Dear Curiosity Journal,
One of the first bits of advice I received about sheep farming was not to enter the pen with a ram when I am on my cycle. I found both the content and matter of fact delivery of this tip from a complete stranger curious and refreshingly honest. The elder farmer, he gave it to me straight, and didn’t skip a beat to bring up my period in order to give me a proper warning. The workings of the female reproductive cycles are a common conversation in animal farming, and I think about how charting these natural circuits seems to shed some of the culture of embarrassment. Rufus accompanied me for the morning chores, as I had asked him to “watch my back”. As I was changing out the water buckets, I saw Rameo had a clear path to me, and Rufus remained way over by the gate. I shouted across the pen, “RUFUS, I don’t know how you interpret “watch my back” but ideally you should be between me and the ram.” He was being far more casual than I would have liked, but I had to agree with him that Rameo wasn’t really “fired up”. However, the next day, when I went out without Rufus, Rameo finally got a solid hit on me. He hip checked me when I couldn’t quite get out of his path quickly enough. It didn’t really hurt, but I got out of there in short order. I can now confirm from experience (not just sensible advice and research) that 1) Head scratching/petting can encourage head butting. 2) Being on your cycle can increase the likelihood of being head butted. 3) Rufus may not understand what “watch my back” means, but his mere presence seems to ward off head butting.