Aries my foe

by Jolyn Low

Today, I had my animal handling practical examination. And let’s just say, well, I’m really bad with sheep. 

I started with cattle and got a cute Murray Grey. Got thrown off when I saw that it had no teeth (like wtf how is it alive then) and so my guessing of its age was totally gone. Supposed that it had to have loose teeth and said that it was 7+, randomly guessed a weight and BCS whilst I was at it. Tied its head up with nose grips as well, did a lactation test and tied the cow’s hind leg to the far post. Then, I made a temporary halter and tied a flank rope. And that was it. I felt like I did alright, I was confident when I answered the questions and am quite sure that I was right. I’m guessing that I passed it. 

Then, it was pigs. Pigs were alright. I moved them but held the pole whilst using the stockboard, which I have no idea what I was supposed to do about. The pigs moved quickly and then I did snaring and answered questions quite confidently. Picked a piglet up for a wellness exam and also for blood collection, and I suppose that I did alright. Answered a lot of questions confidently again and I think I did well. Pass. 

The third station was sheep followed by sheep (it was broken up). For the first, got through sheep tools, breed and definitions alright. Then came tipping. And I managed to do shearer’s method, but failed to do farmer-shearer’s which made me feel quite screwed. Like, big problem. Then had to tip a sheep, age it via teeth, condition score and guess its weight. Also had to find a specific sheep in a pen. Got it quick. Then went out and felt like crap for a good while coughing puking and shit. 

Second portion of sheep I had to age and condition score a sheep and I think I was slightly off with the BCS because it was a fat sheep. Couldn’t tip it, got another small one and couldn’t do farmer-shearer’s again. Then tipped it via folding leg method and tied it up alright. Got blood. I don’t know, I just feel bad about the whole damn thing with sheep like god. If anything, theory can possibly pull me up but I don’t know how much. I really do not want to go through that ordeal again. I think I might have to though. 

Last station: horses. I’m confident because hey, been riding them since I was what, 8? But I got a difficult horse (my friend caught her prior to me and couldn’t put on the bull bit or use the twitch with her). Managed to get the bull bit in after quite a bit of effort (invigilator commended my persistence hooray!), twitched another horse with no problems, and successfully read the brand, identified the breed, colour and markings. Also aged correctly I think. Had difficulty picking up its feet but it did eventually, and I think I did well for identification of body parts and tools. Definite pass. 

I hate feeling incompetent, which comes with not being able to do something that I have definitely done before. I don’t know, its not like I’ve never done farmer-shearer’s before but I just feel so weak and incredibly pathetic wrestling an animal that probably weighs less than I do. I don’t know if I will pass either for sheep but that’s okay, I have another shot if I fail, and I will know it by tomorrow. I will be pretty stumped if I did fail cattle though, I know it. I’ll be surprised if I do fail pigs and horses. 

At least if I failed I have taken down what was tested and know how to work to get enough marks to pass. Such is life. 

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