I sold my new registered Clun Forest ram, Cadbury, yesterday afternoon. He is going to a serious flock up near Potsdam, two hours away, with more than fifty ewes (sometimes more than a hundred) and sixty acres of grazing. The shepherd who bought him has bred sheep since 1974 and is intensely knowledgeable. I couldn’t be happier for him.
Why did I sell Cadbury, after saving up for him so long and driving so far?
Several reasons. First: from the marks on their rumps, he had bred all my ewes (though not my two ewe lambs, who will now go unbred — but that is fine; they’ll grow big and strong and be among the first bred next fall; and meanwhile my lambing season should not be drawn out for an extra month.) With his job done, Cadbury was now just another large and hungry mouth to feed.
Second: Money. I have too many claims on my limited farm cash right now. I was able to sell Cadbury for exactly what I paid for him, so the cost of the gas to get him turns out to have been a very reasonable stud fee for his excellent genetics.
Third: this is the amorphous, intangible reason. I work alone most of the time on the farm, often in rotten weather. There is no one to share my ups and downs. I am frequently tired and muddy, or half-frozen, or sunburned, or bug-bitten, or plain discouraged. I count on the regular lifts of joy I get from looking out at the land or the animals.
The points (face and legs) of Clun Forest sheep can range from rich black to tan. I simply love the crisp look of black. The beauty lifts my heart. I know it is silly, when his physical conformation, fleece, and temperament were so nice, but Cadbury’s washy coloring was such a disappointment to me that when I looked at him, instead of joy I felt a pang. What a mistake I made.
Meanwhile I’ve been injured several times recently. About six weeks ago I tripped climbing out of the pig pen. The toe of my boot caught on the electronet. As I had a bucket in each hand, I had no way to break my fall and landed heavily on my left, good knee. Ever since I’ve been unable to kneel and I often groan getting up from a chair.
I have also managed to hurt my left shoulder. Simply to muck the deep bedding out of the sheep stall I had to take copious doses of ibuprofen. Lucy looked up my symptoms on the internet and it appears I probably have a rotator cuff injury, often seen as “a result of aging,” she read. Aging appeared in the article numerous times.
“I am becoming an old crock,” I said to DH as Lucy put a heated compress on my shoulder.
DH is seven years older. “Just wait. This is only the start.”
My little farm depends entirely on me. It has always been clear that if for any reason I couldn’t do the chores for any length of time, all my dear animals would have to go. Last week the wife of one of DH’s old friends — beautiful, exactly my age, and apparently perfectly healthy — died of an embolism. Suddenly I thought, who knows how long I will be able to raise sheep? Why should I keep this impressive ram who nonetheless makes me feel blue?
The next day I put Cadbury up for sale. I was lucky to find the perfect buyer. (If I hadn’t, I’d have kept him.) Next year I’ll buy another ram … and I’ll be careful to make sure that in addition to all his other fine qualities, he has a look that makes my heart sing.