Last week I missed church. Was tempted to stay home again this morning but I really missed taking communion, so headed in to early service. The eucharist is special to me and I felt complete getting to share it with everyone.
But back to home early, wash dishes, make lunch, herd sheep, reherd sheep who escaped from the barn, eat lunch and get ready because today was sheep shearing day.
Derrick Spangler of Lord Willin' Shearin' came out with his girlfriend, Amber and a neighbor down the road came over to help. Two other friends and farmers brought their sheep over to join the fun as well.
The children's song about Mary's Little Lamb might lead one to believe that all sheep frolic along, following their leader anywhere the leader might take them. Our sheep have never heard that song. Maybe we should start singing it to them.
When we request the sheep to line up, come and sit down on the tarp on the barn floor, they roll their eyes wildly, look at each other and bolt for the farthest corner of the barn en masse, in total horror. Many sets of muscles were used to maneuver 17 sheep to the shearing floor. Derrick brought all his lovely equipment and did a great job. We would tackle and compel sheep to the tarp, he would sit them on their bottom, and then after shearing we would trim their little hooves. Naked and ashamed, they would stagger in shock out to the pasture, where they quickly recognized the benefit of losing 30+ pounds of heavy wool on a 90 degree day.
We drank lots and lots of water, iced tea and diluted kombucha. Didn't take breaks because the job was big and needed to be done. Now that I am sitting still, I am starting to feel a bit stiff. But overall, that hard physical labor was empowering and energizing. I am thinking about all that endorphin release. For some reason, the endorphins felt a bit more powerful a couple or three hours ago...
It was hard for the sheep to submit to their shearing. Some of them were a bit more patient than others. The impatient ones got a nick or two that could have been avoided if they hadn't fought the shearing. One might think that all that rough handling was cruel and unusual punishment for the poor sheep. Until you think of the hot summer sun and look at the thick coats of wool. Since the weather started to heat up the sheep wouldn't even graze. They just lay in the shade panting. As good shepherds we had to think about what was best for the flock health, not what was the most comfortable for their mental status.
A few weeks ago I thought it might be a good idea for us to purchase shearing equipment and DIY during these trying economic times. After this afternoon, I think we have a pretty good thing going with ole Derrick. He charges very reasonable rates, and having some other friends bring their sheep over, and sharing transportation fees with an alpaca farm down the road made the setup charges much more affordable. And noone had to go to the gym for weight lifting or aerobic exercise today! We definitely got that covered...
As for the sheep. Well, the wool will grow back. In the meantime, they are looking a bit like overgrown dogs with horns. Kind of embarassing. Please try not to laugh too loudly as you drive past our farm.
And as for me, I am going to try to think about the heavy hot coats of the sheep when going through uncomfortable moments, and hope to remember that sometimes good "health" is not very comfortable. Meanwhile, a shower, 2 ibuprofen and a bed are the most important things on my agenda!