The other day I watched a little video on facebook about how Ugg boots come from bad men doing bad things to sheep. At one point in the video it showed men “abusing” the helpless little fellas. Slapping their bottoms with sticks while pushing them up a shoot. I laughed out loud a little. Oh if only the makers of this video had actually ever worked with sheep. Only then would they really know what its like…then they themselves would soon be reaching for the closest stick…trust me. Let me explain.
As I came home the other day…dirt smudged around my lips, up my nose, and smelling like…well like poop. Literally. My husband asked me if two years ago, would I ever have thought I would be doing what I did that day.
Nope. No way.
You see, Tom Barr shears sheep. And was a little low on help. So, I volunteered. Because I grew up around cows. And sheep are like half their size. And I could make a couple bucks. Which is nice.
So upon Tom’s arrival bright and early, I snatched up my Carrhart beanie and was out the door. Eager to show him my grew-up-on-a-farm-girlness. After tossing aside a few greasy tools, rolls of twine, and empty sandwich baggies, I slid in on the grease stained bench seat of the ol’ pickup truck. I came right up next to his fine flee infested, face licken, stinky breathed sheep dogs. Blek. Tom leaned on over and tossed the pups over the bench seat into the opening between us and the torn off truck bed. I felt right at home.
After a quick stop at the local gas station for a few soda pops, we settled in, turned the radio up and made our way out into the wilderness. Not long after, we entered the scene. There I found myself among 1100 hacking/stinky sheep, an amish dude who would tackle the sheep, a puruvian non-english speaking herder fresh off the mountain, one great big dog, Tom Barr, and Katy Perry blaring in the background. Yeah. I was in way over my head on this one. I imagine we looked a little bit like an old time photograph with everyone lined up, looked weary and worn out, with a little bit of crazy seeping outta our eyes.
While scouting the area I reminisced… You see when growing up and helping your dad herd cows, they turn around and charge you. Causing you to turn and run bounding over (or mostly just on) any near fence screaming crying, begging to go home and do dishes or vacuum or whatever just to get out of there. Thus becoming a farmers daughter, who is supposed to be tough. But mostly just ending up being a great big whimp. Because you know. You know animals are mean.
Or you become a crazy person who hates animals. And wants mostly just destroy them.
But. Sheep don’t charge. And they are soft. And little children dream about them. And stuff. So. Bring it on. Confidently I walked on over to the nearby sheep with my male counterparts.
But upon walking behind them in a small corral, I quickly realized they are a whole different kind of terrible awful beast. In hopes of pushing them into a shoot (a narrow hallway leading up to the trailer), these sheep lost it. Like freakin’ crazy people. Scattering in every available direction (except, of course, the direction in which you want them to go) they began smashing their faces through the small 5 inch openings in the wire fence. Over and over again. Like that was their only option. Flailing like a fish out of water, they would time and time again slam those little faces through that unwelcoming wire, fly through the air, dive bomb onto eachother, etc. as a path, straight ahead, remained untouched. Chaos. It was mad chaos.
|So the top right is the initial corral we push the|
sheep into. And then they walk up that long wood
hallway thingie. And its' never this still and serene.
We simply hadn't started yet.
That. That was when I realized I was going to hate sheep. Not because they are mean and scary. But stupid. Sheep are just really really stupid.
Let me paint a picture for you. There are a thousand sheep. They are divided into a number of different corrals. They are pushed (or pulled, hauled, yanked, etc.) into a thin wood shoot. There the sheep, one by walk, walk up this shoot into a horse trailer looking contraption. (Now that’s ideal. Mostly it’s just a lot of flying dust, swearing men, and screaming sheep. Oh, and hip-hop’s top 20 blaring in the background from Tom Barr’s 1980 boombox in the back of the trailer.) At the end of their journey they are pulled out one by one so that Tom Barr can shave their little bottoms. You see, they eat lots of grass and then poop out lots of grass. And that creates these…well, they are dingleberries. Which are the most efficient chastity belt, says Tom Barr. So. He shaves it. And well, That’s enough of that.
|Roy pulling out the next sheep.|
For Tom to shave it.
After doing that about
a thousand times,
I'm pretty sure their back
just about falls off.
Annnnyways…my job was to push the sheep up the shoot. Which should be super easy. I mean. It’s not like there is anywhere for these animals to go. But forward. But these animals, with a passion and stubbornness beyond anything I’ve ever encountered, went anywhere but forward.
Let me outline just a few of their methods.
First, there is the ‘lay-down’. Here. They just. Well, they lay down. With subsequent sheep smashing their pointy little legs into their faces. And then rolling over on them and causing the most impossible pile-up wreck. And they (the entire pile) are in no hurry to get up. No. They would much prefer to just die right there. And you, after the thousandth time of this mishap, would be happy to do them the pleasure.
That is cousin to the ‘nose dive’. In which their front legs stop working. Which is not so bad. Because here the herder promptly grabs their knobby tail and all sorts of dingleberries attached and simply drags them forward. On their little nose. Which somehow offers a little bit of joy.
Then there is the ‘back up”. Where for the first time in their life, sheep put it into high gear. In reverse. With wild wide-eyes they run backwards smashing and propelling the remaining sheep…in..again, the wrong direction, as you run along beside them shouting all sorts of profanities.
Another ‘satisfying’ and equally maddening move is the ‘turn-around’. Which seems totally impossible. That in a squished tight wooden hallway, they are able to contort their body in such a way that would make such a feat possible. But, again, I remind you. Passion. Idiotic passion. But, as I mentioned, this does offer some sort of satisfaction to the herder. As they are able to open the latched gate along the hallway and pull that animal out. Slamming it on its bottom. Shoving its front legs in the correct direction. Then ever so passionately blasting it forward. It was in these moments that a few degrees of one’s built up fire of hatred for these beasts can be released. Which is nice.
Lastly, there is the ‘ewe’ position. Let me explain. In this position sheep suddenly weigh five thousand pounds and are not going anywhere. No matter how you shove, heave, yank, beg, holler, clobber, etc. Thus, prompting some ‘ewe’ rhetoric. “Ewe freakin’ idiot” “Ewe piece of crap” to name a few.
Well, after working through their multiple methods, and going through multiple weapons, I was finally able to call it a day. Upon walking back to the pickup truck, we swept up the dingleberries, snatched the empty candy wrappers and plastic baggies from our lunch break, and hit the road once more.
On the trip home I had a little time to think. About how sheep are just awful bad. And how there must be opposition in all things. And sheep are the perfect example. God had to send us sheep. He knew they would about be our downfall. But he also knew that through sheep, He would teach us to be happy and grateful. Because if there weren’t things like sheep, we wouldn’t know how to be so doggone blasted mad, and if we weren’t ever that mad, we wouldn’t appreciate the times when we were so doggone happy and glad.
And then I thought about how Christ is the Shephard and we are the sheep. Why? Because people too, like sheep, are stupid. And so frequently fight against the little prods God gives us in the right direction. We think he is torturing us or really just trying to make our lives miserable. When in reality, if we would simply do as He asks and move forward, we would realize that it is much better than fighting or giving up! For he knows what is best for us! If we just have the faith the keep moving forward.
Amazing, right? What sheep can teach us.
Anyways, upon arriving home I started up the ol’ bath-tub. But before taking the plunge, I set aside my dirty britches and hoodie, just so when Tom Barr called again, I’d be ready. Cuz there is some kind of incredible satisfaction in hard work, and being part of America’s bottom-line industry—agriculture.