Monday, June 13, 2011

The ram that wasn’t

A few years ago we decided it was time that we got some farm animals.  We had all this grass.  Why not have some nice looking sheep.  They would eat the grass and look, well, nice.

Looking back, it sure has been a steep learning curve.  We’ve had a crash course finding out about (in alphabetical order) diarrhoea, fencing, fly strike, foot rot, hay making, intestinal parasites, rotational grazing, shearing, water troughs and wool trading.

One of the decisions we made along the way was to have spring lambs frolicking in the paddocks.  Wouldn’t that be neat.  All of our sheep were ewes (girl sheep).  We needed a ram (boy sheep) to, you know, mate with them.

My wife was away somewhere for the weekend.  Can’t remember where.  And so began the tradition of my wife returning home from a weekend away to find some strange new animal at the farm.

I was having a few drinks with a friend at the Tin Hut.  It’s a classic old country pub.  It’s a few kilometres away so is more than walking distance.  They run a courtesy van and drive you home if you feel you’ve had too much to drink.  Or if you are being responsible.  Or both.

Anyway, my friend and I caught the van home.  I ended up in the back with these three women.  They had been for a night out at the pub as well.  Not sure how I got on to the subject.  But it came out that I wanted to buy a ram.  One of them had one for sale.  Done.  We shook on the deal then and there.

I went to pick him up the next morning.  He was a pet lamb who had been totally overfed by two adoring children.  I loaded him on to the trailer.  They gave him some bread to eat on the 5 minute journey home which he certainly didn’t need.  They made me promise that I wouldn’t eat him.  I forget what name they had for him.  It was some name out of Lord of the Rings.  We ended up calling him Legolas.  Which turned into Leg-o-Lamb (get it?).  Which later became just Lego.

Well, Mr Tubby wasn’t all he was cracked up to be.  They didn’t teach me at law school how to judge a ram by its scrotum.  Yes.  Who knew that his scrotum was supposed to be a "whopper".  Scrotal size indicates sperm production and hence fertility.  I was supposed to palpate his testicles inside his scrotum to make sure they felt large, firm and moved freely.   Eeeeewwwww!

It turned out that our Lego wasn’t a whopper.  He had some dangly bits but nothing useful.  It turned out he had been “fixed” and was no longer a ram.  He was a “wether” (castrated ram).  Either it was a simple mistake or I was the victim of an elaborate web of deception.

Either way he was no use to us.  But by then we had kind of become fond of him.  We decided he might be useful after all.  He was so tame (and greedy) that he would just about charge you down whenever you went near the flock.  So he would chase you for tidbits and the rest of the sheep, being sheep, would follow him wherever he went.  Sometimes nice places.  Sometimes not.  This is probably really politically incorrect, but in New Zealand we call Lego and his kind “Judas sheep”.

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