Then we will shear in the shade! - Tactical Ninja
Dec. 6th, 2010
10:15 am - Then we will shear in the shade!
OK this is just getting weird. It's been a month since we had any proper rain. As a townie I'm not complaining, as a shearer I'm not complaining, but as an ex-farmer I'm finding it increasingly uncomfortable to experience day after day of hot, dry conditions.
Someone told me it got up to 24 degrees on Saturday. I know all the tar was melted on the road, but I couldn't really tell what the external ambient temperature was since I was just hot and would still have been hot even if it was 16 degrees.
This weekend's sheep were the ones I have nightmares about - the HorokiwiShearingDay sheep. Like all sheep they have their good points and their bad points, but it's usually a big day. Not as big as it used to be, but still the largest group of sheep I'd normally do on this run. And the tally is consistently estimated at about 20% less sheep than there actually are. One year I went up there expecting 50 and ended up shearing 80. This year, I went expecting 40 and ended up doing 48, which isn't so bad but still meant we were going through the heat of the day. And this lot is all outside.
Anyway, pics! This is me shearing. That's the second one this year someone's taken of me!
I like this pic because it makes my shoulder look muscly. I'm doing one of the fiddly bits which is why the position is so awkward - I'm about to lay the sheep down on its back to do the long blows up the sides, but before I do that the wool has to be cut off the neck, ears and around the front leg. You can see a tag in its left ear - that thing is made of brass. Normal shearers charge extra for sheep with brass tags because if you hit one of those it can lock up your gear and either break it or send it flying out of your hand and embed it in the nearest fencepost/sheep/your leg. I don't, because I'm slow enough so I can have a good look before shearing round the ears.
Also in the pic you can see my fancy new oil bottle that I had to buy because some little kid waltzed off with my squeezy bottle when I was out in Tawa, and I never found it. So now I have a can with a thumb lever and it's weird. And there's a pair of secateurs there too, for trimming the feet. All part of the service. Remember that Footrot Flats cartoon with sheep toenails flying like little boomerangs and hitting Wal in the eye? This is based in fact, just saying.
The Kid came again. He did 35 this time before running out of steam, and he's now starting about halfway down the last side. He's getting the hang of holding them and placing his blows nicely, but this lot were consistently bigger than last week's, so he did well to last as long as he did. And he had the brains to stop when he got tired enough to be losing every sheep. Battling on is all very well, but if you don't have to it saves potential injury to not be fighting with a flailing sheep when you haven't the energy to hold it properly. He went and crashed in the car. I was envious.
Antelopes! Actually, English Leicesters. BE WARNED: anything with Leicester in the name will be stroppy as fuck. They have attitude plus. These are the sheep I've been looking after all winter, they know me really well and I bring them pellets and nice things, yet they still want to shove their hooves up my nose, bite me and rake their freshly-trimmed toenails across my breasts. No you are not getting photos of that (mostly because I've posted those shots before). They are also a lot heavier and stronger than they look, and they flail about while they're being shorn, almost as if they think they're going to die. Dunno why they'd think that, what with the gentle way I wrestle them off their feet and run a noisy vibratey hot thing all over their body and all...
To compensate, they are very easy shearing. Like a hot knife through butter. You can see in the photos above that their wool is very open and falls in loose staples - this makes it easy to push the comb through, and doesn't wear the gear out as fast as dense wool would. Also, they've no wool on their legs or around their ears and nostrils, and they look awesome off the shears. So I have nightmares about shearing them, but they consistently come out looking like some of my best work.
Unlike this one:
Meet Wrinkles. She's wrinkly. Nobody knows why. She's a bog standard Romney but she's absolutely covered in wrinkles. The top arrow shows her wrinkly shoulders (see the vertical lines?) and if you look carefully those wrinkles go all the way back to her bum. The back end's a bit shaggy because The Kid did it, he was getting tired, and he was afraid of cutting her with all the wrinkles so he floated the comb over the top of them and left some wool on. Also, the arrow at the front? That points to her dewlap. Normal Romneys don't have a dewlap, but check out that baby!
Also note the evil eye. Wrinkles is not an evil sheep, but it was very sunny and in the sunshine sheep's pupils retract to a horizontal line which IMO looks far more evil than any cat's piddling little vertical line.
In addition to the ones pictured above, we shore 8 fatties (I told the guy if they were that fat next year I'd charge him double), three unwanted sheep - if you know anyone who's looking for sheep they are looking for a home and are in good nick, Nigel, Trixie and Fuckyou'reaviolentsod, Steve's spotty brigade (who are also ungrateful meanies who don't appreciate that I throw them pellets every time I'm passing), and a new client with two Arapawas to finish the day. Arapawas are a nice way to finish the day because they are small and quiet, and she gave me chocolate which is always a bonus.
And then we went home and collapsed. I was waiting for it to get dark so I could go to bed, and I slept from 10pm till 10am. But the back of shearing season is broken and I only have 3 sheep to do this weekend coming, then just Grahams which are quick and easy and I'm done. Before Christmas. By miles. Yay!
But the weather's still weirding me out.
Yesterday I wrote my essay. 500 words on tikanga Maori concepts within powhiri, and their link to the oral tradition, using karanga and kai as examples. It looks very simplistic and is more descriptive than analytic because 500 words? WTF? But it's done. I feel a bit flaily because I have no idea what the expectations are in this course - it's not policy or anything I'm familiar with. So we shall see.
I also managed to get some work done on Sooper Sekret Project #ican'tremember. It's slow going, but will be awesome.
And today I managed to dress myself in the jacket I wore for slapping mud on tieke and happyinmotion's walls. There were two, on the floor, both black. I'm sure my boss would understand.
Speaking of which, I did some research and it seems Hong Kong has a qualifications framework similar to New Zealand's, but it's newer. This means my skills are probably highly relevant over there. I feel more confident now and this week I'll be sending my CV to some cherry-picked organisations.
And then I'll probably freak out some.
It was my 2 year anniversary with Dr Wheel yesterday. Gosh.