I had one of those GREAT DAYS that most would not understand. It started early with faking out my Huge Billie Boys. I have been constructing a catch pen in their run for the last week. No it does not take that long but I bring in one piece at a time so they have time to forget what I am doing. You see since it is just me you have to use your brain or I will get hurt.. Not that the boys are bad it is just if you are dealing with huge horns attached to very fast animals and if you don't watch out you could be down on the ground and bleeding before you knew what hit you.
So after feeding everyone, filling all the water containers and even moving hoses on the farm the boys where comfortable and eating. I then walked into the run and started work on fences. They watched and went back to their eating. I then closed the pen. They gave me a look like "Crap, she is smart"...
I left for a bit and came back about 15 minutes later. By then I moved in the pen and with shears in hand took one at a time and went to work. Now I know most folks would catch them, hold on to them or wrestle them to the ground but again since it is just me I have to do things a bit different. I start with someone who is not as concerned with the process and once that guy remembers how great it is to feel lighter and cooler he settles down and I just clip away while he stands nicely. The others look on and here is the part that most could not handle we are all moving... Yep, moving around with 12 Huge Billies with Huge Horns. That sure keeps a person on their toes.
After finishing the first I stand and let them check him over and breathe.. That is another key - you must breathe with them and not be in a rush or worry. Animals really read us better then we think and so if you are concerned about what they might do to you that is exactly what will happen to you. This is also a time I do not work with headphones on - I want to be able to hear the snorts or change in their breathing which gives me seconds before I might get hurt.
I moved through the next four without an issue which left the more aggressive (not really but rather more fearful) boys. At this point I move out the boys who are done so they will not get slammed. I then adjust the pen to half it's size which gives a bit of worry to the remaining but it also means those who are left can not get a run at me. It does mean also I have less room to get out of their way. I really had to work at getting MONK done this year - he has since the barn blowing away become a very stand offish guy and I sure don't blame him. He also has been more the protector against the coyotes so that has heightened his fight response. It use to be that he would stand with just some head scratches but not the case this year. Going round and round in the pen sure does make me dizzy and his still has two patches I wished to have finished but he was at his limit and that is another thing I respect is when and if someone has had enough I don't push it - I just come back some other time.
I am down to my two biggest scared cat's and the most dangerous - that is Rasputin and Rafael. They are twins. Rasputin has been a daddy and has some of the best fiber on this farm. It kills me that my helper backed out months ago so I have lost this years great fleece. Tons of amazing light red fiber - worth three months of hay on this farm. The fleece is so long 9 to 10 inches and so thick it takes a ton of work. Rasputin was just not willing to work with me so I only got about 1/2 of the fleece off. So I turned him out when he pushed into me several times while snorting. Trust me if he really wanted to hurt me I would still be on the ground bleeding right now. He is also one who will wack you with his horns - that can break my arm or leg with much effort. Sure don't want that!
Rafael has always been the worst but he grows a 10 inch long white staple length and he was a huge mess. However, in past years I have been able to convince him if I let him have Marvin. Marvin was the twin that cared for temporary blind sister and has the ability to comfort others with a calmness that is a true gift. Marvin stood still while Rafael snuggled on him. As I snipped away this huge blanket of fiber the breeze touched Rafael's skin and you could see him relax. I went quickly at my job and Rafael just melted into the side of Marvin. Before anyone knew it the left side was completely done. Now to get to the other side. You have to do that move without touching them but rather with me walking in a slow circle and positioning my body. With a little work I have Rafael now giving me his right side. I finished up at lightening speed and they both stood breathing and relaxing. I waited to see if Rafael was agreeable for me to run my hands on him. So slowly and with love I ran my hands over him to show him that his now has a new body to work with and that his was just fine. He looked into my eyes and we enjoyed the moment.
I then brought in a bowl of minerals and like the gentlemen they are they took turns eating out of the bowl and I gave them thanks for working with me and not hurting me. I still have two who are not completely done but that will happen this weekend when all willing. As I opened the pen they walked out - not darting out in a panic. Later I came back and just stood in the pen and they all walked around me without fear. That is not how most deal with Huge Billies but that is also why I can turn my back and bend over doing work and never fear what they will do. It is also why 12 Huge Billies can live together without harming each other.
There was the first part of this Great Day!!! I am really dirty and sweaty but thrilled with my guys. This way of working with animals is also the reason why the Billies come to my aid when there is danger here. The once encircled me when some strange men came to the farm that I did not know. They kept the strangers at bay and I felt so safe and loved. No what most folks say about their billies.
Off to the next round of work at the farm today.