tatjna (tatjna) wrote,

It's that time of year again

This year, for the first time since about 2006, shearing season started on the day we organised it. Normally, me booking in sheep is a signal for everyone in the district to move to higher ground, but this time the best the weather gods could manage was a kind of grey stillness.

Charlene has moorits, which are a kind of chocolatey colour. She's also a bacteriologist who had to retire due to repetitive strain injury from holding flasks with tongs, and now applies her substantial brain to studying the genetics and nutrition of sheep. She has seven ewes and seven lambs, all beautifully grown and turned out and a credit to her lernins.

Well actually, that's a lie. I've come across much more violent sheep but her ones have learned a few tricks over the years because Charlene is teeny-tiny and the RSI makes it so she can't grip. Her attempts to handle them have led to them being very deft at avoiding being tipped over, and the wetness underfoot meant that I spent quite a bit of time skiing around the pen being dragged by these healthy, well-grown sheep as they determinedly stayed on their feet. But I have opposable thumbs and an IQ so the outcome was inevitable - a pen full of bald sheep that look like they're made of chocolate and are wearing pale fawn earmuffs and legwarmers.

Part of doing Charlene's sheep involves coffees and conversation afterwards - she's an interesting and interested lady. She was the first person to import Siberian Huskies to NZ and use them for sled dog racing. In NZ, that looks like this:

Due to the lack of reliable snow, they do 'rig racing' which involves little wheeled carts instead of sleds, and they hoon through forest tracks at high speed. In her heyday, Charlene had 19 dogs. Now she has two, aged 12 and 14, and they mostly hang out in the house and keep her company. But she loves her dogs and has only ever had huskies, much like I've only ever had sheepdogs. This leads to long rambly conversations in a kind of compare/contrast way. Given the nature of huskies, it's a credit to her that she can keep them on the same property as sheep and has never had a problem.

We also spent an hour or so on sheep pedigrees, the practical application of breed standards and wool quality, in an effort to choose which to cull from her flock. It's a hard choice, she's done a very good job and the usual things you'd cull for (unthriftiness, bad feet, bad teeth, lambing troubles) just don't exist. In the end we chose based on colour and quality of the wool, and while I was explaining the virtues of crimp, lustre and fineness to her, I could see the cogs in her brain going round and I'd be willing to bet that in a few years, her wee flock will also be producing the best moorit wool around here too. This is what happens when a geek gets interested in something.

I always enjoy going to see Charlene. I only get out there twice a year but I think I might make a point of going to see her outside of shearing time, just because I like her so much.

I'm sure you are all riveted by my descriptions of sheep geekery. O.o

Anyway, it seems the gym has paid off in terms of retaining fitness. The only bits that hurt are some muscles in the lower shoulders and the outsides of my calves - the ones you use for controlling sideways pivoting of your ankles. Everything else is fine - unlike my usual couple of days of walking like a cowboy with rickets, I'm still able to move quite freely. It's nice.

So, shearing season is underway and it's still early enough so I'm enthusiastic about it instead of later, when I'll probably be all *gnng more shearing mutter mutter*. Here's hoping for a season with reliable-ish weather so I'm not shearing into March like last year!

Also, our porch smells like sheep poo. My boots are in there. This is the first time I've kept my boots on for shearing instead of using my mocs, because the pen was ankle deep in mud. And I had to trim their feet.

First thinks it smells awesome.
Tags: shearing season, sheep, wrestling sheep for fun and profit
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