Yesterday I drove to western New York to pick up my new Clun Forest ram. I had to do my barn chores at 5 AM and 8:30 PM, but a major chore I have dreaded all summer is now accomplished.
Lucy has named the new ram Cadbury. He’s a big, beautiful yearling, with a sweet temperament, lovely conformation, and a great fleece (though it is very dirty at the moment). Here he is, shortly after jumping down from my truck last night.
The one disappointment to me is the shade of his dark points. The Clun standard, which is mostly concerned with health and utility, allows for anything from deep tan to black. This ram’s points are milk chocolate, which hadn’t been evident in photographs. Of course I know this is not important; still, I was disappointed.
Usually we name our stud males after celebrities, but I did not want to name this ram Cosby or Morgan Freeman when the point was that his color was a bummer. That seemed unkind. So we switched to chocolates. (Lucy is excited to imagine all the names for future ewe lambs.)
I had tarped the back of the truck, as I’ve done for all my livestock trips. Unfortunately I hadn’t taken into account how much longer this drive was. I was on busy I-81 when a grommet tore out and the tarp began to flap. I pulled over to the verge and, using a stone from the roadside and baling twine, fashioned a button in the material and secured the tarp again as trucks roared past. Fifteen minutes later the button tore out and I realized it was hopeless. By the time I reached the sheep farm, the tarp that had been new that morning had flapped itself into a shredded rag.
Luckily I had brought a calf collar and lead rope, and Cadbury rode home simply leashed to the stake rack. I had been sure he would lie down in the deep hay once we were moving but he did not. Instead he stood the entire way, legs braced, peering out between the boards at the astonishing sights of downtown Syracuse, Watertown, and Tupper Lake.
Light was fading fast by the time we arrived at Betty’s field. Remembering last year’s debacle of lost crayons, I had stopped on the drive and bought a tiny-gauge stove bolt and locking nut and bolted the red marking crayon into the ram harness. Now I backed the truck to the ewes’ paddock. As I wrestled Cadbury into the harness he and the ewes were calling to each other in excitement. The ewes crowded close to the truck. Finally I had the harness snapped on. I took off the calf collar and threw open the gate of the stake rack.
Seeing big Cadbury loom over them on the tailgate, looking like a giant wild ram poised on a mountain crag, the girls suddenly had second thoughts. They beat a hasty retreat.
Cadbury himself seemed to be as suddenly stricken with shyness. For the past year he’s lived only with rams. Acquiring a harem must have given him pause. He hemmed and hawed on the tailgate, striking noble poses, until I climbed up and gave him a push from behind.
There was a brief flurry as Cadbury ran among the ewes, darting his tongue and curling his lip lasciviously as they fled before him. But he was really quite tired after his long trip. By the time I filled the water trough, the scene was calm and everyone was cropping the long grass.
I’m very pleased to have Cadbury’s excellent genetics in my flock — and almost as happy to cross another chore off my list.