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Tactical Ninja - Coming out of the woodwork

Jan. 13th, 2014

09:59 am - Coming out of the woodwork

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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!

Comments:

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From:pombagira
Date:January 12th, 2014 09:12 pm (UTC)
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yay tinfoil hat!!

errrr... so do we get pics of new tinfoil protected wallet..??

:D
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From:tatjna
Date:January 12th, 2014 09:15 pm (UTC)
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It's just brown leather and kind of boring looking. I could put a tinfoil hat on it maybe?
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From:pombagira
Date:January 12th, 2014 09:21 pm (UTC)
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ohh..that could be fun..tinfoil hats for wallets..

:D
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From:fuvenusrs
Date:January 13th, 2014 09:45 am (UTC)
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I think you're going to have to, otherwise the government will steal its thoughts...
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From:ferrouswheel
Date:January 12th, 2014 09:15 pm (UTC)
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There are RFID protector wallets, and some of them work better than others. I was going to get one too, or go for a active RFID blocker card (which basically spams any reader with junk information if it detects someone trying to read your cards... as well as lighting up an led when it detects someone trying to read anything).
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From:tatjna
Date:January 12th, 2014 09:16 pm (UTC)
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So if you held that card up to the Snapper reader on the bus by mistake, what do you reckon would happen?

I dare you. ;-D
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From:ferrouswheel
Date:January 12th, 2014 09:18 pm (UTC)
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"Please try again", "Please try again", "Please try again", "Please try again", "Please try again"!
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From:tatjna
Date:January 12th, 2014 09:20 pm (UTC)
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Oh. Well, that's no fun. I was hoping maybe scrambled info would make interesting things happen.

I guess it'll have to be last night's plan for Bus Time Fun Time then!
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From:pombagira
Date:January 12th, 2014 09:22 pm (UTC)
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is there a way we can make it say, something different?

*ponders this*
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From:t_c_da
Date:January 12th, 2014 10:26 pm (UTC)
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From experience, the snapper readers remark "More than one card detected" when multiple cards are seen by the reader.

But I do like the idea of an active RFID blocker...
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From:crazedturkey
Date:January 12th, 2014 10:24 pm (UTC)
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Um, can a peacock seriously take down a sheep?

Um, really?
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From:tatjna
Date:January 12th, 2014 10:29 pm (UTC)
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Well, his evidence was that one of the dead sheep (a half-grown lamb) was covered in what looked like peck marks. And his ram also had what looked like a peck wound on his bum.

I think if the peacock were sufficiently aggressive (like a peahen guarding a nest or something), then they are big enough to do damage to a sheep. But my money's actually on the neighbour's jack russell terrier. The problem is he's never seen the culprit in action, but they are known for being somewhat lax in their animal supervision (pig often seen wandering the roadside and the like).

Hence the desire to set up some kind of camera to find out what's happening.
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From:pombagira
Date:January 13th, 2014 12:44 am (UTC)
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do the kaka head up that way?
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From:tatjna
Date:January 13th, 2014 12:47 am (UTC)
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Not that I've seen. But I'm usually looking downwards at sheep arses, not up in the trees..
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From:crazedturkey
Date:January 13th, 2014 01:11 am (UTC)
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Are they the green birds down south that are sheep killers? (Also four wheel drive eaters/tent eaters/anything that moves eaters).

I like those birds (but I'm not a sheep farmer ;))
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From:pombagira
Date:January 13th, 2014 01:16 am (UTC)
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no those are Kea, although it is diffcult to tell them apart from photos.. Kea are bigger, when side by side.. kaka are smaller.. but they both have the same green/brown colouring with orange under their wings.. so my guess is a comon ancestor...

Kea Carnivrous parrot..
Kaka.. maybe?
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From:tatjna
Date:January 13th, 2014 01:17 am (UTC)
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Given the kaka's range, I doubt they'd ever need to seek out sheep to supplement their diet. Kea mostly only do it in the depths of winter, when other things to eat are really hard to find and sheep are easy prey.
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From:pombagira
Date:January 13th, 2014 01:21 am (UTC)
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maybe a clumbsy hawk then?

