Monday, September 9, 2013

WHY Didn't I Leave EWE on the Truck?

There’s one in every crowd.

Well, that’s what they say.

…and it’s true.

Here on the hill that one is referred to as “that damn lamb”

More specifically, “that damn, black lamb”. 

Okay…I know I just offended a whole host of folks.  For that I apologize, but you must realize the level of aggravation that this one ovine occupant causes on a continual basis. We’re talking real aggravation. The kind of aggravation that causes cussing and yelling...on a regular basis.

...and damn lamb rhymes...bringing a little amusement to the annoying situation.  Sometimes, you just gotta laugh...

But, let me begin at the beginning.

As you might remember, all our lambs are born black.  Did you read this?  Over time, their wool fades to a creamy shade of white (although most of the time, it’s more a mungy shade of yuck). With Waylon’s recessive black gene, it is possible to have lambs that will stay black their entire lives. Kinda cool if you ask me.  Most of the time, this coloration is referred to as “blue” in the show ring.  I’ve always wanted to have a black/blue ewe.  You know the whole one of a kind, unique, stand out in the crowd kind of deal.  I admire that in people, it makes for some interesting characters and awesome conversation.

In sheep…not so much.

a rare moment of flock "togetherness"

Sheep are flock animals.  It’s important that they stay together.  This makes for “safety in numbers” for the animals and sanity for the shepherd. Nothing worse than counting your sheep and coming up short.

I didn’t give that much thought back during lambing season.  We had two lambs that looked like they would stay dark.  A ewe and a ram.  Since I’m always looking for replacement ewes, I kept an eye on the little ewe lamb.  She was large and her mother is a good mother and producer.  Definitely think about keeping her. I’d finally have my black/blue ewe.

When it came time to take the first load of lambs to the processor, the Boss and I began sorting so we could put them on the truck and head out for our trip.  I had marked the ones that I wanted to take…that first load always includes the biggest lambs which means it’s mostly ram lambs. But, all the rain had caused the marks to fade, so I was going by looks. (that was my first mistake)...and I was trying to hurry.  When we got ready to load, I realized that we had the black EWE lamb instead of the RAM lamb.  I said a few choice words. (I don’t know why but sheep just make you cuss sometimes…any of the local shepherds will back me up on this one.)

the trouble-maker is lower left
The Boss was sure it wouldn’t be a problem to re-sort and then load.  I mean, how hard could it be?  They are lambs…we are humans…we have superior brain power and all that. But, they are lambs…we are humans…we failed to really consider that our brain power might not figure into the equation at all.

The ewe lamb freaked out. She jumped straight up in the air, crashed into the wall, ran around in circles, screamed wildly and started getting the rest of them agitated and weird. Great…just what we intended. Not!

Okay, run her in this stall.  Slam the gate.  I said SLAM the GATE! She’s gonna get out!

I did what he said…I didn’t let her escape. But, I really don’t think he meant slam the gate on my pinkie finger. Oh....OWWWWWW!  I think I saw stars.  Can’t think about that now…
bruised and bloody

Okay, lamb, we’re trying to help you…and we started again.

After a couple more turns around the barn, we finally got the right lambs on the truck and the rest of them out on pasture.  My finger was not broken, just badly bruised and very sore.

But, that was a foreshadowing of things to come. …and not at all in a good way.

When the lambs were in the front paddocks, they needed to walk down the alley next to the house to get to their grazing spot.  Everything was lovely.  …until the afternoon that the Boss cleaned out the charcoal grill by the front porch.  Despite the fact that the lambs have seen the Boss approximately 49,000 times…they were all terrified. (that’s lambs for you) They bulleted down the alley.  Well, all except that “damn black lamb”. She completely lost control of her senses, catapulted THROUGH the electric netting that divides the paddocks and went screaming to the other side of the farm.  Yes…the exact opposite direction from the other lambs. 

Mere words cannot convey the Boss’ frustration. It was time to grill for supper and have a beer on the porch.  But, no…the fence needed some attention and we might have to chase a stupid lamb around the front field. (because we were certain she wouldn’t cooperate) Amazingly, the fence wasn’t too messed up and somehow she got back where she belonged without human intervention. Supper was not ruined after all! Peace was restored to the hill.

But, the fence episode was repeated on a couple of other occasions that didn’t include the grill, the Boss, or beer…I think she just likes going THROUGH the fence. Geez!

Now that the lambs are out back, everything should be fine.  The paddocks are smaller, they’re more secure, and there are no scary grills out there. Notice I said "should"...

This particular lamb must have the wanderlust. Maybe she’s got gypsy in her blood. We cannot figure out her escape route.  None of the other lambs have escaped at all.

But, if the lambs are in the first paddock, she goes in the second one.

If they’re in the second paddock, she returns to the hilltop.

She’s never exactly where she should be.

Eventually, she finds her way back.
Although, she manages to get separated from the others on a regular basis which leads to a lot of noisy confusion out back. The noise means I have to go check into what’s going on and invariably find myself looking for…well, you guessed it…that “damn lamb” again.

Needless to say, she won’t be staying on as a breeder.  …and she WILL be on the next load that heads out of here! I am counting the days...

And I have asked myself the same thing every day for two months (as I rub my still sore finger).

 ”WHY, oh, WHY didn’t I leave EWE on the truck?”


  1. Oh Barbara - dare I laugh? Sorry about the finger though, it looks really sore. But lambs can be a trial can't they. Our last batch that went, we counted them into the truck, off they went and then - half an hour later - we found one happily eating in the field. Frustrating. Ever thought of grilled lamb for tea?

    1. Oh, laugh away, Pat! We have to...or go completely crazy. While I am sorry for your frustration, I am SO glad to hear that it is not just American lambs that try human patience.
      Grilled lamb? Absolutely. This is a case of the best revenge is eating well. ha!