Monday, November 7, 2011
Bentley, our new ram, arrived Friday causing quite a stir among the ewe-thful inhabitants of Womerlippi Farm.
But he was unable to get directly down to the job for want of some work on a secure pen for him. Rams are inherently large and rambunctious critters and need to be pretty well caged in 24/7. The population of the Great Farm may be low these days but it includes one pensioner and one toddler, either one of which could easily be hurt or even killed by a charging 250 pound ram, and so we needed to be sure that our animal was secure.
I started Saturday by making an eight-by-five foot shed-roofed ram shelter. This didn't take long. I used the nail gun and the miter saw, among other labor-savers.
Then came the problem of moving it to the right spot. Made using two-by-four hemlock with plywood sheathing, the new building was heavy. This had to wait for a couple of hours on Sunday, after we discovered Bentley pushing his way through the woven wire field fence to get to the ewes. He was easily disentangled, by the simple expedient of pulling on his back leg, but it was clear that he could pop the welds on the fence anytime he felt like it, unzipping a large ram-sized hole for him to toddle through on some lustful adventure.
Seeing the writing on the wall, I was off to the Farmer's Union like a shot, to get some sturdy welded cattle panels which seem like they will hold him.
One half of his pen was already fenced with pig panels, made of the same quarter-inch steel rod as the cattle panels, plus two strands of barbed wire. This arrangement may eventually need to be replaced with the taller cattle panels.
Bentley secured, I did the usual Sunday chores, and then jacked the new shelter up a couple feet off the ground with the vehicle jacks and jack-stands. While it was so conveniently situated to save my back, I gave it two quick coats of white waterproof and rot-proof paint.
The next job was to take the sides off the utility trailer so the ram shed would fit underneath the jacked-up shed. This also went fairly easy.
Letting the four target ewes and Bentley out into the Back Forty to get them out of the way, and thus at the same time beginning the official Womerlippi Farm mating season, I used the Bolens tractor to maneuver the ram shed into the proper position. Then came the metal roof, which I'd left off to save some weight and to give me less width to get past that coppiced ash tree in the ram pen.
By late afternoon Bentley and his harem were suitably imprisoned.
All in all, I'm content enough with the fruits of my labors.
I think he can still get out if he wants, by going right over the pig panels and their barbed wire, but the five foot cattle panels stand between him and the baby and granny ewes, and as long as that remains the case, I don't think he'll escape. But as soon as I have an extra hundred dollars, we'll switch out those pig panels for cattle panels.
I don't mind the expense. We'll need them for the pigs anyway.
Here's a shot of Bentley in action. I have to say, he is an energetic fellow. Molly here got the proper treatment several times during the afternoon. But his doohickey doesn't seem to extend the way it should. It seems to remain quite firmly sheathed.
I do hope this isn't a problem. This ram has been an expensive project.
We can probably afford more cattle panels, but I don't think we can stretch to Viagra.