Young rams on the move. These boys behaved themselves today unlike the two mentioned below.
I've gone off rams a bit this morning. We were out in the sheep yards at 6.30 drafting the ewe lambs and ram lambs for LambPlan scanning this morning. LambPlan for the initiated is a system where lambs are weighed at different times in their development and scanned for eye muscle and fat depth when they are a few months old. This allows them to be compared to all rams in the LambPlan system and rated according to breeding quality potential.
When drafting ewes all I have to do is wave my arms gently while making a quiet shooshing noise to get them into the race yard and down the race where Graeme moves a drafting gate in one of three directions according to where he wants that particular ewe. The rams are a bit more difficult. I have to fill a race yard and then get in there with them and forcefully encourage them to move up to where Graeme is to be drafted. Rams aren't as frightened of humans so it takes that bit more effort to draft them.
Farrer has rubbed off on a couple of the adult rams and they now want scratches and pats too. (You can read Farrer's story here http://lifeatspringrock.blogspot.com/2009/01/sheep-drafting-spring-spring-rock-style.html ) Farrer is getting old and slow so he doesn't tend to be rounded up with the rest of the rams if he's not actually needed these days so thankfully he wasn't present for today's fun and games. Today two rams gave me a lot of trouble. Adult rams weight around 150+ kgs each and when they want a scratch they want a scratch. The Ashmore Ram (we bought him from the Ashmore stud so we call him The Ashmore Ram) was very eager for scratches today. In true Farrer fashion he planted himself in front of me at every opportunity and hinted that a scratch would be more than welcome. His hints basically consisted of refusing to get out of my way until a scratch was administered. I gave him a scratch in passing each time he stopped in front of me, more in self defence than because it was convenient. More about him in a minute.
The other trouble maker was ram lamb. He is one of this year's bottle babies and had a vague notion that he knew us and we should be giving him something tasty. He weighs in around 60+kgs. He wasn't 100% sure what it was he wanted from me, or why he wasn't afraid of us, but this general lack of fear gave him quite a bit of bravado. Now a young ram lamb in his teenage stage is a pain in the neck at the best of times. They think they are good stuff and tend to take some convincing as to why they should do what you want them to do. Add to this that this young ram knew he wanted something from me and wasn't getting it and things heated up a bit. He got increasingly annoyed with me and began to pretend to butt me, lowering his head and jerking it at me. I fended him off with a touch to the head each time and he backed off temporarily. I don't think he was really going to butt me, but I had to let him know I wasn't going to just stand and let him either. I had to find a happy medium between doing nothing and being too aggressive in my reaction thus egging him on, so just a touch to the head and a stern word seemed the best idea. It worked well, but I had to keep doing it.
Most of what I've described above took place in the sheep yard that leads into the race yard. Of course the young ram and The Ashmore Ram were in the last lot to go into the race yard. They hung back in the sheep yards until they were made to go into the race yard where they stood together and compared notes on how to make my life just that bit more difficult while I moved the other rams along. They hit on the most effective strategy they could. The Ashmore Ram wandered up and pushed me from behind at regular intervals, asking for a scratch, while I was occupied moving the rest of the rams up the race. He and the ram lamb kept to the back of the mob so that they weren't pushed through the race earlier. While I was dealing with him the young ram would prance up, lower his head and jerk it at me while my hands were occupied with The Ashmore Ram. Some times they co-ordinated themselves so well that while I was bent over fending off the ram lamb The Ashmore Ram pushed me from the back at the same time. This sandwich effect is not something I'd recommend the faint of heart experience. It's a bit startling to find yourself squished between a huge, friendly ram's head and a much smaller, but far less friendly ram lamb's head while they both push towards each other. Needless to say that my back has had it for the day.
And that's why I've gone off rams.