Suzy, In Her Own Time


Suzy this morning

We were getting into the car to go into town when I saw  the sheep and Fanny and Lulu lined up next to the barn, looking out towards the back pasture.

It was unusual to see them all giving something that kind of attention.  So Jon and I went to barnyard to make sure everything was alright.

They were looking at Suzy, who was laying down on the top of the hill in the back pasture.  It’s unusual enough for a sheep to graze by herself, but to be laying down alone usually means sometime is wrong.

I went to Suzy and crouched down next to her. She turned her head and looked at me with one big round eye.  I silently checked in with her.  Is it time I asked?

Suzy is 13 years old, which is old for a sheep.  She’s been having a hard time walking  for months.  I’ve been feeding her and Socks, who is the same age, grain all winter because I know they need the extra nourishment.

I know Suzy is failing, and seeing her by herself on the top of the hill, was an indication that she may be dying.

I nudged her with my foot then pulled up on wool on her back.  She got up and started to walk back to the barnyard as I trailed behind her.

Jon and I watched as Merricat walked up to Suzy.   At first I thought she was going to butt Suzy, but she just lowered her head to Suzy’s face.   They stayed like that for a while, it seemed to me they were communicating with each other. After a bit, Merricat moved away.

When we left Suzy was laying down in the barnyard, looking serenely out over the farm, the other sheep grazing around her.

I wouldn’t have been surprised if I came back that afternoon and she had died.  Jon and I talked about if it was time to put her down.  But I got the feeling that Suzy will die on her own, that she’s doing it in her own time in her own way.

Suzy has been my most healthy sheep.  She was the only sheep we had who delivered her lamb by herself with no trouble.  And her lamb, Liam, was just as healthy and strong and lived a long time for a wether.  Until the past couple of years Suzy’s wool has always grown lushly.  It’s soft and easy to skirt.  As if the things that stick in the other sheep wool just never stuck to hers.

When I came back yesterday afternoon Suzy was laying down once again.   I went to her to see how she was and she got up and walked away from me.

I didn’t need any other sign to leave her be.  Her message was clear to me.

This morning Suzy followed Socks into the barn for her grain.  Then she stopped at the salt lick on her way out.  She’s still stiff in there legs and takes an awful long time to urinate, but she’s eating and walking and as of this morning she was back hanging around with the rest of the sheep.

Maybe she’s holding on to get one more taste of spring grass.  I like that idea.  Along with the thought of her dying on the hill looking out over the farm.

When she’s ready, of course.

4 thoughts on “Suzy, In Her Own Time

  1. She looks very peaceful to me. Almost as if she’s looking beyond this earthly realm to whatever comes next, with quiet contemplation.

  2. Animals have an amazing connection. You’re obviously very much part of that web. It’s always felt to me like a privilege.

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