Saturday, April 18, 2009

shearing day, part 2

I was in the kitchen writing when I heard the truck pulling into the driveway. I was already on my third cup of coffee, totally amped about the big day. I raced to the window and saw Jim McRae and his business partner Liz unloading gear from the back of their rig. I went out to meet them, slightly self conscious that I was about to help shear sheep in jeans from Banana Republic...

Whenever I am around professionals in the sheep world I get slightly nervous. I feel like a high school football coach about to chat with a guys donning Super Bowl rings. I worry about what I wear and what I say like I'm on some sort of date. I walked up to them, shoved my hands in my pockets, smiled, and tried to play shepherd. I asked how I could help and what could I carry? They handed me a toolbox and we were off for the pen.

The sheep were not excited to see the new company. They turned skittish. They knew this game. Jim and Liz went about the business of setting up their work area. They laid down some plywood to work on, and changed into shearing shoes. (These weird flat, wool shoes so their feet stayed flat and comfortable.) Then Jim grabbed Maude and Liz grabbed Marvin. Side by side they got their haircuts and manicures. To my complete surprise, Maude was an angel. She was limp as a ragdoll kitten in Jim's hands. Marvin however, fought a bit. He shook his butt on the ground and belted out a few complaints. Sal was last, and fought like a champ, but eventually let Jim finish the job. The whole time I tried to help best I could. I packed wool into bags, helped fetch gear from their boxes, plugged and unplugged stuff at their request...I just tried to be of use. I learned today what a big job this really was. I was grateful professionals were doing this instead of me.

I snapped photos as they worked them over, slightly amazed at how much wool was streaming off their bodies. My books say each 150-pound sheep was packing about ten pounds of wool each. I believed it. When the shearing was done, hooves were trimmed, butts were slapped (of sheep, not people), and the three very silly and naked looking sheep were all pacing in the pen. I thanked Jim and Liz, handed them their check ($49!) and let the trio out into their little pasture. I gave the troops a little hay, scratched their heads and necks, and watched them prance around like little does. They seemed happier without all that wool weighting them down. Then I looked over at my three bags full, propped against the fencing. I stood there grinning, my hands all oily from lanolin proudly on my hips. Sometimes things work out. Not always (hell, rarely) but sometimes.

I had a spring shearing of my own sheep under my belt. I felt rich.

Then, I heard a ruckus in the trees above. A pair of crows landed above me and apparently they had a lot to comment on. I waved to them smiling and went inside. Life rolls.

14 Comments:

Blogger Melonie said...

The Banana Republic jeans comment gave me a chuckle.

Sounds like Maude just needed an assertive man to put her in her place for the "date". haha

This has been really interesting to read about and see, tho. Thanks for educating us!

April 18, 2009 at 9:16 PM  
Blogger SouthFella said...

Jena had a little lamb, little lamb, Jena had 3 little lambs and 3 big bags of wool...

Psshht where is the wool sweaters for the poor sheep !

April 18, 2009 at 9:23 PM  
Anonymous Michelle said...

Congratulations! A dream come true, no matter how small is a wonderful thing!

April 18, 2009 at 9:29 PM  
Blogger English Animist said...

Cool - all those bags of wool. What are you planning to do with it?

April 18, 2009 at 11:41 PM  
Blogger karental said...

Maude spent all week telling the others how horrible this would be -then spent the day relaxing like she was at a spa and enjoying the show!

April 19, 2009 at 10:55 AM  
Blogger Stacy said...

Hey Jenna,

When you get your wool processed will you put it up for sale? Cold Antler Farm wool!

49$ seems like a steal, and the sheep look great

April 19, 2009 at 1:35 PM  
Blogger White Feather said...

So glad it all worked out for you! It's a good beginning...yay, fresh wool!

April 19, 2009 at 1:37 PM  
Anonymous The Museum and Arts said...

Reeeeeaaaaally! glad to have found your blog.....just happy to see what you're doing the way you do.
Going to put your site on my links.
Hats off to ya from rural Missoura!

April 19, 2009 at 1:40 PM  
Anonymous Sandy said...

I'm clapping and cheering for you! The delight you must feel at having followed your dream through to this!

I love how your friends will be wearing "the Maude Spring Collection". Now there's a fashion show I would pay to see. Levi's and a Maude sweater. Sign me up!

April 19, 2009 at 1:44 PM  
Anonymous AmyKortuem said...

So awesome. Such a milestone — I love it, love it, love it when people achieve their dreams! I'm practically jumping up and down for you here in Minnesota! (Harry, my hairy cat, is hiding, however, since I proposed shearing him for the summer...)

April 19, 2009 at 2:03 PM  
Blogger Jody M said...

Woo-hoo! Congrats! And yeah, they do look silly. Bet they're happier, though!

April 20, 2009 at 10:07 AM  
Blogger Diana said...

How wonderful! So $49 sounds really inexpensive. How long did the whole process take from unloading the truck to pulling out of the driveway?

Here's an idea; include a label on each of your gifts that reads "Handmade by Jenna and Maude, the mean, crotchety, ruthless old ewe."

Loud clapping sounds for you from this side of the country, dear!

April 20, 2009 at 7:38 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

I think they were here about 45 minutes? If that? it was 8 bucks a sheep and 25 to pull into the driveway. Not too shabby at all. Plus they trimmed hooves! Now the sheep are spending all their time in the barn. I think they feel exposed.

thank you di!

April 20, 2009 at 10:14 PM  
Blogger Deb said...

Just wanted to comment on your statement: "Sometimes things work out. Not always (hell, rarely) but sometimes." My sister and I call this "little pockets of sunshine." The first time she said that to me I loved it and it felt perfect. It's those little pockets of sunshine that keep me going.

Your blog, for me, is a little pocket of sunshine. Thanks for keeping it real.

May 29, 2009 at 2:45 PM  

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