Saturday, December 8, 2012

Bentley, our purebred Romney ram, has moved on to a new farm. We'd used him for the regulation two breeding seasons, and didn't want to start breeding him back to his daughters so he had to go. He was the fourth ram we've had on the farm, and probably the mildest and the largest.

Even so, I can't say I'm sorry to see him gone.

Rams will be rams and they like to ram. In particularly, they will charge and butt you if they think you're coming between them and the ewes, or between them and their food. Or, just because. 

Bentley never rammed anyone. 

Instead he took it out on fences and buildings. He could walk right over a normal four- or five foot field fence, using his massive weight to flatten the wire. He could batter a full-depth cedar fence post, or even one set in concrete, until it keeled over. Any ordinary wooden structure had to be built very heavily, with thick plywood and cross-bracing.

The only solution was to build fences of cattle panels made of 1/4 inch welded steel wire, to connect these to very sound fence posts, and to join the fence posts together at the top with rails and plumber's strapping. Even so, he would still batter away at the cattle panels until they were perfectly concave.

So, once we felt more or less certain that all six ewes were bred this fall, we put an ad on Craig's List and in Uncle Henry's. We needed to shift him fairly quickly because of the upcoming holidays, so the price was reduced. We paid $200, but asked only for $100. This seemed fair enough, considering we have Shawn, his offspring, and so we are still up a ram, even if we're down $100. We also felt that a lower price would make it easier to place him on a farm. There are guys who make a career out of buying up sheep and goats from small farms to take to halal butchers in the big cities, especially around the Eid holiday, the "festival of sacrifice", and we didn't want him to end up slaughtered before his time. He's such a nice, well proportioned, well bred animal. He needed to live out his useful life as a ram.

Still, this quick effort to move him on happened only one year and one month, almost to the day, that we got him. Just enough time to breed two generations, and not a day longer!

People called and emailed and before we were really quite ready, a very suitable farm responded and sent out a delegation. We were at little worried to begin, because the visit was scheduled for a weekday and the people were over an hour late without notification, while we had to get back to work. Disorganized people don't always make for the best farmers, and Bentley is a serious animal, not for the faint hearted or disorganized person. But after talking to them for a few minutes we both decided they knew what they were getting into, more or less.

Of course, even this sensible plan required him to be caught one last time and sequestered in the barn before the people arrived, and I had a little fun with that. Bentley rammed his gate as I was getting the crush ready to halter him, shattering the gatepost. And once in the barn he rammed the gatepost and side fence of the lambing pen in which he'd been placed, shattering all that pretty nicely too.

He'd make a good rugby prop forward or football linebacker.

In the end I used a solid hardwood gate that we have to make a pen in one corner, and that held him. Here he is (above) being distracted by a carrot from the garden while I fix up the damage he'd caused.

We were both surprised, however, that the buyers showed up in a family van. The back seats had been taken out to leave a big cargo space, and so there was a fair amount of room. But this meant that the young boy who showed up with the group, about 13 or 14 years old, would have to ride home with Bentley sticking his head over the seats. Aimee got a picture.

I wonder how that trip went? Did Bentley ram the back of the seats? Did he destroy the van? 

It takes all kinds to make a world. 

Still, I expect that Bentley is pretty happy on his new farm where he has ewes to breed, and isn't going to be slaughtered.

All's well that ends well.

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