Rest Well Suzy

Suzy last year

Suzy died this afternoon.

When I went out to feed the animals Suzy was laying on her side near the fence.  I thought she was already dead, but then her eye fluttered open and I could feel she was breathing.

She couldn’t get up.  She was laying at an awkward angle on some rocks, so I moved her as best I could to get her more comfortable.

I told Jon and he called Mike.  We weren’t sure at that point if he would need to help her along but he said he would bring his gun.

Before Mike got to the farm Jon and I went to say goodby to Suzy.  She had gotten up after I helped her and was sitting on the hill, the other sheep grazing around her.  I  was surprised to see a  raven standing on the ground next to her.   Such a big bird, its shiny black feathers glistened as we got closer and it flew away.

We needed to separate the Suzy from the rest of the sheep.  Either she was going into the pole barn or the rest of the animals were.   For some reason when I closed one of the gates to the pole barn the sheep came running.  Suzy slowly got  up and followed them.

We let the rest of the sheep out and Suzy stayed inside the barn.  As if she knew.

I had no doubt it was the right time for Suzy.  If she fell in the night or when I wasn’t around,  as she did today, she never would have gotten up without my help.  Her suffering and death would be unnecessarily long.

Suzy was 13 years old.   Thirteen years is a good long life for a sheep.  And she was a great sheep. I named her after Suzy Fatzinger,  the first friend I had who also raised animals for their fleeces.  And for the love of having them.  Just like me.

Suzy was one of my first sheep along with Socks and Tess.  Her death makes me think of how much I have learned about keeping sheep in the twelve years since I got her. I didn’t know anything about sheep before that.

Since then I experienced  sheep mating, pregnant sheep, sheep giving birth, lambs growing up, sheep getting sick and getting well or dying.  And knowing when it’s time to put an old ewe or wether down.

I didn’t cry until after Mike had taken Suzy away in his truck.  He’ll put her body in a nearby field for the coyotes.

Even though I still have eight sheep, all of them healthy and six of them young, I feel like it’s the end of something now that Suzy is gone.

It doesn’t make sense, and I can’t really explain it. I think it has something to do with her having lived 12 of her 13 years with me.   And that I’ve grown so much in how I think about and behave around sheep and animals in general. That I am much more knowledgeable about them, practically and emotionally.   And Suzy was there for all of that learning.  Her life and death has marked that time for me.

I cut a handful of Suzy’s wool before Mike took her away. I wish I could have shorn her whole fleece.  But it’s not practical,  it was getting dark and Mike had other things to do. Anyway, I couldn’t imagine shearing her once she was dead.  I’m not sure why.  Maybe I just don’t have the heart for it.

Suzy with the big round eyes, and soft, always clean wool, I miss you already.

Suzy with Robin and Kim this afternoon

18 thoughts on “Rest Well Suzy

  1. Maria and Jon, I am crying at my desk – but Suzy had the best life – you loved her so. Provided the best of everything.

  2. Rest well Suzy! Thinking of you and Jon tonight and sending love your way. You are both such wonderful stewards of your beautiful animals.

  3. So sorry Maria. That’s a long time for her to live. A testament to the good care she received!
    I’ll treasure her wool!

  4. I am sorry for your loss! Like you said: she represents 13 years of your life – she was a material witness. That usually only happens with one animal or one generation of them. And it makes us cry. But it is not and end. Just a new chapter that you must apparently be ready for. Glad you did not take her coat. She dances in the Big Pasture now with her ‘clothes’ on 🙂

  5. sorry … she was beautiful and sensitive… and part of your family. loss is hard but you have a wonderful appreciation and attitude re your animals’ departures for the Great Unknown.

  6. Having lost so many animals, I know nothing I say will help the loss and pain. You may see small hints that she’s still around for a little while ; I experienced this with my dogs and one horse. At any rate, know that there are thousands of people out there who are saddened by your loss , understand it well, and are sending warmth and comfort. And the bond you have with Suzie is eternal. But you know that.

  7. I’m so sorry for the loss of Suzy. It is never an easy thing to go through.
    I can relate so much to your statement “that it feels like the end of something I felt that way when I lost my beloved dog Madison. Lots of things had just changed. I moved, my daughter started college, and I ended a 5-year relationship. Madison got me all through that. Her loss was very emotional for me, I missed her deeply. Yet, it was the start of a new kind of life for me in some ways. She is always in my heart. I think of her all the time.
    Maybe in a way, it is the end of something. All the older sheep have gone, and you get to raise the new younger ones. Reading Jon’s blog, it seems many things have changed at the farm.
    My heartfelt thoughts are with you and Jon.
    Suzy, rest in peace.


  8. Much LOVE to you Maria, she had a very good 13 years. I would like to think of the raven as an escort perhaps – along with her flock of course. I’m glad you saved some of her fleece, xoxo

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