Everyday each person is faced with dangers associated with work or occupation. As a sheep farmer I also have dangers while working. There are the dangers of working around tractors and other equipment. At times I am moving heavy objects with equipment, if something goes amiss, I can be injured.
I work daily around animals, mostly sheep. Sheep have their own mind. Sheep react to various situations some rational and some unknown. The most common reaction in majority of situations is fear, run away as fast as you can type fear.
A few weeks back, I purchased at a sheep auction a young ram of good size. I named him Jumbo. When purchasing sheep at an auction, the buyer does not get much if any information about the animal or animals being purchased. I knew from the registration papers, Jumbo is a triplet. By observation of Jumbo, I have concluded he is a “bottle baby”. “Bottle baby” sheep and goats are very friendly and are not afraid of you, and they get pushy around the feed bucket. Jumbo does respect my space, but runs to meet you when you are at the gate.
We placed Jumbo in the pen next to our barn. In this pen are my three Boer goats, and two ewes I am getting ready to sell. This pen next to the barn is used to contain rams when not breeding, my goats and the occasional ewe.
Today, I was feeding my sheep as I do everyday. I feed a grain mixture along with hay in the winter due to no green pasture for sheep to graze on.
I go to the pen with the bucket of grain. As I enter the pen, I have three goats and a ram around me as I make my way to the feed trough. I reach the trough and start pouring the grain, when suddenly I have a head reaching between my knees. With a thump I am sitting on Jumbo’s back. Visions of mutton busting flow through my head, also realizing the ground is frozen hard. As a person gets older the ground gets harder. I really did not want to have an abrupt landing on frozen hard ground.
Jumbo did not even look up from eating the grain. With cautious movement, I placed my hands on his shoulders and regained my feet to lift a leg over his back and step away from the situation. I was thankful Jumbo did not move.
I was not injured, but it could have been a serious situation of a sheep bolting and jumping, with me landing on a feeder or the frozen ground.
Today I have a story, “the day I rode Jumbo”. And we can laugh.
Be careful as you go about your daily chores and raising your sheep.