Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Ram A Lamb (A Ding Dong)

I'm going to tell you about yesterday, for a variety of reasons. We took sheep to the butcher last night.

Yesterday morning I got up early and did some business stuff. I'm relying on borrowed laptops currently as my desktop had a tantrum after a power outage on Monday morning and won't boot up. I don't like laptops, although I must say Sian's isn't bad, but specifically everything took longer than usual because I had to look up passwords, re-do photos I had stored on my own system, and so on. Annoying, but I managed.

We then had to go down to the barn and catch sheep. If you've never tried catching sheep you may not really grasp what I just said, so I shall tell you.

We keep a flock of Jacob sheep. They are not a very large sheep but they have horns (sometimes 4) and they are slightly wild. In the past we have had bottle lambs/spoiled sheep and they are more trouble than the half wild ones, so we go with it. Our flock are less trouble than the "typical" Jacob sheep (by selective breeding) but they still have attitude. When held, they fight.

Tyler was at work, Tom isn't very good at catching sheep, and I have a pulled muscle or ligament or something (I don't have time to get it looked at, it'll heal) in my left thigh and I'm limping, so it was down to Michael to do the most work. Tom manned the door, Michael selected and grabbed, and I helped as much as I could, holding on for dear life, unable to run.

So picture this.

In this space:

We had these sheep ( and a few more):

And the plan was to only let the ones NOT going to the butcher out into the pasture. Simple, right?

What it meant was that we had to catch the biggest ones (including the four-horned ram) and all the girls, get them out of a sliding door while not letting any others out, and while not getting beaten up/mown down by stampeding sheep in the process.

Job #1 was to persuade Sally, the donkey who guards them with the tenacity of Men in Black, or possibly even Mafia minders (we really need to get her some sunglasses) to go out without them, and stay the bleep away from the door. In the end she was tempted out with a carrot. Clichés work remarkably well outside of cartoons, you know.

Then Michael set to grabbing the big rams by the horns, and, with a bit of sweat, swearing, and a level of dodge trickery usually only seen in world class soccer players going for a penalty shot, he did succeed in getting them outside. Then he had a rest and a bottle of water, and wiped his forehead on my shirt (he wasn't wearing one).

Next came the ewes. Easier, right? Smaller, lighter, etc. Ah, but no. They jump. They fight back. Think antelope. After the first two he started calling them "darlin'" and "sweetie" in a rather sarcastic way, and then resorted to "you bitch". Then, right in the middle of the job, one of them butted his hand and broke his middle finger. It went purple very quickly, but also somewhat numb. So he decided to continue before the feeling came back. He was running on undiluted adrenalin, he was so enraged by the runaround the sheep were giving him. By the time we were left with six young rams in the barn, my shirt was soaked from his sweat, we were all covered in flying poo, but with a sense of satisfaction, and then the real pain hit him, and he went inside to get his sister to bind him up.


Later we had to catch the 6 condemned men, eartag them, and get them onto the borrowed horse trailer standing in the barnyard.

Now this was even funnier, because young rams do not stand still while you poke spikes through their ears. But Ontario law says they cannot leave your property without an eartag. I don't bother to tag them when young, because you just have to do it again anyway. They lose their eartags very easily, don't ask me how, I have a closed one (from when we missed) in my pocket, and I see no way of getting it open without pliers...but they manage.

The thing is, the horse trailer has a door that opens downwards. For the animals to walk up, as a ramp. You have seen these, I'm sure. The friend we borrowed it from has it divided inside, but there are no gates other than the rear door/ramp, so once you have one animal inside, you need to hold a sheet of wood across it to stop him getting out, while you load the next one. Somebody has to be wood sheet doorman, during loading, so that's one person lost to that job, right? Then, once you have animals in one side, you need another sheet across the other side. And a second person holding it. That's two down. But you also need a catcher, a barn doorman, and an eartagger. Count 'em. You need a total of 5 people to do this.

So. Thankfully Sian is here, and she came down to the barn, with Lucian, obviously, and her friend Dani was here. Dani has video of this, which will go up on Facebook soon......and Dani did one door on the trailer, while I did the other one. Michael, with his finger bound up, fought the pain and caught the boys, Tom manned the barn door, Sian applied the eartags, and Lucian....well he wandered about, singing, of course, and actually was quite useful in that he kept the dogs amused so they didn't try to help too much, and placated Sally with more carrots. Start 'em young, I say.

The whole day was nuts, but there was a great sense of "got her done", and by the time Martin came home and we all hopped in the truck and took the trailer of sheep to the butcher, we were laughing and telling him stories about it all, whereas at the time there was a lot of bad language.

I am so proud of Michael. He just turned 17, but he was totally a man yesterday, not just in brute strength, but in sense of responsibility to get the job done no matter what. My baby is all grown up.

My life is not like other people's lives. I like my life.


  1. Are you sure they aren't goats? ;)

  2. Replies
    1. In La Belle Province - we have goats.

    2. Yeah, and they all wear suits and sit in the Assemblée nationale du Québec.

  3. Ici, au Québec? Nos chèvres parlent français. Et, ils sont pure laine.

  4. Pure laine!!!!!!!

    Oh Gods she's good.

    1. Et ce n'est que les moutons ont laine ..... :P

  5. I'm laughing harder at the dialogue between you and Karen than the story...*L* But's a very difficult job well done... despite injuries and wooly stubbornness... so next question is..


  6. Still doesn't explain what happened to Martin's hand... and how the hospital visit for both Martin and Michael went.