Counting Sheep Nonsense

Once in a while it is fun to just include nonsense about the sheep industry. In The Coconino Sun, Flagstaff, March 11, 1921, “Under Cheerful Chirps (by “Del”) even states that “mostly nonsense,(that is the tidbits within this section of the newspaper) except in those rare intervals when a real idea comes along and is grabbed off”, the following appeared:   “Paul S. Coffin, out on Harlow Yaeger’s sheep ranch a few months ago, was asked by the latter to estimate how many sheep there were in a certain band. Paul looked carefully at the sheep, then replied: ‘Just 622.’  He had the number exactly right. Counting sheep in a band is very difficult and is to some extent quess work, so Harlow was surprised. ‘How did you find out?’ he asked. ‘Why, that was easy,’ said Paul. ‘I counted their feet and divided by four!’”

Earlier that year, in the same section of the paper, there was another similar tidbit, but this time the person said 500 sheep by counting the legs and dividing by 4. It must have been fun in the early part of 1921 to poke fun at the sheep industry. Of course, there wasn’t much else to say about it as it was going through some tough times just as was the cattle industry. Stay tuned for the rest of that story later in the week.

But back to counting the legs of sheep and dividing by four. My husband and I have watched on a few occasions the herders and shearers counting sheep. This particular time we were visiting Joe Manterola and his sheep outfit up near Williams, Arizona. The herders counted sheep for the shearers after they had tagged the sheep. Tagging removes the wool around the ewes eyes and from their bellies for when they give birth, their young can easily milk. Counting the sheep is necessary so the shearers know how many sheep they have tagged for their pay. I can assure you that this counting was not done by counting the legs and dividing by four as Mr. Coffin stated he did. There is definitely too much running, jumping and running in pairs by the sheep as they passed the counter to count legs! I had a difficult time just counting the sheep!

Here are some pictures and a video to show the activity.

Sheep are gathered together.
The herders begin to count.
The actual counting process.