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Dorper? More like derper - Tactical Ninja

Feb. 9th, 2013

05:24 pm - Dorper? More like derper

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Last time I posted about sheep, it came with pictures of pretty lambs, and everyone went *squeeoverload* over them, because as lambs go they were particularly cute.

Today I hit the opposite end of the spectrum, shearing Dorpers. Now, anyone who knows their sheep will know that shearing Dorpers is a contradiction in terms. They are a South African meat breed that shed their wool, and thus supposedly don't need shearing. I've had nothing to do with them before because of this - but apparently these ones did need shearing.


There were four. Here they are:



Yes, there are three black and one white, and no they don't look anything like the black-headed Dorpers that you see when you google them. That's because they are actually crosses. My client had bought them a couple of weeks ago and they desperately needed shearing. Turns out that the people who had them had assumed they would shed their fleeces eventually and just didn't get them done. These guys would be half Dorper at most (I'm guessing the other half of the cross is Sumblacram on the three dark ones, and Bogstandardromney on the other), so they hung on to their fleeces and ended up looking like that.

Of the three black ones, two were 2-tooths (which means they are now about 16-18 months old) and had never been shorn. The other was a full mouth ewe (at least 5) and her wool was so felted together that I had to spend 5 minutes chipping away in tiny increments to make enough of a gap in it to get the handpiece under to shear her neck. I have never seen anything like it, but I'm willing to bet it's been at least two years since she was shorn.

Luckily my client is not neglectful, just new at it. He realised they needed shearing pronto and called me. Lucky he did, because that black patch on the white one's rump? Not dirt, not natural colouring, not even dags. Flystrike. Flystrike has a characteristic wet, saggy look that is instantly recognisable to anyone who's seen it before. Chris had not seen it before, and because she had a very daggy bum, he thought that it was just more dags. When I finally got that gigantic fleece off her, she was skinny under it and had a patch of maggots about the size of a saucer on the right side of her rump. They'd broken the skin in places and it was inflamed. It seems she'd been fighting it for a while because she wasn't acting irritated like they usually do (this generally means they've resigned themselves - something sheep do when sick), and I'm surprised she wasn't a lot sicker. Given the state she was in I'd say she was about 2 days to a week off dying from blood poisoning.

However, sheep are remarkably robust and despite this horrible thing she'd been carrying around with her, she got up and walked out of the shed (after we removed the maggots, disinfected her and sprayed her with fly repellent), and started calmly grazing. I think she'll be fine, although it will take a while to heal. She was wearing a brass tag that read 'Ohariu 01/12'. Since last year was 12 and she was a full mouth, she was obviously not born in 2012. This means that 01 is the year and 12 is the tag number. She's 12 years old and just cheated death. I hope she gets a few more good years, she's certainly in the right place for it.

Anyway, see how she's holding her head in the photo, sort of drawn in with the nose tucked, and her ears are drooping? You can tell something's not right with her and she's in pain - it's bleedingly obvious to anyone who knows sheep, but to a newcomer it's probably too subtle. Certainly I'm glad they all needed shearing so badly because otherwise Chris wouldn't have called me and she may well have died.


And for those who are wondering (I'm pretty sure there's at least one person), Dorpers are indeed derpy. Like, can't-see-the-gateway, hiding-in-bushes, refusing-to-leave-their-pile-of-shorn-wool derpy. Herp derp dorp, essentially. Luckily, *loop back to the bit where I don't really have a lot to do with them because most ones dutifully shed their fleeces*

After that I shore some Wiltshires (yes, for those following along at home, Wiltshires are also supposed to shed their fleeces and I don't know WTF is up with my run right now), the sheep who was responsible for my original shoulder injury and who has indeed lost about 15kgs due to rearing a pair of fine twins this year (who I also shore), and a flock of 14 ewe lambs that the people bought from the Wairarapa for $30 each because the drought over there got bad enough that everyone was trying to unload at once. This flock of ewes contained one wether, because lifestyle sheep.

Finally, today I found out that the other main shearer around this area, a guy called Rani, has moved to Australia. This explains the sudden surge in interest in my skills, and also concerns me because I can't pick up his entire run, I just don't have the time. He was doing it for a living. But I find it hard to say no because I like sheep, I like sheep people, and I see it as a welfare issue. Since the Singing Shearer retired and with Rani gone, as far as I know there's me and maybe a couple of other people. I know one of them charges more than double what I do, and that means I'm likely to get more calls. Yikes.

[edit] Dear fellow kiwis, please help a girl out - there's a question in the comments about what a typical NZ traditional meal would be and I'm floundering. Help?

Comments:

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From:raincitygirl
Date:February 9th, 2013 04:28 am (UTC)
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Good for you. You saved a sheep's life!
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From:tatjna
Date:February 9th, 2013 04:32 am (UTC)
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I like to think it was a team effort. ;-) But yeah, it does feel good.
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From:rivet
Date:February 9th, 2013 06:56 am (UTC)
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Wendy Allison, saviour of sheep!
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From:tatjna
Date:February 9th, 2013 06:58 am (UTC)
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RAH!

