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Attack of the Killer Ram, and a burst of hybrid vigour - Tactical Ninja

Nov. 21st, 2013

09:54 am - Attack of the Killer Ram, and a burst of hybrid vigour

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I see lots of people on my flist are doing Christmas card swaps right about now. I've decided not to participate this year. While I love the sentiment behind it, I have never known what to do with them afterwards when I'm left with a pile of dead trees that have no further purpose and just get thrown out or clutter up the house. It makes me feel vaguely guilty, so I've decided to avoid that and just tell you all I think you're fantastic all year round and please don't think any less of me for my weird foibles about Christmas cards.


Sadly, last night I forgot my camera so there are no sheep pics. At least, not ones I took.

The people I was shearing for have traditionally kept moorits:



Moorit is a colour, not a breed - something to do with a mutant recessive gene - so they can come in any breed. The local ones round here are mostly a mix of Corriedale and Romney:



So if you can picture those mooshed together and the colour of milk chocolate, you get the idea.

Apparently their sheep do reasonably well in shows, but they are getting bored with brown wool and are now venturing into other colours. So they bought a couple of Perendales:



The idea being that the Perendale ram and the Perendale ewe would do the wild thing and there'd be fat little white lambs. It didn't quite work out that way - turns out Mr Perendale was reluctant, but Mr Polwarth:



Was dead keen, and By Midnight 0ut of The Back of The Shed, miraculously a Perendale/Polwarth ewe was born. She was at least white - given that the ram was black, that was interesting.. She wasn't supposed to breed at all, but the other experiment in coloured sheep was Gotlands:



And it turns out that Mr Gotland is quite adept at sneaking through fences, and thus one of this year's lambs is Perendale/Polwarth/Gotland. A cross most likely never seen before in the history of mucking about with sheep breeds.

Mind you, Polwarths are a cross between Merinos (small, lightweight fine wool breed) with Lincolns (gigantic coars-wooled meat breed):



And that worked.. So, you know - people do weird things with sheep breeding.

Anyway, the tally for last night was 9 sheep:

1 gotland ram, one gotland ewe
1 polwarth ewe
1 perendale/polwarth ewe
2 corriedale/romney moorit ewes (Womble and... ?)
2 corriedale/romney moorit ewe hoggets
1 corriedale/romney moorit wether hogget (Squirt)

The last three were triplets. Squirt was raised on a bottle and he is now bigger than his two sisters, both of whom have won prizes at shows. The ram is bolshy. I suspect the people they bought him off were afraid of him, and they have passed on the warning to his new owners, who are also now afraid of him. He's had a go at both of them and if he doesn't pull his socks up he's likely to be named Jellimeat and banished from probably the best home he'll ever have.

However, it got me thinking. The first thing they did when I got there was warn me about the ram. Now, I have a healthy respect for rams. They are bigger than me and I know they could break my leg if they caught me off guard. I need both hands to tip them over and when I shear them I usually do it the way they decide they want to sit - because I'm not above modifying my technique to make life easier for myself, and fighting with a big strong stroppy ram is likely to end with me losing.

But. I do not approach them with fear. Sheep are like any other prey animal, in that they recognise you as a predator and if you're tentative in your approach to them they will see you as a weak predator to be driven away, and that's when they're most likely to have a go at you. Rams and newly-birthed mother ewes especially. So I used another sheep as a shield between me and this ram (who was indeed trying to stare me down), and managed to get a good hold on his head with both hands. He immediately launched himself upwards and danced around on his back legs, but I hung on (hanging on is my specialty - thanks Ma Biddle for that lesson) and eventually he fell over. Once he was on his back he gave up, and the rest was butter.

I don't have a lot of hope for his future though. He's a nice looking ram, not too big, prolific, nice fleece, but his folks are already scared of him and my confident manhandling will soon be forgotten if he's not handled like that regularly to keep him respectful. His folks are experienced sheep people but they are approaching retirement age and not confident of their ability to do that with him. They only handle him with a gate between them. I expect he won't be there when I go back to shear the lambs, because rams get more aggressive in mating season and it'll only take one more attack, I suspect, before he signs his own death warrant.

Shame, that.

And that's one reason why that cute little bloke I posted the other day is likely to end up as sausages as well. Male sheep that've been reared on a bottle lose that natural fear of people, and their size plus lack of fear makes a dangerous combination. Much better to never treat them as pets, because it's too sad to have to euthanise them when they've knocked you (or your favourite nephew/niece/grandchild) over and danced on you as an adult.


Meanwhile, I predict Gotlands as the Trendy Lifestyle Sheep of 2014. I'm doing more and more of them. This is fine by me - they're easy shearing and don't grow too big, and tend not to get daggy either. I totally blame The Hobbit.

Comments:

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From:t_c_da
Date:November 20th, 2013 09:09 pm (UTC)
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...he's likely to be named Jellimeat and banished...

Probably worth pointing out for the outlanders around here that Jellimeat is a brand of cat food in these parts....

I googled it and the first page of results were all .nz except for one blog by "longwhitekid"...
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From:tatjna
Date:November 20th, 2013 09:12 pm (UTC)
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Heh. I thought Jellimeat must surely be universal.

