“Normal” at the Double Portion RanchPosted: September 9, 2014
I always have hundreds of titles for posts going through my head before I write one. Usually they’re for other posts. I’m pretty sure I’m ADD so all that stuff is jumbled up in there together and I have to herd it some and let it settle out to get it where it needs to be. Sometimes I do that with great success and other times not so much. I’ll have to let you judge that. Things here at the ranch have been wonky for months now. Nothing changed with the ranch really but life changed a lot for the wife and I. Potential opportunities took most of my time and energy. I had a shot at something, or at least it looked like I did, that could have paid off nicely. Had it done so, it would have taken me away from the ranch a good deal of the time. All that’s done now really, much to my relief.
It was a crazy time and it’s still not fully over with. While my distraction was going on, the place where my wife worked lost their contract. She’s now been out of a job for a couple of months because the new company didn’t pick up any of the old workers except for a couple. From what we have heard, it turned into a horrible place to work so it seems like maybe it was time to move on anyway. So, for you praying types, Mary needs a new job fairly soon. We appreciate the prayers! Now back to the fun stuff.
We need a barn, BAD! I’ve been to a live stock auction near here and seen how the animals are treated. They aren’t abused but neither are they loved. I guess I’m a big ol’ softy or sucker or something, but I love my critters. I know some are destined for the dinner plate but until then they’re going to get the best life I can provide them. Without a barn, that means nursing sick ones back to health happens in the house! Were my wife and daughter not on the same page with me, this would be a very bad thing indeed. Instead, it’s merely inconvenient and rather stinky.
I can’t recall now how many lambs we’ve had inside. I know we’ve got 2 we can’t ever sell due to a bit of over-bonding and there have been a hand full of others that integrated back into the herd pretty nicely. Last week we found that we had a couple of lambs with some resistant worms. One of these was Baby. Oh, and lets get one thing clear here. I don’t name hardly any of the sheep. Number 72 is fine for me. This comes mostly from my kid. How she keeps them all straight is beyond me! Anywho, back to the story. So Baby and I think Tank were having issues but Baby was not looking well at all. Now a lamb is worth about $1.70 a pound right now. Most go to auction at around 25 pounds probably so you’re looking at less than $50 for one of these animals. I guess this is where the sucker part comes in. One trip to the vet and you’ve doubled the price of the animal but you’ll never get that for it. Most people doing this for a living probably just put problems like this down.
Baby got diagnosed with resistant worms and all they did was give her a dose of 2 worming meds. This cleared her right up within 24 hours. About 5 days later though, we were out doing something with the herd and Daughter noticed Baby was missing. It was nearly sunset. We all went looking and checked the back half of the ranch. I’ve had sheep get their heads stuck in the fence there so this is the first place I look. She wasn’t there. Wife and Daughter searched one more thicket of trees near the house with no luck. By now it was dark. Honestly, I figured she was dead and laying out there somewhere so I called off the search and planned to look in the morning with light. Rachel decided not to give up though and kept looking. She found Baby in the big ravine on the front half of the property. Ruckus then ensued!
Baby couldn’t walk. I was called and helped get everyone up out of the ravine. This is where the barn doesn’t come in! We took Baby into the house (because, no BARN!). She was alert and everything seemed normal except she couldn’t stand up, even with help. At this point I think she was weakened by the whole worming thing but it just hadn’t hit until this day. If an animal is alert, eating, drinking, and peeing and pooping, then they are exhibiting good signs. It’s just unfortunate when this takes place on carpet. We gave Baby a day and she didn’t get worse or better. Now it was time to take the $90 lamb back to the vet. Yes, she was turning into a pure bread, papered, show lamb!
Baby naturally didn’t have anything easy to diagnose. This is probably a good thing since most things that would keep a sheep from standing are very NOT good. So she got the animal equivalent of chicken soup. A vitamin shot, a steroid shot, and an antibiotic shot. Just for the record, liquid vitamin B reeks. Baby may be the only sheep we’ve had that’s gotten to ride in both the car and the red truck of happiness (it brings food and treats, therefore…). She did well riding and really wasn’t a bad house guest except for the bodily function stuff. She’d hear the herd outside and call to them, wanting to join up periodically, but other than that she was pretty passive. This is what it looked like from our perspective, see the video below:
You can see in the video that she looks kind of skinny and her front knees are a little swollen. We didn’t know if she was going to recover at that point. We did know that a sheep that couldn’t walk was one we really couldn’t keep. It wouldn’t have been much of a life for the sheep in that case either. That meant there was this possible outcome of having to put her down if she didn’t get better running around in the back of all our heads. Fortunately, she improved! Not fast, but visibly and steady. First she’d get up on her back legs and front knees for a few seconds. Then we could get her to completely stand up for a few seconds. She was really wobbly and would fall down again after a minute. The she started doing this scootch/crawl thing across the floor to get where she wanted to go. Cute and effective! By the next day we could get her to stand with no help and walk with some help for a little bit. Time for sheep physical therapy. It looked like the shotgun meds were working. One more day and she was able to get up on her own and stand for a while and even walk a bit without help. Still very wobbly and unsteady, she’d do more of a controlled fall to lay back down. She got one more round of shots and by the next day she was starting to get into trouble in the house. This was a very good sign indeed. That evening she was doing so well that we debated leaving her in the yard. Her mom came in and it seemed all was well with the world. Plenty of grass to munch and some company. At this point I saw her scamper over some big rocks we have landscaped around one of our trees and I knew she was pretty much well. I figured we’d cut them loose in the morning but being the protective sucker I am, not tonight. Then mom got a case of the “I want the herd” blues and started circling the house bleating like the end of the world had come. What a whiner! I went out and watched Baby having no problem keeping up with mom. After a quick all family conference, the decision was made to cut them loose then and pray for the best. Off they went in the company of our LGDs to rejoin the rest. I said a quick prayer and went back inside.
Here’s Baby as of this evening:
She still needs to fatten up more but the improvement is amazing. I don’t think I mentioned that we gave her a bath. She was filthy. 24 hours after rejoining the herd, she’s on her way back to that again! Some of my white sheep really hate being white I guess…