Thursday, September 30, 2010

Caring for the Tools that Care for Our Animals

Well, we've come a long way as a society in the tools we use to care for our animals. I swear, my dog has a more thorough health screening every year than I do. And while I love to do things the old fashioned way, and would love to tell you that Zach and I use these old sheep shears to shear our goats and rabbits, alas, I cannot lie. These beautiful antique hand shears hang in our laundry room, and the only use they have in our house is to look rustic and charming.
There is however, a whole group of people who still use hand shears to shear their animals, and they do it faster than Zach and I with the electric ones.
As quaint as the old shears are, I find them incredibly daunting. We opted for the electric ones, more modern, but not nearly as scary.
  This is our collection of tools that we use to take care of our animals. It includes shearing tools, grooming tools, and nail and hoof clippers. We also keep a good grease cutting soap like dish-washing liquid on hand, small machine oil for shears or sewing machines, styptic powder, peroxide and triple antibiotic ointment.

Many of these tools are a considerable investment, it's important to take good care of them, not only to protect our own expenses, but so that they work properly and will do the job they're made for without injuring us or our animals.
 Shearing season is done for us for a while, and other than trimming up our Golden Retriever now and again, cleaning his ears and feet puffs etc. (he gets these pom pons on his toes and he looks like he's wearing fancy lady slippers), we will be packing up the clippers for a few months.
We have two sets of shears, our large electric sheep shears, and a smaller pair of animal clippers. They both work in basically the same way. They have a stationary row of angled teeth, then the lower section that slices back and forth.

The teeth on the sheep shears are spaced much wider than the animal clippers this is necessary because wool is much more dense than fur or hair. The head base is also wider which allows the fleece to come off faster, therefore putting less stress on the goat. These however, are a more dangerous set of clippers because it's easy to get your finger or the animal's skin in between those wide spaced blades. Unfortunately, someone always seems to get nicked. Either one of us or one of the goats. If the goats get nicked, we clean the area well with Peroxide, and smear triple antibiotic ointment on the wound each day until it's healed.
The animal clippers have a more narrow head, smaller teeth and spaced more closely together, but not too close together to where they wouldn't be able to get through the fur. Human clippers like the ones used in barber shops are meant for hair and will not work on animals with wool or an under coat, the teeth are too close together. We use the animal clippers on the rabbits and for our dog because they are safer and more easily manipulated for smaller areas.

This is what the clippers looked like after we sheared the rabbits.
I take the clipper head off, and brush out much of the wool and debris with an old recycled dog brush. It has soft bristles that work like a tooth brush and get between the teeth of the blades.

Then I brush the blades with grease cutting soap

and rinse under very hot water so much of the moisture evaporates and will not cause rust. Dry the blades well and oil well.

Our sheep shears have oil ports,

where the clippers I just run a bead of oil down the blades and turn them on for a minute to spread. They are now clean and ready to be stored.

We also use a collection of different brushes on our dog and the rabbits. We have a soft slicker brush which is the main brush for removing snarls and everyday combing on the rabbits. Slicker brushes have different bristle types, this is a soft brush used for cats or rabbits and won't scratch their delicate skin. The dog slicker has more firm bristles for removing his undercoat. We also use this great little tool called the Furminator, each of the teeth has an angled blade that removes mattes and loose fur extremely well. Ceddie also has his comb for after his bath and a shedding loop with teeth that draw out loose fur. It's also important to have a nice pair of scissors designed for cutting hair or fabric. These are quilting shears but they slice through fiber with no problem. Using dull scissors on a squirming animal can be extremely difficult and somewhat dangerous.
The last collection of tools we have are used for clipping nails and hooves. We use these large clippers for trimming the goats hooves, about every three weeks, see January 26th post Trimming Goats Hooves.

After each use we clean them with soap and hot water, dry thoroughly moving the clippers back and forth, and oil. It's important to keep them clean as to not pass bacteria between each goat causing hoof root etc.

For Ceddie and the rabbits we use a guillotine type clipper. We keep a vile of styptic powder on hand in-case someone get's clipped below the quick.     


Claudio Timbers said...

I would like to include it in my garden in some way, I love gardens that are all green, where texture, shape of leaf and different shades of green make the beauty, and I think I will need to create some hedge boundaries, walls or screens. sheep shears

Claudio Timbers said...

The second thing I got her was a pair of sheep shears. It’s not as if we’ve got any sheep about the farm, nor nothing like that. It’s just that I thought they’d be handy for dealing with those big, bushy armpits of her. sheep shears

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