Thursday, February 9, 2012

20 orange

We sheared two weeks ago - 41 sheep and 10 volunteers. At times I felt like Tom Sawyer; these people were all here because they wanted to experience the adventure of shearing sheep. They wanted, if just for a day, to live on the farm.

It was a perfect day for it, not too cold, not too warm. The sheep behaved admirably. The fleeces were nearly all perfect. The company was convivial. We had great conversations both in the barn and in the house over lunch.

Tom, the shearer, finished in 3 ½ hours, a new record. We weren’t quite done skirting fleeces yet, so the women insisted that we return to the barn after lunch and finish. They hauled the new fleeces to my storage shed and then bedded the barn with fresh straw. The sheep came in out of the cold, snuggled down into the straw and relaxed.

All except for 20 orange, a young white sheep who lay down next to the hay feeder instead of eating and didn’t want to move into the barn. I noticed a slight discharge from her vagina. Ooh, watch this ewe, I thought.

Sunday, she came slowly when Dave called her to eat. She didn’t seem a part of the flock. By Monday, she was back with the other sheep, seemingly fine. But a week later, she still had a slight bloody discharge.

Our sheep were a good week away from lambing; she’s not very big, and she doesn’t have much of an udder. I worry that she might have twisted her uterus when we sheared her. If we’re lucky, it twisted back and she and her baby will be fine. If the lamb isn’t lucky, she’ll lose the lamb. If we’re really unlucky, we could lose the ewe.

My books talk about reversing a uterine torsion by laying the ewe on her back, inserting your hand into her vagina so that you can feel when the torsion is reversed, and then rolling the ewe from side to side until the twist untwists. We won’t be able to tell what has happened until she goes into labor. I think we’ll get a second opinion then. This sounds like the kind of situation where I really wish I could use the Tom Sawyer technique and have someone else do the job.

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