In spite of some pain I have been living with lately, its been a good week. Our fruit trees and the grapevine I ordered arrived and Randyman got them planted. I am really looking forward to the garden this year. I got the trees roped off so the pups cannot break them off at the base, like the LAST tree I had. In addition to that, the boss got us a phone that works here on the ranch, that we can actually hear on, not that I want a lot of phone calls. It’s been wonderful not having my day interrupted constantly. It’s just for doctors, emergencies, and family.
I was able to download 30 free books on kindle, which made a difficult night go faster. I woke up ready to face the day, when I saw Randyman walk into the bedroom. I could tell by his face something was terribly wrong.
My stomach lurched as he told me that Rosemary’s mama was dead. He found her laying in the alleyway, looking like she might have bloated. She was fine at dinnertime, in fact, the boss’ wife and I were admiring the sheep and how great they all looked. It was a real shock. It was Stewie’s dam I have been concerned about about, what with the difficult birth and all, not Rosemary’s. She’d had no problems and had lambed almost a month ago.
I had to gather my thoughts and process it. I was grateful I had not lost EmmaLouMoo, or one of the dogs. I am very sorry to have lost this good ewe, but there is always a reason, even if we do not see it. The only way to deal with this kind of heartache is to trust my own Shepherd. He’s walked me through far more difficult places than this, so I know I can trust Him completely. As soon as I wrapped my mind back around this fact, I had my light in the darkness.
At least Rosemary, the little ewe lamb, will become easy to handle after being bottle fed and she did get an excellent beginning to life as she had a very good mama for her first three weeks.
I have to think something in the hay was suspect, as EmmaLou was also sick this week. The other sheep are all fine though, so I cannot be certain of it. Whatever it was, it was very sudden. She was fine in the evening, and gone by morning. Having animals is a great privilege and a joy, but can sometimes be heartbreaking.
Being dam-raised for nearly a month, Rosemary is not terribly social. I spent some time in the morning trying to catch her, but decided not to cause her more stress than she was already going through. Later in the afternoon I saw her napping and was able to stealthily enter the pen and snatch her by a hind leg as she tried to escape. I lifted her into my arms and huffing and puffing, managed to get her through 2 gates and the several hundred feet to the house. My hands, wrists and legs hurt tremendously as there was nowhere to stop and rest and she is incredibly heavy for a month old lamb. I couldn’t put her down anywhere as she would not let me catch her again. The pups followed us in the house, checked her over, then laid down to nap, while I tried to fill a little tub with hot water to put a bottle in. I had made the bottle earlier in the day with fresh milk from EmmaLouMoo and just needed to bring it back up to 100 degrees. Trying to do all this, with my hands hurting and a solid chunk of a lamb in my arms was exceedingly difficult. Randyman showed up for lunch JUST in time. He helped keep her quiet while I got the bottle in her mouth. She fought a little bit, but after not too very long, she began to suck and she drank all that I was willing to give her.
Randyman carried her BACK to the sheep pen to be with her friends. He says his back hurts and estimates she already weighs about 45 pounds. She is HUGE for a month old ewe. My bummers didn’t weigh that for several months. I hope we can keep her thriving, without her mother here to feed her. I found an old shepherds hook up in the shop, so I can catch her again without too much work and get some more milk down her. Hopefully the change won’t upset her stomach too much.
Feed time came and I gave the sheep their hay. Rosemary tucked herself in behind the feeder to nibble on alfalfa leaves and I was able to snag her hind leg with my hand and drag her out. My friend “D” showed up and helped steady her while she made quick work of a bottle.
This morning Randyman and I herded all the sheep into a little room and re vaccinated all of them to insure none of them die from clostridium, which may or may not be what killed MamaC. She was boostered in December and should have been ok, but there is no telling if she had been vaccinated before I got her so one shot might not have been sufficient. Better to be safe than sorry. I also gave some anti biotics to Madge and infused her in case of any infection from the difficult birth, where I had to intervene.
I captured Rosemary and once she started on her bottle I was able to set her down and allow her to stand. That is a big improvement from last nite. I hope to give her 4 bottles a day, as close to 32 ounces as I can, as I only have a 10 oz bottle that fits the nipple. So a light feed in the afternoon and a full bottle before bedtime should do her ok.
Rosemary has begun hanging out with little Stewie, who is more than willing to accept her company.
Still, I would like her to buddy up to the dogs more, as Stewie can't protect her if she gets in trouble and she has no Mama to look out for her now. I reconfigured the sheep pen so I could contain the Maremmas in there. They are almost 2 now and since all the stock is pretty much contained this time of year, I would like them to become more closely bonded to my sheep. My intention is that they will follow them around during the day while they are grazing and not be so concerned about watching every pasture. At night they will be free to patrol their boundaries. They have been spending way too much time at the back door, so its time to put them to work guarding full time, as they are mature and experienced enough now, for all I can tell. They aren’t thrilled about it, but such is life.
“D” came over at noon to help capture Rosemary for her #2 feeding. She had the bottle as I wanted to get a picture of Rosemary so I can compare and make sure she doesn’t lose condition over the next few weeks. We decided to see if she would come to the bottle...and she did. Her suction was so great, “D” was able to drag her all the way to a nice sitting-on stump without losing her.
So far, so good.
I expect in another day or two, she will run to me for her bottles and get over grieving the loss of her mother. I hope I will too. Life is still good.