Thursday, October 23, 2008

Thursday Night

Am I almost through this week? It's been dragging by, the post-Rhinebeck malaise. I think I am almost through with this flu/cold/virus that's had a hold of me for almost three weeks now. Mia says a very virulent virus is going around her area of NJ. Two nurse friends have been so sick with no help from doctors, so they've gone to their yoga teacher for advice. I personally think one has to eat well, rest and wait it out with this type of thing. I hate the "breaking up" period of a bad cold, when the strangling cough struggles to rid the lungs of the contagion. Oh, so pleasant in a classroom setting. Hecky, the goat who was caught in the barbed wire in the storm the other day, is doing fine...only, it wasn't Hecky! It was Lincoln! In my hysteria, and with his top-knot covered with brown burdock, I didn't recognize him. Lincoln is even more of a baby-doll goatie than Hecky (short for Hector, my Cape Cod organic farm registered white goat, who came with a contract for me to sign promising never to eat him). I have another critter-crisis going on now. A cute little black ewe lamb was sitting/lying down, chewing her cud (always a good sign) while the others were eating their hay. I thought, okay, she's just not hungry. Then, to my horror, yesterday I saw her sitting in the same place - never a good sign. She had not moved in a whole day, maybe more. A loose manure pile was at her behind. I examined her and found that under the thick wool was a spine way too high - a sign of underconditioning. I went into action and moved her into a birthing pen where she wouldn't feel isolated but would be undisturbed by the other sheep. I brought her a second cut bale and some rabbit pellets (a favorite lamb treat and high in protein). Gave her a shot of B complex and oral/injectable worm meds. She nibbled a bit on the hay and chewed on a few pellets, but I knew she was in trouble. How could I let this happen? Gripped with remorse and self-incrimination (how could I let Rhinebeck distract me from the health of my babies???) I vowed to do everything I could to get her through. This morning I gave her warm water and honey. I stopped on the way home to buy molasses - a terrific sheep tonic loaded with potassium, magnesium and iron, to mix with oatmeal. Rushed home to make this yummy meal and found her lying flat - not a good sign. I picked her up and, with a big syringe, made her drink a nice bowl of warm, molasses laced oatmeal. Gave her a shot of selenium with vitamin E, recommended by a shepherd friend on the famous Sheep-List out of Sweden, and some more B complex. Tonight she is showing signs of improvement, eating on her own, keeping her head up. While doing chores I made her swallow a mouthful of water every few minutes to keep that rumen going. I am hoping for the best. Now I will have to massage her legs that have been bent for these few days to keep the ligaments from tightening up. I have had success with this before. She could live, she could die, but I don't let them go without trying everything I know how. I had let the sheep out to graze yesterday afternoon and watched them in the Jeep with Izzy and Holly keeping me company. Sittin up on the hill was just the tonic I needed. The fall colors are gone but the gorgeous landscape is even more beautiful with the winter colors of browns, tans and greys. I stay up top to keep the flock from going even higher up the hill to cross Hollow Road and graze on the Plows land. I have had visits from them before. If I wait until dark the sheep usually stay around the barn. Not tonight. Matt got up early to get them in the barnyard pen and could only find a few in the fog. He got all dressed up to go to the second day of open house at his non-profit energy group in Syracuse, and set off to work. Minutes later I got a call from his cell-phone (we have a tower now in B'field) saying the sheep were on the Plows' fields, and that he had to herd them together and back across the road. He hung up rather than scream even more and I went out in my jammies to meet them coming down the hill. I got a few back in, but had to leave for work myself and left the others to fate. Hopefully they had their fill from grazing and would stay on their own field and rest. Rushed home from work to take care of my lamb, and all the cast of thousands, and saw them doing just that, scattered around the field. Around dark when I was taking care of the White Boys I saw truck headlights coming down the hill with a group of sheep running full tilt ahead of it. I don't like to stampede sheep - it can be disastrous. Sure enough, Andrew misjudged the gate opening in the dark and crashed into the wire fence, breaking it in half. He lay still for a minute and I suspected the worst but when encouraged he jumped up. Is there never a dull moment? I went about my chores and let Matt stomp and fume a bit on his own to work it out. It's wonderful to have the sheep to hang with when I don't feel like dealing with a tired, cranky husband. He was so wired from smiling and acting so hospitable to the dignitaries for two days he could just spit! There is a baby shower at work tomorrow and all my soap is at the opposite end of the trailer, under tables and lengths of wood. I don't have the strength to deal with it tonight, so I'll go out there in the morning and pull enough out to get to the soap. I don't have time to make anything special for her, but soap is a nice gift for Mom and Baby. Better go check on my lamb and do some sofa time with the doggies.

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