Thursday, April 30, 2009


I can't remember not having sheep when I was a kid. We didn't have a large number, something around thirty.   There was a man that lived north of Bennington that had a large flock, in the hundreds.  Each year he would have a lamb roast for any one that wanted to come.  There was always a large crowd there.  He served lamb sandwiches, beans, chips and drinks.   We kids always liked to go there.  It was like a big picnic and they would have men shearing sheep and other thing to watch like docking (cutting) there tails off.   

We had 20 acres of pasture that was fenced sheep tight.  You couldn't find a weed in the pasture. They like weeds and tree leaves so the pasture looked like a golf course and the trees were trimmed just as high as they could reach.   

Each year we would shear the wool from the older sheep.  Us kids' job was to hold them for dad.   He would shear them by hand using the old hand clippers and sometime he would cut a hole in their skin that we called button holes.  The number of button holes determined how good of a job you did, good or bad.  When we kids would try our hand at shearing we always ended up with more button holes (bad).  When dad would hire a shearer they had gas powered clippers.  We didn't have electricity until '49 or '50.  The gas engine would turn a small universal joint shaft that would run the clippers.  This made shearing much faster.  Then we would take the wool, roll it up in a ball and tie it with twine then put it in a large gunny sack. The sacks were 10' long 3' wide.  They would hold a lot of wool.  To get more wool in they would have us kids get in the sack and pack the wool tight.  They were heavy.   Dad would take the sacks to the Santa Fe depot in Minneapolis and ship them to Mid West wool in Kansas City, Kansas.    Mid West was a Co-op so it would take some time to get all your money back.  They pool the wool all together by grade and then sell it over a period of time.   Other times dad would take the wool to Oak Hill about 25 miles from us.  The Santa Fe rail road had a special train that would come out from Kansas City on Sunday.   The train would pick up all kinds of livestock and farm products on the way back to K.C. stock yards.  They would be there for opening market Monday morning. Several farmers would be at Oak Hill with one head or more.  They would mark them so they could be sorted out according to owner at the yards.  It was a train that met the needs of the small and large farmer. 
When lambing time came around we would shut the sheep up at night.  This would let us go check the ewes during the night.  If they would be having trouble lambing we could help them. Another reason was it was warmer inside.

One day two men came to look at our lambs.  Dad was not at home so I showed them where they were.  I told them to watch out for that buck because he is mean and they just laughed and said we can take care of our self.  So I headed back to the house, then I heard them hollering.  I went back and he had them in one of our hay bunks so I opened a gate to let the sheep in another lot. The buck went with the other sheep so the men could get out of the hay bunk.  

 If I remember right, one day we kids were playing just north of the old rock house.   There was a yellow rose bush (the old fashioned stickery kind) about four feet tall.  My brother LaRoy was bent over playing in the dirt and this buck came up behind him and butted him right over that bush.   My sister Donna got a broom or shovel and chased him off.  I don't remember if it hurt LaRoy or not.   Donna was 8 or 9 I was 6 and LaRoy was 4.

   When our kids  were growing up we had sheep so they got to experience some of the same things I did.  The kids also showed sheep in 4-H and we butchered about four lambs each year to feed them.  We sold our lambs and old sheep at St Joe., Missouri and sometime at Wichita, Kansas when we shipped with the Ottawa County Sheep assoc.   

I hope to start writing more now.   I am felling better each day.  My right arm is still partially paralyzed but gaining with therapy.  Thanks for your prayers I would not have been able to stand the pain this winter with out them.  The Lord is Good!!

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