The lovely Jo (no, the other lovely Jo - no not that one either, an American one) very kindly organised today for me, so that all I had to do was show up at the designated time and 6 count 'em 6 households would have their sheep in and ready. The weather is clear and breezy, perfect shearing weather. I rock up, on time, feeling good if a little like I haven't had enough coffee.
But where's the gripe, Tats? I hear you ask. Don't worry, it's coming.
Everything was going fine and dandy until I went to start Boris. Nothing. Pull pull pull choke on, nothing. Maybe it's flooded. Back to Stop, pull pull pull, nothing. Jo pulls. I pull. Nothing. Not even an encouraging little "brblbrblbrbl" as if it's trying to catch. *sigh*
Phone the shop. Yeah, the shop I picked it up from yesterday after paying $80 for a service. They suggest I take the air filter off, try again. If no joy, bring it in. Try that. Nothing. OK, don't panic. DO swear profusely. Take Boris back to the shop. They fiddle, they twiddle, they discover that in replacing the carburettor they had reset the throttle so that it wouldn't go on full choke. *facepalm* OK, fixed, back to the sheep. Yay! Gonna get some catchups done today!
Jo's sheep actually went remarkably well after that dodgy start. She has one that has large round black spots all over it that is rather *some french word that is pretentious and I can't remember it anyway*
Next place. Ugh. Dags everywhere. Also, Suffolks. Anyone who knows anything about sheep knows these are big, strong and stroppy, and also prone to getting sick and thus being hard shearing, with the Extra Added Bonus of footrot proneness. And a ram. A big one. He was a very obliging ram though, which is good considering that Boris decided to pack it in halfway through shearing him, and I was left standing there helpless with a ram that had at least 25kg on me, between my legs, while Dave the nice man with the Most Broken Blood Vessels In His Nose And Cheeks I Have Ever Seen, attempted to get it going again. Eventually he did, and we figured that the throttle adjustment had moved everything around a bit and it would be fingertip contol till we sussed it out. Doop de doo, footrot smells lovely..
Next place was a wee haven of happiness and sanity, with three lovely calm, healthy, clean Romney ewes and three gorgeous cute lambs (yes, you, they did have big ears and sticky-out tongues). And they were nice people. And they had a flat area. And stuff. Yay them! They get VIP status (which means I'll go dag their lambs for free at Christmas), just for being lovely people and well prepared with healthy sheep.
Next was Fattysville from last year. Pehaps not surprisingly, his sheep are even bigger this year. He's still a nice guy but nice just doesn't cut it when the sheep leaning on you causes you to slide backwards towards a cliff while you're shearing it. I'm tempted to nick the Suffolks that are too skinny off Dave the Veiny Nose Guy and just deposit them in this guy's paddock, and leave a note in the letterbox going "Clearly you're a Fat Camp for sheep. Maybe you can help these ones out."
At the next place, I flagged one sheep away because its footrot was so bad that the guy decided to kill it. Poor thing couldn't walk. But in finding this out, said sheep managed to kick me in the arm hard enough to draw blood - with the rotten foot. Ugh. Just.. ugh. Also at this place, the little spring-loaded lever that jams into a small hole to hold the handpiece in the 'in-gear' position, decided to bend out of shape and not do its job. We ended up having to wedge a piece of wood in there just so my bloody handpiece would go. By this time I was down to three sheep left and there was no way I was giving up.
The last place had one sheep. Now, I should take full responsibility for this because as a knowledgeable person I should have looked. But most sheep are female and when there's a male in the flock, the owners normally tell you. These people didn't know their sheep was a boy. And nor did I till I cut his pizzle off. (Men, you were warned not to read this). It's the first time I've ever done it. I felt stink. There was blood everywhere and the people were watching and their kids (3 and 5) too. Great. Brilliant way to finish the day. Oh and the guy pointing out that it looks like Boris has blown a head gasket as there's oil leaking out of the top of the motor.
Anyway, the sheep will probably live. I didn't cut through the urethra, just the glans on the top side, so he can still pee, and sheep have amazing powers of recuperation. I didn't charge them for shearing it either. But I bet next time they'll sex their sheep and let me know beforehand. At least I hope so, because despite my attempts at being professional, we all have moments when we're thinking more about going home than whether it's a wether.
On the upside, I have $150 in cash in my wallet, and I don't have to go back up that road for another 6 months. If the weather holds, I get to do it all again tomorrow, and then I'll be almost caught up on the shearing and can maybe book myself a couple of weekends free. Definitely NOT working on the 19th November.
Another upside, there is dancing. And there will be fireworks. I feel absolutely shattered and when my body is this tired (didn't finish till 4 with all the holdups and nobody offered me any food) I get very fragile. Right now I am wondering if I'm cut out for shearing and I just want someone to cuddle me (I don't stink I promise) and pat me and maybe give me something furry to roll on and tell me everything is going to be ok.
Lacking that, I'm going to eat spinach and portions of dead cow, followed by some dairy type dessert and coffee. And then I'm going out dancing, because dancing makes everything better and feeds me energy.
I don't want to hear about your day lying in the sun till I have my blood sugar back, mmk?