*ponders*..its puzzleing..
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From:tatjna
Date:January 13th, 2014 01:24 am (UTC)
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This kind of thing almost invariably ends up being the work of dogs - especially in an area where an increasing number of people are, shall we say, less familiar with the unwritten codes of the country regarding supervision of your pet.
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From:pombagira
Date:January 13th, 2014 01:27 am (UTC)
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true that.. ..

:D
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From:fuvenusrs
Date:January 13th, 2014 09:46 am (UTC)
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My money's also on the Jack Russell. Those dogs, without proper packmanship, are the very devil.
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From:tatjna
Date:January 13th, 2014 07:34 pm (UTC)
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Pretty much all terriers are. But they're little! And cute!

*cough*
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From:(Anonymous)
Date:January 12th, 2014 11:27 pm (UTC)
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Goodness, is Derek still going? I didn't much like his shearing but he's good value at a party.
And I agree about the Jack Russell.
Mary
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From:tatjna
Date:January 12th, 2014 11:32 pm (UTC)
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It seems that shearing is something that you can do well into 'retirement' if you take care of yourself. My client told me that he occasionally takes a catnap while working, but apparently he's still going. I've never had the pleasure, but I get the impression the area will lose a real character when he goes.
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From:fbhjr
Date:January 12th, 2014 11:31 pm (UTC)
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The singing sheep shearer sounds super!
Too bad you've never crossed paths.
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From:tatjna
Date:January 12th, 2014 11:32 pm (UTC)
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Yep, that's a perk I can't offer with my shearing services. Unless I want to not be asked back! ;-)

I would like to meet him one day, he sounds like a real character.
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From:meathiel
Date:January 13th, 2014 05:01 pm (UTC)
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Here the Christmas trees are collected by youth clubs and the like to make a bit of money. Ours was collected on Saturday. :D
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From:tatjna
Date:January 13th, 2014 07:37 pm (UTC)
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It's quite neat that there are ways of disposing of them that aren't just chucking them in a landfill. Having never had a real tree before, I hadn't known about this. ;-)
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From:blue_eye
Date:January 13th, 2014 05:48 pm (UTC)
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Nekkid sheep! LOL!
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From:tatjna
Date:January 13th, 2014 07:38 pm (UTC)
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Have they no modesty?!?
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From:kehleyr
Date:January 13th, 2014 08:28 pm (UTC)
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Aaw look at those cute little sheep <3
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From:tatjna
Date:January 13th, 2014 08:40 pm (UTC)
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These ones have particularly pretty faces.
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From:pundigrion
Date:January 14th, 2014 03:02 pm (UTC)
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We were both mad jealous of former programmer dude!

My money is on a dog too, but they were by far the most common culprit where we lived. People would blame coyotes, but 9 times out of ten, it would be a marauding dog or a whole pack of them.
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From:tatjna
Date:January 14th, 2014 07:51 pm (UTC)
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Yeah. ;-/ In NZ they can't blame natural predators, but it's amazing how many people think their little FooFoo would never do such a thing. Delusional, in other words.
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From:pundigrion
Date:January 14th, 2014 09:35 pm (UTC)
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Sounds about right....and by right I mean Wrong. So, so Wrong!

When my Grandma heard about our chooks the first thing she asked is if peacocks were allowed though xD (Sadly they too are a Galliform, but man would that have served the property company right! Our poor neighbours though....then again pretty much everyone on the street has a beef with the property guys so maybe not.)
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From:tatjna
Date:January 14th, 2014 09:37 pm (UTC)
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Peacocks are awful. Pretty, but they are complete bastards, do giant poos, and rattle their tails at your horse while you are riding past so that it tries to climb the nearest power pole.
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From:pundigrion
Date:January 14th, 2014 09:40 pm (UTC)
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They also like to get on the roof and make a horrid racket on the shingles. We had a couple of them on the farm although I have no idea why. I'm pretty sure they were given to us....like the llama. (That got swiftly re-homed, what a temper!)

My Grandmother's description: They sound like a lady being violated
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