So we had some fun and games and a learning experience with regards to sheep on our trip to Nieuwoudtville two weekends ago (a blog post on which I promise is still to follow). As you may or may not know, that particular area around Calvinia and Loeriesfontein is perfect sheep breeding land and as such, makes up a large part of the economy over on that side of our beautiful land.
Now family of the people we were visiting with for the weekend currently run a small sheep farming operation and as such, we were informed around drinks on the Saturday night that there were a few unusual things that needed to happen the next morning, obviously prompting us rather eager city slickers to insist on tagging along to check this all out come Sunday morning.
The first operation of the day actually involved the curing of a mad sheep. Now I have in my possession a video of this “cure”, but am currently still debating whether or not to actually upload it – after all, I’m not sure I want all the bunny huggers to start chasing us with those big sticks of theirs! :)
You see, the farmers’ logic goes like this. The first step is to ascertain that the sheep isn’t right in the head. Well this one was staring blankly into space, kept on falling over when trying to walk and in general just wasn’t moving with the herd, something pretty strange for a sheep. So, having decided that the sheep is indeed mad, the next logic has to do with what might be causing this particular malady – the answer to which is a possible “bubble on the brain”. I’m not entirely sure about this one, but it makes sense I suppose.
But here comes the fun part. The best way to deal with a bubble is to make it pop right? So what better way than to take a heavy book, place it on the mad sheep’s head as a shock absorber while you hold the sheep down (in our case we used a tweetalige woordeboek – the perfect way to educate after all!) . Then, with the sheep firmly held down and the book being held on top of its head, someone grabs a heavy plank and gives the sheep a good whack over the head – thus popping the bubble and curing the sheep.
Well, one thing was for sure. That poor sheep stood up from its ordeal a great deal more concussed than what it originally was, but other than that, it seemed pretty fine. As for whether or not its madness was cured, well we were told they’d let us know! :)
Then it came to castrating sheep. This turned out to be quite an interesting affair as while we were expecting a fair bit of spurting blood and gore during the whole process, we were completely taken back when the “operation” turned out to be a simple affair of taking a marvellous clamp-like invention, place it around the ball sack and squeeze – effectively cutting all the inner tubes (the area turns cold if you hold it for eight seconds or so, a good indicator that the job is done) while leaving the skin entirely intact!
The remaining task was something completely different though – pictures of a sheep needed to be taken to be sent off to the various landbou magazines and even 50/50 perhaps, because as you can see from the photo set below, “plooie” as it has been nicknamed, is certainly no ordinary sheep! For some or other reason, this particular sheep has been inflicted with some or other genetic disorder (he was born like this) that has prevented him from growing hair (wool) anywhere on his head, legs and lower torso, being replaced instead by series after series of wrinkles and an exposed skin that seems to emit some sort of oily residue that must be for protection.
Now no one in the area has ever come across a sheep like Plooie and everyone is pretty much left scratching their heads and shrugging their shoulders, meaning that a wider panel of experts are going to have to be consulted in order to shed some light on poor old Plooie’s condition – and while I’m at it, I may as well pose the question to Dr. Karl who works with this kind of thing (sort of), even if it is primarily with goats!
So, any ideas Dr. Storbeck?
(Oh, and you might have noticed the rather bedraggled, rat-like yappy dog in the background of some of the pictures. Poor thing has permanently lost most of its hair thanks to the farm hands dousing it with sheep strength anti-flea and anti-tick solution. But hey, at least all the pests are gone!)