Wednesday, August 10, 2011

a very bad night

Just back from the vet's gravel driveway. I spent dusk with the new lamb, sitting beside her on the ground with her panting head pressed against my chest, her feet curled in my lap. Too weak to fight, she curled next to me while the vet injected medicine into her neck vein. It was an anti-inflammatory, and Dr. Shelly said it was the quickest way to the lungs. The little girl had a bad case of pneumonia. Real bad. The stress of the move was too much and she went from plucky to panting in under 36 hours. It happened so fast. With sheep, it can happen so fast...

I had never had a problem with sheep being introduced to the flock before. Joseph came alone as a lamb and was fine. All the new Black Faces fit right in, but this little girl started spiraling last night, and I didn't realize how serious it was. It was hot out, she was new and I assumed it was just her getting used to the scene in my pasture. I thought her avoidance of the other animals was just her being new. It was how Joseph was, how the Black Faces were when they arrived - skittish. I thought a weak in the flock and she'd be an old pro. But when I pulled into my drive and saw her laying in the field, head down, I ran to her. She was so weak I caught her in moments, and felt a different animal in my arms. Thinner, weaker, and my heart pounded next to the hot body. I carried her to the barn, in the shade, and put her in Pig's old pen with cold water spiked with electrolytes. Soon as she was set, I called the breeder and the vet. I got the breeder's machine, but my neighbor the large animal vet was off work and told me to drive her right down.

I loaded her into Gibson's crate and we sped down the hill.

We arrived and I pulled her out onto the driveway. Shelly felt her body, took her temp (over 106), and listened to her lungs. The diagnose came quick. Soon she was given strong antibiotics, anti-inflammatory, iron, ProPen G, and a shot of dewormer. I wrote a check, shook her hand, and brought her home to a pen in the barn. She is there now, barely holding on. I can only hope what I did was enough to give her a chance. Shelly said her chances were around thirty percent, tops. Not the best odds. If she pulls through the night, her chances go up to 50%.

I am worried.

36 Comments:

Blogger CEO-MMP said...

She tried to tell you.

August 10, 2011 at 9:24 PM  
Blogger Bri said...

Sending my prayers for you.

August 10, 2011 at 9:26 PM  
Blogger Jo Griffith, Len Smith said...

I feel for you, dear one. We lost a cria last year. Nursed her round the clock for 3 days. The vet was out multiple times with no success. It was sad and pains my heart a year later. The youngsters go down so quickly and there isn't much you can do. In our corporate world (our main line of work) we can "fix" so much, but in nature's world sometimes our best efforts are for naught. It is so tough. You second guess yourself..."Maybe I should have tubed her; maybe I should have started her on antibiotics sooner; maybe I should have gotten plasma, yada, yada, yada."

You have done your best. Let the gods do the rest even though it is so hard. Just know there are folks out there who feel your pain and are rooting for you and your youngster.

August 10, 2011 at 9:41 PM  
Blogger jim said...

we're bleeding with you and the little lassie-hoping this has a positive outcome-luck

August 10, 2011 at 9:47 PM  
Blogger the small plate diner said...

Hope she pulls through! Sending warm wishes your way.

August 10, 2011 at 9:57 PM  
Blogger sweetbugfarm said...

sleep well, lambkins and be more well for your mama in the morning~

August 10, 2011 at 9:58 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

You have done all you can do. Be at peace and know we are all thinking/ praying for you. You are an inspiration.

August 10, 2011 at 10:01 PM  
Blogger Emily (and Maggie) said...

Oh no. Our thoughts will be with you through the night.

Pulling for you both from Pittsburgh. Emily and Maggie

August 10, 2011 at 10:06 PM  
Blogger Melanie J. said...

Know that we're with you in spirit, sending healing energy to the little one. I'm not experienced enough to know if you're doing all you can, but it sure sounds like it, and I defy those who tell you differently. You're a great shepherd who obviously cares for her flock, and the work you do when you're stuck in the corporate world provides for your charges well, so the hell with anyone who thinks otherwise. Sending a virtual hug and prayers.

August 10, 2011 at 10:07 PM  
Blogger damnyankee said...

Sorry Jenna. Sending my very best thoughts to you.

August 10, 2011 at 10:12 PM  
Blogger HillbillyHannah said...

Saying a prayer for you and your little lamb.

August 10, 2011 at 10:20 PM  
Blogger ElderberryWine4u said...

Jen, if you have any Belladonna homeopathic tablets, I'd dissolve 4 tablets in either a spoonful of water or apple juice and give it to her. Pure homeopathic remedies do not interfere with allopathic medicines. We had a dog once at death's door and I swear the Belladonna saved her.

August 10, 2011 at 10:22 PM  
Blogger Paula said...

honeygirl, this just might be a lesson It wants you to learn. Just remember all the details and file them away.

Maybe spend some time with her petting her so that she knows someone's there. It can't hurt.

Hope it all ends well for you both.

August 10, 2011 at 10:35 PM  
Blogger goatldi said...