Maybe I should put that on my business card, along with Master of Visions and Minister of The Shiny.
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From:friggasmuse
Date:February 9th, 2013 07:01 am (UTC)
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Lol!
I like the dorpers. Sheep are cool! Did you want to be in the hobbit or lotr movies? Am I mistaken that they were shot in Wellington?
What were the insects like in AUS?
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From:tatjna
Date:February 9th, 2013 07:09 am (UTC)
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1. I considered auditioning for LoTR because I had a beautiful black horse at the time and they were auditioning horse and rider pairs. But you had to be either under 5'5" or over 5'10" and at 5'7" I was too generic a height.

Since Warner Bros extorted removal of employment protections for kiwis and a bunch of tax breaks* in return for filming the Hobbit movie here, I am totally over the whole bullshit thing and even get inordinately shitty when I see how much other people enjoy the movie. I refused to pay to go see it and I wish more people would do the same.

2. Yes, they were filmed in New Zealand, and the production work was done in Wellington.

3. The insects in Aussie were.. persistent. Dr Wheel got eaten by mozzies in Melbourne (he always does, he's tasty like that), and at Rainbow it was those little flies that hang around your face and try to get moisture from your eyes and lips. They were annoying but harmless. I didn't see any other insects at all - but at a festival with 12,000 people, any self-respecting fauna probably made itself scarce, eh? ;-)


* $67million. Doesn't sound like much but it's one movie ticket's worth of money from every citizen of this country, without our permission, in their pockets. Then they want us to pay to see the movie as well, are raking in huge profits world wide, and are now are trying to override our Ombudsman's orders using the same threat, to prevent documents relating to the abovementioned extortion from being made public. It makes me spit tacks, tbh.

Edited at 2013-02-09 07:09 am (UTC)
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From:friggasmuse
Date:February 9th, 2013 07:15 am (UTC)
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Wow...I had no idea. How exploitative. How gross.

Insects in varying parts of the world intrigue me. We have a similar climate structure to Siberia here (and were colder then them one year a few back) is we have an infestation of mosquitoes come summer. (Which is six weeks of sun but only four or five truly hot days). They are like an aggressive, hostile species that get so thick we don't even want to enjoy the sparse warm weather. When working on site, I don't stop wearing my long johns under my carhartts until June.

I watched Bret Mckenzie give an interview about NZ and he said there are only four television stations? Really? What would be a typical NZ traditional meal?
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From:tatjna
Date:February 9th, 2013 07:25 am (UTC)
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Funny, I often mention things you've said about the climate where you live when talking to others about the relative temperatures around the world. We're cool/temperate and I don't really know what that means but we get lots of rain and wind and virtually no snow in winter, and the coldest I've been is -6C on a frosty morning in Masterton. The hottest it gets in Wellington is about 28C, and mozzie infestations like that are mostly in other places (N0rthland, West Coast of South Island). Dr Wheel might disagree. ;-)

I don't know about the TV stations, I don't really watch TV. I know there are 1, 2 and 3, there's a 4 I think, there was a 7 for a while but the govt stopped funding it and it shut down, but that means there are probably 5 and 6 as well? Also, there's satellite TV with endless stations of reality TV, sports and shows about sharks - those American ones that show you the same scenes over and over like you're stupid. We have no Hulu or Netflix, because apparently our copyright laws aren't draconian enough to satisfy the distributors or something - or maybe just not enough of us to make it financially viable. I'm kind of cynical about broadcast media in general. Lots of kiwis pirate their media. ;-)

Shit, typical meal. Um, fish and chips? Hangi if Maori, not so common among white kiwis but we've all eaten it at one time or another. Paua fritters, maybe? It's a bit strange, there are probably loads of things but to me it's just 'what we eat' and not all that different from what other westernised cultures eat, with I guess local flavour. One thing I've noticed is that 'from scratch' means different things between here and say, the US. For us, it means each individual ingredient is mixed to create a dish, there it seems to mean 'not bought already made' and so using things like pre-prepared and tinned pumpkin in a pie means 'from scratch'.

Maybe some other kiwis could help me out here?
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From:vernacularity
Date:February 9th, 2013 11:55 am (UTC)
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roast lamb and mint peas and potatoes is pretty trad.
with or without other veges. asparagus if you got 'em.

as is the roast chicken.

meringues, lamington, sponge...

then there's "modern trad" which would involve a deal more salad.

macaroni cheese is a forever food.

stews and casseroles I guess, with the sort of herbs you'd stuff chickens with.

then there is the tradition of someone bringing a smoked kahawai. or whatever.

