No two boys are alike. No more true than with rams.
The day arrived to match ram to ewes for the 2018 season.
BB King, the baby this year, stood up on the gate of the ram stall, trying to make himself look taller. He looks like he is singing "Put me in coach, I'm ready to play". When that didn't work he stood tall and lifted his head, pretending to be larger than life.
I just gave him a scratch and told him "Not this year BB". I moved him out of the ram stall and put him in with some younger ram lambs so he has company while he grows, matures and learns to walk on a halter. All my rams must be able to walk politely on a halter, it is one of my required skills for the job of these breeders.
Channing Tatum pulled on his work clothes Monday morning and as soon as I took him to the gate he tipped his head and literally trit- trotted off to work. "Work". Poor boy. He has been put in a field with 32 ewes.
Maurice Chevalier on the other hand,was not quite so keen. I took great care to explain to him that he is about to earn his keep as I was fitting him with his brand new breeding harness complete with a new red chalk block. A ram works 8 weeks a year and then just waits for the lady who lives in the farmhouse to bring bread treats to the pasture where all the rams hang out together during the day and then listen to cbc radio in the barn in the evening.
Having carefully reviewed the geneology of each ewe on the farm and not wanting to overwhelm Maurice on his first year on the job, I introduced this young ram to seven ewes. Seven ewes is considered to be nothing for a boy sheep to get to know. So what did Maurice do when I introduced him to his women? Remember those junior high dances when the girls stood on one side of the gym and the boys on the other? Well, Maurice went to the other side of the field from where the ewes were grazing and enjoyed eating the late fall grass. All by himself. Perfectly peaceful in his new breeding harness. All day long. Not once did he even look over at those lovely ewes glancing across the pasture at the handsome, french origin, young man.
When I brought the sheep into the barn the evening of the first day of work, Channing Tatum and his 32 ewes were clearly getting along very well. Channing is sporting a blue chalk breeding harness. He started out his first day of work by presenting six blue dots on the backs of his ewes.
I then asked Louie the border collie to bring the seven ewes and Maurice down from the hill they had shared...apart...all day. Louie the border collie told the sheep to share a pen in the barn. Maurice was fine with that, just as long as he could just have dinner with these ewes and not be expected to do anything else. At one point I checked in to see if putting the seven sheep together in closer quarters had made a difference and found Maurice peeking out, pretending to be just one of the girls.
The next day I put Maurice Chevalier out in the field with his seven ewes again. That day he did stay in the same general area with the ewes, a step in the right direction. When the nice lady in the farmhouse brought treats he joined the ewes at the fence and was ever so polite to let the ladies have treats first. The chalk on the chest area of the breeding harness that the ram wears marks a coloured dot on a ewe's back when the ram does his work (described in an earlier blog). The chalk on Maurice's breeding harness ? Well, I have never seen a ram do what he did those first couple days of his working life. There was red chalk all down his front legs; there was chalk on his cheek; there was even chalk on his own back. There was not one single bit of chalk on any of the seven ewes.
I have a shortened working season this year because I need the ewes to be finished having their babies at a certain date this year. My daughter, Amy, is going to have a human baby and the ewes have agreed that they will allow the maternity ward in the barn to close early this year. So, the pressure is on for the rams to get their work done in a timely fashion this year.
Do you suppose Maurice heard this news and is feeling the stress of reduced timelines to meet his work goals? Is this too much pressure for this new employee?
Channing Tatum seems to be getting along with his work quite well after a few days. There are more blue dots appearing each day.
I will give Maurice Chevalier another week to re-read his job description. He is now officially on probation with his work. I will keep him close with his seven ewes and hope that he has heard enough stories from the other rams that he gets the hang of ram work. Do you suppose that nature, cold weather and close quarters will help this young ram understand the task at hand?