We had to say goodbye to our beloved ram Joe today. Joe was the last of our East Friesian rams, and such a sweet boy. His full name was Doe-eyed Joe because of his big prominent eyes, which most of his lambs inherited.Joe was the son of the legendary “Panties,” the best producer in the entire history of my dairy flock, and he sired a lot of great dairy ewes, including a set of triplet girls we called “Starlet and the Startled Sisters” because they all had his huge, prominent eyes.
Lisa befriended Joe when he was a lamb in 2013 and even though making pets of rams can make them dangerous, it never did with Joe.
He was always ready for a chin-scratch, or even to pose with funny hats for Christmas and New Years photos.
Joe had his 15 minutes of fame when he performed with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. In 2014, when Joe was just a year old, a video producer named Chris Kallmyer made a “sounds of the farm” video on our ranch, to follow a performance of Beethoven’s Pastoral symphony in a children’s concert by the LA Chamber Orchestra. Joe did a lot of “baaing” that day, and was featured heavily in the video which was shown on a large screen above the orchestra.
Joe was slowing down in recent years, but he always perked up at breeding time and fathered a nice crop of 50% or 75% East Friesian lambs, after we stopped breeding our East Friesian girls.
This year when we took the rams out from the breeding groups we locked them all in a box stall for a week to prevent fighting, and fitted them with ram shields to block their forward vision to additionally discourage ramming. After a week in the box stall and an additional week in the ram shields out in the pasture, we removed the shields Thursday. I didn’t see any fighting, but Joe must have had a tussle with someone that resulted in an injured left eye. I took him to the vet on Saturday and Dr Bui injected his swollen eyelid with antibiotic and steroid, but by this morning the eye was much more swollen and he couldn’t close the lid over it. We took him back to the vet and Dr Bui felt it was likely an abscess behind the eye that would need to be allowed to rupture on its own to resolve. Joe was in too much pain and it just didn’t seem fair to make him go through the additional pain this injury was going to cause him, so we made the decision to put him down. He was such a great guy and we owed him a humane exit. But it wasn’t easy. We will miss you Joe.