Also, I've been Doing Stuff. Lots of stuff.
I turned up at the shed on Saturday expecting to do about 50 sheep. Instead, there were 83, counting the lambs. So it took a little longer than expected, and knocked me about a bit more than expected.
One of the things that was different this time was that after each sheep was finished, I was holding it for another person to drench and foot trim. Normally I do this as part of the service, and doing it this way took longer and was a bit tougher on the body as a sheep that has just been shorn doesn't take kindly to someone grabbing its legs.
Anyway, the whole procedure ended up taking 9 hours, and I finished with 33 English Leicesters. Anyone here from Leicestershire? Is everything that comes from Leicestershire belligerent, muscular and stroppy? Seriously, they have attitude plus.
Shearing is one of those things that is very hard on the body, but mostly it's a head game. Why do I say that? Well, because you're dealing with another living being that's as big as, if not bigger than you are, and you're doing things to it that it inherently dislikes - it's a fraught situation. The sheep thinks it's going to die and is hellbent on avoiding that. You know the sheep isn't going to die* and have to somehow keep things as calm as possible. If you have any excitement in you, the sheep will feel it and equate it to the same excitement any other predator has when it's about to make a kill - and it'll fight desperately to save its own life.
So the trick to shearing is to keep your head calm, to not get frustrated with the flailing of a panicky sheep, to not retaliate when a head comes up under your jaw suddenly and you bite your tongue, and to not be angry when you fall on your ass because the sheep kicked your feet out from under you.
Which I've had a HELL of a lot of practice at. But I'm embarrassed to say that at around 4pm on Saturday when I was about halfway through the English Leicesters, I lost the head game for a while. I know why - I hit that barrier that everyone hits when they are pushing past the point where they usually stop - I got tired. It's hard to eat when you're shearing because bending over = heartburn, so you have to have tiny bites, often. And I couldn't eat enough to sustain the energy I was expending. So I got tired. When you're tired the bruises hurt more, the kicking is harder to handle, and the tricks the sheep use to get away are more likely to work. But mostly, when you're tired, you lose the head game. And I did. I got frustrated and angry, and the sheep started to get away from me, and everything started to turn to custard.
Luckily, I've been at this game nearly 20 years (I realised this on Saturday when someone asked me where I got my mocs and I said "In Gore in 1989"), and I recognised what was happening and stopped for a break, ate 8 squares of energy chocolate and some cheese, had a coffee and pulled my head together, and peeled out the last 20 in just over an hour. That's no speed record, but it's pretty damn good for me.
Anyway, lesson learned. Always assume there'll be 30 more sheep than you think there'll be, start a bit earlier, and maybe go faster while you're still fresh. And shear the Leicesters first. They're lovely cutting, but so much harder to shear than other sheep because of their attitude.
*Having said that, one did die on Saturday - she was very stressed in the shed and the owner decided it was best to shear her quick so we could get her back out in the paddock. Unfortunately, it seems she had a heart attack while I was shearing her and she was dead by the time I finished.
Same again next weekend. Yay.
After that, there was psytrance! Yay for vernacularity and his moonlight picnic kit, which involved blankies and beanbags and portable espresso and apples. Also yay for Bron and the fire crew. I made an executive decision based on the state of my body and didn't take my fire gear for the sake of safety, instead I enjoyed watching. Oh boy did I enjoy watching..
It was a lovely night, the music was great and I was really feeling it. Unfortunately, my knees were jelly and the particular brand of twisting they do when I'm dancing was the same as the Shearing Twist (who knew?), so I probably only spent an hour or so dancing. The rest was spent in a cuddle puddle from which I had a brilliant view of the fire, and was surrounded by cool people who were all in the same frame of mind as I was.
Thank you especially to ferrouswheel for the back rub - and for understanding that lactic acid laden muscles like gentle rubbing, not Serious Knot Working. You rock.
We wandered happily home as the sun came up, smiling and empathic to the world. I got home and wrapped myself in my crack blanket (soft and very fuzzy blanket that is Addictive Like Crack) and rolled around going *glargledrool* until I fell asleep. Woke at 1:30pm with a feeling of All Is Well With The World.
Until I moved. Ow. Everything hurts. Except my smiling muscles. Heheheee..
I made out like a bandit at the clothes swap too - which, considering that I had nothing to take and only went to be social, was surprising. There were jackets that required one to be flat chested! Now I have jackets! Whee! And it was nice to see all the laydeeez and have scones and be all civilised like.
And I was in bed by 9pm, after which I slept for 10 hours. I would like another back rub now. I'm almost tempted to go to one of those pay-by-the-half-hour places. But I'm a little afraid they'll do it really hard because "We know what's good for you" and it'll be like half an hour of torture.
Seriously, Happy. I'm sure doing gymnastics would help get me fit for shearing season, but doing gymnastics during shearing season is right up there with self-flagellation. Tell me I'm wrong after you've done gym for 9 hours straight. I'll join when the sheep are done, and you can hold me to that, mmk?
So did I miss anything while I wasn't looking at the internet?
Oh! And my psihoop arrived back this morning, all shiny and not broken. I'll have to be more fussy about who gets to use it now, but YAY! Hoooopshiiiny!