Death of a Barn Coat and Shearing Sheep Butts

It is hard to imagine many garments that take rougher treatment than a barn coat.  Barn coats withstand being covered in hay, manure, amniotic fluid, and myriad other varied farm and dairy chemicals. They also get caught and torn on wires and fences (thereby preventing me from being caught and torn!), stabbed with shears and hooftrimmers.  Add to this the indignity of being thrown off onto the ground, seldom washed, and occasionally forgotten in a barn full of nibbly goats.

For years, I have wornImage the old coat pictured at left, purchased at a thrift shop for $10 circa 2001.  Yesterday, the replacement zipper bit the dust (the original zipper died in 2007-ish). I decided that it might, *might* be time to retire this poor old garment.  The white at left is the Imageinsulation of the coat falling out where the wool wore away.  The second picture shows how the lining and insulation of the coat have been destroyed on the inside as well.  I think we’ll send this to LL Bean and we’ll see what they say.

In sheep barn news, Mary, my trusty shearer and roommate, “crutched” my ewes for me.  Crutching is shepherd-speak for “shearing the butt-wool” of sheep so that their rear ends are neat and tidy and clean, and so that the udder isn’t so wooly that the lambs can’t nurse.  Mary is far more adept at catching and handling sheep than I am, which is to say that she can do it and I can’t.  This, therefore, was the first time that I have had a chance to look at some of my sheep’s eyes, teeth, tag numbers and ages.  We learned that Dot and Janet are either older or that their teeth are just a little more worn down.  We’ll have to check their teeth regularly in the next few years.  Everyone but Shirley has the start of a bag (udder) growing and filling with milk.  I could feel Janet’s lamb in her abdomen.  Only a few more weeks!

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