Monday, February 15, 2016

All Is Calm

It wasn't always the case this weekend.  We used up the last of the messy, but yummy hay last week. I tried to switch them over to finish up the leftover orchard grass from last year, but they didn't like it any better this year than they did last, so I moved on to the new hay.  

I set out two bales Friday night and they dug into it with enthusiasm.  Saturday morning I woke to everyone feeling bad and about half of the sheep foaming at the mouth, drooling and starting to bloat (!).  The vet was here within the hour and we spent almost two hours at 12 degrees, basically up to our elbows in cold water (it started warm), dosing everyone with antacid and mineral oil. 

There was some clover in this grass mix, but not enough that it could be considered "rich".  It was also not a significant change in quality from the other hays.  Several people have now looked at the hay and can't find anything wrong with it including any sort of noxious weed...but something sure was.  

Buddy (gasp) was in the worst shape.  Petunia and Woolliam were not far behind and there was a large group in slightly better shape than them, but not by much.  We re-treated eight of them in the afternoon and Buddy got a third treatment Saturday night.  At the 11:00 p.m. he was looking better, but still not great, but he did eat a cookie, which at least made me feel better.

I walked to the barn Sunday morning worried at what I might find, but thankfully everyone was pretty much back to normal. While Buddy still didn't want to eat any hay, he did eat some ewe nuggets (large pelleted food) and once he realized he was getting special treats, he was completely back to good old Buddy.  I have never been so relieved. 

The super cold is breaking (thankfully) and we had snow move in late in the afternoon as the temps started to rise.  The sheep, in their well insulated wool sweaters, were covered from head to tail with a thick layer of snow and they were so beautiful.

After I finished evening chores I stood in the barn lot watching everyone picking through the orchard grass hay that they don't really like, but at least won't kill them.  Petunia noticed and walked over to see me.  Buddy, who is behind her with his head down eating hay (yay :-) saw and rushed over, too.

And sweet Spud on the left.  I'd like to think they were just coming over to see me and tell me they were feeling much better, but I think they were probably just hoping I was still doling out ewe nugget "cookies" ;-).

"This hay is the pits."

*      *       *       *       *

Buddy sick was a sheep anyone would have noticed as something wrong. He was standing off by himself, head hanging down, looking miserable and wobbly.  Graham kept going about his days like everything was fine...when it wasn't.  After reading the lab report and thinking (and thinking and thinking) back, there were some signs I should not have missed.  

He did have a bad tooth and it had apparently been bothering him longer than I knew/noticed.  If I'd been able to put two and two together earlier, the outcome might have been different.  A sheep not getting enough to eat, especially a fat sheep, can get into dire trouble quicker than I'd have ever guessed. 

Trying to care for animals can be heartbreaking, especially when you try very hard to care for them and care so much about them.  I did learn a lesson from Graham that might have helped Buddy this weekend, but the cost of that lesson was so great that I doubt the scars will ever heal. All I can do from here is keep watching and caring and hoping all the rest of the lessons I need to learn come from books, not best friends.

So as not to end on such a sad note, here is a short clip of Hank bedding down for the night.  Keep in mind he has a barn, his own private stall and an insulated dog box in his stall.  He and I are both going to be sad when the snow is all gone tomorrow.

Hank the snow dog.


  1. WOW you have had a time of it. All I could think of was Blister beetles in the hay? Thank goodness they are all ok. as to Hank he should meet our ducks who adore the snow and play in the storms like its sunny!

  2. Dear Sara, My heart goes out to you. What a terrible, exhausting time for all of you. Thank goodness you and your vet got onto the remedy so quickly. While hindsight sometimes clarifies things we all know you work with such love and care for all your animals. I hope you have time to rest up a bit after all this. We still have snow and bitter cold but it will go tomorrow with "drenching" rain.

  3. Yikes! What a harrowing time! And to still have no idea what actually caused it.... Makes it very hard to avoid. I wonder about a pesticide, or something like that that wouldn't show?

    Please don't beat yourself up for not being omniscient. It is not within our gift to know everything. Alas. When we are suffering the loss of a dear friend, we are deserving of compassion and kindness. From ourselves as well as from others, though that is so often very hard to achieve.... Hugs.

