Learning Reality The Ram Way


From GENE LOGSDON

We generally refer to male sheep as bucks in our neck of the woods, but ram is probably a better term since everyone here thinks bucks are football players at Ohio State. Turn your back on a ram and he will plant his head into the small of your back and send you to the nearest chiropractor for the rest of your life. And don’t think you can teach him a lesson by returning the favor with anything short of lethal force. Rams love getting hit in the head. I think it gives them orgasms. The only way you can get any respect is to rap them sharply on the nose with a short, stout stick that you should carry in your pocket when you are in the barn.

When I hear an animal lover who has never had to take daily care of animals criticize the way we husbandmen treat our livestock, I wish that they had to learn reality the ram way. I look with considerable reservations at all those sweet biblical pictures of “good shepherds” who leave the ninety nine behind to go search for the one that is lost. Why are there no pictures of good shepherds getting nailed in the butt by a ram, a scene a whole lot more common? Sheep are never lost. Shepherds just don’t always know where they are.

For some reason, in agrarian cultures, nothing is as funny as seeing a buck send a farm boy flying into a pile of manure. It has happened to all of us who raise sheep. I don’t care how carefully you keep an eye out, the moment you forget and turn your back, BAM. Most of the time no harm is done which I suppose is why it seems so comical (especially if it happens to Dad after he has scolded you for something your sister did). But ram attacks are not funny. Rams can kill humans. So if you are a shepherd new to the business, I am, right now, going to save your life.

Do not try to run away from an attacking ram. He can outrun you. If you watch two bucks about to deliver orgasms to each other, they will face off and take a few steps backwards. Then they charge, colliding head on with enough collective force to make an anvil bleed. Then they quiver with pleasure and do it again.

So when you see your buck start to back away from you, walk towards him. I mean go right at him. Almost always this is confusing to a buck and he will keep backing away for awhile and might lose interest in killing you. This can give you time to get closer to a fence or a tractor. If you can get to an immovable object like a tree, all you have to do is keep it between you and the ram. Then he can’t do his classic charge and soon tires of the game.

Otherwise, like out in the middle of a field, he will eventually quit backing up at your advance and attack. Stand your ground. This takes a great deal of nerve the first time. But at the last second before he butts you, he will lift himself on his hind legs to give his forward motion extra pile-driver strength. Up on his hind legs, he can only lunge straight ahead. He can’t turn. So when he lunges, all you have to do is step sideways, quickly of course, and his momentum carries him past you. This maneuver is quite effective and it is almost comical to see how puzzled the ram will be when all he collides with is thin air. If you are young and strong, this is the moment when you grab him, twist his head around backwards, set him on his ass like you were going to shear him, and pummel the living hell out of him. Some shepherds say this will only make him meaner but in my experience, he will act like a gentleman for about a month. Or will absorb enough fear of the Lord so that when you see him backing up the next time, a warning yell will make him stop short and decide it is more fun to go eat hay.

If you are not young and strong, you should only be out with the flock in the pasture if you are riding a tractor or other vehicle. I have often wondered what would happen if a ram decided to dispute his territory with a four wheeler. I’m afraid that the four-wheeler would come off second best.

My brother-in-law’s ram, which was also my ram last year, absolutely loves to bash his head against anything that moves. When he no longer had a partner ram to amuse him, he challenged Brad’s two steers. The otherwise placid bovines took turns bashing him until he finally realized that there was no future in ramming hard-headed animals three times his size.

So, and this is all the evidence you need to prove the insanity of the male hormonal system, he went after Brad’s draft horse instead. You have to understand that the horse thinks he is master of the flock. He can round up Brad’s sheep and bring them to the barn as skillfully as any border collie. So of course ram and horse are idiot male rivals. In the beginning, the ram got in maybe two or three good charges before the horse learned to wheel around and blast his attacker into cuckoo land with his hind hooves. I know you will not believe me, but the ram seems to love getting his head nearly kicked off by flying hooves. He just keeps coming back for more. The horse has learned a new strategy. Wheeling all the way around to send the stupid ram head over heels got to be a lot more trouble than it was worth, so now when the ram charges, the horse elegantly extends one of his front legs and plants his hoof into the hapless ram’s lowered head, like a football buck stiff-arming a tackler. That stops the ram dead in his tracks.

