That was a close one

A nice evening became a near-disaster.

We have a love/hate relationship with our ram.

Some days, we love our breeding ram. Year after year, he’s fathered crops of healthy, good-looking lambs. He’s reliable and eager when it comes to his primary occupation on the farm.

He knows his business.

And then there are other days — like the one I’m writing about today — that we do not love our ram. You may not know this, but rams do in fact ram people, objects, and other animals with very little warning. (That’s where the term “battering ram” actually came from.) And they can cause serious injury when they do.

My great grandfather sustained a lifelong hip injury after being butted by one of his prize-winning Rambouillet rams in a pen one time. He always walked with a limp after that incident. (Partly because he refused to see the doctor about it — another notorious quality about the male species.)

Believe it or not, our ram’s name is Andy. He came to us from a well-known breeder who named him and his twin sister Ann and Andy (after the Raggedy variety): names she obviously gave before she met us.

And it just stuck. So this is Andy (the ram). I usually just call him Rammy to avoid wordy qualifiers in conversation.

Besides the fact that he chases and head butts Andy (the farmer) at every opportunity (I tell Andy that he probably feels threatened by his masculine presence), he is known to cause other kinds of mischief as well.

This particular episode of mischief happened one evening as we were trying to wrap up for the night. Andy had just let four new rams into the front pasture so he could look them over and make his final decision about which one would be joining our flock as a backup breeding ram.

I had gone inside and was standing at the kitchen sink washing dishes. Our sink sits underneath a window that gives me a view of the barn, side yard, and pasture.

Suddenly I heard Andy’s voice, and it sounded rather frantic. I looked up to see him running across the yard towards me and waving.

“Jode, get out here! Bring the kids!”

And he turned and starting running back toward the front of the barn.

I knew it must be an emergency because Andy is not exactly the demonstrative type. If he was running and waving for my attention, it was serious. I dropped what I was doing, hollered at the kids to come, threw on my boots, and ran out the door.

We arrived at the gate to the front pasture to find a rather anti-climactic scene. Andy was just standing there quietly with the four ram lambs, who were ambling around and nibbling at grass. Everything looked totally normal.

“What’s going on?” I asked.

“Well, I had gone in the shop to pick up after I let the rams out. When I came back outside, the rams were gone and the gate to Andy’s pen was standing wide open.”

We knew that if Andy the ram had gotten mixed up with the ram lambs in an open area, there could be serious trouble. Rams are very territorial and become very aggressive (even more so) around other males, and especially ahead of breeding season, which this was.

So after calling for my help, Andy (the farmer) had run straight back to the open gate, fearing what he would find beyond it.

“I thought I was going to find four dead rams.”

But to his surprise, the four ram lambs had high tailed it to safety in the front pasture by then, and Andy the ram had not (yet) followed them. Andy rushed to close the gate, which he discovered would not close. Andy the ram had apparently caught the scent of his competition and charged completely through the gate, breaking the sliding latch in the process.

So Farmer Andy quickly found some metal chain to fasten and lock the gate.

That’s about when we arrived on the scene.

We took a closer look at the failed gate and discovered the ram had literally bent the metal bars when he charged it. This metal fence panel used to be straight.

When we examined the sheep for injury, we found blood on several of the ram lambs’ wool so we were concerned they had been head butted and cut in various places. But as we looked closer, we realized the blood was only on the surface of their wool. Andy the ram was the only injured one.

Sitting square on the top of his head were bloody cross bar marks in the shape of the gate paneling. Nothing serious, but certainly noticeable. He had apparently gotten in a few jabs with his bloodied head before the ram lambs wisely ran for safety. All we could do was shake our heads, douse him with wound spray, secure the gate, and frown our disapproval.

Since then we have erected a temporary fence to keep the ram lambs away from the naughty ram’s gate, and further disaster has been avoided.

That was a close one.

Our summer group of pastured chicken is now available for purchase in our online farm store. With that addition, our fall harvest is complete.

The Pork

Breakfast Bundle is a new combination we put together this year, featuring your favorite breakfast treats: bacon, sausage crumble, sausage patties, and ham steaks.

Have you tried our smoked ham steaks yet? These are one of our customers’ (and our family’s) favorite items. Juicy, smoky, and flavorful — it’s great for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And soooooo easy.

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With the weather so perfectly gorgeous outside right now, we’ll be sharing in our next post how we like to cook our steaks. We’ll offer our tips on seasoning, temperature, and our favorite dish to accompany them.

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