Marcia Taylor send these poetic observations on a recent sheep-shearing at Ashton.
The helpers don their woollen gear and gather round the pen,
To watch some nervous sheep get shorn, because it’s spring again.
The shearer’s got his kilt on, the bleating’s underway,
In spite of the snow at Forest Row, today is shearing day.
The sheep are getting nervous and some try to climb the fence,
They don’t recall last spring at all, but sheep can be so dense.
Perhaps they will be killed and turned to mutton, chops, or racks,
But no! We want to shave their wool off and wear it on our backs!
They stick their heads in corners and in one another’s rears,
“I’m not here” they’re thinking, as they try to dodge the shears.
But are sheep really thinking, we wonder as we stare,
Can’t they see how cool they’ll be some day when summer’s here?
When sheep sit back with legs askew they have a thoughtful look,
Could it be they’re smart enough to knit, or read a book?
But no, it seems that new-shorn sheep no longer know each other,
Are you my dad, my son, my twin? If you’re a girl, my mother?
Once the sheep are naked they get dragged across the floor
Like United Airlines passengers, but worth a little more.
Their hooves are trimmed, the boo-boos dressed, their fleece is rolled and gone,
Then out they go into the snow, to pray for summer sun.
Look out! A sheep can take you for a sudden bareback ride,
And if you’re facing backwards, it’s much more undignified.
Their bells on leather collars sag around their scrawny necks,
They flick their tails and skip around, and grumble, “What the feck”?