Monday, October 3, 2011

you're not supposed to know

Came home from work with a chemical tablet in my pocket and a package at the front door. The tablet—which looked like a little aspirin—was a small, white, pill of campden, used in this first step of making alcohol out of apple juice. You drop it in and let it kill excess natural yeasts for the first 24-hours in the carboy. Tomorrow I add brewing yeast, and four pounds of honey as well as an airlock top. As soon as I walked to the front door I had it ready to plop my tab in my plastic fermenter. The package, however, was in the way of getting inside. It was there in all its vulgar glory, a little more mysterious than my chemistry experiment... Inside that unmarked brown box was something I ordered last week from a catalog: and item I never thought I'd be seeing on an invoice for my accountant: a leather ram breeding harness with bright orange chest chalk inserts.

No, you're not supposed to know what that is.

Normal people do not buy their animals S&M gear, but apparently, us shepherds do. This brown leather harness is fitted over the ram with a colorful square of sticky chalk (AKA raddle) on his ribs. When Atlas "acts out the old urgencies", the lady will be left with a bright orange smear on her rump. Which means I can keep accurate notes of exactly when each ewe was bred and mark off 5 months down the line when I can expect my first lambs. Makes sense, sure, but you can't help but smirk at the product. The raddle is named MatingMark and has a logo of a ram winking on the packaging. A rib poke to us people pimpin' sheep. (Most rams wouldn't be winking if they knew their usual fate after a breeding season.) I'm not planning on letting Atlas loose with the girls just yet, but when I do he'll be wearing this beauty. There are going to be a lot of blaze orange sheep in my field. The deer hunters will not be confused.

Just wanted to share that bit, more on cidering and that wonderful day at Dave and Sue's place soon. Tonight though I am fighting a cold and in need of some chicken soup and tea. Gotta get my wits about me, the countdown to Antlerstock is ON!


Blogger Jen said...

Normal people don't do a lot of things! Really, I wonder where they get their fun.

October 3, 2011 at 9:50 PM  
Blogger Jenny said...

Ha ha, this is so funny to me. A winking ram...what a great logo. You'll get pictures of the bright butts for us, won't you! Save them for a cold winter day when I need a good laugh.

October 3, 2011 at 10:07 PM  
Blogger Rosie said...

I had wondered how a friend had marked her Jacob sheep and little did I know it was S&M attire. :-) Thanks for answering the question I had not yet asked.

October 3, 2011 at 10:21 PM  
Blogger Christine said...

That's too funny. How embarrassing for the ladies.

October 3, 2011 at 10:23 PM  
Blogger Stargazer 2 said...


October 3, 2011 at 10:41 PM  
Blogger redbird said...

Sheep S&M gear—this one made me laugh! Would love to make my own hard cider someday—once had a neighbor who kept me supplied and it was the winter beverage of choice…now I resort to store bought, but you make it sound so easy. Good luck nailing the cold.

October 4, 2011 at 12:52 AM  
Blogger Bovey Belle said...

Have to smile at Atlas's S&M outfit!!! I have plenty of apples here, and should make my own cider, though a previous experiment was not a great success. I have cooking apples and NOT cider apples. I get a bad allergic reaction (asthma) to the Campden tablets though and never use them in wine-making etc, only to sterilize bottles and equipment.

October 4, 2011 at 3:05 AM  
Blogger daisy said...

How funny is that. They will be marked with a scarlet letter.

Feel better, hon.

October 4, 2011 at 5:47 AM  
Blogger Kelpie and Collie said...

We use the raddle powder- no harness required, messier, but I I like not needing a harness.

October 4, 2011 at 6:38 AM  
Blogger Sylvia said...

In Georgia, to be certified as a 'cruelty free' farm, the hens have to wear 'mating aprons', since roosters have a bad habit of pulling feathers out when they do their thing. The first time I saw one, I laughed so hard that I had to sit down or I was going to fall down.
At least Atlas' harness has a purpose for you to determine lambing.
Best of luck with your breeding. Wink, Wink.

October 4, 2011 at 6:44 AM  
Blogger Norma from Misty Haven Alpacas said...

This post made me laugh. We have breeding animals on our farm as well...and there are some things going on here that "normal" people could never comprehend.
First time I've ever heard of this ram gear!

October 4, 2011 at 8:21 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

I haven't used the harness but after reading Hit by a Farm by Catherine Friend, they found the orange marker not to work as well as the blue marker, they had a lot of difficulty seeing the orange on the wool. Could be a completely different product but wanted to give you a heads up.

October 4, 2011 at 8:58 AM  
Blogger katiegirl said...

My ram has his harness on! The rams on the farm where I worked in college knew what the harnesses meant and you could tell they got antsy when we put them on. We like to change the color too, after 17 days the crayon gets switched so we can tell who may have gotten marked twice.

October 4, 2011 at 9:07 AM  
Blogger Nicholas said...

I'm entertained with the fact I just read about that a few weeks ago. I was reading the book "Hit by a Farm" by Catherine Friend and she has a very funny story about that entire process.

Sheep S&M gear...

October 4, 2011 at 10:16 AM  
Blogger Teri said...

I figured you would know when "it" had happened because he would be sitting back drinking a beer and talking to the other guys about it.

October 4, 2011 at 10:53 AM  
Blogger katiegirl said...

Elizabeth, did they have darker colored sheep? They also have different crayons for different hot weather you use the harder crayons (so they don't melt) and in cool weather you use the soft crayons. They come in so many pretty colors too. :-P

October 4, 2011 at 12:42 PM  
Blogger Margaret said...

Very funny! Thanks for making me laugh!

October 4, 2011 at 2:27 PM  
Blogger Susan said...

This is why I love your blog. I learn something new all the time. I've often wondered why sheep are running around with blue on one hip and pink or orange on the other. It's pretty but felt sure there had to be a different reason I just wasn't seeing or understanding. Now I know. Thanks

October 4, 2011 at 3:03 PM  
Blogger cindycolombo said...

:) And where else to you buy sheep S&M equipment but in the Farm Porn catalog?

October 5, 2011 at 2:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read this post, and then went to bed and read about the same piece of equipment in the book "The Barn at the End of the World" by Mary Rose O'Reilly.

Thanks for making me feel in-the- know.

October 5, 2011 at 5:40 PM  

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