Party too hard

  • Posted on: 30 April 2020
  • By: MrWurster

Not all our sheep have names, but Ringo does. Ringo is the fat old wether who received a pension for life after sheltering two orphaned lambs through a horrible night, with his big belly providing the windbreak.

He's smarter than the average sheep, something that seems to happen to all bottle-fed lambs. If I leave a gate unlatched its Ringo who butts it open. If I go into his paddock he ambles over to see if I have any food, and will tolerate an earscratch. He's amiable enough.

Not like our ram. He spends most of his year in a paddock separate from the females. Then on the right date he's let loose, and parties hard for 6 weeks impregnating them all. He's left with them until the birth start, then its off to his paddock for another year.

I wouldn't call him surly, but he's wary, and stamps a warning even when I'm putting food out for him. He doesn't have full horns, but he does have horn nodes the size of a large marble. And he's used them to great effect on me when I've let my guard down, corking me painfully in the thigh.

So, he was let off the leash last week, and has spent his time well.

Too well, it seems. My wife was with me walking across the paddock and I noticed a sheep stretched out on the ground. Sometimes the females in late pregnancy flake it in the sun, but not the ram. What was he doing?

I walked over to him. He looked ok. He didn't react to me approaching. I spoke to him. I poked him. Nothing. No blinks. He was supple, legs moved ok when tried moving one. But definitely not blinking. His chest didn't look like it was moving. I tucked my hand into his warm armpit to see if I could feel a pulse. Nup.

I dropped to my knees and put my hand, then my ear, on his chest. No heartbeat. But I could hear a subtle wheeze. I tried again. The wheezing was more distinct, but when I leaned back I couldn't see any movement.

I looked up at my wife, standing nearby. With Ringo. He'd rushed over to see what we were doing, and the exertion made him wheeze noisily.

Not the ram. He was dead.

We were intending to replace him next year, and we have a new ram waiting in the wings. But he's not that old, and not really up to the job.

I looked locally, there's a few Dorper farms around us, but no one has a ram for sale at the moment. "Just sold him mate, sorry!" The ones not local that I've seen are a long way off, or some shaggy old monster with horns.

Notionally he's covered a quarter of our eligible sheep. That might have to be enough, this year.