Today marks the beginning of my 31st year of writing Weeds and Wisdom. I thought just offering you a picture of my wonderful new zebra to finish off 2012 would help me over my feeling of burn-out, but it wasn’t enough of a rest, Writing garden columns takes a bit of research, especially when the world is blanketed in snow, so because animal tales are easy I’ve chosen to write a little more about the rams on Locust Hill which requires only a good memory.
Last June I told you a bit about Rammit, the first father of our flock, Beaver, our lethargic second ram, and Zinnia, a newborn male whose mother had died. I never finished his crazy story, so here it is.
After Zinnia’s mother’s death we were down to just three ewes, so instead of turning two of his daughters into lamb chops, we let them join the flock. Of course this meant that come fall, incest would run rampant, but we didn’t think that would be a problem.
Apparently Zinnia disapproved, however. He became very cranky, backing off and lowering his head threateningly at anyone’s approach. We learned to treat him carefully, but that winter we’d planned a family vacation. We hired a young neighbor, Tinker, to feed dogs, cats, sheep and chickens while we were gone, and also asked our good friend Henny if she’d water the houseplants and collect the eggs.
Each morning Henny would stop on her way to work and search out the eggs laid by our roaming chickens. One day she spotted several eggs in the sheep manger, innocently opened the inner door and collected them.
The next thing she knew she was laid out in the muck with a tongue-panting Zinnia leering down at her. She escaped with no serious damage, unless you consider going on to the office with runs in your stockings, manure on your skirt and egg on your face damaging.
Henny never thought to close the door as she fled so Zinnia, his appetite whetted by his first victim, waited outside for his second. That afternoon Tinker raced into the yard on his motorcycle and suddenly was racing around on foot, chased by the snorting Zinnia.
Tinker’s reaction was not fright but fury! As soon as he got over his surprise, he jumped back onto his motorcycle and gunned it straight at his opponent. The chase was reversed (as the muddy tire tracks in the lawn showed for weeks afterward), and Tinker pursued Zinnia until the ram was as harmless and worn out as an old wool sweater.
Since there are no photos of that catastrophe, here’s one of nice gentle sheep eating their dinner.
Once we’d learned about Zinnia’s behavior we decided we should probably sell him, but before we found a buyer, he followed in his mother’s hoof prints. We acquired more rams in future years, but I will save their stories for the next time I need a break from gardening columns