Wednesday, January 05, 2022

Lost Lavender

We lost a sheep overnight.

Lavender has always been a major pain in the BUTT. She is our most skittish sheep and can get everyone off course in a moment.

But she's a good Mama. She has twins and triplets and raises them flawlessly. So she’s spent every year we’ve been here with us in the farm. 

Overnight, Lavender stumbled into a tiny creek running through their current paddock and couldn't get out. She spent the night in cold water. We found her barely alive, and even though we attempted to heat her up in our brooder, she didn't make it. Her very pregnant belly made her too awkward to get herself out of the water. 

What an awful way to die. I hate it. And there's nothing we can do about it.

John took the opportunity to do a science lesson with the kids. They discussed ruminants and decided to view the babies inside of her to see how the sacks and body work. Lavender had two beautiful; ready-to-be-born babies inside of her: a girl and a boy. (We took a picture of the two beautiful deceased babies. It’s a fact of life, but it is really, really hard and sad. The babies probably died before she did, frozen in the cold water.) 

Lavender is part of one of my very favorite sheep stories. Early on in our farming adventures, John and I had a date planned. But as we were moving the sheep, Lavender veered off course and would NOT get back on track. She was outside the paddock and just would not get back in.

We were a bit inexperienced then. Today, I would have tried once or twice and just left her knowing she wouldn’t stray far from her herd. But we kept trying. We were on very steep pasture and kept hiking up and down hills. At one point, my husband, who keeps his cool under the most dire circumstances yelled, "IF I HAD A GUN I WOULD SHOOT YOU!"

(I don't think he meant it.)

Finally, we gave up. 

We went on our date. Late. But we went.

And when we came home, there was Lavender, back in her paddock. Just jumped the line and returned to her "people."

While losing Lavender is super sad, at the same time, we had another sheep, Fennel, that we thought for sure was going to die over the last few days. In fact, it appears she may have had a miscarriage and she has now returned to her former self after many days of looking like we would lose her. Fennel lives. But we unexpectedly lose Lavender. 

In farming, I've learned: You are damned if you do and damned if you don't. If you intervene, the animals might die. If you don't intervene, the animals might die. If you intervene or don't, they might live too. You just never know, and you can only make game-time decisions to the best of your ability.

Rest in peace Lavender. You were annoying. But you were a good sheep.

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