Monday, September 19, 2011

WInthrop in detention

I drove four hours to Windom Minnesota to pick up Winthrop, our new ram, and four hours back. Dave had to work that day, but it was the only day that I had free and Winthrop’s owner had free that week and I wanted the ram at our farm so I could observe him for awhile before putting him in with the ewes on October 1, thus my solitary trip, with MPR as my only company– fortunately it was a good day for MPR. I learned about the uses and misuses of suspension and detention in the public schools.

Winthrop’s’ home pastures in Windom had been dry and closely cropped; we had stockpiled forage in the ram pasture for him to eat during his enforced solitude or detention, so he jumped out of the pickup happily to begin grazing.

Within an hour of arriving home we realized that there would be no solitude and no enforcing. Winthrop didn’t believe in detention. He jumped right over the 6 foot high fence dividing the ram pasture from the home pasture, then cleverly found the almost open gate from the home pasture to the south central pasture, and was tracking ewes as they grazed back and forth in the south central pasture - one flimsy fence between them. It was dusk. Winthrop had just jumped our tallest fence. We were leaving soon to visit Kieran, our grandson, and his mom and dad, as well as pick up a new puppy. There was no way in the world that Emily, our animal sitter, would be able to corral the ewes, separate Winthrop, then move him to a new pasture, and detain him if he went over the fence again.

Dave and I looked at each other and shrugged. Like the experts had said on MPR, detention just doesn’t work. We decided right then to introduce Winthrop to his new ewes immediately instead of in two weeks and as a result, begin lambing two weeks earlier in 2012.

When we let Winthrop into the ewe’s pasture, he immediately began sniffing ewes, trying to figure out who was the most receptive, who was ready to breed. The next morning, all the ewes were lying down, not quite ready to submit to Winthrop’s affections, but he was not discouraged and continued to stride from ewe to ewe, sniffing and pawing – behavior that he would continue until every ewe was pregnant and he could lay down at rest, actually looking forward to his enforced solitude and detention.

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