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From:laughingmagpie
Date:February 9th, 2013 08:34 pm (UTC)
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Not a kiwi... but the foods that stood out for me during my month in New Zealand were: lamb, whitebait, kumera chips with mayonnaise for dipping and Hokey Pokey icecream. Maybe not all in the same meal though ;-)

I recall sweet potato/yam fries as a pub food craze hit North America a year or so after that trip to NZ.

I wonder if Bret McKenzie was referring to 4 government-run TV channels? That is actually more than in the States, which I think just has the one (PBS). Canada just has one as well (CBC). But the UK has about 4 BBC channels?

Even expanding the definition to corporate channels, Canada for instance, has only about 2 more channels with actual Canadian programming (CTV and Global). But it's not like Canadian TVs just have those channels active - you also get a bunch of US network channels, and if you've got cable/satellite dozens more.

PVRs and pirating changes everything though!
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From:tatjna
Date:February 9th, 2013 11:35 pm (UTC)
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True, it seems we do eat a lot of sheep compared with other countries. I thought everyone had hokey pokey ice cream and if they don't, they should! ;-)

I think you're probably right about public TV vs pay TV being only 4 channels, but I'm still not sure if that's the right number.
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From:laughingmagpie
Date:February 10th, 2013 02:24 am (UTC)
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I thought everyone had hokey pokey ice cream

It is a sad, sad fact that we do not have hokey pokey ice cream. Outside of pockets of hip, trendy, artisanal ice cream makers I don't think anywhere else has hokey pokey.

Oh hey - shouldn't pavlova be in the traditional NZ meal?
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From:tatjna
Date:February 10th, 2013 02:26 am (UTC)
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I would not complain if it were, but sadly I only get it about once a year at Christmas. *sadface*
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From:syn_abounds
Date:February 10th, 2013 03:08 am (UTC)
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From what I've read, it's less the copywrite issue that stops Hulu/Netflix et al from opening up here, but our incredibly shit internet.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/technology/digital-living/6045189/NZ-internet-a-deterrent-to-online-TV
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From:brynhilda
Date:February 9th, 2013 11:56 am (UTC)
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Aaaw, I'm glad you could help the poor sheep. I once helped shearing merinos at uni...hard work, but still so much fun. I loved it:).
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From:tatjna
Date:February 9th, 2013 08:27 pm (UTC)
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Really? What course was that? *is curious*
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From:brynhilda
Date:February 10th, 2013 07:40 am (UTC)
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It was a course at a farm. 6 weeks working at a huge farm. Hard work, but we learned a lot.
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From:Will Marshall
Date:February 9th, 2013 12:15 pm (UTC)
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Charge double! Problem solved.
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From:tatjna
Date:February 9th, 2013 08:26 pm (UTC)
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You're right of course, but I'm not sure how I'd feel about myself being that much of a demand opportunist.
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From:meathiel
Date:February 9th, 2013 01:24 pm (UTC)
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Yay ... saviour of sheep ... Hope she'll make it!
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From:tatjna
Date:February 9th, 2013 08:25 pm (UTC)
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I think she will, she had that survivor thing going on. I will find out at pre-lamb crutching time how she's doing. ;-)
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From:(Anonymous)
Date:February 9th, 2013 09:29 pm (UTC)

Dorpers???

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Wendy, that sheep with the Ohariu tag will not have any Dorper in it. I know the breeder - it will probably have some combination of Romney and Corriedale, and carry a colour gene. Its profile in your photo looks rather Corriedale-ish to me. Do the other adults have Ohariu too? If so, likewise.

Proper Dorpers have fleece (if you can call it that) that feels like a coir doormat. And only the most well-bred ones shed completely. And the black-headed ones have the "dominant black" gene which we do not want in our Romney flocks! Not my favourite sheep either.

Anyway, a good job well done.
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From:tatjna
Date:February 9th, 2013 09:55 pm (UTC)

Re: Dorpers???

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Yeah, I wondered about that* - the white one was the only one with a tag, and her fleece was very different (but equally matted, ew). The client thought they were all dorpers because he'd bought them all from the same place and I wasn't sure because I don't know dorpers, but I can see the white one having being cast-for-age from another flock and ending up sold to a lifestyler a few years ago.

You're right, the fleeces felt just like the type of mat you wipe your feet on, and were seriously felted despite only being <4 inch staple. And I hope I never have to shear sheep in that state again! ;-)

* I also wondered if you'd pop up and solve the mystery at the uttering of the word 'Ohariu'. ;-)
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From:c_maxx
Date:February 11th, 2013 06:50 pm (UTC)
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That's not "supply opportunist", it's "lowering the demand on the supply-demand curve", yes?

Tho i yam joshing- do it as you feel appropriate!
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From:pundigrion
Date:February 11th, 2013 10:02 pm (UTC)
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Poor ewe, maggots are a nasty job.

And I am tickled to learn that the Dorpers really are derpy because that's all I could of think looking at the at The Royal!
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