Ringing in change

Steve Kendall | Bendigo Weekly | 14-Sep-2017

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I know I mention the sheep a lot, but they take up a lot of my spare time.

Last weekend we set about the task of marking and injecting and checking the lambs from this year.

Due to a variety of weather and availability reasons, we finally mustered the team on Sunday.

We may have been overstaffed, but it made it easier in the long run. Steve and Steve (me) were catching lambs and presenting them on a bench to be worked on.

The boys needed testicle rings and tail rings, and of course the girls needed only tail rings.

This involves stretching a tight rubber ring over the anatomy and over the coming weeks the ringed article will drop off.

The long-suffering Mrs Kendall had two mates with her, and they tackled the ringing, drenching, ear tagging and various injections.

Mrs K was putting local anaesthetic into the boys’ bits as a kindness, and painkiller too for all the lambs.

This is probably above and beyond what most sheep rearers would do, but she’s that kind of gal.

Steve arrived after we had started and in his keenness to join in slipped in the mud on his first try.

It has been raining, and the sheep turn the yards into a mess.

We didn’t know how many we had to do until the end, but in this batch there were 80.

The spread of births had covered five weeks, so some lambs were bigger than the others... in some cases much bigger.

The trick to catching a lamb is catching it. In most cases it was the first time we had been that close to them, so they were in no mood to be grabbed, but with a bit of a struggle I started the job.

Grab them around the chest and then pull the rear legs to the body was the best trick.

This meant I was able to present the lamb to the working crew with no legs flailing.

The front legs in most cases hung limply.

Not all lambs read the memo about the front legs though, and just when I was safely holding one on the bench it swung me a classic hook connecting with my cheek.

Let me tell you, I knew it had connected, and a gentle stream of blood mingling in with the inevitable mud told me the connection was good.

Of course I had to brave it out and keep on going, but my head was ringing. This was not helped by a head-butt from the only lamb with horn buds, ouch.

Next up, one of the lambs used my grip as a launching platform and projected herself out of my arms, kicking as she went.

The team thought this was wildly amusing, as she was now covered in mud, and by definition me too, after picking her up again.

After all of the mud baths and lanolin my skin is very soft, but my body was scarred and bruised.

At least I wasn’t ringed by mistake.

– Steve Kendall
twitter: @stevekendall1

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