Monday, October 13, 2008

The Ugly Side of it All

I usually write nice, pretty, upbeat things here:  little cow stories, isn't the weather great? gosh, pigs do the darnedest things..  that kind of posts.  Today is a little different.

Last week we moved the sheep and their lambs from the big pasture into a couple of smaller paddocks that had more grass and a weedy spot that we wanted chewed down a bit.  It seemed like a great idea.  They would be nearer the forage plants that we had planted for  them in the spring and there was some grass for them to graze as well. 
On Friday of last week after a few days in the weedy paddock, the smallest lamb in the bunch got a bad case of scours, known in the human world as diarrhea.  The problem that I dread in lambs as it can dehydrate them in a few hours with death usually coming quickly.  I did what I could by giving him some Pepto Bismal -- it actually works great on sheep -- and taking him to the water a few times per day to drink and feeding him kale leaves one by one.  I really thought he would make it through.  By this morning, he was still alive and eating greedily, although still too weak to stand.
I left him in the field with the others and checked on him every few hours during the day since Friday.  Each morning I expected to find him dead, but was excited to see him still breathing and wanting more water and food.  This morning was the same.
A few minutes ago I went back out to the back pasture expecting him to be hungry again and was confident he was going to make it.  What I found was disturbing.

There he was where I left him, laying in the dirt, still breathing, his ears moving a bit.  As I came up to him I looked at his face and saw that his eyes had been pecked at repeatedly, blood running down his small face to the dirt beneath him.  My guess is that the crows, that are the scavengers of the farm, and the world, saw that he was too weak to move away and just sat on his body and pecked at his eyes.
I have had animals here for many years.  Not much bothers me.  This pissed me off.  I just stood there for a second and screamed 'fuck!"    
I went quickly back to the house, got the rifle, loaded it and returned to put him out of his misery.  He went into a large hole that had been dug for another project and it is all out of sight now.  
Farms are great, eating meat is just fine with me and life goes on.  I will still continue raising animals of course, but there are days when this isn't such a pretty picture.  The sweet pastoral days occasionally have a day such this one, with the image of pain on an animal stuck in my head.  
Not to worry, tomorrow I will have a pretty story.


  1. it can't all be pretty stories.
    i am sorry for the poor little lamb.

  2. I appreciate you sharing all of it with us, the good, the bad and the ugly.


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