Thursday 5 April 2012

Sheep and Bananas

If you go back to the 26th March posting you may recall that Shep had been caused some grief by a sheep whilst dealing with them in the pens. This is not an unusual scenario as sheep are generally uncooperative, which isn’t surprising really when you consider that almost every time they are being handled they are having something or other done to them without their prior consent.

Sheep, for all they are domesticated to a degree still harp back to their natural wild instincts, we may gather them with dogs and handle them but they still remain hugely independent and the fight or flight instinct rarely leaves them, especially the hill sheep, they generally have far more gusto about them than the quieter in bye breeds.

So it was then that Shep found herself well and truly in the firing range. Dosing and inoculating was the task in hand in a cattle race, which is slightly wider than a sheep race coz obviously cows are wider than sheep, the sides of the race are also a great deal higher. Regardless of the fact it was a cattle race it was still a good set up, no problems on that front.

I went down the race with the sheep facing away from me and injected them, then changed equipment and came back up the race with the sheep facing me and dosed them. An easier and quicker option than clambering out the bottom end after injecting them and climbing back in the top end to come back down through them with the dosing gun.

Heading towards sheep in a confined area can put you at risk, their natural instinct is to try and run past you – take flight. They don’t really wish to just stand there and wait to see what is going to happen. I would like to think I possess enough sheep sense to be aware of this probability, it is not an unusual scenario for Shep and over the years, dealing with horned sheep especially, I have collected some impressive bruises from the blighters as they try to pass and I use my legs to block their way. There is no doubt you need to keep your wits about you but there are ways and means of handling the woolly beasties and only the odd few find themselves successful in causing grief.

I was getting confident and wishing to speed the job up a little so found myself opening the front of the cattle crush as I commenced dosing on my way back up the race, this allowed those which I had handled and dosed to then pass me and make their hasty departure out of the pens, keeping sheep tight up in front of me meant nothing could get past without my permission, until....... I found myself with a gap in the proceedings, all those dealt with were gone and there were a couple of yards of empty space before reaching the final three.

As said, sheep like to run past you, I had given these three the ideal opportunity, they had room to make a charge and knew their mates were disappearing out of sight at the far end of the race, I was still confident however that if I rushed up to them they would turn and all would be well.

I have been in this position with sheep hundreds of times. This time was different. What happened next I don’t truly recall, I can only conclude that something caught my attention, something took my mind off the job for a split second – there was definitely a lack of concentration, I was soon to learn that none of us are infallible.

Sheep will try and pass you when faced with you heading towards them. This is indeed what happened in this instance, except I never saw her coming, never even saw her pass. Like all true accidents they happen in a flash. A slow motion flash in this instance but a flash none the less.

I have two recollections of the ‘accident’. The first was a sensation of being air borne, my feet and legs being raised up behind me. I never felt a knock; a clatter of a sheep going by, I just remember having time to think “how weird” as I sailed through the air with the greatest of ease. I don’t think I’ve ever been air borne before in such a way, it really was quite surreal and seemed to last some time although I doubt it was just a matter of split seconds as what goes up has to come down due the laws of gravity which I vaguely recall learning about in Physics lessons. The heavier the ‘thing’ the quicker it comes down and as Shep is no featherweight I presume I would actually come down quite quickly. Which brings me to my second recollection of the accident – landing.

The landing must have been as graceful as the aerial acrobatics and once again I had time to think to myself “how strange” as my body made contact with the concrete. “How on earth can you possibly land on that part of your body” was what was going through my mind as the pain told me I had landed on my lower rib cage. On realising two sheep were still facing me I decided to jump to my feet, I quickly concluded that that probably wasn’t the wisest of ideas. Catching my breath all I could concentrate on was how on earth I could land on my lower rib cage, the bit which bends around, just below the boobs and above the belly, both of which are parts of me which stick out far further than my ribs do – How on earth?

I did eventually gingerly raise to my feet and was relieved to find that the two sheep which had remained in the race appeared to be suffering from shock, standing stock still with eyes out on stalks they kindly allowed me to dose them before departing to join their mates and undoubtedly tell some sort of tale about Shep and her attempt to fly like the birds.

On recounting this story to a friend she suggested that I must have landed like an inverted banana. A banana?? I could describe myself as many things but a banana?? I still chuckle at the thought of Shep being a banana. It is indeed a mystery to myself. Supple I have never been, gymnastic abilities only stretched as far as forward rolls, all my friends were able to do handstands, cartwheels and crabs whilst Shep only ever managed to master a forward roll, so to suggest I could be anything like a banana leaves my imagination running...............

On looking back at the incident I just cannot believe how lucky I was, not only can I say I flew through the air with the greatest of ease but I can also say that I hurt no other part of my body. I didn’t knock elbows, knees, hands – nothing other than my ribs. I must have been a very relaxed banana! Thrown in the air like a rag doll – now that sets the imagination running an’ all.

I have a friend who always says you should try everything at least once in life. Well, I can tick this one off the list, not one I would wish to repeat I may add but at least I have tried it. I did finally give in and visit the quack, due in part to the fact it was feeling worse rather than better plus the fact I was about to depart for my six weeks lambing stint, I decided to do the hypochondriac thing. Cracked ribs is the official diagnosis. Have to say, I thought it was a bit mean of the quack to prod my ribs a second time just to ensure the yelp induced on the first prod was genuine!

I will be fit and well by the time I return from the lambing which is good to know. In the meantime I pray I don’t sneeze, laugh, cough, or get the hiccups – god that ain’t funny! I have to say I was very kindly prescribed a cocktail of pain relief, which does a grand job of relieving the discomfort but unfortunately leaves me feeling spaced out and weird and I have concluded that I am weird enough without adding to the affliction so I will probably just grin and bear the company of my ribs.

My vocabulary has come up with a new word. GREAK. ‘Tis a cross between grate and creak and causes a most peculiar sensation, feels like a lump of you is moving around! Ach well, only five weeks left until ribs are mended and greak is history!


Dafad said...

Just don't go and get jaundice, or you'll start to live up to your new
Baanana tag. Hope you're O.K.
Meanwhile this old sheep is definately feeling arthritic.Still, warm summer days ahead, hopefully.

Tarset Shepherd said...

Jaundice! that ain't one of them things you should try once in life an' all is it???? Am fine, Greak is great company, let's me know I'm still alive and kicking! Will catch up with your blog sometime when a better internet connection. Hope all's well in Wales.