Defn: a human male displaying evidence of devolution - exhibits distinctive "caveman-like" tendencies. This man often dribbles in public places; cannot drink a beverage without spilling it on himself, the floor or someone else; may also run into objects like lampposts & bushes; has a definite "sloopish & short legged" running style that is slow and low to the ground, often resulting in the dragging of knuckles.

These throwback neanderthals, along with their questionable diet, should clearly be avoided.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Running with Sheep - tails of New Zealand misadventures

This is barely a running story, although if I was living back in New Zealand it is likely that I would rename my blog to the title of this post.   For those sick and twisted individuals - go somewhere else, this ain't that kind of story.

The purpose of this (true) story is twofold:
1) I was looking back over my blog posts, this is supposed to be a blog about my running, however, it seems that I don't really post a lot about running, plus I have been resting up my knees for a few days and as a result have not run.  So, this is one post that involves running, somewhat.  I realized the other day that I missed out on doing a lot of trail running growing up in New Zealand - not on purpose, but moreso by ignorance.  So, the times that I did run on trails - are some that I now reflect back on and enjoy - aside from this one......
2) Sheep are stupid, keep reading.....

I grew up in New Zealand, my family owned a farm that also had a camp at it - a small camp used for conferences, family getaways, vacations, hikers.  The farm had various animals including sheep and horses.  Each year we would need to bring all the sheep in to vacinate and shear them.  The wool would be sold.

One year, when I was about 19 - we rounded up the 80 or so sheep we had and put them in a pen.  We would vaccinate and shear them at the same time.  The pen enclosure was a wooden fence, had a ramp in which we would get the sheep into single file so we could get them all vacinated, then into a building to shear the wool off.  It was important to vaccinate first (stick a plastic syringe down their throat , squeeze out a toothpaste like substance that they would swallow - resulting in healthier sheep).  Then they would move down the line to be shorn. 

FYI - after the wool is shorn off, the sheep are slicker than snot - hence the need to vaccinate first - so you can hold onto them better.

This one day, the big bad Ram got out of order and got his woolly self shorn first, somehow we missed his vaccination.  He also managed to be the last one in the pen.  It was up to me to catch the thing and vaccinate him.  I think he realized that it was down to him and me.  I could see the look in his eyes, he was not about to let me do this easy.

I had played Rugby a lot in High School, I was used to tackling people running right at me with (their) intent to run me over.  This Sheep was possibly my first attempt at tackling livestock. 

(Cue the gunfight at the OK Corral music).  He looked at me, I looked at him, realizing that he was going to be a more difficult catch due to him having no wool.  He didn't seem to care, nor was he about to volunteer to be vaccinated easy, nor was he about to take it easy on me.

He charged me, in a split second, on instinct I squatted down to his level as he approached, in order to get better leverage to catch / tackle him.  As I squatted, he leaped, using my head, shoulders and back as a ramp to clear the wooden fence.  The ramp (me) was pushed to the ground, he was free, I was face down in the Sheep stall.

Convict Sheep on the loose.  Rogue.  Bully.  Son of a motherless goat. 

The race to recapture him was on - he had a good head start, but I was not about to be stomped on, humiliated by this stupid Sheep. 

At this stage of a normal race report I would probably insert my race pace, race goals, mile splits, average mile pace, heart rate etc - well, for this race those records were not kept.  We will just say the course was muddy, grassy, through rolling terrain, single track trails, wide open grassy fields, over fences, under fences, through fences, through creeks, over and under bridges.  There were no aid stations, no porta potty breaks, no chip timing involved.  There were no medals given out or fancy technical race T-Shirts.

There were only 2 in the race.  Mr Ram and me.  He was winning early, every time I closed the gap, every time I attempted to tackle him, he literally slipped out of my grasp, grunted, kicked me while I was down - then extended his lead on me again.  No crowds to encourage, unless you count other livestock, probably laughing or whatever they do when one of there own is winning a race to the death against one who is not their own.

After almost an hour, the race having clearly taken it's toll on me  - I was about to give up.  We had run over every possible place on the farm, past the camp buildings, into and out of neighboring properties, the ram had displayed annoyingly amazing stamina and resistance to being caught.  His escapability looking back is something to be admired, but at the time was fuel to rage, anger and frustration.

As we approached the sheep pens, where all this started about an hour earlier - he slowed, turned around and looked at me.  I looked at him from some 30 feet behind.  It looked back away from me, then he sat down, rolled onto his side. 

And he Died.

Part 2 of the Story will come another day.


  1. Maybe your blog should be Ram-Slayer. Interesting exercise activities that arise on a farm, eh? Not funny that he died, but you recount is amusing. Have not heard anyone say Son of a Motherless Goat in forever LOL!

  2. Runs with sheep, eh? Ramslayer.

    Helluva story.