Sunday, August 29, 2004

ram: n. a male sheep
v. to strike with violence

With dusk changing rapidly to darkness, we were down at the barn trying to herd sheep by the single light shining out into the middle pen. A gate sprung open, our eight rams had mixed in with a dozen or so ewes in the barn lot. This is not good for your breeding records, so the younger son and I were thrashing around in a waist high mob of wooly backs in a half-lit barnyard. Like some sweat-soaked, near-sighted, anti-Noah, there I was frantically trying to divide male from female so they would not go together, two by two. The sheep were being sheep, that is to say, that they were not cooperating. I was not happy and said so. At length. Using a full and varied vocabulary gained from sixteen years working with cops and criminals. We finally got the impromptu ovine singles mixer to move into a smaller pen where there was more hope of catching the rams and giving them the bum's rush back out into the upper pasture without their new girlfriends in tow. I had my back turned trying to close the gate when February, until then a favorite ram, slammed me squarely in the back. With Newtonian inevitability, I in turn slammed into the gate, throwing it back open. The younger son, faced with the sight of his father hopping around like Quasimodo and hollering like Homer Simpson showed maturity beyond his years by neither fleeing nor dissolving in laughter.

Later, when the aspirin kicked in and I stopped wondering how much freezer space the offender would take up as mutton chops, my wife assured me that it had just been a love tap. If he had been really serious, he would have hit me much harder.


Anonymous said...

Your blog is interesting, and I enjoy the unique perspective of your sheep farming. Your pictures are fantastic. Great job.

John said...

Thank you for the kind words!

Elizabeth said...

I am *Sooo* glad you have had a calmer time, with time and space to post occasionally !
I really, really enjoy your blog. And the sheep are delightful :-)

J. Michael Matkin said...

You have a very loving son, and wise beyond his years.

He reminds of a story that William Moody told about himself and his father, the famous evangelist D.L. Moody. Apparently, Will and some friends had been wandering in the woods near the Moody home when they discovered and, as boys will do, seriously pissed off a nest of bees.

The insects, better armed than the boys, chased the lads all the way back to the farm, where at last Will and company found refuge in a pond nearby the house. The bees hung around for a while and then called it a day, whereupon the boys hauled themselves out of the water and began plucking stingers out of each others bodies. As William tells it, far more painful than the stings of the bees was the sight of his father rolling around on the porch and laughing hysterically. "No Moody ever laughed," William lamented, "unless blood was drawn."