Every once in a while everything seems idyllic. I had one of those days Thursday May 1st. I worked on glazing pottery all morning and loaded the kiln, while listening to a book on tape of one of my favorite authors, Anne Tyler. Then one of my good friends called and invited me to lunch at the newly renovated Cracker Barrel (not to to mixed up with the chain) in Paradise. Marilyn and I meet for lunch a couple of times a month and it's always great to catch up with good friends. We especially enjoy the Thursday special at the Cracker Barrel which is a pulled pork barbeque sandwich.
Later that evening, Mick was meeting one of his friends for a horse ride and to check on cows. I decided it was the perfect time for a walk. While I was walking up South Canyon paralleling the Little Bear River, I watched the rushing water--hoping to see a blue heron. I didn't but watched a pair of mallard ducks take off. A pair of geese were on the nearly impossible vibrant green pasture. I've seen the green of Scotland before--nearly fluorescent--in the springtime Cache valley nearly matches that brilliance. The snow capped mountains still loom above the valley and I can't think of anything more beautiful. I'd been thinking about my perfect idyllic day on my walk--literally basking in the joy that I felt good both physically and spiritually, when I came upon a ram that was out of its pen. I passed by the ram without a thought. Then I was aware that the ram was following me and I turned around just in time to pick up my foot and stop its massive head from pounding into my backside.
That was just the beginning of at least a dozen such attacks. If I tried to go around the ram, he followed me and continued to butt me--only one time did he manage to connect with my body instead of my foot in his head--but it was more than enough to show me what a head butt from a ram felt like, and something I didn't want repeated. I yelled, hoping to catch the attention of a family that was sitting on a wagon just below the ram. I don't know if they heard me, but they weren't about to come to my aid--possibly because I found out later it wasn't their ram, and possibly because they didn't realize how much I needed help. I tried to shoo the ram, but nothing effected him. All he wanted to do at that moment was attack me. Finally he decided that just ramming me wasn't enough. He needed a running start, so he began backing up first so he could get a galloping wallup when he rammed me. If it hadn't been for my foot connecting each time with his head he would have knocked me down and pranced on me with all of his three to four hundred pounds of wooly weight and muscle. Rams are not cute little mammals like you might be thinking. They are bred to be tough so they can do what rams do. Why intimidating a naive rural transplant is part of that I have no idea, but I wasn't about to let him get his way. The stand-off may have only lasted five minutes, but it seemed like it would never end. I kept trying to get him to go to the family that seemed to be ignoring me. After each attack, I managed to get a few more feet down the road and closer to my the direction of my home. Finally, I was behind him. And he began to walk non-chalantly down the road as if he'd never done what he'd done to me. I didn't question my sudden good fortune. I thought he was getting further away from his home, but I didn't care--at least he'd stopped ramming me for the time being.
Did I win the fight with the ram? Or did he win? Well it didn't matter. My heart was still pounding from the encounter when he turned and walked up the hill toward what I now realized was his pen. His owner jumped behind a fence to let him pass. I said, "your ram has been ramming me."
"I'm sure he has." she said.
I'm sure she had no idea how frightened I'd been.
A little ways further, maybe 100 yards I spotted my husband on his buckskin mare, Starbuck. "Hey, I just got rammed by a ram," I said hoping for some comforting words.
"Well, I just got thrown. Some chicken spooked her and she rolled me off and took off running across the highway."
"Ohmigosh, are you okay? Is the horse okay?"
"Yeah, I guess everything is okay. Are you okay?"
"Yes," I said with a little bit of a whine. "Watch out for the ram and I'll see you home."
So the next morning, my husband checked on the horse on his way to work and she was acting funny. He told me to keep an eye on her. I noticed around ten that she was lying down flat in the pasture. I walked up to her and she wouldn't lift her head, but was breathing all right. A curious horse from the neighboring field kept pushing his head over the fence to get as close as she could to our horse. I petted its nose and walked back to the house. Around 11:00, I was able to get hold of Mick and he told me to call the vet. When I told the veterinarian that the horse had been lying down for maybe two hours and seemed really sick, he came right out. But just like when you take your car into the mechanic, whatever was wrong suddenly isn't. And our horse now got up and acted pretty healthy. He checked her over with our other four curious horses pressing against the doctor constantly, annoying him and making it difficult to work. He gave Starbuck a a couple of shots and said it was nothing life threatening.
Well, Starbuck died Saturday night. No, we don't blame the vet. Something he couldn't see must have taken her life. She didn't seem THAT sick even to us. Mick led her down to the corral because it was rainy, and went to get her a little bit of hay. And when he came back, she was dead--just like that.
When he told me that night, I thought this is what rural life is all about. You take the highs and the lows, the newly born colts, calves, lambs, and chicks and revel in the beauty. Then you bury one of the best horses we've ever had. You hike, walk, ride bikes, and horses and see the wonders of nature and then a ram butts you, or you take a tumble, and you're reminded that things will never be idyllic for long. I guess that's the way life is supposed to be.
P.S. I told some friends this story and one guy said--the ram must've been a Republican. I emailed my brother a brief telling and he said, "that ram must've been a Republican." Interesting huh? Then my brother said "R-A-M Republican--assault--machine." My brother is a Republican, unless he's recently converted.