I know you all get great joy out of my carefully taken and artistic photographs (yesyes, massive sarcasm indeed), but I think you'll be glad I didn't whip out the camera to take some shots of the lamb tails in a bucket.
Yup, just the tails. Today was docking day for the four lambs born recently. It's an unpleasant aspect of raising sheep, to be sure, but a necessary one. The tails are shortened because it both makes the sheep easier to shear and reduces the amount of shit (literal shit, that is) that accumulates on the rear of the sheep. This means fewer flies and disease problems. So, off come the tails.
A. uses a tool that looks kind of like pruning shears, but they plug in and get hot. There's also a cauterizing bar on it. So basically, he cuts the tail and then burns the flesh to stop the bleeding. I hold the lambs for this, which is just about as disgusting as it sounds, and pretty gruesome even for us, accustomed as we are to the gross and bloody. Nothing makes you feel more like a heartless bastard than chopping the tail off a tiny bleating lamb.
One nice thing about sheep, however, is that they have very little brain and absolutely no memory. Two minutes after their unpleasant procedure, the lambs were kicking their heels up and racing around the pasture in a pack.
So obviously no mental anguish there, then.
Also no mental anguish for Cubby, who watched us do this. He looked a little concerned, and said, "Ouch," several times on behalf of the sheep. Quickly followed by, "It's okay, lamb." By the time it was all over and A. pointed out to him that the lambs were fully recovered already, Cubby had lost interest entirely in favor of pinching tulip leaves with the needle nose pliers.
And because I know there are some of you out there who are wondering what we do with the tails: We throw them in the trash. No, the dogs do not get them. That would be way too disturbing.