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An Update…

Thank you all so much for your supportive and helpful comments on the recent mauling incident here. I wanted to give you a quick update on the boys:

So far, everyone is healing slowly but continually. There are a few puncture wounds I am keeping a very close eye on. Most wounds are healing…or at least the physical wounds are healing. I’m not sure if the boys minds will ever heal mentally from this attack.

Sven’s eye is making good progress. I thought at first he had lost the whole eye, but upon closer inspection by the vet, it was the upper lid itself that was damaged. I have ointment to place in the eye a few times a day. At first Sven, well…all the boys really, did not fight my fussing over them. They stood patiently while I bathed wounds and dressed them, or wrapped hot, moist towels around sore legs with puncture wounds. Now, they try to run or refuse to stand for my efforts. This is a good sign. They are healing and feeling better.

It’s as if they are saying, “It’s OK , Mom. We’re feeling much better. You can go now.” I’ve been dismissed. πŸ™‚

Oh, I will still watch them very closely. And next week they are due for a second Draxxin injection to be on the safe side. But I can tell it’s time for me to let them be and heal on their own for the most part.

…and I am so very grateful this did not happen during fly season.

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Horrified

This past Monday, as my DH was off for the holdiay, we decided to have a late lunch in town as well as pick up a needed part for the ’53 Merc he’s working on. We left the wethers and Loki in the pasture area that had been cleared of snow, eating breakfast, and the girls had the run of the area around the barn. Both groups had plenty of hay to nibble on to keep them happy.

But when we came home, we were not prepared for what was going on down towards the barn. Two loose dogs had walked across the fencingΒ  on the property line we share with the county, on top of the snow, and were attacking the sheep!

I flew down towards the barn to find the boys standing between the dogs and the ewes. Somehow the gate to the corral at the barn was open and they were keeping the dogs from even getting close to the girls. But the price the dogs were extracting from the boys was terrifying.

The first thing was to get the dogs away from the sheep. The larger dog was a black and tan medium dog of maybe 40-45 lbs. That dog saw me and stopped his attack. The smaller dog which looked to me like a cross between a terrier of some sort and some kind of bulldog was still attacking poor Shaun who was struggling, brought down in the mud and melting snow. I had to pull the smaller dog off Shaun, then chased them out the gate to a now waiting husband.

We were lucky in that both dogs had collars with tags and owner’s phone number. Ralph took control of the dogs and calling the owner and 911 while I got the sheep penned inside the barn and started to assess the damages. I ran to the house after penning all the sheep and called our sheeps’ vet, Dr. Rob to come on an emergency. I grabbed B-vitamins, ProBios, towels and some warm water and went straight back the barn to do what I could until Rob got there.

Loki had very little damage – a couple of facial wounds where it looked like one of the dogs might have tried to get him, as well as a superficial gash on one leg. He was the least hurt of all the sheep.

Sven had all the wool from the back of his head and a shoulder torn out by the roots. His ears were both torn but the worst for him was a bite to his right eye. At first I thought the dog had taken his eye completely, but when Rob examined him, he found it to be the lid that was very damaged. We’ll know more when the swelling subsides.

My buddy and rock, Colin, had quite a bit of the wool on his hindquarters torn out and had gashes and puncture wounds to his back legs. He was/is limping as his right hock was nailed pretty well. He, too, had the ears torn a bit and a gash above an eye.

The worst one was Shaun. His wool from the middle of his back to and including his tail was ripped out and he sustained many, many gashes to his haunches. His skin is just raw from all the wool being torn out. Some of the wounds had mud in them from his being downed by the dogs. We got most of the dirt out of the wounds, but Dr. Rob felt it would take time for the body to push the remaining dirt out. It was too deep and would have caused Shaun even more pain to scrub them out.

Both Shaun and Colin were in shock by the time the vet got there.

Had we not gotten home when we did, I’m sure we would have found one or more of the sheep dead, or at the least, way more torn up. I’m certain Shaun would have been dead if I hadn’t gotten to him when I did. Every day since I have been treating each sheep. At first we did massive supportive care with injections of B-vitamins and dosing each with ProBios to support their rumens and keep them from shutting down. Injections of banamine for pain and Draxxin for it’s awesome antibiotic support were given as well.

Right now, the boys have improved to the point of not requiring the banamine but will get another Draxxin injection 14 days after the first one. Draxxin is wonderful and the fact that it works for fourteen days just means less stress for the boys – and me. I still have to watch for wool falling off the sheep due to stress as well as to keep observing the pregnant ewes for signs of stress or abortion of their lambs. I may not know all the answers until April when the girls are due top lamb.

