However, when they are born and before the tail gets docked, you'll see them shaking their tails very fast. In fact, it's hard to count how many times the lamb actually shakes its tail before quitting. So the meaning of this cowboy saying is that something is done quickly, or will be done quickly.
For example: I'll be there in two shakes of a lamb's tail.
Though the exact origin of the phrase is unknown, it is seen in publications and newspapers as early as 1840, and used in such a way, that it seems part of the common vernacular. What's interesting is that around the time of the atomic bomb, "shakes" was defined as an actual measurement of time - 10 nanoseconds. Although of course, it takes longer than 20 nanoseconds for a lamb to actually shake their tail.
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