We've had a spate of bad luck on the farm. I don't want to jinx it by thinking the tide has turned. Every time I do, something else pops up. But the unplanned death toll is getting a bit ridiculous. From Katie and JoJo killing 200 chickens and 70 turkeys, to saying goodbye to Atlas, to 4 pregnant ewes and two lambs, and one missing cat... it's no joke, 2018 SUCKS.
Come home, Sally kitty, we miss you!
Anyhow, it made me look back through time at some other unfortunate incidences. I tend to focus on the love and fun and new births on the farm. But this isn't our first time dealing with loss.
An early unfortunate incident was discovering our flock had a disease called Caseous Lymphadenitis. As if that wasn't bad enough... we had a vet out to review a large lump on the jaw of one of our original ewes, Laverne. We thought it might be a grass seed embedded in her gums that had gotten infected. Turned out to be a swollen lymph node. As the vet attempted to remove it, she cut an artery in several places and Laverne lost a lot of blood. Larry called it and let her go without waking up from anesthesia. Laverne was a hard loss to swallow. She wasn't the first.
Laverne and Shirley, our very first ewes!
We lost Carol before she ever had a chance to have lambs. We were babysitting a friend's German Shepherd, and we didn't realize he was off chasing the sheep, and got Carol cornered in the barn. He literally scared her to death. He didn't mean to hurt her, but she passed away that night.
Pretty Princess Penelope got into some chicken feed and also died after she gave us one lamb. So we already knew the dangers of chicken feed and sheep...
Looking back, we have not had a single year where we didn't say goodbye to a ewe. However, many of those years were planned goodbyes, even if they were hard goodbyes to say. But wait, that's not true, we lost no ewes in 2013. Hoorah! And we have lost 5 this year, only one was planned. I would have kept her if I had known! But we lost 5 in 2012, but they all appear to have been planned departures.
I still miss you, Shirley-girl
So something is off this year. The other rough year was 2011, when we had 4 stillborns on the farm. It was bad enough that I not only started to research what it could be, but also was warned not to touch the babies, as I was also pregnant. It was a ridiculous stretch at the time, but I learned some common causes of stillbirth in sheep are things like toxoplasmosis, and chlamydia (both of which would have presented risk to my baby, too). As my pregnancy was showing signs of trouble, I had my doctor test me for all of these things. Of course, my baby's chromosomal abnormalities had nothing to do with my stillborn lambs, but both were confusing at the time. So note to selves - if you are pregnant, don't handle stillborn livestock!
The stillbirth issue did not return, and we still don't know what caused it. I am hoping this spring's bad luck is also an unexplainable fluke and that it, too, shall pass.
It is however giving me pause to consider that it has freed up some pasture space, and I could rescue lambs from feed lots or even the auction in Centennial... give the little ones the chance at some sort of life. With all the loss this year, I certainly turn towards charitable efforts and how could I make life better for someone else. I have two little buddies that did come from a feedlot. They are so stinking sweet. Maybe the extra space in my pasture and my heart for my lost ewes and lambs mean I could make space for a few orphans in need of a good home...
Look at these little boogers! Aren't they cute?