26 April 2010

Shearing Day & a Sad Weekend

Friday was shearing day, and I got home from work in time to video Spirit getting his hair did. In case you don't recall, Spirit has been featured in this here bloggie before. Remember this post? Anyway, he's a bit of a drama queen about getting shorn, as you'll see.



I wasn't around to see the sheepies get clipped, since they were done first thing that morning, but I did catch up with them to get their thoughts on it all. It's funny to see how much more forward Angus is than Shaun-Fergus these days, when the reverse was true before I castrated them.



Unfortunately, the weekend ended on a sad note. Mizzen, one of Paula & Wendy's maiden girls, died rather unexpectedly Sunday noon. She was bloated and colicky on Saturday but had seemed to improve. Then yesterday morning she deteriorated rapidly. We were concerned that perhaps she had suffered a fluke bowel torsion during shearing, but the post-mortem exam, I'm told, showed no such thing and no explanatory lesions.

Then tonight our friends Kit & Sue called me about their dog Alex, who we knew had terminal cancer of the liver. He was going downhill rapidly, so I headed over to their house near midnight to help him on his way. Mercifully, he passed on his own. Also mercifully, I managed not to hit any of the two porcupines, one raccoon, one opossum, and one deer who were in or alongside the road on the short drive to their house and back.

And with that, I think it's about time for bed.

10 comments:

Chris said...

Oh, sorry to hear about your friends' dog. :(

Anonymous said...

Mel, I'm sorry but that is just inhumane. I live in llama/alpaca country and have helped shear at some of the biggest ranches. I have never seen a camelid shorn this way. I can almost get past the "hog tie" but lifting by the ears is just plain wrong. This may be easier on the shearer but awful for the animal.

Jabacue said...

Quite a day! Now I see where my yarn comes from and why it's so expensive. Takes a lot of work. Great videos.

Mel said...

Anonymous: Curious that you hide behind a veil of anonymity while you claim expertise. I'll grant that I'm not entirely comfortable with how it's done, either, but a) the 4-point restraint method is actually very standard and recommended by most of the experts as safest for the animal because it keeps them from thrashing, and b) these are not my animals, so I don't have a say in the process.

kmkat said...

I too was taken aback by the hog-tie and lifting by the ears (or did the llama have some kind of halter on its head for the shearing assistant to grab?). But I will leave it to the experts to debate.

Glad you made it home safely -- kind of an obstacle course on the road at night, huh?

Mel said...

kmkat: No halter, I'm afraid, and I will likely mention it to Paula, since I know she'd like to do anything she can to minimize stress on the animals. Shooting this video is actually the longest I have ever been around for the process, since I'm usually going to or coming home from work too late to play a role.

I think that one of the pitfalls of seeing a short video clip like this is the tendency to condense the subject's (in this case, an alpaca) entire existence to just this point in time, when in reality the 6 minute shearing process represents 0.00114% of his year (Of course I did the math!). Although I have no way of knowing for certain, I suspect what Anon. has seen done is barrel clips, where only the blanket fleece is shorn and the animals can sometimes be done standing in a stockade (where there's still a higher risk of injury). It's an expedient method with a large herd and is done mostly to reduce heat stress (and often on farms that discard the fiber), but it still leaves thick fleece covering the neck, which is a significant area for heat dispersal. If Anon. truly lives in "llama/alpaca country", that'd be Ohio (seriously), which generally has hot, humid summers where having a shorn neck can actually make a significant difference in an animal's ability to cool off. So which is better overall for the animal's welfare?

Sheepish Annie said...

I'm so sorry to hear about Kit and Sue's dog. How sad. And to also lose Mizzen at the same time must have made for a bleak few days.

tornwordo said...

I think I need that contraption to hold Georgie while I clip his nails.

goblinbox said...

Goats are cute. Those weird goat eyes!

that's J-O-S-H said...

That shearing video makes me feel more than a lil' uncomferz. I know da aminalz aren't being hurt, but I still can't shake the feeling that I am watching a snuff film.