If you missed part one of Farming Down Under, want to check out the most gorgeous sunset, or find out why I am now going to be called The Girl with the Portable Fan, click here.
Sheep Don’t Baaa they Meeerh
Forget what you learned as a kid, sheep do not baaaa, it’s a fact you learn when you are surrounded by 400 sheep. That was my Sunday… sheep work.
I had no idea what “sheep work” entailed but I soon learned. As we headed down to the sheep yards we crossed paths with Mr. J, two of his working dogs, and 400 sheep!
The dogs led the sheep down to the pens, and then the three of us got to work.
Sheep work started off with just Ben and his dad handling the sheep while I watched (and took photos) trying to get the hang of things. Mr. J was going through each of his sheep one by one to determine if they were good to sell in town on Monday. He marked the ones to be sold with a purple stock paint.
So what determines if they are good enough? Each sheep has their teeth evaluated, and if they still have young teeth and lots of meat around their tails they are sold. Local butchers will buy Mr. J’s sheep this week with prices ranging from $60-100 a head.
I now know where all that wonderful material for ugg boots come from. Unlike my sheep shearing experience in April these guys will not be shorn before they are sold. The wool from sheep gathered during shearing season is used in clothing, and in the case of these guys their wool and sheepskin is sold off to make ugg boots and wool car seats. Apparently every part of the sheep gets used somehow once it is sold.
Looks like the right amount of wool for some boots.
After all the sheep in one pen had been looked over Mr. J went down to the end of the “race” that middle strip there that the sheep run down, and sorted the sheep into their respective pens, one for selling, and one for keeping. He will go through this process of evaluating sheep every 3 to 4 weeks.
My job was to direct the sheep where they needed to go, whether it be down the race or into the next pen to be evaluated. This involved lots of yelling and a little bit of bopping on the head with a thin PVC pipe to get them going. Those sheep are stubborn.
The Stand Off: Dogs vs. Sheep
Sheep to my left…
Sheep to my right.
Most of the yelling comes in the form of “Oui, Oui, Oui!” but you know I had to Americanize this Aussie farm just a bit by yelling “blue 42, blue 42, hut hut.” I had my own little football team of sheep.
The Time I was Rammed by a Sheep
I had gotten the hang of the whole sheep thing and moving them from one pen to the next… but then there was this one sheep.. this one uncooperative sheep who would do anything to not join his sheep brothers in the next pen… and by anything I mean this sheep became my enemy.
After flailing around like a mechanical bull he came to an abrupt stop. He gave me the death stare… it was on. At full force this sheep ran towards me and rammed me in the leg!
I screamed, obviously, who knew sheep could ram??! Which scared the big guy and he ran away from me bucking the whole way. Clearly he didn’t know if he was a sheep, ram, or bull that day. I don’t know if he was big enough to be sold, but I definitely lobbied for him to go into the selling pen because we don’t need any more incidences from him.
After two and a half hours in the blazing Australian sun (roughly 100° out there) the final lot to be sold on Monday… about 100 of the 400 sheep we went through.
I Could be a Farmers Wife
Those words actually came out of my mouth this weekend, in fact they came out during the sheep work.
As much as I complain about the heat out west, and the bugs… you should really call me the girl with the portable fan and bug spray, I really love all the time we spend out there and the learning we do. I’m such a city girl, but I could get used to the farm life every once in a while.
As we drove back home Sunday night we stopped off on a new dirt road for Ben’s nap and my explorations. As we were leaving we found an abandoned church on hill so we got out of the car and checked it out.
For absolutely stunning photos of sunsets and life on the farm check out part one of the Farming Down Under series. I guarantee you will not be disappointed.
So you tell me… What’s the craziest animal encounter you’ve ever had?