Tuesday, August 15, 2006


I spent the morning yesterday rounding up sheep at a friends ranch. It was shearing time for the flock of 70, though there may have been more. Sheep move just enough to make them hard to count.

The shearer was an Aussie, and if you think that Americans are good about sharing insults, you’ve never been insulted by someone from the Land of Down Under. The target for him was my knot tying abilities, of which I have none. On a good day I can do a square knot and maybe tie my shoes, which is why I almost always wear sandals or muck boots. In the summer I do wear garden clogs as well.

The funny thing about sheep is that they seem to have one mind. They all want to be in the same place at the same time, so if you are the only obstacle in their way, no problem. We had them penned up in a barn. I was holding an unattached gate and they suddenly thought it would be better for them to go to my side of the gate. Sheep were strong arming the gate, some were jumping over it. It was not pretty, but with some more help we were able to get them back to where they belonged. This time we lashed several gates together with bailing twine and tied them to posts in the barn.

The shearer went through the 70 sheep in a little over two hours. The final animal to be sheared was an alpaca. This required ropes and two come-alongs to hold him down and stretch him out. I tried to assist, but when the shearer saw my knot tying ability he asked if I was trying to get him killed. I confessed that I even had a hard time with trash bag twist ties, and the next ten minutes we were entertained by his folksy Down Under whit about me being a failed Boy Scout. When I admitted never having interest in being a scout, I opened the door to all sorts of other insults. It was probably the high light of his day. I know if I were him, it would have been the high light of my day.


Blogger Syd said...

Did any of those insults involve sheep?

9:47 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Very funny, Syd...
No it was more about Girl Scouts, Brownies, mis-spent youth in the suburbs of my origins.

All and all, I wasn't hurt. It was almost an honor to be insulted by such a craftsman.

I didn't know enough about sheep to return any insults. Plus watching him body slam rams in to submission made me realize that I didn't want to mess with this guy, though I should have asked him for a trim while he had the clippers out.

10:03 AM  
Blogger Syd said...


I would actually love to watch that. I thought that was a lost art. Not sure how I thought wool was procured these days, I just didn't thnk there were expert sheep shearers still around. Very cool.

4:12 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

It's a very seasonal business. This guy works here for a couple months and then he works in Australia for a few months. His rates were very reasonable, I was expecting at least triple what he charged.

A horse shoer I know charges for two horses what this guy made in two and a half hours. Maybe he reduced the rate since he got to insult the help.

10:03 PM  
Anonymous gearhead said...

Make sure to go to the DNC convention next year for an instant replay.

10:10 PM  

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