We’re not out of the woods yet, by any means, but I’m hoping that with good supportive care the boys’ bodies will heal. Their mental wounds may not heal so easily. Every time I look into their faces I remember the terror I saw in Shaun’s eyes as I pulled the vicious dog off of him. My mind knows I did all I could for them and there was virtually no way I could have kept loose dogs, walking on top of the 4+ ft. of snow at the fence along the swampy are of the pasture, from walking over the top of the fence onto our property – but my heart is torn over seeing the boys in pain and hurt,…and terrorized. And I am so angry at loose dogs and their owners.

The owner was cited by our animal control officer. On March 8th, he will have to appear in court to please guilty or not guilty. Here in Arizona, the law is on the side of the livestock owner. I really can’t say too much here, for the reason that this will all be decided through the courts. But, I can say that I am so glad we caught the dogs and they had collars with tags on which were active phone and contact information.

The boys are heroes in my eyes. They put themselves between those dogs and the ewes. And I thank God these are Shetlands – sweet, gentle, tough-as-nails Shetlands. And a part of me hopes they gave as good as they got.

This attack did something else as well. No loose dog will be tolerated on this property any longer…ever.

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Sven: “What did she say, Ole? Did she say we have to go?”
Ole: “Yup. That’s what she said. She said that because I’ve been ‘feisty’ with the other wethers, I have to go. Well, OK…I guess I did try to take over when Skittles left, but Colin didn’t push back, so I just took over. I think that was a mistake, Sven.”
Sven: “Well, duh! Ya think? Geez, thanks for nothin’, Bro! I sure hope I go to a fiber flock. I have the most wonderful black fleece.”

Yes, it’s been a hard decision, but the time has come for both Sven and Ole to find new homes. While Sven has stayed sweet and does have incredible fleece (may have to re-think him), Ole has become a little devil at times for unknown reasons. I should have tossed him in the trailer with Skit when he left to keep him company to Colorado, but I didn’t think of it then. Naturally.
For some reason, Ole became very pushy for attention which slowly turned into bashing other sheep out of the way to get attention, to finally throwing his head into the Shepherdess when she didn’t move fast enough to suit him during feeding. Mistake. Lethal mistake. He’s got to go – one way or another. As my friend, Lois, states, “Life is too short to waste time and affection on bad wethers.” She’s right. Ole has to go.
Sven may be another matter, but he may go also. I got to thinking after advertising the boys on Craig’s List that if I do sell both these boys, I won’t have any black fleeces left in the flock. Both Colin and his sister, Loretta, are iset with more of a frosted black to their fleeces. Sven’s is almost totally black. Ole, on the other hand, is turning iset as well, so why keep him?
Wethers usually have just one job on a sheep farm – to make fleece. Or to make meat. Since they aren’t capable of breeding their lives tend to be shorter than those of breeding quality animals. If their fleeces go coarse for some reason, or they develop bad attitudes, they need to go elsewhere. Sometimes that “elsewhere” is the freezer. So, with limited space hard decisions must be made at times. One leaves that a better one might take his place.
Ole was wethered for being an “assertive” lamb. He would have made a very dangerous ram with that attitude. No matter what we did discipline-wise to him as a lamb, Ole insisted on being in the middle of everything. And if you had cookies in your pocket you better come forth with them or get butted. Wethering (the removal of testes in male sheep to render them sterile, for the non-shepherd readers) usually changes the personality to where that sheep can become a sedate, friendly, productive member of the flock. Wethers usually make great pets. And it has worked for these past years, but for some unknown reason, Ole started developing more aggressive behavior – way more aggressive behavior. He went over to the Dark Side.
This change might be due to different things, but I’m hoping that a change in location (i.e. different flcok or becoming a fiber pet) might be just what he needs. It’s that or the freezer. “Life is too short to waste time and affection on bad wethers.” And all manner of discipline has not been effective. (sigh)
So, if anyone reading this wants a wether…just contact me. πŸ˜‰

And below, you see just a sampling of what happens to me when I try to just relax to watch tv…that’s L’il Rascal on my lap. “L’il” because he has a hero, an inspiration in his young life – “Uncle Rascal” of Rascal’s World, for whom he was named. And some of you wonder why my laptop can’t fit on my lap sometimes. πŸ˜‰

Just blame Rascal…and Daisy, and Pixel, and Mooch, and Shadow, and Ziggy, and Europa! (When my DH snapped this photo, three other cats had been in the chair with me just before he came in the room with the camera.)No wonder I can hardly move when I get up.
Maybe it’s time to finally install that Ejector Button.

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Before we had the big snow this past weekend, I had tried out the new camera a bit. Here are this year three little boys, aka “The Do-Da Brothers” during their breakfast time. I shudder every time I give them something to eat as they feel they must wear said meal on or about themselves, then be cleaned off of the offending tasty bits by a sibling later in the morning. I can only imagine these bits of hay are being saved as a snack for later in the morning.

