It's Not All Kittens and Rainbows
Updated: Mar 11
(Scroll to the bottom to skip the sad part and see the good news)
The last few days have really been challenging. Social media and just culture today wants everything to project the image of being on the up and up. There's a lot of hardship and struggle in the world and the last thing we want to see are negative images of life on the farm. But it's not all the perfect Instagram photo. Not all sunshine and fluffy adorable kittens. Even I like to look over things I don't want to see. All the political hypocritical drama from both sides. More COVID 19 stories. Just more and more.
Mira is a lamb born in 2019. She's beautiful and doesn't get enough attention over all since she's not the first ewe to come and greet you, but always makes you feel special when she wanders over for a pet and hug. Roughly two weeks ago she got her head stuck in the hay feeder. Well, she thinks she's stuck anyway. It happened twice in one week so Chase removed a few of the bars so she couldn't possibly even THINK she was trapped. Each time I don't know exactly how long she stood there. Could have been 10 min or a few hours, which is traumatic. She had a floppy ear soon after which I checked for cuts or infection which there was none. A week or so after she just looked worn down more. Still eating, no temp, she had some diarrhea and the side of her face didn't look quite right. Long story short she was treated for listeria. No improvement. Tuesday was the first day she was actually weak, down and dehydrated. A different vet said that it was pregnancy toxemia so with his help we packed her up and took her to his clinic to be treated closely and given fluids.
She was pregnant and in good condition until this perfect storm. But she didn't show much improvement over the next 2, almost 3, days that she has been with the vet. She was a little more aware this morning and eating some so the prayers are hopefully working. Don't get me wrong - she's in rough shape. Weightloss, loss of reflex in one eye, weak, dehydrated. Just not good. But she's in great hands and there's still hope that she will pull through.
Tuesday Mira went down. Wednesday night we were expecting ice and winter weather so we did a night check to put out extra hay and feed in case we would be delayed getting back to the farm (another reason Mira was better at the clinic!). Walked up to the barn and Aria has a prolapsed uterus. Yikes!!!!!!!! First time I had ever seen one and at first it's alarming to see all this flesh and mess out where it doesn't belong! When the vet was out the day before I had him look at her since everything looked "puffy" and he said it was just edema. She's also a 2019 ewe and a first time to lamb. She must have been carrying big twins or triplets! Prolapse is not in any of her pedigree - anywhere. The strange puffy feeling must have made her feel the need to push and push.
I was lucky Chase was there with me to help get her up and cleaned up. Talked to our vet about what to do and met another NCSPA board member to borrow a prolapse harness. What a lifesaver! Thank you Amy! And we also had two new shepherds come to the farm to watch the action of getting everything back into it's proper place. "How many shepherds does it take to get a prolapsed uterus back into place?" There were 4 of us struggling to figure out the prolapse harness - even though there's video with mostly clear instructions to follow. Aria made it her mission in life to keep pushing the uterus back out! We were struggling to keep her up off the ground. The wonderful harness had a buckle strap just for attaching the ewe to a fence to keep her up! I'll blame it on being pregnant myself, but it was tiring work for us to shuffle wool, adjust straps, keep everything tucked in and clean all at 12AM and trying to rush before the ice started.
We got her back together. Drenched her with water since we had no idea how long she had been laying down and pushing, nutridrench, and Survive! She was up but not walking well when left but eating. Came back out the next day to check her and the uterus is out again. There was ice on the road so we waited until later in the day to get out there to be safe. This time we used the retaining spoon and the harness to get everything back together. adjusted the straps and pray that this holds! She's up, not very happy, but getting around better, and eating. I don't know what we'll find when we get out to the barn tomorrow, but the earliest any of the sheep are due is Feb. 28th. So hopefully she can hold it until the right time for her. I don't have exact dates all the ewes were marked since we went to the beach a few days after we put the rams in the ewes, but close guesses.
In all of this I learned and was reminded of several things. Farming is not all cute woolly lambs bouncing around in a spring field. Pregnancy toxemia is not just a nutrition deficiency and it can look like listeria. Prolapse uterus look worse then they really are ::knock on wood:: Farm friends and mentors are the best in the world. They really understand exactly what you're going through because they have probably been there too and want to help! A good vet is absolutely PRICELESS.
I wrote the above almost 2-3 weeks ago. Today is March 9th and I started that Feb. 19th or so. I just couldn't write and then got busy with the farm and Mason.
We lost both ewes. Mira made improvements after we induced her and she delivered her lambs that didn't make it. She was trying to eat and regained her reflex in her eye. But her road to recovery would have been long and hard and there wasn't enough improvement each day to even show that she would make it. She could never stand, didn't move much and it was just better for her to not have to stay in that condition. She was with the vet for a week and half with the best care possible and we did everything we could help her. The vet even mowed some rye grass that he had for her to eat!
Aria we found gone Saturday morning but seemed fine Friday night. I even sent videos to the vet to show him what everything looked like and how she was behaving. All good. His guess was an internal hemorrhage.
Just heart breaking losses. They all are, but these are the first sheep that we have lost and it was just fluke lambing complications. You can be prepared for everything and then still loose them. It's always the ones that you care most about that we seem to loose. Aria was always front and center - for everything. Especially ear scratches and feeding time! Mira was Mitt's old "pen buddy." As lambs they were always together from the breeder I got them from and have always been close. The farm seems quiet without her distinct baa. Rest easy ladies.
Not to end on a sour note!
We do have our first lamb! Lightening McQueen was born Feb 23rd and is such a cutie! Star is a first time mom also even though she is a 2016 ewe. She was given to us by All Natural Farm when she sold all of her sheep. Star was her favorite bottle ewe and she came to us for a forever home. She has so much character and is the loudest sheep in the flock! She didn't carry to term last year so I didn't really expect her to this year, but she surprised us all with a perfect 10lb ram! Mason has been thrilled with his new baby lamb and Lightening has gotten so much attention being the center of all the lamb photos we have had done so far with Morgan Greene.
The barn has been cleaned out for the most part! So we're ready for the rest of the ewes to lamb. We only have 4 left to go this year. But we have beautiful replacements for Mira and Aria already. 2 lovely ewes from a set of triplets from Love Ewe Farm again. And 3 natural ewe lambs from Gypsy Mountain Farm. We have one or two of our ewes this year that will be culled. Hazel didn't carry to term again for a second year in a row and Molly is a maybe depending on how her lambs turn out. We also have three rams! yikes! So I would like to get that down to 2. We have 13 sheep now and would like to get that a little higher. Without Charlotte the cow, we have more space for sheep! We will also be looking for homes for the 2 male alpacas and Lilly's llama baby boy!
All good changes for the upcoming year!