Coming out of the woodwork - Tactical Ninja
Jan. 13th, 2014
09:59 am - Coming out of the woodwork
One of the cool things I didn't know about that happens in our city is a Christmas tree recycling service. I don't know if it's specific to the outfit we got ours from or if anyone can, but on Saturday morning we duly waltzed off down the road, each carrying one end of our used up tree. They take it away and make it into mulch, and for $5 you get a bag of mulch in return. I could only carry half a bag back up Brooklyn hill, but still. Neat!
You know how I said that mainshear was over before Christmas?
Or should I say, never say never. Or something.
You see, there is more than one shearer working around this area. I think there are about three or four - myself, a couple in Upper Hutt who advertise on TradeMe, a chap whose name I've never been able to remember, and Derek the Singing Shearer.
Derek's a bit of an institution around the place, he's been doing it for 50 years (yes, he's about 70) and he likes to sing. He hoofs about in an old mini, and has a folding setup including yards that he attaches to the side of his car and shears using a traditional handpiece. I kind of envy him that.
And when he's finished, he pulls out his guitar and sings you a song (and apparently tries to get you to buy his latest CD). Now, I've never met Derek, it's the nature of this kind of shearing that we more or less never run into each other. But I've heard of him because well, singing. And mini. And also, because he's now quite venerable, a couple of my newer clients have called me because their sheep are too big, too stroppy or just because they don't like to stand around watching someone twice their age do a hard job they can't do.
So it turns out Derek had to go into hospital over Christmas for an operation. He's out now and on the mend, but he isn't allowed to shear any sheep for a few weeks. Luckily he's an organised chap and like me, he was mostly finished for the season. But there was one client who hadn't caught him before Christmas, and so this guy desperately needed a shearer to do a one-off and cover his 14 sheep for Derek. Guess who got that job?
I didn't even know this place was there. Apparently the guy likes it that way - he's an ex programmer who decided he had enough money and didn't want to work indoors any more. He has dropped off the grid and lives a quiet life with his sheep and little farm. Driving across the paddock to his yards, the only way I knew I was in the right place was that the yards had sheep in them. It's really well hidden. Shearing is the only job he doesn't do himself - he said he'd tried, but he can only do about two a day with his blade shears and that was just not efficient. O.o
So yeah. They looked a bit rough and I was expecting them to be tough going. You can see in the picture above that their wool isn't sitting smoothly, and to my jaundiced eye that looked like a 'starey' coat - the sort of roughness they get when they aren't in the best of health. They'd been dagged, however - something I made a point of thanking him for. Daggy sheep take way longer to shear, and it's almost impossible to cut dags off in shearing position without cutting their bums.
But anyway, as it turned out they were in pretty good nick under their wool, small, compact sheep that had been maybe a month longer than they ought without shearing, and had got a bit felted round the necks. 14 sheep and an interesting conversation about electronics later (dude was a true geek), the sheep were grazing amongst the gorse and we were in his little hut having a cuppa.
Just before the rain.. So the reason they had scruffy coats was because of the gorse. They go under it in bad weather, and it combs out the tips of their wool in patches, which makes them look rough. Mystery solved, and answer tucked away for future reference. I don't know why this hadn't occurred to me, but there you go.
Anyway, he's in the process of working out how to automate his water using microcontrollers, and also interested in a motion sensor/alarm type arrangement because he's lost two sheep to a mystery marauder and he's pretty sure it's a peacock from next door (!) but has never caught it in the act. Gosh.
Now, I think mainshear really is over. At least, till early February when the round of lambs and flystrike avoidance shearings starts...
I bought a wallet. This is new for me, I usually use a coin purse + card holder arrangement. But they were both crapping out and I wanted something that wouldn't deform my money (NZ notes have memory). This one supposedly protects your cards from RFID readers by using a wire mesh lining. That isn't why I bought it, it was just the right size and price. I have no idea if the wire mesh would work. Feels a bit tinfoil hattish to me, but there you go. New wallet! Yay!