    So glad Buddy (and everyone) feel better. Buddy is my fave.

  4. What a scary weekend you have had! I'm sure Graham is up there saying "good job, Mom!"

  5. That is awful! I am so sorry for you! I guess I am very lucky to be able to make beautiful hay for my sheep. I will be sure not to take that for granted! That Hank! He is something else! We had 30 below this weekend, and Bess slept some on her dog bed in my mudroom until I dragged her inside! She is sleeping out in the mudroom now, with the door open so she can watch the barn. When I start to worry about this, I quickly go online to the Maremma Club website and reread about how no amount of cold bothers them!! Of course, she will not overheat in my house, which struggled to get to 50 degrees this weekend, despite my efforts to keep the wood stove full!! I hope everyone; sheep, dogs, cats, horses, and humans stay healthy and happy at your farm.

  6. My heart goes out to you and your sheep. If we lived our lives backwards in time we would catch polyps, nodules, irregular heartbeats, blood where it shouldn't be, etc before it happened, or at least before the point of Bad Return (as I tpe this, I have a cat at the vet having dental surgery)

    1. That's "type" not (thanks iPhone) "tpe". (We wouldn't make typos either) .

      When everyone in the barn feels better, and you've had a hot beverage and hot bath, give them a ewe cookie for love. And a hug for yourself.

  7. I too worry about the quality of the hay when I switch on my girls(horses) also if I have enough- with the drought we had this summer, hay was hard to come by. I think animals in many ways are harder to read/ help than little humans that can speak...Kudos to you wooly mama for taking such good care of your flock and loving them.xo

  8. That must have been very scary, especially after Graham. It's curious that the tests didn't show anything. I too wonder about pesticides or blister beetles. I would be hesitant to feed any more of that hay, even to the horses. Good thing you have some orchard grass for back up.
    Being a steward of critters is both heart warming and heart breaking.

  9. Woo; so glad everyone is on the mend now! Seems like I have had reason to beat myself up over most of the animal troubles I've been through; hindsight is so much clearer than presentsight!

  10. So glad to hear that all is back to normal - whew. I'm hoping for a long, quiet rest period for you now ...

  11. Sara, I was going to put my thoughts here, but I'll send you an email.


  12. OH. my heart dropped..........did wonder why you didn't have a post for a while. WTH could it have been. DO NOT beat yourself up over Graham, he wouldn't want that. SO DAMN done good!!! Love from here.

  13. Oh my. Glad all are better ~ what an awful scare for you all. If only they could talk to us, it would be much easier. GL will always be there to guide you..♡
    Now just enjoy your snow! Hank, too :-)

  14. What panicky few hours those must have been, trying to get everyone dosed up as fast as possible! I'm glad the outcome was good, but sorry you feel regret about Graham. I wish you wouldn't beat yourself up about it. "Hindsight is perfect," is not just a silly saying.

  15. Hank is incredible! Glad the vet got there fast, and thank heavens, the animals are okay!

  16. Caring for animals is sometimes so hard both physically but often emotionally. Glad to hear it went well.

  17. What a scary time for you. You take such good care of the animals, don't feel bad, I am happy that all are recovering...I too wonder what it is...and Orchard Grass and cookies will have to be on the menu for awhile. Hank likes a snowy bed! Perfect video:)

  18. :( You are a good shepherd Sara.xox

  19. What a nightmare! So glad it turned out ok.

  20. So glad everything is okay now. What a scare that must have been. Hank is just beautiful in that snow. I love all the pictures! Our Eli never sleeps in the house. No matter how cold, he wants to be outside. Sometimes I feel bad that he is not in a big pasture guarding sheep, but we love him so much, and he spends lots of time in our goat lot.

  21. Well, regardless of what it was in/on the hay, I won't be feeding another bite of it here, not to worry. Everyone is back to best I can tell. Thanks for all the kind words. I know these sheep are as much yours as mine. {{{hug}}}


I love to read your comments! Thank you for sharing :-).


Blog Widget by LinkWithin