Lambing 101, continued

Lambing 101, continued

Poppy’s ram lamb died today. After responding to the B complex injections on the first day, his condition declined day by day. I continued to give him his injections around the clock and kept thinking that I saw a spark now and then that meant that he was getting better. But by yesterday evening, he was panting, drooling, and trembling. After wrestling with myself today about how much intervention I was going to seek for him, I called my vet to let her know I was going to bring him to her. And then at the last minute, I changed my mind and decided to take him to another fiber farmer, who has 15 years of experience raising animals, plus veterinary training.

He rode in my lap during the hour-long ride, and he was desperately agitated until I was almost there, and then he gave up struggling and flopped onto his side. My friend did what she could, but he started having seizures until his heart stopped. I think the stress of the car ride was too much for him.

I could drown in my self-recrimination and regrets. I think his twin sister will miss him, but it seemed as if Poppy had known that he wasn’t going to make it. She never looked for him, or made sure that he followed her.

Being with a fellow shepherd, especially someone who is as compassionate as she is knowledgeable, was a great comfort. She reminded me that raising animals means losing animals, and that’s how you become experienced and learn what to do and what not to do. And then she sat me down and showed me exactly how to place a feeding tube, and made me practice giving injections properly.

Scarlet, my friend’s 5-week old, bottle-baby angora kid, was my poor test subject. She was due for her evening bottle, so my friend taught me how to insert a tube to give her the formula. Not much fazed Scarlet, and she was even a great sport about letting me turn her into a pincushion as I practiced my subcutaneous injections.

My friend was going out of town for the week, so I jokingly offered to babysit Scarlet while she was gone. Turns out she was looking for someone to take her for the week, so she was more than happy to take me up on my offer. Sure, it was impulsive, but I have to admit that it felt wonderful to hold such a vibrantly alive critter in my arms. And she was terrific company on the ride home, distracting me from the fact that my ram lamb wasn’t coming home with me. I have to embrace the fact that life goes on, and tomorrow, I’ll actually be able to enjoy watching my 3 healthy ewe lambs frolic and play. Not to mention the novelty of having a visiting baby goat in the barn.

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