What a week! We had some of the best parts of being a sheep farmer, along with some of the worst.
All day Tuesday Parsley was off by herself, unable to lie down, and generally acting uncomfortable. We knew she was likely to lamb that evening. About the time we were going to have dinner, I could tell hard labor was about to begin. She had a slightly rougher L&D than Clover but it was still uncomplicated. Her first lamb was an 8.08lb ram lamb, second was a 6.06 lb ewe lamb, and third was a tiny ram lamb, just over 4 lbs. I began to become concerned about the last lamb within the first 30 minutes. He started to nurse finally so I went to bed.
First thing Wednesday morning I bundled up lamb #3 and made the one hour journey to our vet’s office (Dr. Z). There I was told what I already knew, the best thing for him was a humane end of life. Therefore, sweet, tiny lamb #3, who I called Buddy as I talked to him on our road trip together, became our first sheep loss. It was tough but I was prepared for it and haven’t questioned my decision for a moment. At least little Buddy spent his last hour listening to the Grateful Dead while snuggled up against me in my vehicle. Then at Dr. Z’s office, he got some love from Dr. Z’s dog before I said goodbye.
During this time, I was very concerned about Clover. I thought her hooves were not healing. Her front left one looked terrible and her right one, which I thought was healed, began bothering her again. She was back on her knees a lot and rarely put weight on both front legs at the same time. Also, having shorn her, I could see how thin she was. We thought for sure we were going to have to make a tough decision about her too. Since we’ve been closely caring for her for 5 weeks now and it would orphan her twins, this would be pretty hard on us. We made an appointment for Dr. Z to come re-evaluate her on Friday around noon.
Friday we also had to shuttle our youngest daughter (I’ll call her S on here) back and forth for dress rehearsal and 2 showings of her first play. Which, by the way, I managed to attend both showings. While she was getting ready to leave for dress rehearsal, the hens were making a lot of noise outside. Amelia, our “leader chicken” (if there is such a thing), hopped up on the deck railing right outside our kitchen windows and started making a fuss. I guess I was preoccupied and it didn’t register to me as something alarming.
Once S was off to dress rehearsal, I went to doing morning farm chores. When I was heading back up to the house from the barn, I saw one of our Easter Egger hens fly up from the path to the coop, hitting the roof of our house. She was making a great deal of noise as she went. I looked over and saw a red fox heading from her direction to the chicken coop. I ran after it yelling, which scared it off. I’ll make this long part shorter by saying, I thought we’d lost all but 3 chickens, then I found 2 more, then another one here and another there. I was up to 9 survivors but Amelia wasn’t one of them. :'( It was nearly time for the vet to arrive when I heard a chicken. I ran out to find Amelia running around the driveway. Some of her feathers were askew but she was ok! I like to imagine her fighting off the fox. I’m sure that isn’t what happened but I still like to think it. 😀 I got her safely back in the coop. In the end, we lost 2 hens.
At that point, it was time to rearrange the sheep for the Dr. Z’s arrival. Once she got here, Dr. Z and her assistant took off Clover’s boot to examine things. Much to my surprise, she was amazed at the progress! This just goes to show how much it helps to know what you are looking at. We had no way of knowing how healing a severely infected hoof should go or what it should look like as it heals. We never planned to deal with this! Apparently it is supposed to look really, really nasty before it starts to look better. Good to know. Clover’s other hoof needed a little more healing too. The vet said it was just a reoccurrence which will happen over the next few months until it fully heals. Given her nice, dry environment now, it should heal nicely. The vet treated her hooves with some pads of medicine to dry them up and speed healing. We gave her a BoSe shot (Vitamin E & Selenium) to give her a little boost to heal up. Dr. Z then fully inspected Clover. She reported to me she was in good overall health! She had even recovered 1/2 a condition point* in the 5 weeks we’ve had her. According to her, that is a pretty awesome feat to get her to improve in late gestation and early lactation. Aside from that, Zelda & Link are in perfect condition. Dr. Z couldn’t believe how much weight they’d gained in just 3 weeks of life. That speaks volumes about Clover’s mothering. We received a lot of needed praise for our shepherding through some tough situations. Unless something changes, Clover is going to be just fine. That is something Dr. Z nor I thought 5 weeks ago!
I said goodbye to Dr. Z just in time to run, hop in my vehicle and get to S’s first showing. As I sat there, waiting for the show to begin, I realized my jacket smelled like sheep. lol Thankfully, no one sat around me. S hadn’t told me what the play was about, wanting it to be a surprise. I just knew it was a take on the Boy Who Cried Wolf. Turns out, their take was all about the shepherd, the sheep, sheep milk and weavers. There was a part where some bullies were picking on the shepherd and saying he smelled like sheep. Oh, the irony.
The other incredible thing to happen this week, aside from finding out Clover is going to be ok, is of course, the birth of 2 new lambs! Meet Evie & Jacob! Dr. Z checked them out and declared them perfectly formed and healthy!
* More info on sheep condition scores. Right click, “view image” to see the diagram larger. Dr. Z said Clover was 1.5 when we got her and is now a 2: