On Saturday we euthanized Liam. He had stopped eating and his health had been deteriorating for months. Both Jon and I knew it was time to help him along, to keep him from suffering anymore.
Since the summer I’ve been noticing how Liam has been slowing down. And I’ve been doing this thing with him. Sometimes when he was in the pole barn by himself, I would crouch down next to him, put my face near his, and silently, using images and feeling ask, if it was time.
He always, he turned and walked away from me.
I feel like I’m learning how the sheep communicate with me. It’s talking without words. Not about everything, but about the important things.
On Friday, Liam walked into the pole barn while the rest of the sheep were eating. I opened the gate to the stall in the barn and he walked right in. I brought him some grain soaked in water and alfalfa treats.
But he wouldn’t eat.
Over the past few weeks, he was eating less and less. Now he wasn’t eating at all. And I could see just how skinny he’d gotten. It’s hard to tell sometimes when sheep have a season’s worth of wool, but on Friday I saw it in his face too. And it wasn’t just his weight. Liam was confused, I could see it in his eyes and in the way he behaved. He was wandering around as if he didn’t know where he was or what he was supposed to be doing.
Later that afternoon Jon called me when I was walking in the woods. He’d been in the barnyard and said he thought it was time to put Liam down. I didn’t hesitate to agree, I was feeling the same thing. It was a relief really, to hear Jon say it.
Jon didn’t want to shoot Liam. He is the last of the lambs born on the farm in 2014, (His mother Suzy is still alive and well) and had a special attachment to him. So he called Mike, our handyman who also hunts and knows how to kill big animals quickly and as painlessly as possible.
Saturday morning I fed the sheep and donkeys as usual. Liam was standing by the front gate, but I knew he would come into the barn. And he did. As I was mucking out the barn, he walked up to the gate that leads to the stall in the barn. I opened it and he walked in.
I put some straw down for him to lay on then we waited for Mike to come.
It was Zelda who first surprised me by meeting me in the barn on the morning we planned to euthanize her. It was as if she knew and was ready. I saw Rosemary, who was also old, do the same thing.
So now I just expect it. Liam knew what to do.
As I said goodbye to Liam, the words “This, this, and then this.” Came into my mind. As if death is not a break in life, but a continuum of it.
Liam was nine years old. He was good wether, had a long rich life and I will miss him.