By Kim Johnson
Our goose laid an egg this morning which was strange because I was under the impression that he was a boy. This wasn’t the first time I made mistakes with livestock and gender identification.
Nine months ago my husband and I packed up the children and drove to Battleground with an empty dog crate. I found a boy sheep on craigslist. We had girl sheep. I excitedly explained to my husband that boy sheep plus girl sheep equaled baby sheep. He told me he was familiar with the math and pointed out that we didn’t need any more sheep. We arrived in Battleground and picked out a lovely Long Border Cheviot ram and lead him to the car with a bag of Wonder Bread. My husband stuffed him in the dog crate and remarked that he didn’t seem very big or very old. The nice lady in Battleground assured us that he would “cover” our ewes despite his age and size. I thanked her and made a mental note to Google that term when I got home.
Our boy sheep was very handsome, everyone said so. He had long beautiful eyelashes and big amber eyes. Cheviots have a collar of wool around their necks giving them a regal appearance. While boy sheep was both regal and handsome, he was also uninterested in girl sheep.
I gave boy sheep some time to settle in before observing his behavior. He was a nervous animal. I didn’t really blame him; our dog tracked his every move. How he would ever “cover” anything under these circumstances I did not know. One day I saw boy sheep sniffing the behind of a girl sheep, I thought this encouraging until I realized my son had dumped oats over the fence and some had lodged in the wool of the girl sheep. Boy sheep was simply foraging for food.
Months went by and boy sheep still seemed uninterested in the ewes. My neighbor suggested that the ewes skipped their heat cycle due to a selenium deficiency in the soil. Not to blame everything on the females, he also suggested that I flip boy sheep on his back and carefully examine both of his testicles. I decided to Google my problem instead. It turns out that eight percent of sheep are gay.
They are simply oriented to the wrong gender. I disappointedly told my husband that we bought the only gay sheep in three counties. He pointed out that it was statistically improbable our sheep was gay, his issues were more likely due to performance anxiety. Between the constant observation and the family hound, boy sheep was a wreck.
No one could perform under those circumstances. Several months went by and boy sheep remained regal, handsome and aloof. I posted him on craigslist. A man from Vancouver arrived one afternoon and took boy sheep away. He told me he was going to use him to “cover” his ewes. I wished him luck and said goodbye.
Yesterday a baby appeared in our pasture. I excitedly told the kids that the pregnant goat I got for Christmas had her baby. The kids asked pertinent questions like “Why is the sheep licking the goat’s baby?” and “Why does the goat’s baby look like a sheep?”
The answer was a simple one. Boy sheep liked the ladies after all.