-the redhead- (theredhead) wrote,
-the redhead-

Farm days are not always sweetness and light

Today C**** was gracious enough to let us come over to the farm. We had a lovely day including a nice chat over lunch, fondling fiber, and me giving a brief fleece washing demo. We are conducting an experiment with this lovely rambouillet fleece to see how much of a difference spinning out in the washer makes when all other processes are the same. I'm betting it does make a difference.

This is #42 - rambouillet ewe lamb, white, 3.5 ” staple length, 5 lbs, Twin Peaks Sheep and Wool Co, Longmont., CO

I also loaned C**** my Patrick Green Beverly carder to try with her finer fleeces. It's *amazingly* quiet compared to her Louet.

Later in the afternoon we took a stroll out in the pasture to see the babies. Unfortunately we discovered a ewe down and in serious distress. It appears she may have become stuck in the little bit of mud in the small (~ 18" wide x 8" deep) ditch. When we found her she was partially in the water, flat on her side, cold, barely breathing, and couldn't even lift her head. Not a good situation - she was almost gone at that point. We manhandled a few hundred pounds of soaked, yet to be sheared sheep out of the water and went to work on her.

Sheep can be delicate at times, and can go into shock easily. They tend to just shut down when traumatized. Generally once a sheep is down hard there's not a whole lot you can do. The first, best move is trying to get the animal more upright - flat out on it's side is the worst position for sheep. Our goal was to at least get her up on her sternum. I got down and propped her up against my side to ease her breathing and give her a chance to dry out and warm up. It seemed to help for awhile as she rallied a bit for a few minutes.

How do you comfort a sheep?? They are very simple animals and don't understand much outside their basic needs and routine. Livestock aren't the same as pets with the more intense bond to their humans. I hope on some base level she understood we were trying to help her, but with sheep it's kinda questionable.

I sat out there in the mud and dirt with her for the better part of an hour, giving her every opportunity to come around. As C**** said, there was really no point is calling the vet as they wouldn't be able to do much of anything for her. She was an older ewe, 9 or 10 years old, who no longer even had any upper teeth. We did everything we could to allow her to recover from the shock. I talked to her, I sang to her, I told her she was a good girl, I held her head up so she could breath more easily. Eventually we put her in the front end loader and took her back to the barn, where we propped her up as comfortably as possible.

I'll be amazed if she makes it through the night. I'm sure it was too late by the time we found her. But at least we tried.

Unfortunately this is all a part of farm life. *sigh*

I was quite the sight by the time I got home - partially soaked, muddy, and generally pretty dirty. C**** was kind and gave me a towel to protect my car seat for the trip home. Now my livingroom where I stripped smells like wet, dirty sheep. Which is entirely different than the smell of wet, *clean* fleece.

The whole thing didn't do much for my new manicure...

-the redhead-
Tags: fleece, musings, spinning
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