...........Here we tell short sheep stories with a little wit and occasional pearls of wisdom. This area will be changed on a fairly regular basis. The pictures are copyrighted, please do not use them.
..........There is a link at the bottom of the page to go back to the previous tales..............This story was written in Oct, 1997
...#5 Eagle, Never turn your back on a Ram
This is the story of Eagle, one of the "real sheep" (i.e. not a Churro), but first, this story needs a prolog about "Dude" the teacher........
Quite a few years ago, when Jean had just started enjoying the world of sheep, she found herself with 4 ewes and no ram. At that time, she had a little flock of Suffolk sheep, (These are 'meat' sheep, not wool sheep, as this was at a time before she had learned to spin). Being new to sheep and quite naive to the diseases that sheep can get and transmit, she did the obvious thing, she borrowed a ram from a kindly farmer, down the road a piece.
This large and placid beast had only one thing on his mind, and that was "GIRLS". His manner was so calm, his demeanor was so quiet, that we called him "Dude". Being a Suffolk sheep, he had no horns. In case you have never seen a Suffolk, they are a large bodied, long legged sheep with relatively short, cream colored wool, clean black face and legs, and generally end up in the meat department of the grocery store.
Little did we know that "Dude" was a teacher, and the rule that he taught was "RULE # 1, NEVER turn your back on a RAM"
Like I said earlier, this ram was so mild mannered, that we treated him like one of the ewes, never thinking about the possible damage that an animal of his size could do. That was until one day when Jean was out cleaning the sheep pen with a broom and a large shovel, and having swept the straw and "sheep beads" into a pile, was bent over gathering them into the scoop shovel in preparation for throwing them onto a rather large heap of the same material, when suddenly and without warning, SHE WAS FLYING.
After being airborne for 4 or 5 feet, she made a perfect 3 point landing, face first into the manure pile, shovel and broom forgotten. Luckily the only thing bruised was her ego. "Dude" had connected with great accuracy to the sitting part of her anatomy. Looking at the source of this instantaneous "lift off", she swears that there was a smirk on his face. Actually, she did a little more than just swear, she grabbed the broom and convinced him that his actions were NOT ACCEPTABLE !
In due time, "Dude" when home leaving behind him 4 pregnant ewes, and 2 humans that had been taught "Rule # 1", no matter how gentle, or placid, NEVER TURN YOUR BACK ON A RAM !
Now Eagle was a different matter. This was a ram with an attitude. He made it very, very clear by his actions that he would be respected, or he would send you BACK to school to learn again the First Rule. Eagle had been raised by someone else, and he had learned a few bad habits. Of course on the other hand, he had been shown at sheep shows, and knew how to behave while in a halter and lead, and he loved all the attention.
Being part Corriedale, he had a beautiful fleece that was so thick it was like the thickest, dense, 4 inch deep living room carpet that you can ever imagine. It was so dense that it opened in little cracks and valleys across his back. In his younger days, one year his fleece at shearing weighed 23 pounds. (An average wool sheep has about 12).
Smart and willful, he had learned that if he charged a shepherd carrying a bucket of grain, he might get more than his share, if the bucket happened to get spilled. He also knew how to come to a screeching halt in front of a shepherd who wouldn't move, and stand wagging his tail in short bursts as if begging for a hand-out.
Friendly and innocent, he would lean on the gate and beg to have his chin scratched, IF you were outside of his pen. Step into his pen, and he would back up about 8 or 10 feet and glare defiantly. Being a sucker for a handful of sweet grain, he wasn't that hard to catch, and once caught, was a real "pussy cat", but on an "off" day, he could be an unstoppable freight train. Perhaps the aggressive attitude was an act, perhaps it wasn't, you never knew, because he was a MASTER at the art of intimidation. With him you always remember "Rule # 1".
Jean would occasionally come back to the house after feeding and grumble things like, "Eagle didn't WANT his hay, so he pulled it ALL out of his feeder, and dropped it on the ground. All he wants is his grain, so instead of putting his grain in the feeder, I dumped his grain ON his hay ON the ground. Then he gets mad, and I swear his eyes get small and angry and turn yellow, and he starts to back up, so I had to have a few words with Eagle.
As time passed, Eagle gathered battle damage from confrontations with other rams, a case of arthritis, a stiff back, and in the seeming blink of an eye, became an "Old Man", with all the foibles and idiosyncrasies of age including his daily pain killer pill in a handful of grain. He would grumble and grumble at Jean if his hay was a little late in the morning. If the alfalfa was a little too stemy, he would turn up his nose and walk away. Anything that upset his routine, would upset him.
When he was turned in with a group of ewes at breeding time, the years seemed to melt away, and he would prance, and court, and impose absolute order on "his girls". He would challenge any thing and anyone who got near "his girls" and that obviously included us. "I am king, and you will treat me with the respect that I deserve, or I will knock you all the way back to school !".
And we treated him with great respect, and there was never a problem.
Every year after breeding season, it took "the Old Man" longer and longer to recuperate. Jean would often find him standing in the door of his barn, warming in the morning sun light, waiting to get his day started. He would often lean his head against her side as if needing a little human touch to ease the way into a new day. And of course Jean would scratch his chin, and tell him what a handsome fellow he was, and chatter on with words of comfort. In time, he would get his legs going, and follow her to the feeder, grumbling to her about the quantity of grain, the quality of the hay, the sharpness of the night air and the general politics of the flock.
In 1996 as the autumn cooled into winter, Eagle's days on earth ended. He rests now and forever in the shade of a Hackberry tree. Rule # 1 no longer applies to Eagle, but as you pass his tree, you might glance over your shoulder, not out of concern for your safety...... but as a sign of respect.
"The old man, Eagle"
A nice lady in Austrailia sent me a short letter and a poem in memory of another 'interesting' creature, "Peppi-le-Pue" the Goat!
Another lovely message from Australia with links to Sheep breeds
You can click on these numbers to continue, or use the pink buttons at the top of the page, or the *Jump links* that are below, to go somewhere else.
#1."Me-sis" #2. "Gem" #3. Short History #4. Stupid? #5. Rule #1 #6. Chris #7. Leonard #8 Lamb Wave #9. You know...when, #10. "Wimps" #11. "Fidget" #12. Invisible sheep #13. "Fraidy" #14. Words
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