Among the telltale sounds of Soay sheep breeding season, none is as distinctive and frankly distressing as the “crash” “boom” of a breeding ram trying to get through a fence to the ewes on the other side. No matter that the basher has his own ewes to service. Even if there is no “greener” grass on the other side, there are ewes to be enjoyed and no self-respecting ram will ignore them, even a “small” heritage ram.
We’re not sure, but we think our rams could eventually succeed in toppling even our most sturdy fences if we simply ignored the bashing, pulled the shades, and went back to reading an escapist novel. But it took a whole lot of work to install these fences and we are not willing to test our hunch. For example, Steve made the fence shown here particularly sturdy — using 4x4s sunk in cement and heavy-duty hog panels — specifically to subdivide our breeding area into smaller units where we could have several breeding groups without risking a ram escape and confused parentage. Wouldn’t you think this is sturdy enough to deter a ram? Not.
Luckily, there is a relatively inexpensive, fairly easy-to-install, and 100% effective solution — a view block. It turns out that if a ram cannot see the desired ewes or, for that matter, a competitor, on the other side of the fence, he either does not know they are there or cannot figure out where they are and how to get to them. In short, he won’t bash the view block.
Supplies and equipment for this project? A roll of black landscape cloth available from either your garden store or online, a handful of medium sized zip ties, a ten-penny nail or something similar to poke holes in the cloth, and a pair of wire cutters to snip off the ends of the zip ties. You can find a detailed description of all this in an earlier post on this blog. One additional hint: be sure the view block is at the right height to effectively block the offending ram(s) line of sight. I know from experience: it is discouraging to put up the darn thing and then have the ram look right under it! Also, if you live in a windy area, use a few extra zip ties to secure the cloth along the bottom edge as well as along the top.
For now …