It’s not just the boys, either. I’ve noticed this tendency in other groups. The funny thing is that by the time I go out to feed in the evening, all these bits of dried green vegetable matter have disappeared. Gone. Totally gone. Then I get the big doe-eyed look from everyone as if I never feed them and they are starving.

I guess it’s a good thing I don’t listen to them pleading….They lie, they lie. πŸ™‚

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Getting Ready


It’s that time of year, isn’t it? It’s time here to put the garden to bed now that we’ve had killing frosts almost every night…time to watch the aspen leaves turning first gold, then brown, then flutter by in the breeze in order to make room for next year’s leaves. So, too, it’s time on the farm to see who stays, and who goes on to other herds of sheep.

Above are the three ram lambs who are now ready to go on to flocks of their own. Well, all except Shaun who won’t be for sale for a while. But Sheep Thrills Sven and Sheep Thrills Ole are more than ready to go! Yesterday when I was working around the barn I was witness to the game of “Head Butting” between the ram lambs. I don’t know if it was the wind yesterday or the chage of weather in the air, or just boys being boys. Shaun would back up and run full throttle towards Sven, who was doing the same thing on the opposite side of their pen. They met in the middle with a thonk! that shook the ground and gave me a headache just watching them. This went on for a bit until Sven, who by now was a wee bit unsteady on his legs, backed off and let Shaun win for this day. I had dreams last night of finding Sven prostrate on the ground dead. Thank heavens it was only a dream.

Apparently this demonstration of ramliness did not go unnoticed from their sire. Skit was rather upset with Shaun and the intensity of his attack against his half-brothers as he would bang his head on their pen fencing in what I could only attribute as anger at the roughness in the boys demeaner. I stood there, just thinking to myself but saying to no one in particular, “Too much testosterone.”
Sheep Thrills Ole

Part of being any sort of livestock producer is that you have to let animals go…for what ever reason it may be. Whether it be new homes for breeding purposes, or off somewhere to eventually feed someone, it’s a fact of life on a farm you have to steel yourself for. You can’t keep them all. And some of them should not be allowed to pass on their genetics. Whatever the reason, as a breeder of any type of farm animal there comes a time when reality creeps into things and the decision is made to let some of your charges go on. And so it is here. I will do my best to find good homes for the boys. That’s part of the job. And sometimes I just tell myself

if it were easy, everyone would be doing it.

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Thank You, Tina!


My friend, Tina,has just nominated me for a Creative Thinking Blogspot Award for 2007! Who would have thought I would be instrumental in someone actually “thinking”???

One of the conditions of the award is to pass along five other blogspots that I feel makes me stop and take time to actually think about something. This condition alone made me think, as I have run across many blogs composed of pure fluff. Those are the blogs I only visit once. In actuality, when I stop to think about it, I never go back to those.

Well…Here are MY choices:

My daughter Kelly’s blog always gets me to thinking – if it’s not something new to ponder, it can even be wonderful (or painful) memories.
Tina’s blog! I just love reading about the coming and goings of the cats, Sinda and Neelix and the Vishus sheep that John, and now Shepherdess Tina, take care of. We’ve just got to get Tina spinning up all of those fleeces!
Leigh has a wonderful journal of not only her weaving, but her beautiful handspinning. Leigh is the one who inspired me to get back into weaving after a long hiatus.
Farmgirl is one of the most interesting accounts of farm life, or at the very least of a “city-folk-makes-good-in-the-country” blog.
Michelle’s blog is a great one as well as Michelle asks intelligent questions that she can answer! And in the process makes one stop to think as well.
ShepherdChik is a great blog from fellow shepherdess Rebecca and the goings-on at her farm. Becca is a shepherdess whom I admire – probably ’cause we think an awful lot alike. (But then so do Tina and Michelle as well)
*And yes, I do know that’s six people I wish to nominate!*

And one comment I would like to make…of all the blogs to make me think, I have to include mine. I haven’t had to do this much thinking with my grey-matter in years – to think of what to write that doesn’t sound trite, or incoherent, among other things. Hell, just coming up with an idea is, at times, so taxing to the brain that the room fills with smoke as I try to get those two brain cells I have left rubbed together fast enough to create the spark of a thought. There are days when all I have is smoke but no fire. πŸ˜‰

So “Hats Off!” to all of these people for being as creative as they are. They are MY inspiration to continue this folly and see it through. And bless every one of you who takes the time to remind me: “We haven’t seen a blog entry from you in a long time….”
Even if it has only been one day! πŸ™‚

—The participation rules are simple:
1. If you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think,
2. Link back to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme,
3. Optional: Proudly display the ‘Thinking Blogger Award’ with a link to the post that you wrote.

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