The Idiot's Guide to Sheep Crutching

So, you want to find an easier way to crutch sheep? Well, as my dear old Dad used to say, “Always look for the best and easiest option first.” So here we go.

1st Option.  Well, obviously, the best option is to find some poor unsuspecting soul with good intentions, a sturdy back and limited brain size and sell him your sheep and farm.

This will allow you and the wife to retire to the Gold Coast and live a sheep-free life of luxury and comfort while the new owner has his hopes, dreams and spirit crushed by fires, droughts, floods, low prices, bank managers and successive governments while battling fly-strike, sheep that simply refuse to live, neighbours that simply refuse to die and a growing stack of unpaid accounts.

 You can happily drink a latte at a trendy suburban café knowing you have wrecked some poor guy’s life by getting him to pay good money to take on a life of misery and debt and you idly wonder if maybe you should have been a lawyer or a politician.

 Not keen? I guess some people you just can’t help.

 2nd Option.  Please, please reconsider the 1st Option. You owe it to yourself. You and I both know that no good will come of you keeping on farming and the papers are talking record lamb and wool prices which is a sure sign the market is about to crash and on top of all that the wife is measuring up new drapes for the 4th bedroom which you didn’t even know was there so the normal lack of marital harmony is about to deteriorate rapidly and there is not even a spare dog kennel at present to move into.

 Still not keen? Oh well, I guess that pig-headed unwillingness to face facts makes you ideally suited for life on the land so let’s get on with it.

 3rd Option.  Ring your local Crutching Contractor.

 Now of course, if your contractor has a Perkinz CrutchMaster system you can expect a fantastic result with a great price and good job done by reputable, well presented eloquent crutchers, who will not only bring your new drape material out from town but will possibly sew them up for you during lunch.

Your wife will be complemented on the tea and scones and will be in such a good frame of mind due to the money saved and respectfulness of the crutchers that she may suggestively suggest an early night. Resist the temptation to ask her if she is feeling unwell and quietly go, passing comment as you walk hand and hand down the hallway about how great the new drapes are looking.

 However, if your local crutching Contractor doesn’t have a Perkinz CrutchMaster, it will be an altogether different result.

 A team of insubordinate unwashed louts will turn up drunk and late and immediately declare the sheep both too wet and too full, this in the middle of the worst drought in recent memory. When you finally convince them to start by offering exorbitant amounts of extra money, they will do half an hour and then demand lunch.

During lunch, the presser will be so intoxicated that he will mistake the 4th bedroom for the toilet and urinate on the new drapes. After a day of broken promises, they will leave five sheep in each catching pen after knocking off at ten past four, unless of course they were going to finish before afternoon tea in which case they will knock off at ten to three and leave six sheep in each catching pen.

 The only bright spot of the day is the note on the kitchen table saying that the wife has gone to stay at her mother’s place for a week and as you sink down into your favourite chair and slowly lose the will to live, you read an interesting article about an ex-farmer from your area who seems to be making it big in local politics on the Gold Coast.

 4th Option.  Crutch your own sheep.

 You awake at an early hour full of enthusiasm and stride purposefully over to the woolshed where the night before you shedded up 500 ewes. The grating is like an ice rink and you slip and bruise your hip as you drag the 25 smothered sheep out to your front end loader and then, disorientated by the ammonia, you box up the two separate mobs that you and the wife spent all afternoon drafting.

 Your enthusiasm begins to wane a little and as you bolt on a comb and cutter, the screw driver slips and you find the tape to bandage your bleeding knuckles has been used up by your youngest boy to make a bale hook fishing line.

You drag out the first sheep and pull the cord, finally ready to rock and roll and discover the handpiece won’t engage as the short gut has inexplicably disappeared. You open the catching pen door to put the sheep back and five others bolt through in a desperate bid for freedom, one breaks your comb and another headbutts you in the nuts.

As you lie writhing in agony on the shearing board, tenderly massaging your bruised testicles, with sheep running all over the wool room and your tea leaking from the broken flask, your wife walks in and informs you that you measured the drapes wrong and they don’t quite fit and asks, “Why, when we spent all afternoon drafting those sheep, didn't you keep them separate?”

 You find this question difficult to answer and inadvertently mention something about both the drapes and her being like her mother. In hindsight, this may not have been wise and as she storms out of the woolshed leaving a string of expletives and a broken rousie’s broom, you realise it’s just about lunchtime and you still haven’t put a blow in. Finally, in desperation, you decide to go to option 5.

5th Option.  Buy a Perkinz Crutching Cradle.

You call Wayne and a nicer guy you have never met; informative, respectful, very sympathetic to farming issues and even quite helpful with regards to questions about drapes. You get off the phone with a flicker of hope burning once again and decide to delay putting the farm on the market.

You make a very astute business decision to purchase a CrutchMaster, both your wife and her parents compliment you on your vision and wisdom and with a light heart you await the delivery.

 You finish your first day crutching on your new Perkinz system with a clear mind and supple back and skip home through the lush green fields to a meal of steak and chips with eggs and mushrooms cooked by your beautiful and admiring wife who informs you that her mother is going to live with her sister in another country and probably won’t be coming back.

 And after fielding numerous calls from envious neighbours who congratulate you on your purchase, your wife drags you off to bed for a night of undreamt of passion and as you fall slowly into a satisfied sleep you ask, “Did you ever get the drapes sorted out for the 4th bedroom?”

And the last thing you hear before you finally succumb to sweet dreams that involve Gold Coast politicians being indicted for fraud, is: “Go to sleep Honey, we don’t have a 4th bedroom.