We were lucky enough to be invited to my friend Elaine Bristol's family farm - Bristol Lamb! Her dad, Jim, gave us the tour.
First of all, HE WAS HOLDING A SHEPHERD'S CROOK. I immediately commented on it and said, "What do you use it for?" He said, "Everything! Pushing down fences, getting sheep ..." He then demonstrated his use for it many times over during the tour. (Side note - my brother's corporate job title is 'shepherd' and I really want to get him one of these and see how it goes over if he took it to work and started using it to pull over his coworkers.)
I've never been on a sheep farm before, and I am never around sheep. Jim told me, "Everything you need to know you learned in a nursery rhyme." Sure enough, we walked in the pasture and there was a lost little sheep. It followed us everywhere we went.
However, my grandpa didn't like sheep at all, so he sold them all after he died and milked exclusively. But I totally understand the attraction!
The lamb had lost her mother and we were going to help her. Eventually we found a ewe that she thought was hers - and she was a twin. She tried to drink from her mother and she kicked her away, because she already had a lamb and didn't recognize her. Jim picked up the lambs and rubbed them together so they smelled the same. Elaine told me that if you do that with a lamb that's not actually a mother's it's called grafting, but this was her lamb - she just needed help recognizing her.
After Jim did it, the lamb drank from her mother and she was fine with it, because she smelled right. Jim joked, "These sheep make me look brilliant."
We went to the barn and he asked the boys, "How many bags full in the nursery rhyme?" They chanted "Yes sir. yes sir, three bags full." He said, "That's how much you get!" And showed us the giant bags of wool.
We got to bottle feed a lamb, and he showed us where and how he does the shearing. Though it seemed to be it might be for the sheep, the hook hangs from the ceiling to make it easier for Jim to handle them - it's a support for the human so it's not as physically demanding.
We checked out the sheep in the barn, then another pasture of sheep, then he prepared us lamb chops - of course!
It's always so interesting to see different kinds of farms, because you never really know about them until you see them in real life. If you have a chance to take a tour of a farm - do it! And bring your shepherd's crook along. Those have really stood the test of time ... and are headed to the corporate world, I can just feel it.
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