I’ve been living in New Zealand nearly four months and this is a story about what just happened in my backyard. It’s a NZ story, because it involves sheep, and there are A LOT of sheep in NZ.
FOUR STROPPY SHEEP
Above you can see the four stroppy sheep who live in the part of my backyard shared with six neighbors. The foreground shows its overgrown nature. Making it less overgrown is a job of the sheep, but this task is clearly more than just the four can handle. However, lots for them to eat (plus they get their daily sheep-nuts).
The sheep preceded me, and I had assumed they’d be pets. But they run away from me – and everyone – so I now just use them as lures to get my animal-loving daughter to come visit me from distinctly non-rural Brooklyn.
These four needed shearing. It’s for their health, I was informed by my farm-raised neighbor (there are many farm-raised people here). However, her also farm-raised husband told me these sheep likely had been traumatized (NOW they were speaking my Brooklyn language) because they were exceptionally timid to the point of (sheepy) aggression when being approached. Or, as I would put it, scaredy-sheep.
I was invited to watch, and watch I did as four of us residents, and the shearer, waited. And waited. It was impossible to get them up to the portable shearing-truck.
This was not usually the case, but since these were scaredy-sheep, Mr. Portable Shearer had phoned for his mate-with-sheep-dog to come. I was assured the sheep dog would handle the matter. “How many?” I asked and had trouble wrapping my head around the answer: one would be sufficient.
Here’s Fleet, who appeared gleeful as he effortlessly ran down to the sheep and within seconds, they were up in the portable chute.
And here’s the portable sheep shearing truck complete with the shearer (above) and dog-handler (below). You can see some of the portable fencing brought to create pen and chutes.
The men have confidence …
while the sheep looked wary.
One at a time they come out and get efficiently shorn. When the shearer holds them, they seem to relax – I think that’s part of the shearer’s skill. I’d watched many sheep shorn at the International Sheep Shearing Competition called The Golden Shears, and every last one of them seemed just fine after the experience (the sheep, not the sweating shearer).
SHEARER/SHEEP COMBO IN-THE-ACT
And here’s what she looks like afterward:
I was pretty thrilled to be an up-close witness to all this in my own backyard – as I make my way into becoming a transplanted Kiwi.