This suggests an interesting philosophical question. If I try to cave a ram’s head in with a ball bat, the well-meaning, civilized observer will accuse me of cruelty to animals. What if a horse does it? And the ram comes back for more?
~
Image Credit: © Eric Isselée | Dreamstime.com
~~

27 Comments

Well, this is several years after the original blog, but you made me laugh through my pain. Our almost 2 year old Jacob ram had been accelerating his ramming habits whenever I entered his pasture. We all loved him dearly, such a sweet boy as a lamb. Last week I took a fork handle across the face and was sporting a black eye. Yesterday I took a fence post to the bone next to the same eye. Concussion and laceration. Bigger black eye. We had liver and potatoes for dinner and my husband is salting the hide today. They are beautiful and very friendly as babies, but they are still rams. RIP little man.

Is this for real?

I’m sitting in a pub in the city having accidentally stumbled across this post googling who knows what.

my favourite line in comments was “and the irritated bird proceeded to peck holes in her head until she could beat her off with feed bucket”

Clearly this chicken has never heard of cournall sanders ? You country folk need to keep on top of this. A few more headlocks on goats, elbow drops on cows and surprise barn yard searches should keep all that “food” in check.

Ps not a troll and already feel bad about this post but not bad enough to hit done

I had an interesting experience with my ram yesterday, I let him out of the paddock, as we do every morning, to graze in the big paddock. As I opened the gate, I got in his way as he was coming out and he bumped me. I thought nothing of it until he turned around and came at me full tilt and hit my right thigh with his head.

He knocked me onto my ass, I got up quickly to meet his second onslaught and put out my hand and shouthe dat him. I advanced again to try and stop his run up. I managed to get into the paddock and shut the gate in his face.

I came out again to show him that I was not afraid of him, and he seemed to calm down and I was able to let him out.

I am 90kg and he is about 110kg, the last time I got hit so hard was when I was playing Rugby Union, and I never even had the ball in my hands on this occasion!

“Set him on his ass…”

We have found that lifting them up and holding them there is astonishingly effective.
My husband calls this lesson, “I control gravity.”
Thanks for the great post.

Tucker Nielson, well, bless you. I hope you find Lords of Folly funny. Not everyone approves of my sense of humor. Gene

Mr. Logsdon I am currently in the process of reading all of your books – Lords of Folly just came in the mail today. I’m going through your blog as well and I was literally on the floor laughing at this post. Thank you for sharing this knowledge. I haven’t laughed this hard in a long time.

Tucker

Am I the only one who thought the article was going to be about computers?

Had a flashback the other day about you pummelling a ram and was reminded that I am still waiting for that ram/horse video. If it would be any incentive to your brother-in-law, I think there is a good chance that he will end up a You-Tube rock star.

Hilarious! Reminds me of dealing with my idiot, fear-biter Newfie cross dog! Strong as an ox and about as smart, and has the same effect as a freight train when running around (when she’s not tied up because a stranger is in the house!)

ohiofarmgirl, yeah, way to go. A funny postcript to what you say. Our rooster is not mean to us, but he chases the cats unremittingly and they are scared to death of him. Really looks funny to see a rooster chase a cat. Gene Logsdon

Thanks Gene! Great stuff – I’m a big fan.

My rod (a long handled hickory stock cane) and my “staff” (a couple of hard workin’ farm dogs) don’t comfort any body… when we head out to the barnyard we mean business. The dogs have saved me several times from charging hogs.. and that mean rooster doesn’t think its funny to come at me anymore. When my city friends are horrified at the ‘cruelty to animals’ I just put them in the pen with that gander… then minds are changed.

