Last Sunday – It was a beautiful day and I had planned on getting the gardening finished. I had my whole week planned out but following that schedule went to the wayside when #8 decided to take a turn for the worse.
I was heading out to the barn to collect the eggs for the day and when I turned the corner there she was, lying flat out in the straw*. My first thought was “Shit, she’s dead.” but upon closer inspection I saw she was breathing. Laboured breathing but still breathing. She looked up at me with her big, brown eyes and I teared up. She looked to be in so much pain at that point I did the only thing I could think of. I called my neighbour. (We’ll call him George)
George is a cattle farmer and a great neighbour to have when you are in a bit of a crisis. He calls in on me often to make sure I’m doing alright with Sgt away and always offers to lend a hand. Our call went a little something like this.
Me – Hey George, it’s MrsSgt from down the road. I have a very sick ewe that is suffering, is there anything you could do to help her out?
George – Sure, let me just call my son. He’s got the rifle in the truck.
Me – Oh. *followed by stunned silence
George – Or you can call the vet who will charge you emergency fees for a Sunday call and then you will need to call the deadstock disposal folks who will charge you for an emergency Sunday call. It’s up to you MrsSgt.
Me – It’ll be quick right? She won’t suffer right? I don’t need to be in the barn when it happens right?
Now before you get all animal activists on me please understand that this poor creature was suffering and was beyond help. I do not run amok shooting animals for the hell of it and you will not see my picture on the upper right hand corner of the TV screen one night with a reporter chatting with the local farmers in co-op all saying how quiet MrsSgt was and how hard it was to believe such a nice lady could keep body parts in her freezer and if anything she should have been arrested and charged with writing a really bad run on sentence.
It turned out George could not track down his son but he did pop by to assess the situation. His conclussion was that #8 was going to expire at any moment and he assured me it would be sooner rather then later. I felt better after his visit knowing she would be off to greener pastures before the sun went down.
Or so I thought.
An hour later I went out to check on her … still breathing. Two hours … still breathing. Three hours … you get the picture. 10:30 that night I sent Charlie out to the barn and he returned to inform me she was still alive! I headed to bed hoping that sometime in the night she would see the light at the end of the tunnel and head towards it.
6 am and Charlie heads back out to the barn. He returns and says “Mum, she’s still alive.”
“You have got to be kidding me. Please tell me you’re joking Charlie.”
“Yeah, she’s dead. I thought it would be funny to see your reaction.” The little shit.
Let’s flash forward to this weekends events shall we?
Late Friday the sheep got into the feed room and devoured approximately 25 lbs of chicken feed. This is not a good thing for sheep to be doing because it can cause complications like bloat. Sheep may be long on cute but they are most definitely short on smarts and will eat themselves to death. Saturday morning I notice one of the lambs is looking poorly. His head is hanging down and he’s not moving about as much as the others. I can tell he’s not well so I decide to move him to the back of the barn where we gather the sheep for handling. While I was at that I figured it would be a good time to update the vaccinations and drench everyone for worms. Once I had all the sheep in the catch I notice the #10 ewe is looking a bit hangdown as well and decide to keep her and her lamb in the catch with the other lamb. We continue to check on them throughout the day and both seem to be coming about. After dinner Will is out in the barn and shouts to me that #7 is going down now too.
Now I have 3 sick sheep and a husband that is 10,000 kms away. I am really starting to dislike this whole army thing about this time. And the whole “Let’s raise some sheep” idea that was mine in the first place. What the hell was I thinking?
Sunday morning comes and out in the barn I have two ewes and a lamb. All very dead and all very bloated. Will and Charlie head out to the back pasture to start digging a hole for the lamb and I call the dead-stock removal folks.
Guess who doesn’t work Sundays? Dead-stock. Guess what the weather forecast was for the day. Satan’s Bowels Hot with a dash of Rain Forrest Humidity.
Will and Charlie move the ewes into the empty hay storage area where it is shaded and hopefully cooler. While moving them the ewes belch and fart out all of the gases that have built up in them.**
Finally this morning (Monday) the dead-stock folks call and ask if I still need them to come by for the sheep. I think I surprised the man on the phone when I hollered “Hell yes! When can you be here?”
Sgt will be home in just over a week and I wouldn’t blame him for filing for divorce citing failure to keep livestock alive as his reason.
*For those who are not familiar with sheep this is uncommon unless they are extremely ill. Most sheep will jump and run when people approach them.
**My intention was to have you throw up just a little in your mouth. Was I successful?