Friday, June 12, 2009

It's Always Something!

Today our first cutting hay was being baled and wrapped and it will be stacked in various places around the farm tomorrow. We try to plan ahead and put the hay in the most convenient spots relative to where the sheep will be this coming winter. Lazy farmers (which I most certainly am one of!) are also usually quite efficient! Let's try to do things in the easiest way possible - that's my motto!

Yesterday I worked a little harder. If you're squeamish, skip down past this part.

OK, let's back up one day before yesterday. We had a Shetland ewe who delivered a stillborn lamb - just as well, as a portion of the lamb's intestines were outside of the body. The birth was assisted, but when I went to bed, the ewe seemed tired but fine. Not true, though, as when I got up yesterday morning, I discovered she had prolapsed (uterine prolapse - meaning she kept on pushing and having contractions, until her uterus was turned inside out and was now outside of her insides - no pictures for this part of the blog!). So I went back inside and had my breakfast and coffee and contemplated my next move.

I got together some supplies - antiseptic lube, prolapse retainer, gambrel restrainer, deer sled (boy, that sled comes in handy for hauling sheep around!). The gambrel restrainer is a nifty little device that sort of traps their front feet up near their head so they can't get away from you - which came in handy, so I could contain her (she was still up and fairly mobile) in the pasture while I went to the barn to get the sled. I then dragged her (in the sled) up through her pasture into our backyard - I thought it might be cleaner working there than in the barn or barnyard. That and I had been dragging her uphill and I was tired at that point and found it a convenient place to rest.

Then came the fun part - washing off the uterus and stuffing it back inside of her. Fortunately a Shetland uterus is only about the size of two of my fists and Shetland ewes don't weigh much. Keep in mind that while you are trying to replace her uterus, she thinks she is still in labor and continues to push against you. So you hoist up her back end a bit, with the idea that gravity will aid you in your efforts - then you have to get this organ (is a uterus an organ?) back inside of her and turned right side in (a prolapsed uterus is inside out in more ways than one, so you really are up to your elbows in it, so to speak, when you replace it and turn it back the right way) Then, the grateful ewe urinates all over your arm, because you have just freed up her urethra, which had been blocked by the offending organ. So while you hold everything back in place, you grab for the retainer (which is almost out of reach, but not quite), get that inserted and, in this instance, tied to the wool to hold it in place.

I thought of having a beer at this point, but didn't think it would be kind of me to leave her trussed up and lying in the backyard. So I put her back in the deer sled and dragged her the rest of the way to the barn (still slightly uphill). I got her settled into her private quarters in the barn, gave her a big shot of antibiotics, some hay and water and then I went in for my beer. Well, not really - as it was still morning, I had another cup of coffee.

Tonight she is eating hay and seems to be doing OK. My biggest concern now is infection. While I try to be clean and use antibacterial stuff, I don't have a sterile operating theatre. So now we wait. But, as we used to say in college (hi, Lynn!), it was a "learning experience". I learned that I can put a uterus back into a ewe (whether or not successfully, we have yet to see). I learned how to use the gambrel restrainer (never used that before). I also learned that if this had been one of our Polypays, who are quite a bit heavier than Shetlands and have larger internal organs, I probably would have needed help.

Not all has been so gruesome here. I moved the Shetlands into fresh pasture the other day and the lambs, being the children that they are - and you parents out there know how kids sometimes don't pay attention - weren't listening, and they didn't go through the gate that their moms went through. They ended up on the wrong side of the fence. You can see they are all looking to the left wondering why they are all alone:

Well, there their moms are, on the far side of the fence, grazing on lush, new pasture while they are not:

And the newest lamb - Athena and her ram lamb, who looks a lot like her - his markings have just not faded with age yet:
I do have knitting on the needles, for those of you who are more interested in the "fiber" part of "Farm and Fiber", just no pictures at the moment. Maybe next post. I am knitting a lace scarf and am doing some charity knitting - a blanket square. And I only have to bind off "loosely" the stole that I have been working on for a couple of years. It's that "loosely" part that worries me. Oh, and I am spinning some Coopworth roving in the hopes of someday having enough yarn to knit a sweater or a vest (depending on how much yarn I actually get in the end!). I'll try to get some pictures of all of that for the next post!
And now, after reliving my exploits as a sheep vet pretender, I am exhausted. I think I will call it a day!

1 comment:

Stasia said...

Congratulations, Lael! GOOD FOR YOU! That is awesome. I would have been hysterical (and would definitely have had the beer!) You ROCK!

I will think good thoughts that she will be healthy in no time.

So great to see you posting more often, and see the little ones. :)

We finally (!) got ours shorn this week - sigh... One Jacob was already rooing!

Give Sparx a big hug from us...