Ok Jenna I am going to put my foot in my mouth. You can delete this post if you choose no harm, no foul.

The one thing I have noted while I read your blog is you seem to not have animal savvy.

Yes it is something that one learns over time. You seem to assume that all will be well because it was the last time. Not true.

Those of us who have done this for ongoing years learned. And if you stick with it you may too. I have seen people come and go. Not all of us come by this easily or naturally.

You need to close your eyes more, feel with your fingers and if it doesn't seem right don't wait until the next convenient hour of daylight to deal with it.

Animal husbandry means weird hours, weird stuff and yes double farm call fees.

Sometimes it takes time, sometimes no matter how much time you toss at it if it ain't there it won't happen.

I have gleaned from your post that you like this lifestyle, but it goes beyond that. The critters come first. No matter what the changes
to us.

Can you do this? Will you do this? It is up to you.

August 10, 2011 at 10:36 PM  
Blogger Trish said...

Hang in there Jenna.

August 10, 2011 at 10:42 PM  
Blogger Dahlia ChanTang said...

I'm holding my breath for her.

August 10, 2011 at 10:53 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

I am doing my best. As soon as I noticed something was wrong I spared no expense or effort in seeing to her. I didn't call the vet sooner because I didn't think anything was wrong. She seemed fine, just hot, she was acting like all the other sheep do in the heat who need water, so I walked out some water in a bucket to her and she drank it and laid down in the shade.

This is my first year raising lambs. This is my third year living with sheep. I am new, and I learn an prepare as much as I can, but I don't think I am non-savvy just because I never saw a sheep get pneumonia in August before. I have stopped Lisette from dying of Ketosis, had a successful lambing season with no losses or real trouble, prepared the right outbuildings and shelter. Call the vet when needed, but I am not a seasoned expert. I am a new farmer.

Maybe other new farmers would have seen signs sooner. I did not, but not because of neglect or I didn't try.

August 10, 2011 at 11:18 PM  
Blogger kandy Gray said...

i had 4 house bunnies over 15 years. thought that i new all the signs of sickness, all the remedies for the sicknesses, thought that i knew when to bring them to the vets, and when nothing more could be done. i had molly for 11 years, goober for 9, nosy for 5 and clowie, the last bun, lasted 6 months. she got sick and i missed it, i screwed up, OR she was real good at hiding being sick.

my point is, you do the best that you can, sometimes you mess up, but you learn from those experiences, and you file them away for the next time. you are going to loose some to mother nature, some to accident, some from old age, and some from mistakes.

August 10, 2011 at 11:21 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

And I would never delete a comment unless if was mean spirited, and then, only from someone not using their real name. When it says "deleted by author" the person who wrote the comment deleted it. If it says "deleted by blog administrator" I deleted it. I only did that once al year.

August 10, 2011 at 11:27 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

It is not fun writing about these things. I made a promise to write all that happens on this farm on this blog. I could certainly have left out a lot of things, but I don't. Even when I know readers will be angry, or think less of me.

I think it's important to see the whole story. But that brings a lot of flack (emails usually) from people who disagree. Sometimes it ruins my whole damn day.

I think if anyone wrote down exactly what happened on the first three years of living with livestock, you would see many similar things.

Now I'm worried and defensive....

August 10, 2011 at 11:30 PM  
Blogger Another Day of Crazy said...

Hoping the wee one pulls through. We know you did your best, not your fault you had to work away from home and couldn't be there to see it sooner.

August 10, 2011 at 11:33 PM  
Blogger redbird said...

I think you’re pretty darn savvy—sure there’s a learning curb for everything, but even after you’ve been doing this for 15 years something new will still come up. Reading some of the comments and critical thinking on your blog sometimes reminds me of my career as a teacher where some parents start giving flack saying they could do it better, casting doubt, should of-could of-would ofs, etc…. Take it with a grain of salt, although that’s easier said than done for sure. They haven’t walked in your shoes, and you’ve always given the disclaimer that you’re learning.
When an animals are sick I always feel so helpless and guilty sometimes too. Best wishes.

August 10, 2011 at 11:54 PM  
Blogger Jamie Elfrank said...

Jenna,

I don't know much about raising sheep or farm animals but I do know what it's like to dive headfirst into something new and have seasoned colleagues, friends, etc. talk down to you when you screw up. It sucks every time and does very little to help you learn (which I think is their intention). I just want you to know that I really admire you for what you do. It's remarkable what you have accomplished in such a short time.

I hope she pulls through, but no matter the outcome you gave something challenging a go and did all you could with the information and resources you had. That's all any of us can really do.

August 10, 2011 at 11:57 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

What the hell is wrong with all of these people telling you what you did wrong or how you could've done better? Animals die. It sucks. You are learning how to care for them better than MOST animals are ever cared for. The charm of this blog, your "quest", the whole lifestyle is the fact that you are learning as you go. I wouldn't waste my time reading a blog about someone who knew it all and always had success at everything. That's so unrealistic and boring and it's NOT inspiring. You are living a dream a lot of people don't get to. I hope your lamb pulls through because it sucks to watch hope die. Keep your chin up.

