I’m in quite the hurry today, so I’ll get right to it! I suddenly realized last weekend that we would be making use of a squeeze pen this weekend to bring a number of new rams in to the ram flock from other farms, and also separate the ram lambs from the ewe lambs and put them into the ram flock, too. A squeeze pen is not particularly hard to set up; one simply needs a well-defined space that is just a little bigger than the area the rams take up when standing as a group, milling around. We sometimes use the trailer, and other times set up a pen with our many panels. There are so many ways to set up one of these pens that listing all of the ways we’ve gone about it is futile. Yet, the bringing together of rams is something that must be carefully considered, as you never know how long they will need to spend in the squeeze pen, “working things out.” It is better to overestimate than under, so we always plan for several days.
When I realized that we would be putting together the rams in a squeeze pen this weekend, I figured I might as well only do this once this summer, and realized that I still had one ram out at another farm. Korbin had bred in Wisconsin last fall at a friend’s farm because I owed her a ram and didn’t have what she was looking for last year. I was bringing Korbin in from Montana almost exactly a year ago, and let her borrow him until this year when I knew I could get her a ram for her flock. But that meant that I still needed to make the 3.5 hour trip (one way) to swap Douglas for Korbin and then drive the same route back home. If I waited until next week, I would have to do a second squeeze pen for Korbin’s introduction, so I quickly contacted my friend last Sunday to see whether I might be able to get Korbin yet this week – and it worked. We each got the necessary transport health inspections and I made the drive over into Wisconsin today.
I had hoped to get an early start this morning, since several weeks ago, Rick had gotten tickets to the local minor league baseball game for tonight. I figured if I got an early start, I could get there and back and still leave at 5:00 for the game – but that was before I found a raccoon in the live trap this morning. I had trapped one last week and then reset the trap, but hadn’t gotten any other evidence that there was any interest in my bait. Of course, it would make sense that the raccoon would wait until I didn’t have time to make the 20-mile trek to release him or her at the wildlife area. When I entered the barn to feed the sheep this morning, there it was in the trap, ready for its ride for release!
I couldn’t put the raccon (in the trap) in the box of the truck because I had two rams in there (I don’t like to take sheep on long trips without a buddy, so I loaded Prague with Douglas, figuring he could then buddy-up with Korbin on the way home). After some quick thinking, I set up a tarp in the back seat of the truck, then put the raccoon on the seat, loaded up all the paperwork for the ram trade and was on my way. I will admit that the entire trip to the wildlife area had be quite concerned since I had a wild raccoon in the vehicle with me and it was obvious from the sounds coming from the back seat that it was working very hard to get out – and that would have been quite the distraction if it had succeeded!
After releasing the raccoon, I headed for Wisconsin, unloaded Douglas, loaded up Korbin, and was back on the road in hopes of still getting home by 4:00 – which I did! Korbin is now unloaded into the quarantine pen with several other rams including Prague. Since he was picked up from a closed flock, I have good confidence in his health situation. He was dewormed when we unloaded him and he will join the ram group in the squeeze pen this weekend.
Korbin is a older Romney ram, born in 2011, who is naturally colored with a nice, correct frame and lovely soft wool. Although he is quite thin now, I believe this is due to temperament – he is very “soft” and easily intimidated by other more aggressive rams, so I will keep an eye on him to make sure that he begins to gain weight over the next weeks. I’m really hoping that he will be up to a reasonable weight by breeding season, since many of our working rams don’t eat much during those first weeks of breeding, preferring instead to keep monitoring their ewes. Korbin will have to convince me that he has enough weight on him that if this occurs, he won’t waste away!