Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Failure?

I'm a compulsive doer, if that's a word. I want to do everything! (But you can forget sky diving or anything that has heights involved.) In 1983, I met a woman who was knitting a pair of mittens out of yarn that she had spun from wool, and I decided I wanted to do that someday. In college, I had a boyfriend whose family raised two pigs for their own freezer every year, (even though they had no other animals on their country estate), and I thought it would be cool to do that someday. I always admired hand-made quilts and vowed to make one myself someday. You get the idea, right? So, you can imagine that when people asked, "Do you shear your own sheep?" it really pained me to say no.

Then last year, I said to Mike, "Why don't we shear our own sheep?" I don't recall his answer, but whatever it was, it didn't slow me down as I looked on Premier's website and decided which sheep shears to buy. Mike and Margaret did all the shearing last year, and the sheep looked pretty bad, but the wool was great. And you know what they say about bad haircuts -- the difference between a good haircut and a bad one is about a week or two. Same is true for sheep . . . usually.

Margaret is no longer here, so this year, it's up to Mike and me. We were going to sheer a couple weeks ago, but it rained the night before, and playing with electric shears on wet sheep does not sound like my idea of a fun time. The rams were inside, so we decided to go ahead and sheer them. Mike did the first one, as I critiqued every cut. Then I wondered why I gave him the job when I was the one who knew how to clip goats and dogs. He'd never clipped anything in his life before last year when I delegated the shearing to him and Margaret. So, I took over on the second sheep and discovered that it is not as easy as it looks, and it is more challenging than clipping a dog or a goat. It took us about 40 minutes per ram, and they looked pretty dreadful. Sorry, I don't have pictures because the computer with PhotoShop is dieing.

Almost every day since then, one of us says that we really need to sheer the rest of the sheep. The other nods in agreement but says that we don't have time today, and that's the end of the discussion. The simple fact is that we don't want to shear the sheep. If you don't want to do something, you can always come up with plenty of excuses. When we hired a professional, we actually looked forward to shearing day. Now, we're procrastinating. So, I asked myself, is it really a big deal if we don't shear our own sheep? It's better for us and the sheep if we hire a pro to do it. Professional sheep shearers around here usually do about 24,000+ sheep per year, so it's no wonder that they zip through the fleece of a Shetland in two or three minutes.

Part of me knows it's silly to feel like a failure for not shearing our own sheep. Why do I need to be spinning, knitting, shearing, cheese making, soap making, goat milking, pig raising, quilting, and on and on? It's okay if I don't do everything, isn't it?

15 comments:

Heather said...

Absolutely.

Anonymous said...

Yes,it's absolutely ok not to shear your own sheep. Sheep shearing is one of those trades like horse shoeing and slate roofing that are on a downward trend. I think it's important to hire people to shear so we keep shearers in business. This is totally out of the box, but I heard an interview with Joan Collins. She was talking about the cat fights she had with Linda Evans and the interviewer asked her if she did her own stunts. She said emphatically "No!". She explained that her manager always told her to have a stunt double hired for stunts because every stunt she did put a stunt actor out of work. So to bring this home . . . we all know there's just as much drama on the farm as there ever was on Dynasty so why not take Joan Collins' advice and hire out the shearing?

Chicken Momma said...

You are so NOT a failure. You DID sheer your own sheep. You learned that you hate it and never WANT to do it again and you are lucky because you don't HAVE to do it. But if you ever do HAVE to you CAN. In my book that is far from failure. You rock!

Mama Pea said...

Not only is it okay that you don't do everything, you'll be a lot happier if you stop TRYING to do everything. (This is the pot calling the kettle black here.)

I think when a person has many interests, not only does it keep you young but it also can drive you crazy . . . and take the joy out of appreciating the very things you do do because there's no time for enjoyment when we drive ourselves trying to do "everything!"

When you come up with a way of limiting your interests and desires to do everything, would you please let me in on it?

Anne said...

You didn't fail at all. You succeeded because you tried and decided that maybe it's not your cup of tea. If you do EVERYTHING yourself, then you MAY fail because you could be spreading yourself too thin, become exhausted and burned out. You do so much so well that I think you should just hire out for shearing...the shearer will probably be very thankful for the job! Best, Anne

Sunflower Hill Farm said...

I think you and I are kindred spirits. I went to a shearing school a few years ago. After shearing our sheep that year, I decided the $4 per head that we pay the "professional" and his son, is well worth it. I actually pay him extra and agree with the notion that we need to keep them in business. Plus, he's much better at getting a quality wool that I can use more for spinning. It's okay. You can let it go. I wanted to grow my own wheat but a friend reminded me that even the pioneers brought flour on the Oregon trail....

Nancy K. said...

Um ~ yes!

;-)

Gail V said...

Yep. Simplify. (another pot calling the kettle black)
Whatever you decline to do leaves more time for things you love to do, and might regret not doing later. My thoughts: why don't I paint. . . do mosaics... spin, more.. . (instead of weeding)!

LindaG said...

I agree with Chicken Momma. You tried it, you don't like it. Hire someone and be happy.

Life is too short to worry about not shearing your own sheep. :)

*hugs*

Leigh said...

Its absolutely without a doubt ok not to shear your own sheep! I am not sure why "we" put so many self impossed "duties" on ourselves. I am the same way about butchering chickens... I hate doing it, but we feel like have to when we end up with too many roos. Just yesterday my husband and I concluded that since it bothers us so much, we would give them away to his uncle for him to use as meat birds. Why put ourselves through it if we dont have to right?

Delegating tasks isnt a sign of failure but proper management... right?

Deborah @ Antiquity Oaks said...

Thank you, everyone, for your wise words! I was nodding all the way through every response!

EcoLife said...

I am learning this lesson too. I want to do EVERYTHING from soap making to gardening. I tried my hand at cheese making and found I am a much better at soft cheese's than hard ones. Now I have to sell some hard cheese equipment and it's difficult not to feel like a failure, but I've learned what I am good at. Now I will leave it to the professionals to make hard cheese and I will enjoy it more because I gave it a go.

Like chicken momma say's if I HAVE to I CAN.... but in this I am happier if I DON'T.

Deborah @ Antiquity Oaks said...

EcoLife, hard cheese are a lot more challenging than soft. I gave up on them several years ago and am glad that my husband was willing to give them a try. Being an engineer, making hard cheese fits his personality a lot better, because there are so many precise steps involved, which is right up his alley!

wardhouse said...

It is ok if you do not do everything yourself. That is a mantra I say to myself every day!

Deborah @ Antiquity Oaks said...

Perfect timing on your comment Wardhouse! The sheep shearer was here today, and I needed to hear that one more time!

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