I have a hard time writing about something that’s emotional when I’m going through it. It doesn’t make for good blogging, after all, it’s the drama of not knowing what’s going to happen that often keeps people coming back. I guess it’s that writing isn’t my natural mode of self expression. So many of you probably already know from reading Jon’s blog that our sheep Ma has had some trouble in the past couple of days.
Ma got in a tangle with Red just after she was shorn and Red, who would normally get a mouth full of wool, got skin instead when he tried to get Ma to pay attention to him. These two have not had such a showdown, since we first got Ma last year and she was being herded by a dog for the first time in her life. And I was upset when this happened on Monday. I get protective of my sheep and as much as I appreciate and truly need Red’s help often, when moving and containing the sheep, when I see blood no matter what the cause, it gets my fur up.
A big part of it is the responsibility I feel for my sheep. Jon, who has had sheep for years, knows so much more about them than I do, but there are often still no clear cut answers to how to treat sheep and when to call the Vet. A lot of it comes down to experience and intuition.
Through out the day yesterday, Jon and I both went back and forth over wheather we should call the Vet back or not. Monday night, I was sure we needed a Vet, and we called her, but on Tuesday morning, before she showed up, Ma was up and her wound looked like it was healing. By mid morning she was grazing with the rest of the sheep. But in the heat of the afternoon, she was lying in the shade and not moving. The other sheep got up but she didn’t. We were sure she was sick and called the Vet. A half hour later she was up and grazing again. We decided to let the Vet come. Maybe it was just the heat that kept her from getting up, but she suddenly looked skinnier than just the day before and we thought if nothing else, she was probably in some pain.
It turned out to be a good call. The Vet said she felt air pockets under the skin, an indication of bacteria. She worked on Ma for over an hour, cleaning her wounds and packing them with gauze and iodine and giving her antibiotics and painkillers. It was a nasty messy job most of which I didn’t watch as I kept Ma from backing up while Jon held her head.
This morning Red gently got the sheep into the pole barn and held them in the corner while Jon and I pulled the gauze out of Ma’s wound (yuk) and gave her a couple of shots. Then we opened the gates and Ma ran off with the rest of the sheep and donkeys to graze. She looks healthy, alert, her sunken sides filled in again and her appetite back.
We’ll keep an eye on her and give her five days of penicillin. And next time one of the sheep get sick, I’ll know a bit more and trust myself a bit more than I did this time. The fear of this kind of responsibility used to keep me from doing things. (like having sheep) I was afraid of what could happen under my watch. But I know now that this is what being alive and living a full life is. Responsibly taking on what I believe I can, and doing the best I can. Knowing sometimes I’ll get it wrong, and trying to be self aware enough to learn from what ever happens.