August 11, 2011 at 12:09 AM  
OpenID notherethenwhere said...

Sending good thoughts your way - I hope she pulls through.

August 11, 2011 at 12:21 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

You are doing your absolute best. Many farmers now must have outside jobs to make ends meet. You can not and will not be by the flock 24/7.
My family farm had around 600 plus sheep spread between 3 acreages and losing lambs and sheep were just part of farming. Calling the vet on an individual down lamb or sheep just did not happen. Way too expensive.
When you have just a few, then it just makes it so much harder because you 'know' each one personally.
I hope your lamb pulls thru, but you are doing your best and I applaud that you are living the 'lifestyle' you love.
No room for guilt or what ifs...just do your best. Live, learn and enjoy each day.
All this is just a part of life.

August 11, 2011 at 12:47 AM  
Blogger Sharon said...

I dont feel "She tried to tell you" is a FAIR statement, but that's just my opinion. I will say a prayer for the new little lamb and for your sake. Peace Jenna I know you do all you can.
P.S.
In reading further into the comments I again say Jenna I know you do what you feel is the right thing at the time. I feel I would have done the same. There is a lesson to be learned everyday in our lives.
Go forth and conquer Jenna you have it in you and you will do well I know this, I feel this in you. My daddy used to tell me this,"Its hard to remember your main iniative is to drain the swamp, when your up to your a-- in alligators". With that being said I will say my prayers and go to bed and please know, you and the lil' lamb will be the first thing i pray about. Hugs Sharon

August 11, 2011 at 12:50 AM  
Blogger Sharon said...

.

August 11, 2011 at 12:51 AM  
Blogger Loco Lindy said...

Pulling hard for you and the lamb, it is so hard sometimes! I do appreciate you sharing the good, bad and the ugly. It's true that anyone that has raised animals for a while has had some of each, and we learn more from the bad and the ugly. In our experience with sheep, horses and camelids, (and I think it mostly applies to any herd/prey animals), if an animal is isolating itself or acting off in any way, they are pretty bad off already. Can understand your thinking it was just herd adjustment... Also really hard on animals to make big changes during the heat... they can handle one stress well, but start layering stresses and there is trouble. You have done your best!

August 11, 2011 at 1:13 AM  
Blogger Anne said...

Helpless animals pull a lot of emotions out of all of us and each of us deal with these emotions in different ways.

Tonight I will pray for you and your lamb, and I will be grateful for such a brave person as yourself to write for us, and open yourself to us so that we can share your experiences.

August 11, 2011 at 1:41 AM  
Blogger Reason's Whore said...

In my limited experience (I've only been raising sheep and goats for a couple of years) any time a herd animal is off by itself you should worry. Any time a ruminant is not eating when food is on offer you should REALLY worry. Goats and sheep are extremely tough yet extremely fragile and quick to go downhill and die once they take ill.

You should know this from your reading, but if you didn't, you do now. Hoping the best for your lamb. It's tough to give the farm and animals your all when you have a full time job and no help.

August 11, 2011 at 2:18 AM  
Blogger Hillside said...

You did your best - what else can you do more than that? As soon as you realised a problem, you called the vet. I would have done the same thing, a farmer of 60 years experience would have done the same thing. I have heard my father, who has been farming since he was 13 and has 4 generations of farmers behind him, say the same words, "It happened so fast"

August 11, 2011 at 3:22 AM  
Blogger DivaHick said...

Dear Jenna- It's a ridiculous hour here, but I jumped on to see if there was an update. That means that I assumed you would get little sleep tonight worried about your animal. That also means the people who have been reading your blog for years know how you really are. And for anyone that suggests you sacrifice your farm for your "job"- that's laughable! From reading your posts I often worry for you that you might be doing it the other way around. My only bit of advice is to ask the vet what the incubation period is for pnuemonia. Perhaps she was sick when you got her?

August 11, 2011 at 4:25 AM  
Blogger Darcy said...

Jenna- Hoping the best for you and your little lamb. Don't let anyone's mean-spirited comments deter you. Stay in the light...

August 11, 2011 at 6:29 AM  
Blogger mmgreenough said...

Jenna, my dad is a life-long dairy farmer & even after fifty some years of living every single day of his life with is cows, sometimes he loses an animal. Baby calves get sick (and very occasionally adult cows too) and sometimes they die. Although it hurts, it is a fact of life. He is the old-style farmer who, actually still LOVES his animals, sometimes things go wrong & even though there may have been things that would have prevented loses, we are human & all we can do is do our best. Sorry people have to be so critical of you because you are not "PERFECT".

August 11, 2011 at 6:49 AM  
Blogger greendria said...

You have done nothing wrong. You do not have to feel worried or defensive. Your blog is the most REAL thing I have ever read. Keep it real. I know it is hard with all the criticism, but there are so many of us reading here learning along with you. If we were all keeping a real-time log of our trials and joys, we would have given up long ago. It takes great humility to be totally honest, and you've got what it takes.

August 11, 2011 at 9:32 AM  

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