In preparation, the day before this event, we had a woman come out to shear the ram lambs and trim everyone's hooves....To complete this picture, it's "that" time of year. A few days before, Bob discovered that Studley had been busy ramming (go figure!) at fencing in the pasture that he and his two little wethers, or joy toys were kept in....primarily to get to HIS ladies before the 5 little ram lambs did. And they definitely were trying! That's one thing about ram lambs that I never knew and wished that I didn't---they come out of the ewes with testosterone raging...and are TOTALLY unselective as to who they choose to bestow their efforts on! Amazing. So Bob and I had spent a good part of the morning separating out the ram lambs from the rest of the flock into their very own pasture and then letting Studley join the ewes. Calm for all of one day.
At this point, there were maybe 4 ewes and myself in the barnyard and, you guessed it, Studley on his way in through the gate. His horns have gotten magnificently huge. Out of the corner of my eye, I catch a movement in the dog's half of the barnyard which had been "locked off" from the entire barnyard in preparation for this event; I turn to see Zephyr, one of the maremmas at their "invisible door", busily chewing on **what?** at their gate...she looks up at me with a "I'm going to get into trouble" look. It was the electric fence tape with wires all through it that Bob had tied the door shut with that she was chewing on! Two seconds later, not only she (with a bloody mouth), but her sister FLY through the little door into the barnyard. They've been kept separate from "their" sheep too long and are totally excited to be with them again with no fencing walling them off. Now Studley in his studliness wants NO competition with his ladies....dogs included...even female ones. YIKES! Studley has rammed the dogs before, but that was when he was a 6 month old lamb. Now, I'm afraid that he could kill them.
With Studley under Bob's determined hand, I grabbed 2 leashes that were carefully laid out on a pallet in preparation for the lambs and turned my attention towards the dogs. With a modest amount of effort I got them both hooked up to leads, got them out of the barnyard area, and back into their side of the barnyard---chaining the invisible gate closed before they could make another break for it! PHEW!
When Ginny, the sheep shearer came out, she did Studley up first then calmly lashed him to a metal T-post on a lead of about 3 inches, while she did the rest of the sheep. She's my hero. You should have seen her flip him. It looked barbaric----she grabbed his muzzle, and started twisting it upside down at the SAME time that she's bending his head all the way back to his side!!! It looked like his head was going to get twisted off...but he just flopped over on his back. Interestingly though, she said it doesn't hurt the shetland sheep, because of the strength of their neck muscles----you can kill an alpaca or llama by using the same technique though. I'm thinking Studley....you're in for it the next time you charge me!!...of course, I also have visions of a headless ram wandering around our farm!!
The day of the slaughter arrives. In preparation, we needed to lead the lambs over to an old holding pen--leftover from the farm's hippie days. We had originally thought that this pen was just a huge pile of blackberries until my lawn tractor, during one of my "clearing the land frenzies" ran into a wooden fence post and fencing. Since then, I have been religiously weedwhacking and mowing out the inside of the pen...not really knowing why....it just seemed like a good idea. Turns out that it was! I hated the thought that this slaughter would take place "in the faces" of the other sheep and dogs. This put the whole event on the other side of our house and about 600 feet away--TOTALLY out of their vision or hearing.
So. we're moving the lambs to this pen. I know that I said "lead". That was a misnomer. These guys had NEVER had a halter on them and we're talking total donkey action. Luckily they only weighed about 60 pounds so we could carry them the block distance over to the pen. Once they were inside the little pen, they were in hog heaven---blackberry leaves...EVERYWHERE! Their favorite of favorite things to eat!!!
So the next day we were going to do the Farmer's Market in Newport--our regular Saturday event--and I decided to take a couple of fleeces with us to sell. That being said, I needed a sign....with photos of what the fleeces looked like in their entirety---like ON the lambs. Without thinking I opened up iPhoto, and scrolled down to some photos I took of Bob and our "then" flock and stopped dead in my tracks. OMG there they are. augh. I managed to make the poster just like adding the photos to this post, but it was an extremely difficult thing for me to do.
I wonder how long this divorce will take? I hate the thought that Studley is out there creating more ram lambs as I write, that we'll need to repeat this process all over again for. Mutton stew anyone?