Fergus the ram

Fergus, the Scottish Blackface ram, proves hard to catch — nearly resulting in a Hardie supermoon.

Chris Hardie photo

I learned long ago that the safest butt of my jokes is myself.(tncms-asset)a2836d06-9b3b-11e3-bb05-00163ec2aa77[0](/tncms-asset)

My slow learning curve was accelerated by upset readers and hindsight. What’s funny to some is not funny to all. It’s easy — intentionally and unintentionally — to offend. I’m doing better now, but finding a way for everyone to crack a smile is still a challenge. While I still fly by the seat of my pants at times, offending oneself is safe territory.

In that spirit, I present a tale — or should I say a tail — of the near sighting of a supermoon on the farm. The premise is true and the names have not been changed to protect the guilty.

Some might call it lunacy. I think it was lunarcy.

For those of who missed it, November’s full moon was an almost supermoon because the fullness was close to the perigee — the point where the moon is closest to the earth.

Closer to home — a few hours after the full moon in the sky — there was another near-supermoon on the Hardie farm.

That morning my wife, Sherry, and I decided it was time to bring our ram back in with the ewes for breeding. We had separated Fergus and the young rams — which sounds like the name of a rock band — from the flock a couple of months ago. It was time to bring the stud into the flock so that we will have spring lambs.

Fergus — a fully grown Scottish Blackface ram with big curly horns — is generally fairly friendly and likes to be scratched under the chin. My plan was to scratch him, grab his horns and head off to the ewe barn.

But for some reason Fergus was extremely wary and wouldn’t come anywhere near me. Even with the lure of a pail of feed, Fergus was playing hard to get.

I was forced to go to plan B — wait until Fergus came close and tackle him: hardly a sophisticated strategy, but one that has nevertheless proven effective in the past.

I poured out a little feed.

I waited.

Fergus came closer.

I leaped.

I should have waited for Fergus to come even closer. Instead of grabbing his horns, all I had was a couple of tufts of his fleece. Fergus did not take kindly to my attempt and with all his might tried to pull away.

I knew I had to hold on and bring him to the ground.

I did hold on.

My pants did not.

My selection that day was an old pair of black sweatpants. The string to cinch the waistband is long gone and the elastic is stretched and old.

The old elastic gave way as Fergus dragged me. In the span of 10 feet and 1.4 seconds, the pants went from my waist to my knees. The only thing between my birthday suit and the cold November sky was my drawers, and I could feel those starting to slide.

A couple more seconds of dragging and there would been a big white supermoon, as fullness would have lined up with perigee. That would have been both embarrassing and potentially painful.

I didn’t have time to worry about my lower regions because I needed to gain the upper hand. Luckily I did, bringing Fergus to the ground. In one less-than-graceful fell swoop I grabbed his horns with one hand and pulled up my pants with the other.

Sherry greeted my foibles with laughter, suggesting that the experience would make for a good column.

I dragged Fergus out of the pen. The recalcitrant ram suddenly was eager to head toward the greener pastures of the ewe barn. He arrived with no further incident.

If you didn’t catch a glimpse of November’s nearly supermoon, the Full Cold Moon on Dec. 3 will be the first and last supermoon of 2017. At 2:45 a.m. Central Standard Time on Dec. 4, the full moon will reach perigee at 222,135 miles away.

I plan to be safely tucked away in bed, holding up the waistband of my pajamas.


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