Thursday, May 14, 2009

Love's Labor Lost

A slightly truncated and modified version of the following story was published as "Love's Labor Lost" in BackHome Magazine (Sept/Oct 2006).

May 23, 02

We bought a brand new eight-week-old Jacob ram last week at a swap meet. He's a tricolor beauty. When full grown, he will probably have four horns, so we're calling him "Fororner". Hopefully he will grow and breed our Jacob ewe, but right now the ewe keeps it at a distance. Of all of our animals, the one that the young ram seemed to think was its mom right off the bat was our Golden Retriever, Riley.

We became interested in harvesting wool after an incident two weeks ago. We have two Angora goats, a buck and a doe, that we put together to breed last fall. All winter we watched and waited and came to the conclusion that there were to be no babies from them this spring. One Saturday, my wife went out to turn out the sheep and goats into their pen, and the Angora doe refused to come out of the stall. This was extremely unusual for her. Instead, she had her head tucked around on her side, was grunting/bleating, and was backing up against the wall. We thought, "By golly, this goat's in labor! She's going to have babies after all."

So we bundled up my wife's mom and called some neighbors in to watch the event. We wrapped up in blankets and sat in lawn chairs in the stall, and waited. Now, goats are a bit skittish to begin with, and we really didn't want to interfere and get her upset. We waited and waited. The goat would lie down and get up and squat and pass urine, and defecate, all the time looking at her side, and groaning and backing into the wall.

Finally, I went up to check her out, only to discover that the darned goat had a hunk of wool wrapped around one of it's lower teeth, and couldn't straighten her neck out. When I unflossed her incisors, she straightened right out and made a beeline for the stall door to join her pals.

We spent the next few hours shearing that goat.

After the horse and sheep incidents, we are gaining quite the reputation in the neighborhood. P.T. Barnum stated that "...the common man, no matter how sharp and tough, actually enjoys having the wool pulled over his eyes, and makes it easier for the puller." I had no idea he was talking about us and our goat.

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