Sunday, September 14, 2008

It Was Thorn.

Poor little guy. I think it was bloat. Although I've never had a sheep even get sick with bloat before. I do keep rumen buffer available at all times for the sheep to a take as they need it. But there was foam around his mouth and his side was definitely distended. I can't afford to have a necropsy done. Which makes me question my suitability as a shepherdess.

Thorn never really did thrive, once I took him away from his mom. He kind of stayed off by himself and didn't hang out with the rest of the ram lambs. He was always the smallest and VERY sweet. He would follow me around the pasture and come running and calling whenever I came out into back yard. He seemed to prefer my company to that of the other ram lambs.

Thorn's future did not look bright. But that doesn't make his loss any easier to deal with. If anything, it makes me feel, even more, like I failed him. I actually found the quiet time while I hand sheared his beautiful fleece a chance to make peace with my little buddy. I'm glad that he won't have to grow up to get pushed around by bigger rams or face the uncertainty of the sale barn. It still hurts.

Thank you all for the kind words. Of course, you're right. Spending time with the rest of my flock is immensely helpful. I was quite taken by surprise by how much Thorn's passing ripped into me! I stayed relatively calm and 'in control' when I brought him out of the pasture and trimmed his soft locks. But that night and the next day...they were rough. I am well aware of my precarious relationship with depression and found myself, at times, making conscious decisions to "not go there". I'm feeling a bit better today. I took some nice pictures of some of the other boys yesterday. They are growing up to be such fine animals. I have decided that I will wait 'till the first of November and then most of them will have to leave.

I did, however, decide that I'm going to winter over Outlaw.
He's just TOO awesome to consider sending to the sale barn. I'm still hoping his horns will be OK. If they're not ~ I'll wether him.

Look at this face!

Another 'fuzzy face' ram that I am very happy with is Bling.
Can you tell I'm a sucker for woolly cheeks and polls?

Gotta go to work now...


  1. Oh Nancy that's rotten. Poor Thorn, it's a good job that you gave him such a good start in life. Do you get pasturella over there? I only ask because he was foaming at the mouth and I remember that from when my friend's North Country Cheviots were suffering from that.

    Re: Outlaw's horn... there still may be chance to re-set it. I've heard farmers around here taking about fixing a spring to gradually pull the horn back into place if it it growing the wrong way, or even steaming it! I wonder whether anyone else knows how this is done, Ive never seen it. Of course, you could always saw it off if it is a problem, aesthetically not great but they do it on the Shetland Islands!

  2. I hope your heart finds peace. You are a wonderful shepherdess. I've grown to admire you and your dedication to your flock and family. You are an amazing and beautiful woman and touch the lives and hearts of so many people. You bless our lives by sharing yours with us. You have been such an inspiration to me personally and for that I'm deeply grateful.

    May God Bless you and comfort you in this time of sorrow and give you strength to weather the storm as you, yourself, have given comfort and sheltered others in their time of need.

    I will never forget all the lessons you have taught me and how you have helped me to become a better shepherdess by reaching out when life's storms have rained on my life.

    Blessings from the Ridge!

  3. Nancy, I certainly never question your suitability as a shepherdess! Your sheep are some of the most blessed on the planet!

    It sounds, while reading your account, that perhaps other "issues" were going on with Thorn. Personally, I think it would be easier for me to have one die here than to send a sweetheart off to the confusion and terror of a sales barn. That's why I have three wethers at the moment, and thus no real likelihood of buying a polled ram I've had my eye on....

  4. Reading through your blog, I have only admiration for you.

    I am so very, very sorry you lost little Thorn. Just please find comfort in the knowledge that you loved him and cared for him and that's what matters. His life was short, but how very happy it must have been to have a shepherdess like you to love him and mourn for him.

  5. Nancy,

    I'm very sorry to hear about Thorn. It is so hard to lose them, especially when you just 'find' them when everything seemed to be okay just hours before. I think you are a fine Shepherd and your animals are shinning examples of your care. I've also sheared two little wether boys who at different times, left this world way to early. It just seemed like another way to honor their brief life, even though it was terribly difficult to do. Take care,

  6. Terry9:36 PM

    Hi Nancy,

    You and your compassion for Thorn and all your friends above are so wonderful. Thorn was the one who came to my mind first when I read your blog about burying a lamb. Your observations of him were similar to mine--he was littler and more timid than the rest. You gave him a good life and it's a tribute to you that he liked you and sought you out. It's normal to be sad and miss him--he was such a sweetie. Be good to yourself and remember the good things. I'm thankful for little Thorn and his life--he was sweet even to me, the klutzy, relatively inexperienced Shepherdess, and I'm thankful you took some quiet time with him to grieve afterwards.

    You will be okay and I know this sounds illogical, but Thorn is ok now, too.

    On a more down to earth note, we just visited "The 3 Muskateer Angoras" and have good news from them-- see your e-mail...

  7. I don't think you should be so hard on yourself, Nancy. All of us, if we stay in shepherding very long, will have to face the sudden death of one of our flock. I know that someday I too will have to deal with a comes with the territory.
    I agree with Michelle that Thorn may have had something else going on...or even choked (the foaming). And it may be that you're not supposed to know, but to trust that he's in lush pastures with other sheep and shepherds who'll take care of him for you.
    Many hugs...

  8. I'm so sorry to hear about your loss. Don't beat yourself up about not getting a necropsy. As someone who has gotten several necropsies on goats, I can tell you that they don't often tell you anything interesting. I was complaining about that to a person who had been raising goats for much longer than me, and she agreed that they often seem like a waste of money. So, my feeling on necropsies is that they're not absolutely essential for every animal that dies. Maybe it would be easier on us of we knew exactly why every animal died and that it wasn't our fault, but I don't think that a necropsy would necessarily do that. They say that the main cause of death in goats is parasites, and sometimes that's all that a necropsy can tell you. The first time that happened to me I felt terrible, because it did feel like it was my fault. I should have ... But from what I've read since then, some animals are just not able to handle even a light parasite load, which is kind of necessary for an animal that eats off the ground. I would certainly not question your suitability as a shepherdess! As others have said, you are one of the most caring people I know, and all of your sheep are lucky to be part of your flock.

  9. Outlaw certainly does have a pretty face, and his fleece looks lovely. But I would question the direction of his horns. I certainly would not sell him with any guarantees. Bling has the wide horns that look like they will never be a problem.

    I agree with the other comments. Necropsy may not give you any useful answers if your other sheep are all healthy, just keep doing what you have been doing.

  10. Anonymous6:21 PM

    If I was a sheep, I'd love to live at your farm! I echo what the other people have said: don't be hard on yourself about Thorn. All the hard work and love you give your animals is inspiring to me.

  11. Here it was an unnamed ram lamb. He'd been sick, then seemed to recover, then sick again and nothing I did seemed to help. He was "just" a market lamb and was one of two that went unnamed this year, but he was living yesterday and not today. It hurts and feels like I failed him. Hopefully we both learned and the living ones will benefit from our increased knowledge.



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