Rest Well Izzy


Much the way Zelda was sitting in the pole barn, as if waiting for us, the morning we euthanized her, Izzy was laying down in the barn this morning.

The other sheep were with her, but I was easily able to move them out of the barn without disturbing Izzy, who stood up, but wasn’t interested in following them.

Jon had his rifle and I closed the gates leaving the two of them alone.

I put hay in the feeders and as I filled up the water buckets for both the sheep and chickens I heard the shots and in moments, Izzy was dead.

I sat with my hand on her for a few minutes as her body quietly spasmed.  I was a little surprised at how much I cried.  Maybe it was because I didn’t have as much time to prepare for her death as I did for Zelda’s.  I’m not sure why, but  Izzy’s death touched a sadness deep inside of me.

Jon had already called our neighbor Jack who said he could come by after work and take Izzy’s body to the field behind his house. The ground is already frozen so digging a grave isn’t an option.  Jack did the same thing for us when our sheep Deb died.  This time of year, especially, the coyotes will be quick to find her.

Izzy is a big sheep and even with both me and Jon dragging her from inside the pole barn to the gate, where it will be easier for Jack to get her on his truck, it was hard work.  I covered her with a canvas tarp but wasn’t ready to go back to the house.

I headed out to the back pasture, thinking I’d go for a walk in the woods, but then I heard Socks’ baa and when I turned around I saw that the sheep had left the hay they were eating and were following me.

Like a good shepherd, I guided them to the small patch of grass on the hillside where the sun had melted most of the snow.  Fate circled the sheep joyously and when I squatted down  Asher and Issachar came over to me.  Asher leaned against my back as he grazed and Issachar put his face to mine.

“Well” I said to them,  “It looks like you came at just the right time.”

Izzy with Liam in the background

Izzy was the first Romeny I adopted, when Donna, who worked at the hardware store in town, offered the four sheep to me a few years ago.  We eventually decided to take the other three because Izzy was such a friendly and easy-going sheep and she had beautiful wool.

Jon called them the “Gang of Four” back then because they always stuck together. But over the years they all just became a part of the flock and when Jon and Izzy were in the pole barn together before he euthanized her, it was my Border Leicester, Socks who stayed outside the barn till I moved her to join the other sheep at the hay feeder.

For the past six months or so, Izzy has spent more time by herself than with the other sheep.  A very unnatural way for a sheep to live.  If she were in the wild, she would have died long ago, prey to some preditor.

I am grateful we were able to give her a quick and easy death and that her body will return to nature.

21 thoughts on “Rest Well Izzy

  1. I realize that farm animals are not pets, but still … it must be hard when you’re an animal lover and have to euthanize. RIP Izzy. I think she was lucky to spend her final years on your farm!

  2. Dear Maria, This is so very moving. Hugs. My heart goes out to you. Your life and the other living things will fill in and keep you going.

  3. It is difficult to loose an animal of any kind. We are their only voices and must make decisions that are in their best interest.
    Peace be with you.

  4. You are wondrous in your caring for Bedlam Farm’s animals and it’s easy to see how each one works its way into your heart. This is simply the ebb and flow of life and you and Jon have the most wonderful grasp of it. Bless you.

  5. I’m so sorry Maria. When I saw Jon’s picture of you crying beside Izzy, I cried with you. Thank you for loving the sheep. They are beautiful, and I love seeing pictures of them.

  6. So many losses in such a short time. It is said that what is sometimes taken from us makes us stronger. You and Jon have been given a lot of sadness in the past few months. Now Zinnia has come to bring some sunshine to you on these sad, cold days. You and Jon show so much love and strength to all of the creatures on this earth. You are special people and those of us who know you even if it is only through Jon’s books and photographs, and your human/animal bond as well as your art and the podcasts that the two of you share are fortunate. We share this earth with you and all of the goodness you bring to this world. Thank you and my condolences for this latest loss.

  7. Just wanted to let you know that your sheep did NOT have Huntington’s. I’m involved in Huntington’s research, and the mutation does not occur naturally in sheep. Geneticists have worked to CREATE that mutation in laboratory sheep, at great effort and expense, solely for the purpose of finding a cure for human beings with the mutation. There are many diseases that could have caused the symptoms you noted, but it is impossible that it was Hinutington’s.

  8. RIP Izzy. I was surprised to see this just now because only yesterday I read she was sick and you were thinking of putting her down. I know what it feels like to lose an animal you care about. My cat had cancer and it took me 5 weeks before I could let the vet put him to sleep. It was the hardest thing I had to do. Fly high Izzy….yur out of pain.

  9. Sad to read this news about Izzy, but certainly understandable with your research giving the answer to why she was staying apart from the flock and being a ‘lone sheep’. So glad you decided to take on the ‘twins’, not just because of flock numbers for future fiber demands, but their friendly personalities sound extra comforting when you’re sad, I loved reading of Asher leaning on you.

    Good to read your later post regarding potholders, fabric therapy on a stressful day……

  10. I’ve been wanting to let you know I am with you in your sorrow. She was such a sweetie. Don’t know how you do it. xoxo

    1. Thanks Debra. And I know that’s not exactly what Jon thinks. His options and feelings about losing a pet or farm animal is more nuanced than that. But he’s written about it enough times to speak for himself.

  11. Maria–if you look at the article that you linked to a couple of posts back, you’ll see that it’s about the flock of genetically modified UK sheep, not about sheep who have developed Huntington’s naturally. It was a great breakthrough to develop the gene for sheep, and it was done solely for research purposes into the human condition. It’s quite an amazing breakthrough.

    1. I did see it in that article, Carolos, but I thought it also said that sheep do get the disease if not in that article in another. But it may be that I read the symptoms and they just seemed so close to what I was seeing in my sheep. I do appreciate the scientific breakthroughs. Thanks for this.

  12. I was sorry to hear about Izzy. The cycle of life is sometimes difficult to be with. Such a lovely face. Thank you for taking care of them and not letting them suffer at the end.

  13. Maria: I want to extend my sincere sympathies with your loss of Izzy. It is never easy to lose our animals, and I am sorry you had to go through this. Unfortunately it is one of the down sides of having animals. At least Jon ended her suffering for whatever ailed her, and giving her back to nature is hard because we become so attached to them. You two have had a lot of upheavals lately, I just hope life calms down for you both. Sending you healing prayers from Mass.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Full Moon Fiber Art