Monday, April 6, 2009

Small Victories

Last year, we lost 3 lambs to some mysterious illness.  One by one we put them down and buried them.  I had pretty much come to the conclusion that when sheep go down, it's unlikely they'll get back up.  Our experience pointed that way anyway.  

So, when our one mama ewe collapsed in the field about a week and a half ago and just couldn't get up no matter how I coaxed or helped, I felt that sense of doom descend.  But, she was eating and drinking and alert.  Just down.  Broken leg?  

My good girlfriend and her husband, not really animal and definitely not livestock people, graciously came over and helped me catch her baby, put him in the SUV in our dog crate, then lift the skinny but still heavy mama onto a tarp in the back.  I waved my thanks and tore off to the vet.

He met me out back and was skeptical at her chances.  Too thin and probably too old - that was the basic diagnosis.  Still, he thought arthritis might have brought her down and figured a little anti-inflammatory action and some B vitamins couldn't hurt.  He shot her up and sent me home with pills to crush and administer daily.  

It was obvious we both felt this was probably so much wasted effort.  But, there's the baby to think of and I didn't relish the idea of another spring spent with ruminants in the mudroom.

That's all a rather long set-up to report that the mama spent 3 days in isolation, eating and eating, without the fierce competition for grain she normally has to contend with, munching down anti-inflammatories disguised in applesauce, and resting.  And on the 4th day...she got up.  And she's been up ever since.

She may go down again.  But for now she's up, her son is feeding.  We had a 2nd ewe surprise us with a baby on Friday, and she and her wee one are doing fine too.  

The April sun is shining with a vengeance, and I'm celebrating small victories.

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