighty student. They’d be stuck with only me and my hack job.
So it’s good that the shearer did come yesterday. We’re all happier for it. He was in and out in about a half hour; it took Andrew and I the rest of the evening and then some to provide the other spa services: worming, injections (booster shot, not Botox after all), hoof trimming, itchy lice/misc. crawly mitigation with disgust-o insecticide dust. We also closed the all-you-can-drink milk buffet and had to separate the lambs from their milk-bag mommas. I had hoped the moms would facilitate this on their own terms, being the big nursing advocate that I am, but they hadn’t and were starting to look rather haggard and nutrition-deprived. (Ultimately, a well-cared-for Momma is a well-cared-for Baby, right? ) A special Pajama Supper was called and we all fell into our beds far later than desired. But the sleep, it turned out, was far from restful, as there was a constant call-and-response between the estranged lambs and their mommas all through the night. I can’t blame them, of course. But I did have to shut the bedroom windows and today I hope the neighbors don’t run us out of town for all the barnyard racket.
Mark my words (and your calendars). Next year, with some sheep-shearing-school skills under our belts, Daddio and I plan on tackling the herd ourselves. On our own schedule, on our own terms. Probably over a period of several days. Mark my words.