There’s only one way to describe our relationship with Carl. “It’s complicated.”
Carl was a Katahdin ram. He came to us as a bottle baby, rejected by his mother, about 4 years ago. At the time we had two ewes and figured Carl would eventually make a good mate for them. We weren’t wrong.
Carl grew to be a strapping lad with a luxurious chest mane and (unlike his parents) a good set of horns. Well, a semi-good set of horns, anyway. Obstinate like Carl, one of those horns grew right towards his eye. Once or twice a year we’d get out the hacksaw, straddle the beast, and saw off an inch or two to prevent him from impaling himself. Carl never made it easy, but he didn’t fight as hard as he could have. He obviously knew it was for his own good.
Carl was ready and willing to mount anything that smelled like it might be in heat, me included. Carl bred our ewes and then did his best with the female goats (and a couple of the males) as well. I think he eyeballed the layer hens once or twice. The first few children of Carl were males who eventually made their way to freezer camp. Last year, however, Harriet had two ewe lambs, and so, to avoid inbreeding, Carl had to go.
I had another reason for wanting Carl to move on. As he aged he was becoming more and more aggressive toward me. I didn’t dare turn my back on the 200+ pound beast, and when I entered his domain it was never without a stick by my side not the relationship I want to have with my beasts. Without any provocation whatsoever, Carl put a beating on me more than once. Because we’d had Carl for a while, and because Carl had a name, I wanted to find him a new flock rather than a home in the freezer. That was how the Kijiji ad came about last May.
I had a little fun with my sales pitch for Carl. It was a little cheeky and a lot to the point (of Carl’s head), but I wasn’t expecting CBC to call me up and ask for an interview for their local morning radio show. Apparently the ad sparked some interest. Carl’s story gained traction throughout the day and the next thing I knew CBC was in touch again wanting a video interview for the suppertime news. A few hours later the phone was ringing from Toronto. Carl was going to be on The National.
You would think that with the thousands of hits the media attention generated on my ad people would be fighting over Carl. After all, he had gained rock star status. Alas, nobody wanted him. I decided to hang onto him and try again in the Fall.
Fall came and went, a new, equally racy sequel was written to the original ad for Carl. This ad also received thousands of hits. But nobody bit. Perhaps I was too honest about Carl’s ornery nature, or maybe there are just a lot of Katahdin rams to be had. Either way, Carl wasn’t moving.
As Christmas neared we decided Carl’s luck had run its course. We had no lamb left in the freezer, Carl wasn’t being any kinder to my buttocks, and in a year when hay was looking scarce he was another very large mouth to feed. But one thing led to another, as it often does on a farm, and Carl avoided his inevitable fate.
Until this week. Tuesday was the end of the road for Carl.
The box of Carl in our freezer is bittersweet. In the end, Carl didn’t suffer. He wasn’t stressed by being trucked off to a slaughterhouse. He died instantly in a place that he knew. Despite the fact that he was a bonafide jerk, it was hard watching Carl go. More than most, Carl had a personality and a story. And he became our 5 minutes of fame.
I suspect Harriet is due to lamb in a day or two, and when she does, Carl will have new life in the babies that carry his genes. By then I may be ready to celebrate with some Carl burgers or kofte. For now, though, Carl’s story has come to an end. Goodnight, you obnoxious bastard. You won’t be forgotten.