"Right then, I'll have those!"
"I'm afraid that under Section 32A of the Body Parts Ownership Act, your lips are actually mine."
*plants flag* "These lips now belong to Britain. Prepare to be colonised."
I'm sorry. Anyone attempting to claim my lips in the near future will find themselves sadly mistaken, followed by a short lesson on whose lips are whose. I like kissing though, lets do that instead.
I have shorn 50 sheep in the last couple of days, with the final 12 of them being last night - something of an emergency callout for folks who are out of the country for the next month as of Friday. They are lovely people and have a nice little flock of mainly older perendales, which aren't ridiculously huge and fat, and generally just sit there like lumps and let me shear them.
Except the ram. Whose name is Rambo, because every ram in the world must have a ram-pun name. It's like a rule or something. Anyway, the ram was stroppy and flaily and generally uncooperative. Luckily he was only about 10kg heavier than me so apart from a couple of stops and starts to rearrange him in a more conducive position, it wasn't terribly difficult.
However, this flock exhibited a strange thing I've never seen before and I don't know what to make of it.
Like many lifestylers, the flock is run as one mob, with the ram in there year round. Normally this doesn't affect anything unduly, the ewes generally all cycle within a couple of weeks of each other anyway, and the lambs consequently arrive at more or less the same time. For lifestylers, this is much easier than trying to determine lambing dates by keeping the ram out till tupping time, and most people don't care too much whether it's August or October when they get lambs.
This flock, however, lambed in July. This means the ewes were cycling in Feb/March, which is relatively early for this part of the country. And here's the thing that bothers me.
All the ewes had lambs this year, including one of the two ewe hoggets, who subsequently lost her lamb. There are also ewe lambs in the flock that are 5ish months old and approaching sexual maturity. It isn't the season for it yet - sheep generally don't gear up for tupping till after the solstice - but both of the ewe hoggets and the ewe lambs I crutched all showed redness and swelling around the vulva as if they'd been sexually active. None of the adult ewes with lambs did.
It looked for all the world like the ram had been at them. In some respects this sort of makes sense - they are smaller than the adult ewes and less bolshy, therefore less likely to go "Piss off!" to a randy ram. But it's the wrong season. I know rams will take the opportunity wherever it arises but usually they go for cycling ewes, and this is totally not the right time for ewes to be cycling, even young ones. So the only thing I can conclude is that he's forcing them.
When asked what they should do, I admitted to never having seen this before, and then when I got home I tried to find out more. But what sort of search terms do you use for such a thing? I'm going to try 'early estrus in female sheep' and go from there.
But, ew. And also, ick. Certainly if he's currently sexually active, that would explain his bolshiness. Rams are normally pretty docile when being shorn, but he was anything but.
On a less disturbing note, today I am going to this lecture. Yes, I am voluntarily going to the university to be lectured. OMG WUT. However, I think it's about time someone pointed out the lack of reference to the positive aspects of recreational drug use in discourse, and it's stuff like this lecture that is paving the way for my own research.
And now I am impatient to get the email saying "Oi, you should graduate now! Here's how." Not that I'm about the instant gratification or anything.