Saturday, 2 June 2012

Out with the new and in with the old

After attending the May Fair sheep sales this year and watching a ram sell for 4,200 guineas (£4400), I decided to take up the very kind offer of a ram for loan again (£20). Pip and I set off with the trailer to collect him -


Pip is purely along for the ride. She's great company but useless in any capacity that involves sheep. I think she's decided that they're just big, grass-eating dogs. But she loves being in the car -

I call shotgun!

I'm hardly one to judge. I'm the least authentic farmer-type in the village. My own shepherding outfit this day consisted of a long skirt with multiple barbed wire tears in the hem, pink crocs, and a beaten up straw hat. Our misfit duo set off for Somerset and Mr. Baker's farm where we collected Roz -


Roz is an older, experienced ram who has serviced Mr. Baker's ewes for a few years now. After I checked my ewes' numbers to make sure there was no relation, Roz was chosen as a suitable sire. 

Last year we had an unproven, young ram lamb, who did a commendable job siring offspring, but took a bit of time to learn his job. As I put raddle harnesses on my rams, they leave a chalk mark on anything they mount. The young ram lamb left his mark on ewes' rumps, but also on their heads and shoulders, and on the water tower, the water trough, the tractor tyres...well, you get the idea.

Roz knows his job. I dropped the tailgate on the trailer and he sauntered out, and casually walked over to my small flock of ewes. He sniffed each one almost methodically and within minutes...


Yup. And by the time I'd checked them the next morning, he'd covered three more. 

The ewes with their tramp stamps

That's a win for age and experience over youth and enthusiasm.

My only job is to ensure the raddle doesn't rub and make Roz sore, and that none of the sheep go lame or seem unwell. And it doesn't matter that I don't look like a farmer, or have a lot of shepherding experience yet, because Roz knows his job. That's what counts.

11 comments:

  1. what is that mark in the photo of roz - between eye and nose? It looks for all the world like a gill. Or an extra vent. Is it a scar, or have I missed some cool part of british ram anatomy?

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    1. Megan, I will have to confirm with those who know more than me but I'm pretty sure it's a preorbital scent gland. Ovi-caprines (males) have glands *everywhere* which secrete pheromones, often in a greasy substance. In fact during the fallow rut, even people can smell the musk.

      Roz has also got a lump in the middle of his forehead which I thought was a vestigial horn, but the farmer said was a big scab from fighting with other rams. Honestly - men!

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  2. I think you've probably mentioned it, but are they merinos?

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  3. No - this group is all Polled (ie hornless) Dorset sheep, ram and ewes.

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  4. It's a damn good thing people don't leave this kind of evidence behind.

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  5. That is hilarious, about the young ram. I can only imagine, LOL!! He really should take some pointers from Roz. :)

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  6. Janice Bendixen6 June 2012 at 23:22

    I know all your dogs are a) brilliant and b) darling but I have to confess, Pip is my favorite. That face just melts my heart.

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    1. Pip is definitely our special child, in every sense of the word.

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  7. Now every time I see a woman with a tramp stamp I'm going to think of Roz and your ewes and giggle with delight!

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  8. I've always wanted a dog who LIKED riding in the truck with me, and so far, 5/5 are a wash. So I'm jealous that Pip, who I ALSO adore, is a good traveling companion. And I have nothing to say about the sheep that can top Tamar's comment above - STILL laughing. Happy lamb-making season!

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