Life is never predictable and I have long since learnt that when things are going just hunky dory Sod’s Law applies. So there I was just thinking about a slow cooked stew and a glass of Gran Reserva Rioja when Daniel came rushing in. In a loud voice he informed me that one of his Tups had been fighting and had a badly swollen and infected eye. Without drawing breath he asked if he could borrow my Truck and take him to the vet.
Now, in the country, we all try to help one another when ever we can. (Unlike my neighbours in London who never spoke to me for the four years I lived there). My immediate action was to say yes but then logic kicked in. Daniel is renowned for getting lost, getting vehicles stuck and generally having scant idea about the width of anything he drives. My mind was working at lightening speed as I weighed everything up - 90 minutes more for the stew and that the wine could breathe.
Commonsense prevailed and I volunteered to drive the 90 and go with him to the vet. “Right” he said “Go up to the top of the field in the Land Rover, by the pens, and I will drive the sheep up and we will have to draw him out”. Now for those of you not engaged or close to the country you may not know that Tups or Rams at this time of the year have only one job to perform. They are put into fields full of ewes to make baby lambs.
Once we had the sheep and the Tup in a pen he thought all his Christmases had come at once. Females all around, no need to run or chase - just mate with as many as possible. He, despite his injury, started working like a man posessed. When we eventually managed to catch him he was not best pleased at coitus interruptus.
To the layman, like me, sheep all look the same and although lambs are smaller that is about it. When you are hanging on for dear life to a big ram that weighs over 120kgs and trying to lift him into the back of a 90 you realise that not all sheep are equal. He was like a barrel, all muscle and desperate to get back to the job he had started. If anyone had filmed our efforts they would be £250 richer via 'You’ve been framed'.
So, once aboard with the rear door shut, I said ''Where to?” Daniel said “Don’t you know the vets in Ross?'' I said “No”. He said “Well don’t go into Ross”. I then remembered that he is renowned for getting lost! Eventually I managed to get a general direction from him and we set out.
Now, given the exertion we two had put in to catch and load the Tup, and his exertion previously plus his size filling at least half the 90, it became like a sauna within two minutes. Land Rover’s, as any owner will tell you, have appalling ventilation and mist up from August through June regardless of the weather. Three sweating males - one who does not wash anyway (the Ram not Daniel or me!) plus a wet sheep dog were creating a tropical micro climate that could start a rain forest. The Ram was steaming in more ways than one - I was trying to follow Daniel’s vague directions and visibility was down to zero.
Unexpectedly the Ram suddenly started to breathe quite heavily in my ear and nuzzle my neck which nearly made me jump out of my driving seat. Daniel's only help was to say “I think he likes you……. I think it’s a good job that seat is between you and the ram otherwise you could end up with a Tup mark on your back”. This was not a helpful comment.
When we arrived at the vet a rather attractive young lady came out and introduced herself as the Vet on duty that evening. She looked at the Ram and decided he needed an antibiotic injection in his infected eye lid. After a quick “Team” chat she decided a strategy and that this should be carried out in the back of the Land Rover. Trying to take the Ram inside the surgery was not really an option. Now I have already admitted to not understanding the size of a ram but nor did I have too much knowledge on the strength they possess.
The next ten minutes should also have been committed to film. Jet the sheep dog who is terrified of sheep and will not round them up for her master Daniel, curled up into the tiniest ball in the front passenger foot well. I sat in the Driver's seat and held the Ram against the front seats around the neck. Daniel, in the back of the 90, mounted the Ram and tried to use his weight to hold it down. The slim and agile lady vet then also got into the back of the Land Rover armed with her syringe and shut the door. What followed was straight out of a Carry On film.
Bodies wrestled, grunts and groans in equal portion were heard, the vehicle rocked from side to side as every window fogged over. Arms, legs, bottoms and fleece appeared intermittently at all the windows.
We will never know what Miss Spencer thought as she brought “Tibbles” for her regular check up, or what went through the minds of The Burtons, (three children and their mother) who had a new puppy in for injections, or anyone else passing the mysterious green Land Rover parked outside the vets.
It is true to say it is not easy to get a Ram to do anything he does not want to do. I am sure the vet was a black belt in some martial art as her diminutive frame hid a colossal physical strength. She did administer the injection and rub cream in his eye. I am not sure the twitching curtains of the neighbours will let her reputation remain intact as she left the Land Rover in a rather dishevelled state quickly followed by Daniel and a rather nervous sheep dog.
The Ram is, I am pleased to report, looking much better which given that much of his medication ended up in or on Daniel is a result.