Yesterday, I took the plunge and sheared my first goat! When I took out my shearing machine for the first time, it was pretty intimidating – large, heavy, and with “sharp pointy teeth.” I read the tiny print in the instruction booklet several times, absorbing all the dire warnings, and set up an old bed sheet on the floor of the barn with the table in the middle and all my other equipment nearby.
Eddie was my guinea pig. I locked Ely in their shed so I could focus on wrangling one animal at a time, and pulled Eddie by the beard and the horn out of their pasture and into the barn. Funny, he didn’t cooperatively hop up onto the table this time! I had to lift him by his middle and force him into the head holder. I tried peanuts and green beans to coax him in but he is no fool. He must have thought I was crazy to think he’d eat at a time like this.
So, I started with his back, sliding the roaring buzzer from his neck to his tail. The fleece did cut but I was so nervous about hurting him that I left way more on his body than I should have. Running it down his sides was harder because he bent his body sideways and down to avoid the blade and my husband had to stand on the other side and hold him so he did not fall off the table. I was horrified to see that I nicked him, twice! He did not yelp or anything, but suddenly I saw blood and my heart just ached. He’d trusted me and I slipped up.
The last area to trim was his belly, and the book said to hold him between your knees on his rump to get to that area. Right. I did my best with a scissors while he stood on the table and that area was really gross. Male goats pee directly down from their middle and it was not pretty. I trimmed the best I could not fully knowing how his anatomy was laid out, and threw away the soiled mohair from under there.
When I returned Eddie to the pasture and let out his buddy, they made quite a contrast. Notice the length of Eddie’s legs next to his brother’s. I put a piece of packing tape over his worse wound so the flies would leave him alone. I hope it works. As you can see, he’s still pretty nappy, so I wasted a lot of good fiber but we were both so nervous.
Now, I have a big pile of fleece wrapped up in a sheet on the back porch waiting for the next step. It was so hot and humid yesterday that I was soaking wet and miserable when I came into the cool house. I will need to build up another big reserve of fortitude before I tackle Ely. For now, I have to keep an eye on how Eddie heals and teach him to trust me again. Hopefully, Ely hasn’t asked him what went on in the barn because he may refuse to come anywhere near it when it is his turn.