Dorper? More like derper - Tactical Ninja
Feb. 9th, 2013
05:24 pm - Dorper? More like derper
Last time I posted about sheep, it came with pictures of pretty lambs, and everyone went *squeeoverload* over them, because as lambs go they were particularly cute.
Today I hit the opposite end of the spectrum, shearing Dorpers. Now, anyone who knows their sheep will know that shearing Dorpers is a contradiction in terms. They are a South African meat breed that shed their wool, and thus supposedly don't need shearing. I've had nothing to do with them before because of this - but apparently these ones did need shearing.
There were four. Here they are:
Yes, there are three black and one white, and no they don't look anything like the black-headed Dorpers that you see when you google them. That's because they are actually crosses. My client had bought them a couple of weeks ago and they desperately needed shearing. Turns out that the people who had them had assumed they would shed their fleeces eventually and just didn't get them done. These guys would be half Dorper at most (I'm guessing the other half of the cross is Sumblacram on the three dark ones, and Bogstandardromney on the other), so they hung on to their fleeces and ended up looking like that.
Of the three black ones, two were 2-tooths (which means they are now about 16-18 months old) and had never been shorn. The other was a full mouth ewe (at least 5) and her wool was so felted together that I had to spend 5 minutes chipping away in tiny increments to make enough of a gap in it to get the handpiece under to shear her neck. I have never seen anything like it, but I'm willing to bet it's been at least two years since she was shorn.
Luckily my client is not neglectful, just new at it. He realised they needed shearing pronto and called me. Lucky he did, because that black patch on the white one's rump? Not dirt, not natural colouring, not even dags. Flystrike. Flystrike has a characteristic wet, saggy look that is instantly recognisable to anyone who's seen it before. Chris had not seen it before, and because she had a very daggy bum, he thought that it was just more dags. When I finally got that gigantic fleece off her, she was skinny under it and had a patch of maggots about the size of a saucer on the right side of her rump. They'd broken the skin in places and it was inflamed. It seems she'd been fighting it for a while because she wasn't acting irritated like they usually do (this generally means they've resigned themselves - something sheep do when sick), and I'm surprised she wasn't a lot sicker. Given the state she was in I'd say she was about 2 days to a week off dying from blood poisoning.
However, sheep are remarkably robust and despite this horrible thing she'd been carrying around with her, she got up and walked out of the shed (after we removed the maggots, disinfected her and sprayed her with fly repellent), and started calmly grazing. I think she'll be fine, although it will take a while to heal. She was wearing a brass tag that read 'Ohariu 01/12'. Since last year was 12 and she was a full mouth, she was obviously not born in 2012. This means that 01 is the year and 12 is the tag number. She's 12 years old and just cheated death. I hope she gets a few more good years, she's certainly in the right place for it.
Anyway, see how she's holding her head in the photo, sort of drawn in with the nose tucked, and her ears are drooping? You can tell something's not right with her and she's in pain - it's bleedingly obvious to anyone who knows sheep, but to a newcomer it's probably too subtle. Certainly I'm glad they all needed shearing so badly because otherwise Chris wouldn't have called me and she may well have died.
And for those who are wondering (I'm pretty sure there's at least one person), Dorpers are indeed derpy. Like, can't-see-the-gateway, hiding-in-bushes, refusing-to-leave-their-pile-of-shorn-wo
After that I shore some Wiltshires (yes, for those following along at home, Wiltshires are also supposed to shed their fleeces and I don't know WTF is up with my run right now), the sheep who was responsible for my original shoulder injury and who has indeed lost about 15kgs due to rearing a pair of fine twins this year (who I also shore), and a flock of 14 ewe lambs that the people bought from the Wairarapa for $30 each because the drought over there got bad enough that everyone was trying to unload at once. This flock of ewes contained one wether, because lifestyle sheep.
Finally, today I found out that the other main shearer around this area, a guy called Rani, has moved to Australia. This explains the sudden surge in interest in my skills, and also concerns me because I can't pick up his entire run, I just don't have the time. He was doing it for a living. But I find it hard to say no because I like sheep, I like sheep people, and I see it as a welfare issue. Since the Singing Shearer retired and with Rani gone, as far as I know there's me and maybe a couple of other people. I know one of them charges more than double what I do, and that means I'm likely to get more calls. Yikes.
 Dear fellow kiwis, please help a girl out - there's a question in the comments about what a typical NZ traditional meal would be and I'm floundering. Help?