Monday, 14 September 2015

A Suitable Suitor

Rambo goes nose to nose with Myfanwy.
Today was definitely all about the sheep. First job was to load the twin lambs Thelma and Louise and deliver them to the butcher-men and the 2nd was to collect our borrowed tup, 'Rambo' while we still had the trailer hitched on, bring him back here and introduce him to our girls ready for his romantic month's holiday in sunny Roscommon. The short version says that it all went OK and the twin lambs are no more while Rambo is relaxing with his new entourage. Would that it was that simple.

Rambo beats the bounds of his new patch. 
If you have read the previous post, you will know that our practise loading runs on the twins had not been going as well as hoped, so we were not entirely sure we'd get the twin lambs loaded and delivered for the booking. They are strong and energetic young things and Liz is a wee bit small to stop one at the charge (even I struggle) so we'd have had to catch one each, hang on tight and then manhandle them up the trailer ramp and hope they stayed in there for the few seconds it takes for us to step off the ramp and lift it shut. Thankfully and very generously and much appreciated by us, Sue (of the piglet wrangling) offered her services as third hand. We accepted, naturally and on the morning decided to wait Sue's arrival rather than try on our own. We didn't want to stir up the sheep in advance.

The tup moves in on the 'talent'.
In the event, Sue arrived with grown-up Grandson Lewis as well (dressed a bit smart as he was really off to college but Sue had made him bring wellies and spare trousers in case!) so we'd be mob handed and also arrived late due to some unforeseen problem with a toppled electric fence. These things happen with livestock but the butchers know this and the booking times are not rigid. It was the work of just 3 minutes or so to grab a twin each and persuade them into the trailer, with the third hand ready to shut the ramp-door and the 4th hand just blocking an exit in case anyone got any ideas. 15 minutes later they were delivered to Ignatius G and the paperwork all done, and we guess Lewis already delivered to college on time. The plan was then for both vehicles to run independently to Sue's for our rendezvous with the tup.

Rambo with (l to r) Dylan, Myfanwy, Polly and Lily
If it is possible, loading Rambo was even easier. He is a big solid lad but soft as butter, is trained to a head collar and will follow a bucket of food anywhere so between three of us, with Prada the St Bernard looking on as back-up we quickly extracted him from his field (where-in his other girlfriend and one son) and walked him to the trailer. Lob the bucket in and give the lad a nudge, and he was in there, happy as Larry. He didn't stay that way (happy) mind and objected quite hard to being caged and then moved behind the car - he was playing up a bit bouncing around, turning about and, if the car stopped, stamping his forefeet in rage enough that we could feel the dip transmitted through the tow hitch to the car. We could also hear him roaring but there was nothing for it but to carry on driving gently home. We hope he is not too traumatised by the journey that he will remember trailers and not want to play on the return journey.

Doing a 'bare necessities' scratch on the big tree.
The ewes (and lamb) were waiting for him on the front lawn so we had decided to unload him through the 2nd 'driveway' entrance (which now gives onto the lawn field). We can plug the trailer in there nice and tight so nobody can escape round the sides while you have the gate open. The change in Rambo's demeanor when he spotted the ewes was highly amusing. He had come down the ramp all "Harrumph! Bloody Trailers! The INDIGNITY of it!" but then his whole face and body language changed as he spotted the girls and his little face said, "Babes!" His head came up and he positively strutted out into the open posing like a pro.

A quick game of hide and seek, or possibly "hard to get"
As you'd expect the girls were a bit worried by this bulky new arrival and grouped together, then ran in circles trying to avoid him as he lumbered over. The run-around only lasted about half an hour (he'll be nice and fit, anyway) before they all seemed to relax and although none of the females are truly ready for him yet, they are allowing him close and to do a few exploratory sniffs of lady-bits. The young ram-lamb seems to be coping too. He just moves away when Rambo comes to chat up his mum. So now we have two new noises around the 'farm', the bassy grunts, 'barks' and low baa-ing of the ram and the jaunty tinkling of his sheep-bell. Sue has a tinkling bell on him as he can sometimes try a playful charge at anybody in his field, specialising in attack from the rear. He can 'have you over', warns Sue. The bell gives you a bit of warning to turn round and face him where-upon he deflates and strolls over to ask for food. Me? I wasn't going to charge you! Thought never crossed my mind, guv!

So, here he is anyway, our tup, with us for a month or so hoping to get all three girls into lamb. Thank you very very much, Sue for the loan there-of and for your help loading today. We all hope for a happy ending come February.

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