“Set him on his ass like you were going to shear him, and pummel the living hell out of him”! My father and his father(s) before him had the same philosophy about teenage boys. Usually one such episode was all that was needed before we settled back into ramming our heads into the proverbial walls of life instead. And guess what. Not a killer nor a priest among us! Some would say that is the proof of a successful philosophy.

All true, I have some crooked teeth from an encounter with a horned dorset buck I was catching for shearing years ago. Might I suggest that for an older person in the pasture that a good blue heeler dog is even better than a tractor.

Funny stuff, Gene, but also scary because it’s so true.

Having kept hundreds of sheep in the past decade or so, and being a bookish sort of person, I’ve learned a bit about rams through life and through the page. It’s hard to teach people how dangerous rams are, for the precise reasons that you state. I keep a smaller breed of sheep (for ease of handling, both alive and as a carcass), and because they look so “cute”, many people get the wrong idea about them. And it doesn’t help that, for whatever reason, ram lambs tend to be more likely to seek and accept petting than ewe lambs (which just ain’t FAIR!!!), and that doesn’t help when trying to teach people about rams, either. At this very moment I’m looking out the big picture window in our living room at a shelter that various rams have remodeled. It’s been mended so many times, yet one ram or another (each of those bad boys tasted GREAT, by the way) decided that there should be a window in that spot, and they created one. I have pages on my website about the dangers of taming a ram, and that we like to see ram butts walking away from us when we enter the rams’ pasture. And every moron who tells me about their pet ram gets a lecture and a re-telling of the sad-but-true story of the couple on the east coast who were killed by their pet blue ribbon ram.

I have kept sheep for 5 years and have never had a problem with rams. Nor with roosters or drakes.
I have bruises to show from shearing but fewer as I get better at it.

Beth Greenwood. I have tales to tell about roosters too. A good use for them is coq au vin, if I’m spelling that correctly. Russ and Paula, my brother-in-law has promised a video. Thanks to all of you. A writer of humor shamelessly LOVES to get compliments. Gene

My billy goat reminded last night that its not just rams that are so inclined. He must have read your post and felt left out. Hmm…maybe that explains the hoofprints on my keyboard.

Never having raised sheep, I can only enjoy reading this post. But all joking aside, city folks haven’t the slightest idea of the potential dangers of the “simple life”. Pigs will kill and eat small children; bulls (especially dairy bulls) will turn humans into hamburger; your gentle old milk cow will gore you if she thinks her calf is in danger. Even roosters can be near lethal. I remember a long ago incident in which my mother went out to the chicken house to feed the hens. The rooster, not previously known for aggressiveness, jumped up and spurred her in the leg. She dodged, slipped, and went face down in the chicken sh—I mean manure, and the irritated bird proceeded to jump on her head and peck a number of holes in her scalp before she could beat him off with the feed bucket. That night we had rooster and dumplings for dinner. Tough, but tasty–revenge is sweet!

“set him on his ass like you were going to shear him, and pummel the living hell out of him”
You have definitely lost the sheep’s rights vote if you ever run for public office but you’ve got mine. That line was a redwood in a whole forest of humor. I agree with Paula about the video of the horse and ram “idiot male rivals”.

If only everyone could walk in your shoes for a while, we’d all be a lot better for it! Of course, they’d have to have a sense of humor as well….

man I wish you had video of that!

What a great post. I can’t tell you how much I appreciated this one.

Hilarious!!!! I love farming. Why watch t.v.? Thougb each time I watch farm animals it points to the stupidity of the “intellectual”. I have learned more about life farming and been more humbled. So glad I gave up my career to embrace farming. I enjoy your writing!

Funnier than anything I’ve read in a long time. Yeah, the romanticized images of the caring shepherd really should leave anyone wondering – unless you’re a city slicker that is.

Teresa Sue Hoke-House May 5, 2010 at 6:44 am

All I can do is chuckle. True comedy always has a broad streak of truth in it.

Ahhh…the ramifications of sheparding.

Thank you for making me laugh out loud! Orgasms, heh!

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