Well, it’s near the end of April. And you all know what that means: Administrative Professional’s Day. It used to be called Secretary’s Day.
I’ll tell you what else happens during April. Sheep shearing. It used to be called Make Your Farm Animals Hate You Day, but that was a lot to fit into the little calendar squares, so it was changed.
Peter, our Welshman sheep shearer, gave me fair warning. But I didn’t listen to him. I was too busy snapping over 300 photos of what was happening to Toot & Puddle, our wide-eyed woolly lambs.
It took Peter 3 minutes and 29 seconds to undress each shaggy form, an eternity in sheep shearing standards, but these fellahs were the first two of his season. He normally whips them out a mutton a minute.
It wasn’t until I scanned through all the uploaded photos on my computer that I realized what really took place, what Peter attempted to communicate.
To our sheep, I was provider of food, water, shelter and a good nightly noggin scratch. The perfect shepherdess. After Peter had them spread, splayed and speechless, trust left their eyes as the fleece fell away. They stumbled back to the meadow, not recognizing each other nor understanding why I stood three feet away and did nothing but document the entire assault.
Peter said I’d likely never catch them again, that they have a memory like an elephant, and I think we all have seen how well most elephants remember our birthdays.
I’ve never seen sheep suffer from depression before, and for two weeks following what I’m betting they’re now considering the attack, I have been subtly shunned from their little flock. Hearing sheep sigh can kill you, just a little bit each day.
If you have never witnessed a shearing, I encourage you to pack a picnic and send out feelers to find out where you might be able to watch such an event. As displeased as my two little fellows were over the sordid ordeal, I think it was more than amazing and expect the pair of them will come to their senses in a few short weeks when the temperatures soar and the shade is nothing more than a variance in ground color.
Seeing a sheep get placed into what farmers refer to as the chair hold will make small children fall into fits of giggles and most adults sympathize with what it must feel like to have four stomachs and all of them stuffed right after a Thanksgiving dinner. It’s just … unnatural.
As soon as Peter had one of the guys in position, it was easy to see the animal register a few things in double quick time.
Not only was he unnerved and unprotected, but he also found out he was … unendowed. He looked at his barn mate and belched out a collection of sounds that I translated to, “I knew something didn’t feel right down there.”
He then turned to me with a look that said, “I’m assuming this was another one of your ideas?”
They must have thought I was hiding behind the camera, refusing to make eye contact or take ownership of what they clearly believed needed nothing short of an apology in triplicate, if not recompense.
After the Barber of Shearville left, I spent the next couple of weeks keeping tabs on the woebegone woolies. They either stood, with heads bent, barely touching each other’s foreheads, or sleeping their sorrows away in the barn.
Maybe it was their bulk that gave them bounce and vitality, their commanding identity. It appears I have stripped them of their Superman suits and revealed a couple of Clark Kents. They are not impressed and want their capes back.
It’s a good thing their clumsy hooves cannot manage Peter’s shaving gear, for given the opportunity and shifty glint in their eyes, I’d not be surprised if they’d attempt to wrestle me into a chair hold and give me the exact hairstyle of who they really see me as …