Sorry, I can't seem to use my good words today. I've waited an entire day to bury some of my grief before writing this story. I will second guess and question myself for the rest of my life. I will miss her, too. I work really hard to keep my sheep healthy and safe. Sometimes it isn't enough.
X-wing was special. So is her brother Greedo.
Here is a little video about them from when they were born through several weeks old.
They had a bumpy start. I don't know exactly what was wrong. Most of the vitamin deficiencies should have fixed their neck issues within hours, if not days of treatment. They gained better control, and X-wing was always better from the start. Vet said we did everything right, we just needed them to get a bit stronger. And they did.
A few nights ago, she wasn't feeling well. She came running out of the barn in the morning, just like her brother, but instead of latching on and downing a bottle of milk, she stood back, looking at it like she wanted it. I pulled it from the rack and tried to hold the bottle for her. I had to force it into her mouth. She drank some, but not the amount she would have on a good day - which would be the whole thing and then asked for more!
I did not react to that, but made sure Larry tried to hand feed her in the afternoon. He had the same response. That night, I brought out vitamins, electrolytes and probiotics to see if she just had an upset tummy, I could get some energy into her and try to turn it around.
At the same time, Angel had such a bad runny nose she could hardly breathe. I dosed her with some LA-200, wiped her nose to the best of my ability (sorry, Red-Wings scarf, that's what the washing machine is for!).
By the next morning, Angel's sinuses had cleared and she was ready to hit the hay feeder again. X-wing showed no improvement. I brought out the antibiotics for her too. I continued with the electrolytes, vitamins and drenched her with milk, instead of trying the bottle. She fought me every time.
Every day I would go to work, assuming she would be right as rain as soon as I got home. I went to sleep at night feeling the same way - the meds would work and she'd turn right around.
By that night, I took her temp - 105.7. I gave another dose of antibiotics, and did notice some raspy sounds in her breathing. This scared me to continue drenching - as I did not want to be accidentally forcing fluids into her lungs. But she needed energy to fight what she had.
By the next morning, her temp was down to 102. Fyew! I kept her and her brother in a stall with a bucket of fresh water and some fresh hay all to themselves. Maybe she would eat if she had some time without having to compete at the feeder. Greedo jumped around like a flying monkey, so excited about all this hay! X-wing just stood with her nose in it, like she wanted it, but just couldn't stomach it. She did the same with the water bucket - stuck her nose near, but didn't drink. She was empty - hungry and dehydrated. But it was getting harder and harder to drench her. She fought me so hard, and much of it ended up on her face, or all over me.
I had Larry continue to try to get energy into her during the day. When I got home from work, her temp was back up to 104. Another dose, this time Penicillin. I didn't drench much as her breathing was really raspy, and she was breathing shallow and fast.
What I didn't mention is that several times during this process, I wanted to bring her in the house! Maybe some warmth would do her good. I questioned some of this because she and her brother were inseparable, he was miserable without her. Also, due to her size, it's harder to keep them contained in the house. They can jump over the boxes we use as barriers, and cause havoc in the house. And I didn't want her to be alone. I will always wonder if being warmed by the fire may have helped her some? I'll never forgive myself for not trying. Yeah, and Greedo could have come too! What a doll!
So I left her and her brother in the stall for the night. I figured they would snuggle down, and that the penicillin would do its job and help her fight this fever - sure started to sound like pneumonia. Angel recovered quickly, but she's a full grown ewe with plenty of energy reserves.
I came out the next morning. It didn't look good, but I swear to you I thought she was sleeping. She was near the door to the stall so I was afraid the ewes would step on her on their way out, so I raced around to that side of the barn to move her out of harm's way, only to find that she had already expired.
Maybe I could have done more. Maybe I did all that I could. Maybe I did too much. I'll never have the answers.
We loved you every minute of your life, X-wing. We had really hoped it would be more than just 2 months. Sleep tight, sweetheart.