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Sun, Sept. 15

Life in the Slow Lane: The Great Ram Wrangle

First, I apologize that this post is a day late. Work came out of the woodwork yesterday, chores and tasks falling over each other, all needing to be completed NOW. Then it was dark and I was too tired to consider writing what is sure to be a short post. And why might you ask is this going to be a short post? How could a post with such a great title not be an equally juicy story? That's because I titled the post before the event.

I was absolutely certain getting my borrowed ram back into the trailer to take him home was going to be a you-tube worthy event. I mean, not only had he completely bonded with my girls but he'd never warmed to me. Nor had he once tried to head-butt me. Moving a shy animal usually takes a rodeo roping champ. Ah well, here's the story even if it doesn't live up to the title.

Because I was so certain that this would be an ordeal, I'd called the ram's owners and asked for their help, along with my friend Jim, who was bringing the trailer. By 10:00 AM Sunday everyone was in place. That's when I finally learned the ram's name: Kristoff. When I raised a quizzical brow at the name, I was told that Kristoff was the hero in the Disney movie Frozen. Ah, yes. They are a young couple with equally young children.

This is what happens when a person no longer has little ones showing up at her house on a regular basis. I don't see any of the new kids' movies. I'm not sure that's a bad thing. When my boys were little it was all about Star Wars, episodes 4, 5, and 6. There was a time when I could recite the Death Star destruction scene from episode 4 by heart. Hey, everyone has a talent and mine is to be a human parrot. If I hear something often enough it sticks in my brain like that song you can't stop singing.

By the time my youngest had moved onto R-rated movies my younger-by-ten-years sister had two girls. Having always wanted to know what it was like to play with little ones not interested in light sabers or force fields, I volunteered to watch my nieces one day a week. That exposed me to a whole new genre of kiddie movies. I'll admit to having a few favorites among the Disney/Dreamworks/Pixar library. Shrek tops the list for me. I was the one who got to take my older niece to the theater the first time she saw the movie. She was so excited that she brought a special dress and we did her hair in a braid because she already knew that's how Fiona (the heroine) wore her hair. After having spent too much time with The Little Mermaid and Aladdin-- to the point that I had a few scenes locked in my memory-- I expected no more from this event than to enjoy my niece's excitement. Instead, she and I switched roles. I adored the movie, which was clearly meant for adults, and my niece left the theater complaining, "That is not how it's supposed to end! She's a princess. She's supposed to be beautiful."

The only other kids' movie that stuck with me was Lilo and Stitch. Who knew that Disney would take such a risk? No princess, no silly fairy tale plot even though the story is about an alien life form coming to earth. Instead, there's a troubled child, her "doing-her-best" older sister, and a whole lot of tongue-in-cheek jokes.

All of that is to say I now know who the ram's name and that the ewes who came with him were Elsa and Anna, the obligatory princesses in the Frozen story, and that there was a chicken named Olaf. Olaf is apparently a talking snowman. I suppose using a chicken as a substitute for a snowman is necessary in Arizona.

So we backed the trailer up to the orchard gate, into which all six sheep were locked, arranged the gates so no one could escape, then began doing the job of border collies. Not very good border collies, I might mention. No matter which way we turned, the sheep stayed in tight flock. After a few minutes of this I got smart. I brought out the treat bucket and the lead I used for my cow. I showed my ewes the bucket, opened the gate to the garden area, and they were outta there, leaving Kristoff in the orchard, bleating at their betrayal.

Now that there were three humans (the fourth hanging back to guard the gates) and one ram, we had the advantage. Although Kristoff had slimmed down quite a bit, he was still slow on his feet. After a few more minutes of driving him around the orchard, he made the mistake of ducking into the shelter built into the southwest corner. At that point it was a matter of one of us following him in to slip the lead over his head while the other two covered all escape routes. The next five minutes were spent pushing, pulling, shoving and twice uprighting Kristoff when he tried the old, "I'll just lay on my back" trick. Then, just like that, he was locked inside the trailer and ready to go home.

I was glad I rode with Jim. It was nice to watch Kristoff leave the trailer. He clearly recognized that he was home and made a beeline for the familiar corral. As for my girls, they didn't even shed a tear at his departure. Fickle girls! Now that they don't need him, he'd become nothing but that extra mouth stealing the alfalfa they wanted.

For me, it's hurry up and wait. There'll be lambs here somewhere between July 1st and August 15th. Judging from my girls' bellies, I'm betting they'll all deliver before the end of the July.

Good work, Kristoff!

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