The guy that shears my sheep called late Thursday night. He was in Georgia shearing and wanted to give me a heads up that he’d be in my area Friday. AAAAAARGH! Normal people have Miller Time on Friday. I have panic time. He also said he’d tried to contact one of my friends but got no answer.
I called back and left a message (because he was busy shearing) that the very, very earliest I could be home was 4:00 p.m. if I left early so don’t come to my house first thing! When I got home Friday afternoon, I called one of my friends to see if he’d sheared her sheep yet.
“No, and he was supposed to be here at 11! He’s out at Janet’s place. Why is he shearing HER sheep first and not ours?”
“Uh, because you didn’t answer your phone, and I wasn’t going to be home until late?”
“Well, I didn’t recognize the number.”
“HOW MANY PEOPLE DO YOU KNOW FROM IOWA?”
She was in a panic because her husband had just had an operation and therefore they had people over to help with the sheep, but the people had to leave soon. She is not a strong woman, and the prospect of sheep wrestling had her filled with dismay.
Cool. I’d have plenty of time to clean out the shearing area (covered with a year’s worth of sheep manure and chicken manure), get some cattle panels for crowding the sheep, find the halters, call the rams in with the ewes, feed the sheep, catch and separate the lambs so they wouldn’t be trampled, run some power cords (since the rats chewed through the electric lines in that barn and they need to be replaced with lines in METAL conduit, a project SwampMan was going to do next week so we’d be ready when the shearer came), then feed the horses, put feed and water in and then move all the pens to fresh grass that have hens with chicks (3), ducks with ducklings (1), the pen with the white rock chicks (1), the pen with the injured hen on the nest (1), feed and water the free ducks, the penned adult ducks, move the two hoop houses with laying hens to fresh grass and put in fresh water/feed, feed and water the chickens sitting on eggs in the stationary house and pen (1), feed the horse and check her water, feed and water the two dogs and one cat at the house, and go out to Mike’s barn and feed and water the two cats from daughter’s house and scoop out the litter box before he arrived.
By 8 p.m., I was finished with the outside chores and called to see whether I had time to get something to eat.
“He’s got seven more sheep to shear.”
“How many you got now?”
“We’ve only got 12. One of the livestock auctions quit taking sheep, and we only got $40 each from the other one.” Dang. That’s a two hour drive one way, too. I sell mine privately for $100 each, and they come get them! I kept that to myself.
SwampMan and I hurried out and picked up some BBQ to go. We came back home, ate, and about that time my friend called.
“We’re having a really hard time catching these sheep. He said he’d be at your house in a couple hours and then shear all night. He didn’t finish until 4 a.m. this morning in Georgia.”
“Good grief! You tell him that it will not hurt me one tiny little bit to wait until morning to get my sheep sheared so that he can get some rest!”
“Okay, I’ll tell him and call you back if he wants to rest, and if I don’t call, he’s gonna shear all night.”
About 45 seconds later, the phone rang. “He’d really like to get some sleep tonight if it’s really okay with you.”
“Okay, he said he’d see you about 7:30 in the morning.”
“You tell him I’m going out to the barn now and turning my sheep loose, so he can’t change his mind about shearing at midnight!”
I was so relieved. My feet were killin’ me, and I really needed to pop an anti-inflammatory and kick back and relax until 6 a.m., when it would be time to catch the sheep by feeding them and separate the smallest lambs out so they wouldn’t be trampled, and feed the other livestock.
I was outside at dawn on Saturday morning. It was a beautiful day. The sheep catching/separating went well and, after breakfast, the sheep were happy to lay in the shaded barn and chew their cud. I had just re-run the power cord from the porch to the barn (I picked it all up last night so that puppy wouldn’t chew it up and electrocute himself) when I heard the rattle of his truck coming down the driveway. I ran to get the gate.
“I thought you wouldn’t have time for breakfast, so I picked you up something from McDonald’s”, he said as he came through the gate and handed me a bag. Heh. My shearer really takes good care of me!
He remarked about how good a shape my lil’ flock was in, considering the lack of pasture. Yep. I might as well chop up dollar bills and scatter ’em in the feed troughs, of course, because of the price of feed! He told me that he’d sheared llamas up in Georgia then at Janet’s house, he’d sheared some sheep, then a llama and an alpaca, and the neighbors started bringing in their llamas, and then one had gotten loose and it took an hour to catch him, then the owner wanted him to castrate it because it had gotten mean and killed some sheep, so he did. That’s why he didn’t get to my friend’s house until 8 hours later than planned!
“There’s a lot of people suddenly with llamas and alpacas, more than sheep around here. They makin’ any money with them thangs? I just don’t see any profitability there. At all.” After all, if I want to get rid of my flock (or chickens), I can just put an ad in the paper or eat ’em myself or fill my family’s freezers for Christmas (Merry Christmas! Here’s a dead sheep all nicely wrapped in white freezer paper with little red bows. There’s a couple dead ducks and some dead chickens, too, in the gift bags.) It is a little more problematic to get rid of a meanass llama. Well, I suppose you could just shoot the sumbitch, but then that’s a big dang hole to dig, and I’m kinda lazy.
The shearer said he didn’t see where anybody was makin’ any money from those things (llamas and alpacas) except sellin’ ’em to each other.
He usually buys a mismanaged flock of sheep from the auction, feeds ’em out on good pastures, puts a ram in with ’em, and sells a nice fat flock of ewes and lambs in the spring. Usually he makes money at it, buying at @ $30, selling over $100. The past year, though, he had to pay $70 and the price dropped to $30 at sales time, so he decided not to sell. He had enough hay put up so that it wasn’t gonna cost him too much. *sigh* Grass hay up there costs @ $2.50 a bale. Grass hay here costs between $6 and $7 a bale.
