Monday, February 14, 2011

Heartache and Headache

The time had come to break up our lone breading group and hopefully get things sorted out for lambing. Alder, the big white lug in the back, wasn't going to be parted from his girls easily.

In preparation for the move Ironwood and Killarney were lured into the ramshackle shed with some grain and then they were closed inside. Since the gate couldn't close because it was blocked by about two feet of ice we had to run some extra fencing in front of their opening.

Alder was captured with the same grain trick, but we had a long way to go to get him in with the other rams. The Commander started out by carrying him while I held his horns, but the struggling only allowed us to make it one third of the way before he had to be put down. Next we "escorted" him by each taking a horn and led him down the ice trail. Unfortunately the trail was only wide enough for Alder, so the Commander and I had to trudge through the deep snow on either side. This was exhausting, so the last third of the trip had the Commander carrying Alder once again.

At this point Alder was introduced back into the ramshackle shed with his two compadres. The idea was that in the tight quarters no one would have room to really get a running start to hurt anyone else. It was like a wrestling match in there, headbutting, head swinging, snorting, and general wrestling around. Once they calmed down a bit we went inside to get some other chores done.

After about an hour I came outside to check on them and was shocked at what I saw. The air was foggy like after a hard rain, all three of them were panting heavily. Killarney had blood dripping off from his right horn and Alder had blood on his right side! I thought that Killarney had somehow stabbed poor Alder - we killed him! I quickly ran inside for my medical kit and got the Commander to come help me sort out this mess.

The Commander went in and drug them out one by one, starting with Killarney. It seems Killarney had cut his ear and that was where the dripping blood was coming from, whew. I put some peroxide on it and he ran off. Next was Ironwood and he had a small cut at the base of one of his horns, a little bloodstop fixed that right up. Finally Alder had his turn and a quick exam showed some blood on his wool but not a single cut or wound.

The three of them were now loose in the small pasture and decided to continue their battle, but with room to get up a full head of steam prior to ramming one another. We couldn't have that so the Commander grabbed a broom and started chasing them around their enclosure hoping to wear them out so they would be too tired to fight. I wish I had taken some pictures because the chase was hilarious; rams crashing through deep snow with the Commander waving a broom and slipping and sliding behind them. Sara wouldn't help and stood well clear of the action.

The Commander chased them for 20-30 minutes until everyone was exhausted, including him. During the chase the rams intermingled and occasionally butted one another, but finally decided the Commander was the greatest threat. After the Commander gave up the chase the boys sniffed around each other but were too tired to fight. After a while I went back out and got a picture of them all lounging by the feed bowl together, probably nursing their bumps and bruises.

I didn't notice any fighting today but next year we are going to have a better enclosure for them, one that will allow us to reintroduce them in a more sensible manner. Happy Valentines Day!


  1. I hate the reintroduction process. I have two jr. rams that I need to introduce to the big boys....Not looking forward to THAT mess. Last year I used pallets to separate the two boys where they could smell each other but not get to each other...than after a few days of that I took them out and threw in a couple of hay bales (they were in a 10X10 shed). They butted each other a few times..but nothing serious. I'm hoping I can figure out something like that again. I'm glad none of yours were seriously hurt. patching up rams can be interesting. :)

  2. Oh about stressful. The sight of blood on my animals always sends my blood pressure through the roof. But, gee, you two certainly got your exercise, didn't you? :-)
    I, for one, would LOVE to have seen some pics of the Commander doing his chasing with the broom. Though, it probably would have been another photo from the neck down. :-)
    (...just sayin'...)

  3. Well, that sounds like a slice out of the Hapless life....

  4. oh no! and hee hee hee 'hey buddy! quit chasing them sheep!" and yes i wish you had a camera for that one. sorry for all the hullaballo. apparently sheep = crazy, just like goats

  5. Oh. My. I hate to say it, I am glad it was he and not me doing the chasing. The rams probably would have stopped, and rolled on the ground, laughing themselves sick!


  6. Stace - That is what I want to have built this year, a stall that I can slip some kind of dividers into to get them close but separate. I don't want to go through this again next year for sure!

    Farmgirl - I was really worried when I saw the blood dripping off the end of the horn, thankfully no one was hurt too badly. Neck down? That may be to protect our readers eyes?

    Nancy - Whatever works with what is on hand!

    OFG - If the rams had turned on him he would have had no chance. Our hard working farm dog isn't much help with the sheep since she if AFRAID of them!

  7. Glad the boys weren't hurt too badly. I dread this task with every ounce of my body! We have gone to a small pen with each boy tied in a corner for 24 hours. The pen is small enough that their bodies are touching, but they can't ram each other. We found that even in a small pen, they would hook each other's legs with their horns. After 24 hours, we take their halters off and leave them in the small pen for another 24 hours. This year we only had 2 big boys to reintroduce and they were fine after being tied for 12 hours. I turned them out to the pasture and they were fine. I wish it was always so easy! A video of the commander would have been great ;)

  8. Shannon, This was not a good first experience to say the least. Now that I know what to expect I will discuss things with my dad so that when he finishes the rams corral area the reintroduction process will be built into the design.

  9. This is always a difficult time, your post was titled well. Sounds like you are planning a better setup and things won't be so stressful next time, for the animals, and especially you guys! Reading about your panic at seeing the blood but not finding the wounds make me think of a few years ago when our wether got his horn somehow stuck in my Pyrenees collar, I still don't know how, and the dog doesn't wear a collar now, but it looked like he had stuck his horn in the dogs neck, even though there was no blood - I was beyond panicked, but of course it was just looped in there since his horns curl, but just the sheer panic of not knowing who is hurt and how bad is awful enough. I'm glad no one was majorly hurt and you got a good days exercise in as everyone said! I think the animals sit back and laugh at us when things like this are all over :)

  10. Luckybunny - Sometimes I think the animals are great actors and love tricking us, I agree that they sit back and laugh at us sometimes. Cats don't even bother to laugh, they just smirk and carry on.

    I bet you would have loved to have seen how the dog's collar got hooked on the horn, I bet they couldn't do it again unless they tried!