Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Zack and Miss Tammy

My gentle old ram, Zack, went to visit Miss Tammy today.  Miss Tammy is the lady who helps them get across the Rainbow Bridge.  She lives four miles down the road in South Edmeston behind the Chobani factory, in a pretty red building called The Farmer's Place.  Zack is a registered Border Leicester ram who is as gentle as a lamb.  He gave me some lovely lambs, Margot and Margareta, Robert and Duvall, Robin and TJ, and Marcellus, called Marky-Mark.  He also produced Joseph and Nicholas who live on a horse farm in Cazenovia with a Morrisville College professor.  I found Zack at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, in the sheep barn with his 4-H family.  I am partial to the 4-H program as I grew up in the Somerset Cottontails in New Jersey.  I'd been thinking about putting a more heavily wooled ram on my Bluefaced Leicesters for some time and Zack, a Border Leicester, was in the same wool group, British Longwools, as my Blues.  Libby Llop brought Zack home to her farm for me.  She kindly kept him on her beautiful 500 acre farm in Western NY until the next spring.  Zack never butted me or anyone else.  He was a polite gentleman who we never saw mount a ewe.  Zack was the Stealth Bomber.  I bet he got some licks in this month, but maybe not.  Zack is very overweight, even on grass alone, and has some joint issues.  I knew he had to go soon or I would risk him breeding his daughters.   I gave Zack a last meal of his favorite cracked corn and told him what a good boy he'd been.  Miss Tammy was waiting for us in front of the abbatoir.  I immediately felt better about taking Zack when I saw her.  I think she saw me resist the impulse to give her a hug.  I know Miss Tammy has a big heart, but she is very professional and keeps the emotional aspect of her profession at bay.  Matt brought the Chevy Blazer around back to the loading bay.  Miss Tammy said why don't you walk through with me and you can get to your truck.  I said I don't want to see anything going on back there and she said don't worry, you won't.  The shop is bright and shiny and sparkling clean.  A young woman was preparing sausage in a gleaming kitchen.   We went through a door and two young men in aprons and baseball caps were unloading Zack.  He came out exactly like he came in,  cooperative and gentlemanly.  I said to the men please be gentle with him and they enthusiastically said we will, we always are, and thanked me for bringing him in.  I'm teary but relieved that Zack no longer hurts when he walks and won't have to be put back in the rear pasture to spend the winter (which is not so bad as it comes with a walk-in silo room piled with hay and another gated walk in to see the rest of the flock in the barn. No animal of mine will ever, ever, go to auction.  I love my animals too much to put them through that kind of fear and terror.  I would never know what happened to them, where they went, or if they are being properly taken care of.  Now I will know exactly where Zack is, in my freezer, and Thor, Finn and Knut will have bellies full of delicious mutton.  Cooper, Bertha, Izzy, Tanner and Reba will have hard bones filled with minerals to gnaw on.  The cycle of life continues.  It is all a part of the story of my farm.

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