Why do Scotsmen curse so much?  Why do they have such odd words for things?  Other than that their lineage is as mixed up as Americans (first their Celts, then they’re almost Roman, then Angles and Saxons, then Vikings….), they grow sheep.  Lots and lots of sheep.  It’s fall, and it’s time to dag and crutch the sheep.

WHAT??  (I’ll explain, just keep reading)

The days are getting shorter again.  School has started back in the house.  The blankets are coming out some nights.  All the summer chores are done.  I canned the last of the beans I’m going to harvest (35 pints!!).  All that’s left is collecting seed, digging up spuds as we need them or just before the first frost, and taking down the garden.  That’s fall chores, getting ready for winter.  You think it’s going to be easier, but it isn’t.  The projects are bigger and sometimes more crucial.  One of those chores is preparing the livestock.

We haven’t had to trim the sheep’s feet in a while as it hasn’t rained here in 3 weeks.  But that’s perfect for them to be cut, as their wool is all dry and stuff.  Dagging and crutching are one of my least favorites. dag-to remove dags, and crutch-to shave the crutch.
The crutch is the crotch and the dags are…um…dingle-berries.  There’s a reason.  The crotch collects manure like dags, and creates a haven for blowflies.  Remember Momma and the maggots?  We don’t want that again, so we crutched and dagged the sheep.  It also helps during lambing, and we think we have 2-3 pregnant ewes.  Here is a pic I found online:

Our sheep are Shetland, so their legs are VERY woolly.  I had to shear their legs too-just whatever was nasty really.  I didn’t want to risk the camera out there-trust me-it’s not pretty, so you’ll just have to make do with the above.  Sorry about that.  We’ve decided to do this every fall and every spring about two weeks before they get sheared in the spring. This will be healthy in the fall, and help the good wool stay good in the spring, and make the shearing go better.

I also learned a lot this time.  I’m more experienced with the shears, and allow me to inform you that taking the blades off and washing them is BAD, VERY bad.  Do take them off, but just use a paper towel or rag or something and “floss” the blades with it.  That little brush that comes with it gets more out than you would think.  Then put it back together and oil it down and turn it on to coat.  Store OILED.  Clean them THAT DAY.  If you don’t, all the dirt and such dries and turns into something solid that can only be surpassed by a hairsprayed hairdo from the 80’s.  So I did much better with the blade maintenance, and that’s a good thing.

OK, SO…  I told Marcus to stay inside so he didn’t hear me inform Arlis in my best Scottish imitation how I felt about the current situation.  (I can’t get started.  Once I’m started, it’s not a problem, I’ll go all day)  Here I am, as though asking what we got in the mail, “Turn him over so I can get his anus.  Put your finger on the pizzle so I don’t cut it.” (actual sheep terminology)  I made one ewe bleed, even though I don’t remember touching her there, but it appeared to be VERY minor (one drop only), so I didn’t feel bad.  I also had to trim two rams…you know…the part that drags the ground?  Yeah, Arlis got a big kick out of me trying to convince myself to pick it up and shave it.  I still wake up screaming at night about it.  But I made it through telling myself how I would feel if I didn’t and they got blowflies there.  Arlis got a treat though.  While straddling one ram, I hear, “Why is….awwwww!  Nice!  Thank you so much!”  A ewe peed, not on, IN his shoe.  ROFL!!!

He didn’t find it funny.

He’s still sleeping in the living room…

I’m still laughing.