It is not easy being a ram at Harvest Calling. First, they grab you at birth in May, day or night, stand you alone on a large scale, stick you with a needle with something called BoSe, and place a microchip at the base of your tail. To be honest the ewe lambs get the same treatment.
Things start to look good in a couple weeks when you get turned out to this huge field of green. Mom is SO excited that it is best to play along and pretend to do what she is doing; chomp, chomp, chomp, nom, nom, nom. Everything seems fine, until these huge slobbery dogs lick you, just for fun. It’s gross, but nobody complains, and they seem to always be hanging around.
At twelve weeks old in August, things take a turn for the worse. Moms and sisters head to one pasture and all the boys get put together in a bachelor pen. Did I mention that big scale? You’ve been weighed a couple times up until now, which is not so bad because you get treats and pets, and mom REALLY likes it. It is hard to keep up with her because she knows the drill and rushes the gate to get in with the other moms every time it opens.
So, everything is cool in the bachelor pen, eating grass and forbs and butting heads with the guys. When you are 110 days old, like late August, the shepherds get serious. One by one we are judged with everyone looking! They make notes on weight, body structure, body condition, and even attitude! They seem particularly interested in our fleeces. They score the quality and uniformity of the curl, the quality and uniformity of the color, the overall luster, they look for something called salt-and-pepper, and they score the amount, or lack of, cross-fibers. They make notes on other things, but these are the biggies.
If you don’t score well, they put an unflattering tag in your ear. Guys with those tags seem to disappear over time. They can give you that tag ANY time they want. I saw an older ram take three steps back to kind of challenge the head shepherd once. He got a tag right then and he was gone in two days!
In October, we all got shorn, and yes weighed again. They even weighed the fleece. The shearer complained that my fleece was just a huge pile of curls that wouldn’t hold together. The shepherd seemed pleased at this and said he needed sunglasses from the luster.
The older rams showed up and got the same treatment, but then a half dozen or so went to different pens. The rest of us boys all got put together for the first time. It was chaos. The older rams didn’t seem to know each other without their coats. The most dominant rams were gone, and the new ram lambs were now in the mix. It was crazy, everyone fighting and knocking heads. Some of us young guys thought we were pretty cool but learned quickly we were 50 pounds shy of a fair fight.
More to come,