As y’all know, I have a lamb that was born at the beginning of April that has stubbornly refused to grow. He’s a Rambouillet x Tunis, so he should be a pretty big boy about now, over 100 lbs. A lamb that was born 4 weeks after him and was a 4 lb. preemie is twice his size. I thought he was going to die several times because he was so painfully thin (couldn’t drink milk fast enough before his momma moved on) and, try as I might, I could NOT get him to take a bottle. He finally started eating lamb show ration and slowly, slowly filling out, and is doing a bit better since I started supplementing the feed with soybean meal. He isn’t growing any taller, though, just a little wider. He’s the cutest lil’ thing you ever want to see.
Puppy was raising hell tonight, so I worried that something might be after my sheep. I turned him out to check the pastures. I had forgotten to close a gate earlier so the sheep were in the wrong barn. I did a quick glance around with the flashlight. No Midget. I looked again more carefully. No Midget. I walked inside and around the sheep. No Midget. DAMNIT! I started scanning the pastures by flashlight. I didn’t see Puppy looking at any bodies. I shined the flashlight up at the other barn, and little eyes were looking back at me. WTF? Why isn’t he with the rest of the flock? I walked into the other barn followed closely by a flock of nervous sheep. Midget couldn’t stand. I picked him up, and found that the problem was a broken rear leg. Something must’ve spooked the flock, they fled precipitously and, in the process, Midget was trampled and his leg broken.
DAMNITDAMNITDAMNIT! I checked my veterinary supplies, and I don’t have the first paint stirring stick to cut for splints, no ACE bandage to wrap the leg and cushion the skin, no soft cotton batting for additional padding, and no duct tape to wrap the splints for stability and waterproofing. AAAAAAAARGH! This is stuff that I *always* keep on hand, but SwampMan and I have been dingin’ ourselves up here lately, and I’ve used it all up. I hate that he’s gotta wait until morning, but it is what it is. Next time, maybe I’ll buy more supplies at the local pharmacy as soon as I exhaust ’em instead of waiting to go to Sam’s and buy a year’s supply.
*sigh* I can’t let him wait until morning because in his struggles to get up and down, he’s likely to turn a simple fracture into a compound fracture, probably a death sentence. I’ve cut the feet out of an old pair of cotton socks for padding, and I’ve got lots of wool (grin). SwampMan has an emergency kit out at the barn that he thinks has some ACE bandages in it, or I can temporarily use some nylon hose. There are probably paint stirring sticks somewhere in the barn, too, or I can cut up my wooden spoons. There’s no duct tape, but we do have some Gorilla tape. Hmmmmm.
Okay, I’m off to the barn to try to splint a lamb’s leg at 1:00 a.m. with one hand while I’m holding lamb with the other. Broken legs were a lot easier to manage when daughter was at home! I’m not sure if I’ll actually be able to pull the bone to get it into place one handed.
Update: 2:30 a.m. As expected, Midget was NOT happy with the procedure. The leg bone was shattered about a third of the way to the hock. I have to admit my stomach felt a little queasy when I pulled his foot and hock in order to attempt to realign the bone as much as possible, and he didn’t like it one little bit. However, when I was finished, his foot wasn’t dangling bonelessly anymore. I slipped the sock on, keeping my fingers crossed that his struggles wouldn’t dislodge the bone, ACE bandaged the splints in place (the outside splint from below the hoof to the hip, the inside splint below the hoof to just above the hock), then taped it in place, then Gorilla taped over the top of that tape, then put him cautiously down on the floor to determine where to tape the top of the splint. Oh, did I mention that I took him into SwampMan’s barn because it has actual light and my barn doesn’t (not that I’m bitter about that or anything). And that SwampMan’s counters were all filled with tools and parts of my vehicle, so I had to put Midget on his desk to work on him? And that Midget promptly pooped all over it because of the pain of me pulling on the leg? Anyway, I’m always nervous about the balancing act of getting the tape and ACE bandage tight enough to keep the bone stable but loose enough so that it doesn’t cut off circulation. Yikes. I wish I had some of that tape that solidifies into a cast when it dries! Now THAT is something that I really need.
Well, I put him on the floor, he glared at me, cautiously stood on his splints, and then boogety boogety boogety out the door on all four legs. I caught him outside in the dark, brought him back in, and taped that splint securely up to his hip which cut down on his mobility considerably. Then I duct taped over the whole thing from the bottom up. I turned him loose in the barn where he wasn’t happy with his reduced mobility and slower pace, but he was nosing around in every container he could reach. Duh. Dope slap to the head. I got a bowl, filled it up with water, and offered it to him. He slurped it down, then started picking up dried leaves and eating them. Riiiiiiight. Well, I DID have some blueberries in the fridge, so I offered him a handful, which he gobbled down, then looked at me expectantly. FINE. I went to an oak tree and stripped some leaves off. YUMMY! Then I went to the oak tree again and stripped more leaves off. YUMMY! After the third time, I told him he needed to start getting his own groceries. It was time to go back to the barn.
Mom started calling when I got near the gate, hoping that her precious little lambkins was with me. He replied in a loud voice, unlike the pathetic, soft baaaaaaaa of an hour earlier. I carefully put him down in the barn (lots of mud outside) and he decided to go over the lamb feed trough instead of around it. He made it, too.
: At 3:30 a.m., went out to the barn to check to see if he had been able to lay down or had fallen and was in distress. He was walking around. *sigh* Maybe he can’t figure out how to manage the lying down part with a stiff back leg.
: At 4:30 a.m., lamb was lying peacefully beside his mother. Okay, now I really CAN go to sleep.
I cut away a section of fence this morning to make it easier for Midget to get in and out of the barn. He wasn’t able to manage to get up this morning with his splints and needed some help. I was pretty concerned when I saw him follow the flock through a pretty deep puddle (knee deep on me, back deep on him) with his freakin’ splinted back leg into another pasture. D’OH! I just knew he was gonna drown but he made it across just fine. I was too far away to have made it to him on time! He grazed for awhile, then lay down to rest, then I observed him get up. He figured out that if went down with his good leg on the bottom and the bad leg on top, he could get up. Smart little guy!
Then we went out for our first movie of the summer: Cowboys and Aliens (grin). It was a nice, bright, sunny and steamy day when we left. When we got home, the yard was flooded, the pastures were flooded….oh my gracious. I flew outta the truck to check on Midget who was laying unconcernedly under an overhang at the barn chewing his cud. Apparently the rain must have come down suddenly and hard, not giving him and his leg a chance to make it all the way around to the door into the barn, so he took shelter where he was. ALL the sheep were soaked through. He was no exception!
I loaded up the feed bucket and headed out to fill up the feed troughs in the other barn, figuring I was going to have to fill up the ewe feeder, then go back and pick up Midget before feeding the lamb. I looked back and he was running just as fast as he could to catch up! He abruptly veered into another pasture to avoid a washed out area full of water so that he could run into the barn through the fence I’d taken out that morning. I was impressed that he remembered since he’d only been through it one time!
At the feed trough, he ate with a hearty appetite, attempting to push away sheep that were about five times his size (if the bigger lambs got too rough, I whacked ’em with my shepherd’s crook. Now you know what the shepherd’s crook is for–a rowdy sheep whacker.)
Now, off to buy (canned) dog and kitty food. My old Princess cat insists on canned food in the evening. She will pout very, very loudly if she doesn’t get it. Puppy gets a big ol’ can of the canned stuff with his dried dog food, too. I don’t even know why I buy dried dog food. He doesn’t eat it. The ducks do. He mostly eats eggs and varmints that he dispatches.