Rosemary, Rest In Peace


We euthanized Rosemary today.

This past week we knew we had a sick sheep, but didn’t know who it was until today.

I had never seen anything like the blood on the barn floor. By the way it formed on the ground it was obvious it came from inside one of the sheep. The first time I saw it was on Saturday.

The sheep were eating at the feeder so I walked around them, looking for any sign of blood.  When there was nothing to see, I  picked up their tails to check further.  Still there wasn’t a spot of blood in sight.

After that I check online to see if sheep bleed when they’re in heat.  Even though I guessed I would have seen evidence of it before, I didn’t know what else to look for.  When I  confirmed that they don’t, I searched some more not finding anything reason for the blood.

The second time I saw the blood I email Liz.  I could only imagine it might be Lori since she gave birth in the spring.  But Liz assured me that Lori had “cleaned out”, and had no idea what might be the problem, although she was eager to try and help.

All this time the sheep were all still eating and behaving normally.  Even if we called a vet, I wouldn’t have been able to tell her which animal the blood was coming from.  So I waited, hoping for the best.

But today there was more blood on the barn floor.  This time when I checked the sheep, I saw that Rosemary’s rear was smeared with blood.

I thought of how, since the summer she’d been wandering away from the flock.  Sometimes calling to them as if she didn’t know where they were.   I knew something was off with her.

So I wasn’t completely surprised to see that there was something very wrong.

I know by now, by my own experience, and from Jon’s experience with sheep that Veterinarians know little about how to help sick sheep.  Especially something like this.   Rosemary was old and had a hard life.  She came to the farm with the three other Romneys, Izzy, Griselle and Biddy from a farmer who could no longer care for them.

I knew the right thing to do before even talking to Jon about it. Since Saturday we’d been researching possibilities of where the blood was coming from. None of them were good.   But I still wanted his opinion.  Jon was on his way to the gym, but strangely, even before getting my phone message he had decided to come back home.  He said it was just a feeling he had.

After discussing it, we both agreed it was best to euthanize Rosemary.

Jon called our neighbor Jack and asked if he could pick up Rosemary’s body and bring her into the woods.  Jon went into the house to get his rifle. And I went back to the barnyard to try and get Rosemary into the barn.

I wasn’t sure how I’d get Rosemary into the barn.  She’d always been skittish and was even more so lately.   So I was a little stunned when I went into the barnyard and Rosemary wasn’t at the feeder with the other sheep but was standing halfway to the back pasture, looking confused.

I couldn’t help thinking she knew.

I went into the barn and got a cup of grain.  When I came out, Rosemary was already walking towards me.  A few of the other sheep followed her, but I easily got them out of the barn.  Rosemary made no attempt to leave.

I have no doubt now that the best way to euthanize one of our sheep is to shoot them.  It’s much quicker and I believe less stressful for the sheep.  Not that I do it.  But Jon is experienced at shooting sick sheep (as he wrote about tonight.)  And I’m thankful and grateful that he is.

I’m sad that Rosemary is gone. She was a strong presence in the flock. But I’m not really surprised.  I knew she hasn’t been herself for a while.

Before Jack took her into the woods, in the bucket of his tractor, I laid my hand on her soft, curly wool and said goodbye. I can still feel its texture on the palm of my hand.  I will miss her.

Rosemary this summer with Socks and Kim



10 thoughts on “Rosemary, Rest In Peace

  1. You and Jon take such loving care of the animals who live with you. My heart hurts for you even though I know you did the right thing for Rosemary. Rosemary was lucky to live and die there. Peace to all of you.

  2. Truly a sad moment for the farm family. I know these are not just animals used for what they can produce for your farm.
    I feel for your loss.

  3. My prayers are with you and Jon..your animals have such a wonderful life, filled with so much love.,I lost my third rescue in March and there is such a big hole in my heart..
    I hope all your other animals will help you heal..
    God Bless and Aloha Teri

  4. I’m so sorry for your loss. Rosemary was a beautiful sheep and you and Jon are caring, wonderful shepards. Rest in peace Rosemary.

  5. I am so sorry for your loss. I know that Rosemary, like all your animals received the best of care and love from you and Jon.
    Rest In Peace

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