He’d had a partially detached retina while he was shearing earlier in the year in the upper midwest, and had to head back home and get it fixed. He said while he was shearing, he could only see his hand about a foot in front of his face but couldn’t see his nails. He sheared by feel. He drove his big truck home the next day (I dunno how) and saw an opthalmologist, who fixed him up with laser surgery. He told the doctor that he had a big flock to shear the next day several states away. The doc told him to wear goggles and don’t do anything that could jar his body real bad, and he should be okay, and come back when he was finished and get his cataracts taken care of. He left that day and sheared the flock the next, then went back and had cataract surgery, then back to work. Our hard-working shearer is almost 70 years old.
Neither one of us was movin’ real fast, but I had another sheep lined up for him as soon as he finished one, caught another, and came back and skirted the last fleece and did some skirting of the next while he was shearing (skirting is removing the butt fleece that is stained with urine and dung, throwing away the belly fleece and the leg fleece and the head fleece). Some of the ewe fleeces I just took and threw over the fence onto a waiting piece of plywood to be hauled out to the garden for mulch. The lambs had played jump on momma’s back while she was relaxing in the shade and chewing cud, and some of the fleeces were in pretty bad shape. The older sheep, too, had been rubbing on fence posts and breaking off huge chunks of wool, and over the fence the wool went. I kept 12 nice fleeces which are bagged and ready for me to start washing.
The shearer left after arguing with me that he felt bad bacause I had overpaid him so much (and I told him that one year I might not be able to afford his full price the way things are going and might have to get a discount so consider it prepaying, and he countered with that if I were having a really hard time he’d still show up and shear my sheep for free so I didn’t need to prepay him). Heh. Our usual ending argument. The price of gas has gone up so much that he needs to raise his prices, but people are struggling so much financially that he feels too bad for them to do it and, in actuality, they might not be able to afford it if he did. This year I can still afford to pay more so I will.
I closed the gate behind him at 11 a.m. and went to see how SwampMan was progressing with fixing the oil leak in his truck. He was dropping the drive shaft when I went to talk to him.
“I’m going to need you out here helping me.”
Oh, dear. So now you know how the rest of my day went. It went something like this:
“Hand me the ratchet. It’s by my left leg.”
Stepping across legs protruding out from underneath truck. “Where you goin? I SAID I need my ratchet!”
“I’m getting your ratchet!”
“It’s not THERE! It’s on the other side, DAMNIT!”
“JUST BE QUIET AND WALK BACK OVER TO WHERE I TOLD YOU THE DAMN THING WAS. NOW GET IT FOR ME!”
“It isn’t there!”
‘YES IT IS! DAMNIT, CAN’T YOU DO ANYTHING I ASK YOU TO DO WITHOUT ARGUING ABOUT IT?”
“It isn’t there!”
‘WHAT DO YOU MEAN IT ISN’T THERE, OF COURSE IT’S THERE!”
“I’m looking at it beside your RIGHT leg.”
People that are on their backs underneath a very heavy vehicle that is supported by jackstands really ought to be more polite to their significant other. Just sayin’.
“I need my long ratchet extension. Do you see it anywhere?”
“Is that it over there on the other side?”
“THAT’S A DAMN TORQUE WRENCH! YOU’VE BEEN HELPING ME FOR HOW MANY YEARS, AND YOU DON’T KNOW A TORQUE WRENCH FROM A RATCHET EXTENSION?”
Fine. I calmly went through the tools that were scattered around beside the truck next to his legs.
“You find it yet?”
“DAMNIT, it has to be there.”
“You know what it looks like?”
“I’m too stupid.”
“I NEVER SAID YOU WERE STUPID, DAMNIT! You just worry too much about stupid things.”
“Well, where is it?”
“Dunno. It ain’t over here.”
After about five more minutes, a voice underneath the truck said that there was a slight possibility that it might be on the torque wrench. Whoda thunk.
By about 6 p.m., SwampMan’s truck was put back together, and he wasn’t squished. Good thing I got better natured as I got older.
Then it was time to feed and water the horse, chickens, dogs, cats, ducks, chicks, ducklings, coax the sheep in from the pasture for the night, and unload a few hundred pounds of feed and some bales of hay from my vehicle. The last hour, I was gritting my teeth from the pain in my feet as I made my rounds. I limped inside about 9 p.m.
“What’s for dinner?”
“I dunno. Whatever you want to make. You’re cooking.”
SwampMan was too tired to cook, so he went off to bed. I tried to go to sleep, but I was too tired and my feet hurt too much to sleep! After about an hour, I nuked some Ramen noodles, then back to try to get some sleep.
Today, of course, is a laundry/ironing/housecleaning/dishes washing/dusting/trash burning marathon. The ironing is mostly done. There are clothes in the dryer yet but, if I remember to get them out in time, they should be okay for work as they are. I’m about to vacuum, dust (aaaahCHOO!), mop the kitchen, wash the dishes, fold the rest of the clothes, and get started on the bathrooms. Then I need to start feeding and tending the garden and clean last week’s mud off the filthy porches. Oh, and I need to put up a fence in the front yard.
I hope I can get to all of it, but unless there’s a drastic change in my day, I probably *sigh* won’t.
So now y’all know why my posts have creative punctuation, grammar, and spelling. I write things on the fly and don’t always have time to proofread and fix the booboos!