Cadbury by Daylight

Here is my new Clun Forest ram, Cadbury, in the sunshine. You can see how dirty his fleece is (with luck the rain will wash him clean this fall) and the milk-chocolate color of his handsome face.  Behind him are two of this year’s lambs, with the rich black points I admire. Ah well. I’m sure eventually I’ll get over it.

What you can’t see is that his marking harness has come loose. Though I trussed him like a roast ready for the oven, I did not think to tie the ends of the straps. Now the buckles have worked themselves loose. By evening the harness was swinging slackly under his chest.

I do not know how to fix this when he’s on pasture and I can’t trap him against a wall. I did try sneaking up on him. Forget it. I tried lunging for the straps. I was able to catch hold but when he bolted in fright I was instantly yanked off my feet, body surfing through the grass in his wake for twenty feet before I let go.

It seems to me I need a lariat. As a child I was so enamored of horse stories set in the West that I decided I had to learn to rope. Dad took me to the hardware store and we bought a length of sisal. Dad must have fashioned the lariat. There were no cattle in our manicured Connecticut suburb, so I practiced on oddments around the yard. I could eventually snare the handlebars of my bike, resting motionless on its kickstand. As I regularly pretended my bike was a horse, this meager accomplishment was satisfying.

However I’m not sure that more than forty years later, this experience will help me catch my ram.

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7 Responses to Cadbury by Daylight

  1. June says:

    If I didn’t think you’d be mobbed by everyone and trampled, I’d say try and bucket of grain and when he has his head down grab him. But everyone will likely also want the grain and run you over. It works for me but I’m only dealing with 5.

    • adkmilkmaid says:

      I do get mobbed and that is exactly how I was able to grab Cadbury’s harness… briefly. However he outweighs me and certainly has more strength, so that idea went nowhere. I wished there were some way I could tie him to my truck bumper! 🙂

  2. Leslie says:

    Good grief, just build a small catch pen to feed the sheep in. Close the gate and you catch the ram or a sick one when you need to. Come on, a women has to be smarter than a sheep. No need to get drug all over the pasture, or hurt.

    • adkmilkmaid says:

      Good grief, yes! I do hope to be smarter than a sheep. 🙂 However I’m also busier than one, too, so am brainstorming to come up with an idea that will be effective, cheap, and take as little time as possible. Moving my catch pen/sheepfold up the field may indeed be the easiest thing.

  3. Leslie says:

    Some times effective and cheap don’t really add up. Being a single women farmer for 35 years I know about over worked and underfunded. BUT time, yours, is money. Now would you have to move the fold back to where ever it lives? I just popped into your blog a few days ago so don’t know much about the parameters of your farm. Would it not be easier to move the sheep to the fold? They all do have 4 little legs to get around on. I have had a few sheep over the years but mainly I deal with goats and not tame ones either so catch pens were a must for me when I had hundreds. Now my operation is much smaller and the main herd can be easily run into the barn for any procedures.It just seems to me a permanent pen/fold where you need it in the long run pays for itself in time=money.

    Here in the US we have fencing panels. 16′ long a little over 4′ high made of VERY heavy welded wire. Do you have anything like that by you? 4 panels and some T posts with one good stout wooden post(to tie something to) makes a great pen that can be moved pretty easily. Don’t think cost, think investment. One dead ewe is the cost of a catch pen. Believe me when I tell you no matter how good you get or how organized you are this farming stuff doesn’t get easier as one gets older! 🙂

    Another question here, why would you turn a new animal out in the dark? AND the big question of the day…. have you caught the errant boy? LOL

    • adkmilkmaid says:

      Yes, I certainly sound like an utter fool, don’t I? 🙂

      I had to turn Cadbury out at evening because I did not want to leave him alone in the truck overnight. If I had off-loaded him at my barn, I’d have had no way to boost him back into the truck for a ride to the pasture a mile down the road the next day. I will probably be building a ramp this fall but it’s not built yet.

      I keep my sheep on a friend’s field for five months in spring and summer. There is no infrastructure there. No perimeter fence, no water, nothing but great grass. I am slowly trying to create some infrastructure, but for now I move them every day into new paddocks fenced with electronet. This works fine but it means catching a single problem animal is a challenge.

      Cadbury is not loose — he’s in the paddock with the ewes — but his ram harness has now fallen off and I don’t have a way to get it back on him. I have lambed out my ewes for years with no markings to tell me when to expect the lambs, so it’s not an emergency. It’s more of a “gosh, what tedious mistake will I make next?” situation.

      We do have fencing panels here in the Adirondacks and I actually own some, with which I built a sheepfold in the pasture. Getting all 24 sheep to race down the long hill into the small enclosure, however, has proved difficult in the recent past (during the heavy rain of Irene).

      I have to figure out a plan very soon, however, as my lambs go to market next week and I’ll have to round up all the sheep to cut them out. Occasionally my ingenuity fails, for sure, but I usually come up with something. 🙂

      When I do have the flock in tight quarters, I will attempt to get Cadbury’s harness back on him.

  4. Missy says:

    Selden, you ALWAYS think of something, that’s one reason I keep on reading. What you lack in infrastructure or weight (against a ram I mean 😉 ) you make up for in ingenuity. Could you try the same maneuver you tried the other day from your September 11, 2011 at 8:30 am comment but have a rope pre-tied to a stout post (or tow bar) and a clip at the other end that you could clip straight on to his harness? Would that buy you just enough time to tighten it up? I dunno, I don’t really know anything about rams or harnesses, just brainstorming.

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