[Because I've never raised livestock before, I've picked up every book that the library has on raising sheep, I guess I leave them lying around a lot and apparently this one really stood out to Luke]
I consider myself an avid reader of odd ideas committed to text, but after taking a flip through this book I'm left a little dazed.
It's as if the guy who wrote Codex Seraphinianus sobered up and decided to illustrate a couple hundred pages about sheep.
What is this thing? Abstract horror/self-satire/oral history/cautionary tale?
The sections breeze through a wide variety of topics.
Do you really want to be a Shepard? is followed up with Teeth, toes, teats – and testicles!
Then Sourcing semen goes almost directly into Show ring etiquette.
Throughout the narrative it's painfully obvious the United Kingdom is at the forefront of sheep nomenclature. You can tell by the amount of folksy sounding ailments.
“Pulpy Kidney” and “Daft Lamb Disease” are my personal favourites. After that (in no particular order), you've got: Swayback, Scrapie, Bluetongue, Scald, Shelly Hoof, Keds, Strike, Bloat, and Orf.
Orf is basically lamb-to-human herpes.
I don't want to get Orf. It looks gross. Even worse, I don't ever want to have to explain how I got it.
Then there's the (I guess?) practical advice, like: “A gappy hedge provides easy escape routes.”
Yeah. We've got like 10,000 km of open Canadian Shield between us and Thunder Bay. If all I've got is a “gappy hedge” preventing my sheep from completing the missing portion of Terry Fox's Ontario run, I've got problems.
A lot of really messed up stuff in this book gets presented as just totally normal. They skin a dead lamb and sew it's warm hide onto another lamb with what looks like baling twine. That's how to deal with abandonment.
I guess for this to work you'd also have to have a dead lamb around to use as a skin donor. (So I wonder...is the question more like “Which one should we use?”) And...um...baling twine? You're telling me nobody had even a tackle box with some fishing line on hand?
And it doesn't even look like the guy who suited up this little creature for the picture did a good job of trimming the ends. The poor thing looks like a lamb football.
Then there's the section on castration. Or more specifically – elastration. That's the preferred method of the modern era. Just snap a rubber band around the day-old ram's junk and wait for its testicles to blacken and “painlessly” fall off.
And yes, with this process too, the Brits got it covered. The recommended tool for the job is the “Richey Nipper.”
Now, (if I may say so myself), so far I've dealt with a good amount of animal death remarkably well. But genital dismemberment? Damn!
Also, does anyone else find it alarming that Haynes is the publication house for this manual?
What's the first thing you do when you get a crappy car? Buy a Haynes manual. And then what happens? The immediate and steady nosedive of your vehicle's condition.
But let's push that aside for the moment. Because you know what? I do appreciate the honesty (and randomness) of this book.
Lambing season is this spring. We're about to get elbow deep in sheep (pg. 109 for reference). So here you go - that's what that looks like. (They recommend practising on a cardboard box strapped to a bale. With a dead lamb inside. Really?!! Again?!!)
Yes, sheep are adorable. But what you gotta do for them is fucking disgusting.
And if you do it for long enough, obviously you'll get to a point where you have no qualms posing lambs for pictures of stuff that literally happened in “The Silence of the Lambs.” Then selling those photos to the company that made a fortune off people thinking they can keep K-Cars on the road past 200,000 kilometres.
I'll leave you with this cheerful nugget:
“I simply don't understand why anyone would want to keep sheep...it seems to me that they either have rotting feet, maggots in unmentionable places, do everything they can to escape or just drop dead for no apparent reason.”
That quote is from the husband of the woman who wrote the forward. The sentiment is immediately confirmed as truth by leaders in the industry.
Sweet! So here we go. I can only hope these things hold together better than our old '94 Mazda Protege.