Our ram Sparky is deeply strange. He has a shaggy beard, and this time of year his thick winter coat is shedding out in uneven clumps that drift across the pasture, like thistle seeds come two months early. His burly trunk coupled with twig legs make him look unbalanced. He has the proud, Roman nose and uncomprehending gaze of a politician.
And like a politician he is a blustering, aggressive coward, who loves conflict so long as he is he is not a direct participant. A couple months ago something, perhaps the unseasonable warmth, got the cows worked up, and they were running around, butting heads and pushing each other in circles. Sparky could be found cantering around each skirmish, and when one ended he would race back and forth, looking for the next. If I didn’t know better I would have thought he was cheering them on. When I take Oban out to move the animals, Sparky will come to the fore, shaking his head and stamping his foot in a display of bravado, as if he’s prepared to lay down his life in defense of his flock. But if the dog or I take so much as a single step in his direction he's off, racing as far and as fast as he can without a backward glance to check on the lambs and ewes.
Recently, he’s dropped all pretenses of caring about them. He hung out with the other sheep so long as they were beside the cows, but since we’ve separated them he’s made his true allegiances clear. Instead of ranging up the hill with the flock he has opted to hang out with our bull and a couple steers, two bachelors and two half bachelors that spend all day nibbling on clover and lying around.
Last week I looked out the window and saw him sitting on his haunches, as if he were an oversized dog, obliviously staring at the chicken coop. Whether I should laud his cosmopolitanism for preferring the company of cows or condemn his craven abandonment of his own kind, he is clearly is the biggest goofball on the farm.