We lost our friend Pistol this weekend. He was a great East Friesian ram, and best buddy to our other EF ram, Doe-eyed Joe. Joe and Pistol lived together 11 months of the year, and most of the time they were good chums, but when breeding season approaches these EF rams get all cranked up on testosterone and like to pick fights. Pistol and Joe had their share of fights–Pistol wound up with a cauliflower ear from one a year or so ago, and a few weeks ago he had an infection on his head from another battle with Joe.
Our best guess as to what happened was that the infection penetrated his skull and caused a brain inflammation. The external infection had cleared up, but Pistol developed a strange gait last week, and quickly declined. On Thursday, he appeared to have fallen at the feeder and got his rear legs through the fence. Lolo got him up, but by Friday he couldn’t get up at all. Joe kept vigil by his side, looking worried and very depressed. Yesterday we decided it was time to put Pistol down because we had no hope that he would improve and we didn’t want him to suffer.
Pistol got his name from the old Roger Miller song, “Dang Me.” Lisa wanted to have some ram lambs that could say, “my daddy was a pistol, I’m a son of a gun.”
Pistol had a bit of a storied past–I accidentally banded him when he was a lamb (a stiff rubber-band over the scrotum at 3 days of age, a form of bloodless castration), only to realize 20 minutes later that he was the lamb I wanted to keep for a breeding ram! Linda and I dashed to the lambing barn and cut off the band.
Pistol grew fast and well. He became a really handsome ram lamb, long in the loin and big for his age.
He had another mishap as a lamb, when he somehow managed to cut his leg on a feeder, and must have nicked an artery, because the spurting blood was pretty impressive and scary. With advice from our vet, we applied a compression bandage and he survived that accident also.
When Pistol was 6 months old I asked Dr Dotti if he could do a sperm count on him to be sure he was fertile, since it was possible that the banding had left his vas deferens damaged. Dr Dotti said, “I don’t know Marcia, we don’t have good success collecting semen on rams that young.” I asked if we could try, because I wanted to use him in October to breed the ewe lambs. When I showed up with this gorgeous 150-pound ram lamb, Dr Dotti just laughed. “I forgot about your lambs,” he said, adding that he had expected a 50- or 60-pound lamb. He collected semen, and it was full of healthy active sperm, so we knew Pistol’s short-lived banding had no ill-effects.
Pistol sired lots of beautiful lambs in his 3 1/2 short years, but he died way too young and we will miss him.