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Farming & the Internet

Farm Fiber Goats Health Lambing Neighbors Shepherd Shetland Sheep Vermont Sheep and Goat Association

Distressing couple of days for Farmer Tam.  On Tuesday morning I happen to be standing by at exactly the moment that Winky, my 2-year-old Shetland ewe, decided to slam into Gandalf, my 4-year-old Shetland wether.  Gandalf has had a weakened horn since he was a little guy, he tends to be the bottom of the pecking order around here and stays out-of-the-way of the others when he can.  The minute I heard the crack and smash sound, I knew it was his bad horn that she’d hit.  I knew it would call for removing him from the pasture as soon as possible, isolating him from the others for observation and for treatment.

Meanwhile I recited to myself over and over to stay calm.  My mind raced.  All I kept thinking of was our conversations last fall when we were trying to think of the best farm decisions for wintering all of the flock.  We considered putting Gandalf “in the freezer” because of his weak horn.  With all of the sheep, we were worried something like this would happen and then we’d be in an emergency situation.

But he’s a lovely pet and in the end, I voted for him to stay on because I thought that he’d been as long with us as he had without incident.  He’d likely be o.k..

So of course I bullied myself for this happening.

Blood poured out of his gaping, broken horn at the crown of his head and I could barely look at it.  Something about the pulsing, the dripping… just wasn’t doing well with it at all.

I desperately phoned, texted & emailed around, still beating myself up for not being able to take care of things myself like I imagined I should.  How did I get myself into a situation like this if I wasn’t prepared to follow through the consequences.  If this guy needed to be put down, I needed to be able to do it and here I was looking for someone else to do it for me.  I was doubly disappointed in myself.

Focusing on the problem, getting help – practical steps to try to help the poor guy.  Beating myself up -negative energy taking away from my inner strength.

A saint, in the disguise of my small animal vet friend up the road, appeared in his shining silver Subaru to give me some immediate support.  He let me know that though sheep were not his thing, he thought he was probably not going to have to be put down.  Also, he advised me to see about getting my sheep vet here. I panicked less.  So grateful, thank you, Dogtor.

My frequent ineptitude with my cell phone bit me in the butt again as my calls to my sheep vet were missed.  I hadn’t turned the ringer on so I was unaware that he was calling.  Finally we connected.

Community is everything in these parts. This lovely retired dairy vet that helps me out with my sheep is the same gentleman that I call on to help out with serving Communion at our church on Sundays!

Meanwhile, I had hopped onto the Vermont Sheep & Goat Association email forum to see which of my sheep-y friends were online today to field my questions about what to do, what was normal, what were my options.  Rather rapidly, my inbox filled up with replies and most assured me that as soon as the bleeding slowed down, he would likely heal and be alright.  Of course, there were the stories shared that were more graphic than I had wished for, but I am the one that sent them 3 photos of poor Gandalf’s head.

Ummm, those emails that told me I ought to go ahead and amputate and cauterised the wound with a soldering rod or whatnot?  I’m sorry.  I don’t have a tool like that, and if I did, I’m pretty sure I would faint while I did it.

And, don’t you just love Facebook?  Tonight my dear goat friend up the road saw my post about Gandalf and called me up to say I could come on by for some clotting powder if I wanted to.  I hopped in the truck and in 5 minutes I had a bottle of clotting powder in my hand.  In 10 minutes, Char and I had liberally applied it to poor, bloody Gandalf.  Sadly, after investigating more closely because of his subdued nature, I saw where the horn is piercing into the side of his head near his eye.

Troubled, my friends, troubled.  Having some hibiscus tea because I heard that it lowers blood pressure.  Hoping to get a little sleep tonight.

I’ll spare you the bloody picture and just let you enjoy Gandalf, my sweetie, before this morning’s injury:

Lily & Gandalf, when he was a lamb.
Lily & Gandalf, when he was a lamb.
Gandalf, all grown up
Gandalf, all grown up

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