Well, this blog is fast becoming the place to check on all that is hard and awful about trying to be a sustainable farm.
This afternoon we put down our third ram lamb. Herbie. If you've read early posts, you'll calculate that we have now had to bury both our orphan lambs. These are the boys we scooped up when their mother rejected them in March, the babies we housed in a Pack-n-Play for nearly 3 months, the animals I drove a mile down the road to milk a goat for every single day for almost half their lives.
So, drawing a knife across their jugular is difficult. And Mark had to do it tonight. Again. Herbie was fine, like the others, until all of a sudden yesterday he wanted to stay put while we moved the sheep up to the new pasture. Not good. And he baa'd very strangely. I got a sick feeling and brought him out to munch some grass. I didn't feel good.
But, Herbie obviously felt worse. I checked on him this morning, but honestly, had already moved him to the "gone" column b/c this scene was now just too familiar. Still, this was Herbie - the ram lamb we'd broken "berry" naming tradition with b/c we'd originally decided to whether him and make him a pet.
We did some chores, went to town, came home and began our long-overdue quarterly sheep maintenance (a whole 3 months late b/c of schedule conflicts with our city sheep-wrangling friends and our own laziness or fear). We got 3 sheep, including the odiferous ram, done. I went down to check on Herbie and he didn't look good. I carried him out to pasture, molasses water and grain nearby and...nothing. So, I sat down and started to cry. Again, we've gone through this before, saddened at the waste and the failure, and the uncertainty. But, then he started having seizures and I lost it. I knew we couldn't leave him through the night, having seizures in an empty shed, only to have us inevitably kill him tomorrow.
Dylan was worried at my sobs and asked what was up. I asked him to get his dad, unfortunately fresh from the shower, and Mark took over from there. I said my good-byes and that was that, from my point of view. Mark can start his own blog if he wants to detail how mercy killings don't always go according to plan.
But, Blackberry has given birth to 5 lambs. Two ewes who are great and three rams who are dead. I'm unfortunately detecting a pattern here and it will certainly have to affect our future plans. We just can't do this. We can't put our emotional and temporal energy into animals we bury six months later. On occasion, of course, but not AS a matter of course.
We'll figure this all out I guess.