Herbietown - Sheep Shearing in Wilton

Sheep Shearing in Wilton

We went sheep-shearing on Saturday.

This post pains me to write, because we love Ambler Farm so much. The town bought it when all the Amblers died and they run some great programs there, organic farming, kids camps, maple syrup workshops. Plus I am the Mayor of Ambler Farm on Foursquare, so I feel a special responsibility for the place.

But there’s something twisted about these sheep people.

The shearer was running late, so to hold off the eager crowds, the husband-and-wife couple who run the place gave a little talk about sheep.

How they have ‘prey eyes’ that face to the side, vs predator eyes that face to the front. How sheep are dumb, and goats are smart. What they eat. I started to fade off a bit, until the farmer explained how they got the sheep.

In order for sheep to be prepped to socialize with children on a farm, they need to be able to bottle feed. And that necessitates that farmers rip them away from their mothers right after birth. The mothers scream in protest and the lambs do too. If you can’t teach them in 3 days, then you give them back to the mothers. Any longer than that, the mother won’t take them back, and that little lamb is SOL.

So this farmer woman proudly explained how she trained the lamb to drink from a bottle. I’ll just get right to it. She started by allowing her to suck her earlobe. You read that correctly. The little lamb sucked on her earlobe before taking the bottle. Because earlobes are somehow right in between sheep nipples and bottle nozzles. And she did this for 6 MONTHS.

She claims there are pictures of it online, but I tried every search in the book and I couldn’t find it. Also couldn’t find any other mention of other sheep farmers employing this trick.

She also spoke about how her daughter bonded with the animal, but she left out the details. Ick.

The farmer man then spoke about a few adjustments that are made to the sheep, for life on the farm. I’ll tell you what they are, but first you need to picture him rubbing the sheep’s belly while he speaks. He’s sitting on a bench, surrounded by maybe 50 people, children everywhere, and the sheep is just standing in front of him letting the farmer rub a spot on his belly.

He spoke in a sort of faraway voice, just like the look in the sheep’s eye.

“Sheep are very affectionate,” he said. “if you find that right spot, right between their front legs where the wool is thinner, they will stay with you all day.”

Then he went on to explain how all the sheep are castrated, neutered and have their horns cauterized. So basically they chop off and burn all the fun parts. Just so my kids can stand there in the pen with them for a few minutes twice a year, pet their fur, and get some context for Mary Had A Little Lamb.