Actually, come to think of it I haven't noticed it on supermarket shelves for a while. Mind you, I haven't had a cat for a while either.
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From:riath
Date:November 20th, 2013 09:09 pm (UTC)
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I'm not doing the Christmas card thing either, I'll just post something on my LJ and address it to my entire flist. I did give some thought to doing it this year, but I'm just too stressed out and busy to manage it.

If I did do it though, at least one of our supermarkets has a recycling bin in their lobby specifically for greetings cards. So at least I can feel better about being able to recycle them!
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From:tatjna
Date:November 20th, 2013 09:11 pm (UTC)
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That's a pretty neat idea!

On a side note, I used to think that the post would fall over with the advent of email, but then I realised how much more money I'm giving them these days because of internet shopping, and now I just feel resentful about the price gouging that seems to have resulted from the upsurge in parcel sending.

/waffle
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From:pombagira
Date:November 20th, 2013 10:18 pm (UTC)
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also NZpost will no longer be delivering everyday,.. and only every other day or something like that.. O.O

yeah.. so bad for post, but good for couriers?

*ponders this*
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From:tatjna
Date:November 20th, 2013 10:21 pm (UTC)
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Yep, there's so little difference in the price between post and couriers for parcels anyway, and couriers are way faster.
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From:pombagira
Date:November 20th, 2013 10:35 pm (UTC)
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yeah pretty much.. so post is dying and courriers live large and everyone pays more.. oh wait...

yeah...
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From:bekitty
Date:November 21st, 2013 03:13 am (UTC)
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If they can (a) find your address, (b) drive up your street, and (c) actually deliver the parcel...

Seriously, sometimes I think t'd be faster to send packages through the post. At least the postie knows where to find my letterbox. :P
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From:ferrouswheel
Date:November 21st, 2013 03:53 am (UTC)
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Heh, that's certainly not my experience.

Post yesterday couldn't deliver because no one answered to sign for a package, so they left at convenient central post shop which I picked up easily.

Couriers send things to the wrong city. Fail to deliver multiple times. Expect me to pick it up from Kaiwharawhara!
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From:tatjna
Date:November 21st, 2013 03:55 am (UTC)
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It's been a long time since I had any of those sorts of problems, but then, I have been getting stuff delivered to my workplace for years.

You have another 'failed to deliver' notice today - this one hung on the door handle.
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From:ferrouswheel
Date:November 21st, 2013 02:58 am (UTC)
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We both know the person who ran the maths and discovered NZ Post was subsidising costs for everyone using trademe.
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From:tatjna
Date:November 21st, 2013 03:01 am (UTC)
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Yes. I believe volumetric parcel chargingwas his idea too.
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From:t_c_da
Date:November 21st, 2013 03:41 am (UTC)
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Although, to be fair, he would have picked that one up from the couriers, who likely pinched it from sea-freight (and air-) companies who always used the method that cost the most.

I'm assuming here that I know him too...
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From:tatjna
Date:November 21st, 2013 03:43 am (UTC)
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Seems likely.

I don't blame him - that's his job. It's just frustrating for us plebs who just end up paying more for the same service.
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From:pundigrion
Date:November 21st, 2013 12:51 am (UTC)
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Sheep genetics produce some pretty interesting results sometimes!

Our bottle rams were always, always dinner because we lacked any ability at all to not let them imprint. Might have been different if we'd ever splashed out for a milkmaid, but with only fifty head it never seemed like a good ROI.
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From:tatjna
Date:November 21st, 2013 12:53 am (UTC)
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Yep. Removing their balls helps sometimes (like with Squirt who's pretty docile), but not always. Especially when the castration's done by non-expert people who accidentally take the purse off but leave the balls in. That happens embarrassingly often.
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From:pundigrion
Date:November 21st, 2013 12:56 am (UTC)
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Haha, all I can think is, "Keep the change!"
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From:tatjna
Date:November 21st, 2013 12:57 am (UTC)
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Bahahaha! I'm totally shouting that next time I find a cryptorchid.
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From:m_danson
Date:November 21st, 2013 03:54 pm (UTC)
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I find your sheep posts terribly interesting.

I'm celebrating Agnostica this year as my winter holiday. I'll be doing something for that, but not cards. I've never been big on holiday or birthday cards (unless they have beautiful art), but I'm happy to send pretty much anyone, any time, postcards if they want them.
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From:tatjna
Date:November 21st, 2013 07:16 pm (UTC)
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Yep, postcards are awesome. My paternal Grandmother had a collection that's pretty cool, especially because the backs of most of hers are written up and now they're over 100 years old they're a bit historic. Now I have one that contains many postcards of sheep. Because, well..

I am going to be the Weird Old Sheep Lady, aren't I?

Agnostica is what I'm pretty sure most of my family celebrate. They just call it Christmas. ;-)
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From:goddessofchaos
Date:November 21st, 2013 04:47 pm (UTC)
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Usually I do card swaps, but not this year. We can recycle our cards, so it's not so bad. Postage is darned expensive these days though =/
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From:tatjna
Date:November 21st, 2013 07:17 pm (UTC)
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I think "Made from recycled Christmas cards" would be a cool thing to have printed on egg cartons or something.
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