Thursday, May 11, 2023

The Legacy


May 2010 - May 10, 2023

Rocky was a product of a specialized breeding program at Nistock Farms in NY.  He was a lovely ram and produced quite a few high quality lambs there including our Hershey, Spud and Murphy before moving, along with Jared, to Tring Farm in 2016.  Two of Rocky's sons worked at Final Frontier Farm, making Biscuit, Muffin, Andy, Mini Moose and Ellie his grandsons and granddaughters.

Rocky and Jared were used at Tring Farm for a small crop of Christmas lambs and two spring lambing groups before retiring here in 2018.  Their own fleeces were award winning as were their son's and daughter's and now grandson's and granddaughter's and they helped offset expenses on all four farms.  Their wool, either in raw fleece, processed roving or finished yarn (Lamb Camp Legacy) has traveled all over the country.

Good family and good fiber are good legacies...and also some good stories.  My favorite is how they fought off that stray dog who came after the sheep a few years ago.

I'd forgotten about them not getting along with Hank, or Hank not getting along with them I guess, in their early days here.  And how Rocky didn't approve of Jared trying to make friends with Frankie. Actually, I had forgotten that in the early days, Rocky was the tough guy.

Rocky really was a tough guy.  For the last couple of years he's lived with a weird cud chewing and rumen issue that there wasn't anything we could do about, especially at his age.  He just toughed it out and never let it slow him down.  

He was still going out into the far fields with Jared to graze back in the summer, but stopped over the winter.  Actually, they both stopped going out.  I was very relieved to see Jared start venturing out again this spring, but Rocky continued to stay in the barn.  

I realized he was having vision issues and by the last couple of months, he was almost completely blind.  He could still find his way to the feed trough though and was happy hanging out in the safety of Del Boca Vista. 

For the last few days he's had trouble getting up and yesterday morning he didn't want to try.  I was able to hoist him up and once he was up, he seemed mostly okay, but he wasn't very interested in breakfast and seemed very tired.  I decided to make the call.

Our sheep stay here until they die and we've had a lot of sheep over the years.  Those calls are never easy.  Some are hard because they are my dearest friends.  Some are hard because they are someone else's dearest friend.  Rocky was Jared's oldest and dearest friend.  They were brothers.

Jared left the barn when the vet got here, but he stood at the entrance and watched.  I have never been so grateful for the quickest and easiest euthanasia ever.  Rocky calmly laid down and was gone in less than two minutes.  

Jared walked back in the barn, but hurried right past Rocky. Not too much later I saw him grazing out in the yard by himself looking happy and peaceful.  I was a bit surprised by that, but I hoped that Rocky was out there with him and everything was okay.  

Still...something seemed off.  First he laid down out in the sun.  He doesn't lay down outside and definitely not in the full sun on a hot day.  I kept watching him from the porch and realized he was watching me as well.  His friend Short Round was laying down just across from him in the shade, but  that was normal behavior for her.

He then got up, so Short Round got up.  They both moved further up under the tree by the Wool House and both laid down again, this time nearer each other.  I continued to keep an eye on him and he was chewing cud and seemed okay, but still... 

He never went back in the barn.  I stopped to sit with him a few times as I went about doing other jobs.  Tim came home to bury Rocky and Jared stayed outside.  We went to our neighbor's for a quick dinner and Jared stayed out.  I finally walked him into the barn as it got dark.

Some dinner cheered him up briefly, but once the food was gone he started walking around the barn, staring out the back gate, I am sure looking for Rocky. He seemed equal parts sad and scared.  In looking back through all the old posts I think that while Jared held the spotlight between the two of them, Rocky was always the calm, steady leader in the background.  

I grabbed a jacket and my barn chair, turned off the barn lights except for Rocky's nightlight and sat down in the stall.  Jared stood next to me for almost an hour before he finally laid down.  I could tell he was exhausted.  I sat with him until I felt him relax and start to doze off and then gathered up Bea, Possum and Archie and headed to the house.  I checked him one last time before I went to bed and he was sleeping.

This morning Jared walked out into the driveway and stood with me for a few minutes and then went back in.  He did eat breakfast though and looks a little less bug-eyed and I'm sure he'll be okay...eventually.  I've never had a sheep grieve so hard.  We should all be so lucky as to have a friend we miss that much.  

There's no better legacy than good friendship.


Far Side of Fifty said...

Poor Jared. Poor you. Yes it is good to have friends that will miss you when you are gone. It is an adjustment. :(

Rebecca said...

Awe, so sorry for you and Jared. Loss is always hard. I know Rocky was well loved in his retirement. That is all any of us can ask for.

Hugs for you and Jared.

Anonymous said...

Aw. Good boy, Rocky.

Sending good vibes to Jared, and to you, and to everyone who misses Rocky.

-- ineedorange

Mary Ann said...

And now my heart is broken for you both.

LannieK said...

Ya know I 💕🐑💕🍀

Michelle said...

Thankful for the quick and easy end at least; heartbroken about all the rest.

Anchor Cottage said...

Never stop writing your stories.

Shirley said...

Being missed so much is a great tribute to a life well lived.

Lori Skoog said...

So sorry to read this Sara. As usual, you gave Rocky your very best and hopefully Jared will eventually adjust to the loss of his buddy. This has been quite a year. Sending big hugs from Skoog Farm. xoxoxoxoxoxoxox

Shelley said...

I wish I'd read this BEFORE I read the NYT this morning. You make the world feel safer Sara. I love this story but I'm so sorry for the loss of Rocky.

Terry and Linda said...

Oh, that just breaks my heart! When we had to finally put Romeo (our horse down) we loaded up his very bestest of friend Lady Mule and drove off with her for a spell. Long enough for the burial. When we got home, Lady immediately went to the spot where Romeo was laid and stood on the earth there. She did this for hours and hours ---not letting anyone or anything come close. Finally, after three days, she came to the hay and let us pet and brush her. She grieved for a long-time. But when she was done grieving she seemed at peace.

I don't know which was hardest, losing Romeo or watching Lady.

Laura L. said...

13 years is a good long life for a former ram. You do so much for your sheep. I'm sorry he's gone and I'm glad to see Jared was hanging out with you today. It is hard when animals lose a longtime companion too.

Anonymous said...

I just saw this and oh, pain. Heart broken for you and Jared. Do not ever say animals are 'dumb'.......They have more intelligence than a lot of people I know.
Be well.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin