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Posted 12/6/2007 6:17pm by Catskill Merino.


A ram was born a year ago named Ugh, short for ugly little lamb and that he is, the ugliest lamb I've ever seen, demon horns curve from his head, square eyes peek out from behind a halloweenish mask of dirty wool, a runt as rams go weighing a third of what he should, but everyone who sees him loves him. Ugh is a problem, he's not breeding stock and he's too small to slaughter, love or no love.

Ugh's mother deserted him soon after birth, this can mean a health problem in the lamb, something the dam knows that you don't. It was Friday, I was busy picking vegetables for market in the morning. I didn't have time to bottle feed him and decided to listen to his mother, let nature take its course, so when the ewe flock went up over the hill, he bumbling after, that would be the last I saw of him, he would fall away, the turkey vultures would get him and that would be that.

The morning after market I went out to the flock and surprisingly there he was, damn. Oh well, the ewes would go back up over the hill again, with him stumbling along, yes that would be that, this time for sure. But no, the next morning there he was, a tough little bastard, 3 days with no milk and still going. I give in and mix up milk replacer, put it in a nippled bottle to which he eagerly takes. A lamb on milk replacer is a money loser, I may not get a return on him. Sentimental sot that I am, I continue to feed him even when he doesn't grow. I'm making a mistake here, why am I doing this.

The interns, Emily, Einat and Erin, are enamored with Ugh. When we go to the barn, he bobs over, looking awry as usual and charms them; they say he's their boyfriend. I scowl at this rascal, Ugh I want you gain 30 pounds so I can get you to the slaughterhouse. "No" the 3-E's chorus, I look at them sternly and curl a mean smile, ok 25 pounds. "No, you can't kill Ugh." Oh yes I can, give that thing more oats and some turnip tops too to fatten him up. Still he doesn’t grow, he just gets uglier.

One Friday, Einat and I are down by the pond, in the wetland gathering wild mint and I tell her of a Native American foraging tradition: to keep this mint community and ourselves in good health, we must never pick the scrawniest, droopiest mint stalk because that's the shaman of the mint, the protector, the holy one, the healer, the awful one…she interrupts me, you mean like Ugh…I almost fell over into the forget-me-nots. Ugh, I knew there was a reason, I just didn't know what it was.

Tags: baa, Ugh