Louise's Blog

How hard is a sheep's head?

Posted by nogsland on March 17, 2016 at 10:55 PM

Timing was never our strong point, so after an eventful few weeks with the pigs, we were not really ready for the home kill butcher to come and dispatch Simon the Steer.  Chris was originally going to do some sheep himself, but being out of sheep in the freezer and him being temporarily handicapped, we decided to get the butcher to do some for us.

The big debate for some weeks has been who should be for the chop. We have become very fond of Simon over the last year or so, so it was particularly heartbreaking to decide that Ken was a bit young and that it really had to be Simon. The next big question was which sheep should it be, given we now have a flock of 20. Technically, C and D should have been up for the chop, but we have experienced recent issues with some of our other older castrated rams/wethers.  It appears that when you use the elastic band method of castration, if you keep the boys until they are older than around 9 months, they can get a bit randy and a bit, well "rammish". 

Over the last few weeks, we have seen that Pete the Ram has had a number of cuts and bruises on his head where he has had run ins with a particularly aggressive young ram, who seems to have one quite big testical. We also have a ram whose horns are growing in front of his eyes and can hardly see, so we decided C and D should get a reprieve and One Ball and Horn Eyes as the other two were affectionately known, would be for the chop.

The big day came this week, Chris was there, I was unfortunately in Canberra for work, so couldn't be there to support him. I am told Simon went down cleanly whilst chomping on a pile of hay, no stress, didn't see it coming. Mummy Cow and Sophie seemed a bit put out that he wouldn't get up, but as is the way with animals, eventually they just moved on.  Then came the sheep, Horn Eyes managed to get a reprieve because he didn't come down with the others (sixth sense), but One Ball was there for the taking.  The butcher used quite a big gun (which had its own consequences from a dog perspective) and got in the perfect shot through the ear. Unfortunately, it just caused One Ball to sit down and look a bit dazed. He was quickly killed with a second shot and Chris says he thinks that the suffering was minimal if there was any at all. However, they checked the bullet later and it was the perfect shot, it just didn't kill the sheep because it had such a tough skull ! Incredible really. Chris had decided that going forward he will kill all the sheep as he will have more time and will be able to kill through the front of the skull which is more certain of a single shot success.

Horn Eyes gets to live another day for now, but probably not that many more. So now Simon and One Ball are hanging up in the cold room waiting for the butcher to come back on Monday to cut them up and fill our freezers full of wonderful cuts of meat. Hopefully he will remember he has agreed to trade some venison for some of Simon so we will have a wonderful feast of goodies to eat in the coming months. Meanwhile, we have Simons and One Balls horns in a bucket ready for me to do somehting inventive with them ! We also have Simon's hide in salt ready to be sent off either to become either a nice rug or some leather.

As a final episode to a difficult day for Chris, he was forced to drive the truck (with his bad leg) to go in search of Molly. Chris hadn't realised the butcher was going to use the bigger gun for the sheep, so after Simon was killed he had let the dogs out. Molly hates the gun and so when it happened she took off. Chris eventually found her 5km down the road on a neighbours place....Animals, who'd have them.

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