Thursday, April 28, 2011

Stud Muffin

**not one to mix my personal and professional life---this is indeed about SHEEP! **

We recently picked up our new ram from a farm not far away. This is the farm that has provided a great number of our lambs in the past. The producers have a gorgeous flock, and are some of the most entertaining folks we know.

They ran all the sheep up to the barn for our inspection. Since we were trading our other ram, they gave us “pick of the litter”. Oh, dear! How to choose? Mr. Producer ran them out in small batches, we cornered all that we wanted to consider, and worked down from there. Hmmm… This was really hard! My initial reaction was to choose the one that looked the most like the old ram. He was SO wonderful, I don’t know if I’ll ever quite “get over” Dude. Then, it was made evident to me that I needed to expand my horizons. If it looked just like the one we had, it was probably too close a match. The whole reason we needed change was a search for new bloodlines. Oh, yeah….but, I did love Dude.

We narrowed the field significantly. Tom pointed out one, the producer pointed out one. Wait, wasn’t that the same sheep? They all began to blur before my eyes. I would NEVER make it as a judge in the show ring! Okay, I think we picked one. We marked him. Oh, yeah…he’s nice.

Tom and Mr. Producer got talking. “I want these things outta here this weekend!” Mr. Producer was saying. Yikes! That meant go home, get the truck, and take our “babies” home. (I found this ewe lamb that I just HAD to have) Tom set off for home, while I stayed to visit. I love to visit with other producers…their stories are always far better than mine!

Later, I got thinking about our first trip to get a ram. While I truly hate to go for the corny joke, but looking back makes me feel SO sheepish.

We went to pick up the ram who would become “Mulligan” from a friend. She had a bunch of sheep at the time and was looking to down-size. We had absolutely NO clue what we were doing, but in order to breed sheep, you DO need a male and females. We did know that much.

She had several that she thought we should consider, but one in particular stood out. When we went to load him, she enlisted the help of yet another “sheep guy” who was actually there to build some fence. This particular fella is known for his great fencing, his leadership in the 4H and just for being an all-around good guy. We had never met him prior to this incident, but he has become one of our favorite folks in the area.

When E (the fence guy) and Tom were hauling the new ram onto the back of the pick-up, our friend asked, “so, what do you think of this ram lamb?” E pulled back, ran his hand through his hair (or maybe his beard) and said with his “Valley accent” “Waaallll, I reckon he looks like a real STUD MUFFIN to me!” ( oh, I wish I had a “Valley accent”!) Tom and I exchanged bemused glances behind everyone’s back. Wonder what in the world he meant by THAT?

When we got Mulligan home, he was indeed a “stud muffin”…he did his job, and did it well. And, thus began our sheep breeding adventures. Through the years we have learned a great deal…about sheep, shepherding, and the whole deal. Although, I must confess, I'm still not quite sure if I can define the term "stud muffin".

By the time we got the current ram home, I had dubbed him Waylon. That Josh Thompson song “Blame it on Waylon” was going through my head that day. So, lil miss ewe lamb had to be “Jessie”. All the breeding stock get names as they stay around here for quite some time.

Buyer’s remorse set in after getting home. Oh, dear, he’s so small, so young….oh, do you really think he’ll be ready to do his job in August? I hate when I get like this….and Tom probably hates it even more! I spent a lot of time at the barn, looking, worrying, and trying to get these wild babies to calm down. I even bothered A with my obsessing. She’s a very good judge of sheep, but she seemed unconcerned.

That was last week. Today, Waylon was holding court under a tree out front.
He looked good. Then, he squeezed his way into the creep feeder, where he looked even better in comparison to the other lambs. Okay, time to calm my nerves. He’s filling out and growing daily. It will be exciting to see what will happen come breeding time.

You know, I don’t even need to get the fence fella over and ask if he thinks this one is a “stud muffin".

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