The ram's revival
We lived on a small-holding in a semi-rural area, and my father liked to keep animals. In his wisdom, he spent a great deal of money on a ram. It occupied the field right next to the house and was belligerent, aggressive and a highly unpleasant creature. Rams are notorious for being cantankerous, but this one was a particularly obnoxious example.
It had, several times, charged at my father and knocked him over, causing various injuries. Then one day, it became subdued, appearing disinterested in tormenting anyone who dared intrude on its territory. It was very lethargic, and it soon became obvious that it was ill.
My mother, a sister at the local infirmary, was tasked by my father with bringing home some antibiotics to attempt to revive it. It surprised me at the time that my father would be so concerned for the ram that he would have my mother risk her job to steal medication for it, but on reflection, I’m sure it was a desire not to waste the princely sum he’d invested in it rather than concern for the ghastly creature’s wellbeing. In any case, antibiotics were smuggled out and planted in its food, and sure enough, the ram’s revival began.
It soon displayed its gratitude by charging my father so violently that it broke one of his ribs. I remember my mother cursing the animal and expressing regret at her part in its resurgence. My father persisted with the creature though, resisting the urge to shoot it as he’d sometimes threaten to. I don’t recall taking his threats to harm the creature seriously – I’m sure it was said in exasperation and anger rather than ever really wanting to harm it. I think he had a grudging respect for the irascible creature and its unremittingly odious behaviour.
Unfortunately, the ram wasn’t the only disagreeable animal in my father’s menagerie. We had cats, and one cat in particular, named only as the brown cat, was another fractious creature. It would scratch, bite, and hiss its way through life, seemingly devoid of affection for anything or anyone. Then, there was the ireful geese. I will never forget them racing towards us, baring razor-like teeth with their wings outstretched menacingly. They were truly terrifying, in particular for young children. I remember thinking that they were enormous, horrifying, shrieking beasts.
There was a quarrelsome cockerel too, another perpetually hostile creature, unwavering in its determination to squawk relentlessly and peck anyone in its path.
Luckily though, my sister and I can recall at least some of our smallholding’s creatures with fondness. The pigs were always agreeable, we had some nice cats, loyal dogs, some lovely visiting pheasants, and it was a beautiful place in which to be raised.