True story. As an animal science major in college, one of the required courses involved a skills class where you learned animal husbandry, hands-on. On this particular day, we were learning about shearing the wool from sheep. If you are not familiar with working with sheep, its important to know that as herding animals they have a natural tendency to circle, away from their handlers. This also applies to cattle. There were about ten of us in the class and someone had forgotten to shut a gate which ultimately provides the animal a larger flight zone, opening the circle. Closing gates is very important.
We divided into groups of two and one student would carefully restrain the ewe (female sheep) while the other would shear the wool. Sounds relatively simple, right? My job was to hold the ewe while my partner completed the shearing. Keep in mind, sheep really weren’t my thing back then (not sure if they are now, but I’m rolling with the punches). Our ewe was frisky and before I knew it, I was on its back, hanging on for dear life, riding out of the open gate. The entire class turned there attention to watching me make a fool of myself. It anything it was cheap entertainment. Not one of my shinier moments in life. And, not a moment which was soon forgotten.
Fast forward to now.
When we acquired our ewes last spring they were lambs at only three months of age. There wasn’t a need to shear their wool. Following this past cold, cold winter they were in desperate need of a good shear. Don’t be fooled for a minute if you don’t think my first shearing experience wasn’t sitting at the back of my mind the entire winter. As the evenings continued to grow cool and at near freezing, I put off the shearing making a wide variety of excuses about why we didn’t need to do it. Once the warmer weather arrived, the shear had to be done.
Surely, history wouldn’t repeat itself. Would it? I checked the gate to be sure it was closed. And, then a second look for good measure. I was once again the holder while my husband was conducting the shearing. There I stood, looking at the ram (our male sheep) with his wool covered eyes, begging him to be calm and gentle with me. In my worn chore jeans and unsteady muck boots, I tried to maintain a position whereas he couldn’t get through my legs forcing me into his saddle. And, there we stood.
While I can’t say there wasn’t some resistance, he offered an answer to my prayers. I was able to maintain my pride and walked away without reliving that humorous, yet shameful 8 second ride.
I survived! The training and lessons I had received in college paid off in the long run. It was a good day.
Years out of college, I’m always hunting for a good way to learn more. In May, I will have an exciting opportunity to attend Alltech’s 2014 Symposium where they will offer sessions on Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAVs or Drones), microRNA, learning how to respond when the agriculture industry is hit with situations such as mad cow, ways to increase quality and quantity in poultry, improving nutrition across the board to all species and everything in between.
Its such a wide variety of topics and a great way to network with other like minds in the food and agriculture industry. I encourage you to consider joining me at Alltech’s 30th Symposium.
I’ll be the one riding the sheep. 😉