Baxter Black: A Sheep Thanksgiving
For some reason this Thanksgiving, I’m thinking of sheep. The sheep industry is havin’ a fair year. One factor is lamb being included and advertised in specialty dog food. The sheepman’s equivalent market to fast food burgers.
How to strengthen the market, you ask? Breed more dogs, you say? Or get humans in Canada and the U.S. to eat more sheep and wear more wool? So how do you get people to buy more lamb? You either change the people or change the product.
We are living in a time of unimaginable technology involving gene tinkering. What if it were possible to change the animal by gene splicing. Say something as simple as changing the color of wool. How ‘bout a palomino gene to produce the much sought after Golden Fleece or a leopard gene to get a spotted virgin wool jacket. Or even a Scotchman’s gene to produce a fleece that’s already plaid? I can envision wool t-shirts with logos or rock stars already on the sheep.
Sheep have never been considered a beast of burden, a burden perhaps, but never a beast of burden. As is, they could be enlisted to carry light loads. Pack saddles or panniers would require no cinches or straps. Just velcro the equipment directly to the wool.
Certainly we could gene splice in some mule parts or camel humps. We could wind up with a quarter horse that has its own saddle pad or a sheep with feet like a Clydesdale. Many animals are raised for the purpose of milk production. Cows, of course, and goats. By gene splicing we could get a 120 lb. critter covered with black and white wool and a bag the size of overalls on a dirigible. With only two teats it would halve the expense of costly udder inflation replacements. This would lead to the use of hippopotamus gene splicing so the calves mouths would be big enough. Which would result in better consumption because the shippocow could eat more in less time.
And finally we would be able to attack the biggest problem the sheep industry has…no one likes to eat it. We could literally pick the flavor we wanted and splice it in. We could make the meat taste like catfish, chocolate, beef, butter, pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce, dressing, and yes, even turkey! Which gets me back to Thanksgiving.
Someday we might be able to offer a leg-o-lamb that tastes like everything on the Thanksgiving table! Call it shurkey. The possibilities are endless. Easter sham, backyard sheef burgers, shicken cordon blue, shoysters on the halfshell, a wildgame feed with shelk, sheer and shantelope, a shuffalo robe, a shink coat, shackaroni and sheeze, shangaroo tail, a singing sharakeet, and sheep….uh, grits.
I better schtop now…!
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Outtagrass Cattle Co. cartoon by Jan Swan Wood for the Oct. 16, 2021, edition of Tri-State Livestock News