Tuesday, December 17, 2019

More Cowboy Sayings - Two Shakes of a Lamb's Tail

I didn't find out until I went to agricultural college that lambs were born with long tails. When they are about a month old, farmers dock their tails. This is due to the fact that as they get their teeth in and play, lambs will grab each other by the tail and cause injury to one another. And because they are livestock, in injury may go unnoticed for a day or so and in that time, get infected. So farmers dock the tails of lambs for sanitary reasons.

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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1 comment:

  1. Hi, wow, I just learned something today , like I usually do when I read this blog. I had no idea a lamb is born with a long tail, that is so very interesting! Thank you for sharing this. I have heard of the saying and now I know where it comes from! :) have a Great rest of the day! God Bless you.