Yesterday we interrupted festival preparations for barn cleaning and sheep sorting. You can say a couple of universal things about livestock. First, if there is plenty of pasture and sunny weather.....they will gang up and relieve themselves in the barn to the point that the only description you can think of is cesspool. The second universal thing is relating to draft horses and it's really quite simple. Common sense you might say. They make the mess a hundred times bigger. After we scraped and dug until we found the hallway floor mats again, the morning was mostly over and it seemed like the perfect time to sort the ewes into breeding groups. Figured that would finish off the morning completely.
I've ever met a sheep that was enthusiastic about being grouped in a small area. Now, individually you can walk up and scratch members of our flock and they seem to like it or at least are well mannered enough not to make a scene or file charges. However, working as a group that sweetness goes out the window and the flock stupid takes over. Plus you always have that one Einstein that thinks hiding behind a tree makes them invisible.....guess what Virginia we can still see you. After we finally got everyone including Virginia Slim (yes, her mother named her after cigarettes. In fact, that year it seemed to be the popular thing as several ewes chose cigarette names for their lambs. What can I say....sheep are weird sometimes) penned, sorted out the non breeding grannies & yearlings, we shooshed the girls back into the pasture and went to get Sheldon. Here's the thing about Sheldon.....he used to be a smallish fellow. We actually worried about him because he didn't grow much the first year he was with us. He didn't have a great appetite and went through a phase where his back looked like a rollercoaster.
Then overnight he......blossomed. A lot. We've discussed it, Mrs. LB and I, and we both agree this is the biggest ram that has ever been on this place. Big enough that he makes you extra careful when you handle him, not because he is aggressive but just because he's....well, BIG. With his growth came a powerful.....perfume. Take the normal ram smell and multiply. No doubt or discussion the smelliest ram we have ever met. I've never been a fan of smelly rams but Mrs. LB has never minded. She says it just smells like the farm. So, she took the head end and I took the outside offering encouragement to his tail dock as needed. We walked Shelly from the holding stall and out to the pasture, patted ourselves on the back for a good mornings work and headed back to the shop for more packing. I began working the shelves and Mrs. LB ran the last fiber through the carder. An hour or so later, she came in the shop. She said she didn't know if it was the upsurge in temperature, the fact she forgot to turn on the a.c. while working, the morning adventures, her age or Shelly. Then she dropped the statement that became the title for this post......"I haven't smelled this bad in a long time".
Sheldon's yearling fleece is carded and will be available at Rhinebeck. Teeswater x Border Leicester, white, shiny and long stapled.