Why do I have sheep? Because if I didn’t have them, I would sit on my butt and do nothing. They enrich my life; they bring me outdoors, interacting with them is a direct interaction with nature, they get me out of bed in the morning, they are fluffy and adorable, they are good for the land, and they are calming to watch.
My left leg was amputated mid-femur in April, and we didn’t get home until early May. So, once we got home, it was time to shear sheep. I was only home for a little less than 3 weeks before I had to come back for prosthetic training.
Meanwhile, I had 1 and 1/3 legs and there was a lot to do. We had my father-in-law, a brother-in-law, and my husband’s nephew coming to help us with shearing. We’d sent my husband to sheep shearing school where he took a 3-day course and learned sheep handling and how to shear. He is now a certified junior shearer. He would be doing the sheep shearing this year.
So, we decided before company got there, we would shear the rams quietly by ourselves. Well, the big horned rams turned out to weigh close to 180-190 lbs. They gained weight over winter! When we tipped them, they fought HARD! All my husband could do was get the belly wool off and start the legs before they were thrashing with their hugely strong necks and horns. In the end, we had to stand them up.
In past years, I have had this problem and I would just stand them up and shear them. So, this time, my husband ended up holding the rams, while I sat on the barn floor and sheared them from a sitting position.
Once the family got to the house, we had a bit of a work party in the barn, with the nephew labeling the bags the wool would go into, the brother helping to hold the sheep when my husband needed a break, and the father sweeping the deck to keep the floor clean of debris. When we shear, we typically add other items to the routine such as worming, vaccinating, and trimming hooves.
My husband sheared a couple of hoggets by himself, but he ended up doing adaptive shearing with me where he would tip and shear belly wool and get legs started, and then stand them up, and I would finish shearing the rest of the sheep from a sitting position while he held them. It was definitely a team sport.
This was the first time we’ve ever had real help shearing, and it was very helpful and made the chore actually kind of fun. I think next year we should make it into an even bigger party! We are very grateful they came up.
Moral of the story: nothing is impossible – you just have to adapt and adjust your plan of attack and find a way to get it done.