I read somewhere that Farm life is brutal. We just had our first taste of what that really means. Since we moved onto our little farm, it’s been all sunshine, buzzy bees and farmyard bliss. Until last week.
Last week one of our newly pregnant ewes got sick. She wasn’t eating properly and had lost a large amount of her body weight over two days. Sometime during that time, she lost her baby.
I knelt next to her in a muddy field, stroking her face, trying to shelter her from a ridiculously strong ice cold cyclone wind when the Vet casually asked me if I had a gun?
Me – “A Gun?”.
He must have misunderstood the look of horror on my face because he followed up asking whether I knew anyone with a gun.
Me – “we’re not going to shoot her. We are going to fix her”. He stared at me quietly for a bit. Looking back. I now know he knew she wouldn’t make it, and he must have felt torn. But he picked her up, held her like a baby and carried her (all 33 kilograms of her) through the mud and wind, 50 meters uphill to our house. He had to stop three times because sheep, even sick sheep, are really heavy and my vet is getting on in age. The thought of being stuck with me sobbing in a paddock may have spurred him on. We laid her in my husbands shed and he gave me instructions on how to treat her.
For the next 24 hours I fed her by hand, but no matter what I did, she deteriorated bit by bit. At 6am Monday morning, before breakfast, lunchboxes and the school run, I had to make the decision I should have made in that muddy field.
This is the lesson I learned: Being weak should not be confused with being kind. Sometimes its hard to tell whether you are acting out of kindness or weakness. The Vet was being kind to me that day because I was weak. I thought I was being kind by trying to fix her. But I was weak. I should have made the decision to put her to rest without putting her through any more stress. To quote some wise person somewhere; “This Shit just got Real”.
Without the emotion and purely on the books, this whole experience looks like this: Sheep cost = $110. Vet bill = $370. Time and Tears = Loads. Not good business at all. Not sure whether I’m going to tell my husband about that Vet bill. I think there are some things he just doesn’t want to know. He already has a few months of mutton free living because I’m just not ready to add sheep to our menu yet (He doesn’t know that either).
When we purchased our flock, I intended to raise them for the freezer. Ha. Ha. Ha dee ha. Let me explain ….
This is Lenny … he comes when he hears his name, eats sheep nuts from our hand and my kids can recognize him in a 100 sheep lineup. Freezer? Um. I dont think so. The long tailed fellow behind him is simply called “Long Tail”. They must have missed him in docking season. Now we know why – he is shy by nature and spends most of his time hiding behind the sheep in front.
Next we have Sassy”. She is heavily pregnant and you can already take her and her offspring off the menu. Her yet to be born lamb (boy or girl) has been named “Wooliam”.
Sheep woes aside. My children are blossoming out in the country. Its the best thing we’ve ever done for them. Things are different and we are still adjusting but its worth it.
My youngest daughter had extreme anxiety that has plagued her since she started kindergarten. I think it’s alwys been there, but I just didn’t recognize it until later. For 5 years I felt helpless as a Mother. I wiped her tears away everyday, but now, surrounded by mud, animals and a ton of fresh manure, she is happy. I can see it in her face. And isn’t that all we want for our children? To be happy.