Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Baa Baa Black Sheep

Sunday evening as Brett and I were finishing up chores, a small grey car pulled up to our gate and stopped.  I didn't recognize the car and thought it was most likely someone out wine tasting who drank too much and thought we were a rental stable.  Or something along those lines.  My inclination was to hide in the barn before they saw me but I squashed that thought and walked down the driveway.  A middle-aged man in shorts got out of the car and waved to me.  He said that he was from out of the area (I was right about that) and had been looking at property in our area.  On the road behind our property, next to a fence, he and his girlfriend had found a lamb stuck in the bushes.  Was it ours?

"No," I said, "but the lady across the road raises sheep.  She might know."  He said they had gone there but no one was home.  Could they bring me the lamb?  He said they were from the city and didn't know how to care for it.  I said yes (of course) and the little car backed down the driveway and headed up the dirt road behind us.  Brett walked over and I filled him in.  "You said yes?"  I nodded.  "Good."

The car returned and pulled up to the barn.  The man was holding a very small, jet black lamb, wrapped in a blanket.  We settled the lamb on a pile of shavings in Lucy's stall.  He was very small, and thirsty -- sucking on my finger.  I filled a bottle with water and he drank it while we talked to the couple about where they found the lamb.  When they left, Brett and got in the car to go to the market and buy some goat milk.  On the way, I noticed our neighbor out in her pasture with her sheep.  We pulled in to her driveway and flagged her down.  It took awhile for her to make her way over to us; she must be 80 years old and she was up on a steep slope checking on one of her ewes.

"Yes," she said, "That was my lamb.  It's front legs are paralyzed.  It's two weeks old.  I can't kill it, so I left it on the side of the road for coyotes."  She didn't offer to take it back -- and we didn't ask her to take him.

Back home, weak cries came from Lucy's stall and the lamb eagerly sucked down his bottle of milk.  We didn't know what to do.  Brett doesn't have a shotgun and he wasn't sure he could kill it even if he did have one.  The humane thing to do was to put it down but it was now late on a Sunday so we made sure it was comfortable and called it a night.

In the morning, we were greeted by strong baa-baaing for milk.  Once again, it sucked down a bottle of warm goat milk.  This time, he kicked his hind legs energetically -- but the front ones didn't move at all.

Brett went to our vet's office at 9am when they opened.  The vet tech said that they don't care for, or put down, farm animals.  She suggested calling animal control which Brett did when he got back home.  The woman was there was friendly, said that they had some other lambs, and to bring our little guy over.  Brett laid the little guy on a fleece bareback pad and put him in the car.  The animal shelter was clean and they told Brett that their vet would check the lamb -- and then they would do whatever was indicated.

While Brett was gone, there was a knock on our door.  A neighbor from up the dirt road stood on the front porch.  He said he had talked to the people who found the lamb (and suggested they bring him to us). He wanted to know how the lamb was doing.  I told him.  He was quite upset that someone would leave a lamb for coyotes in a residential area -- right by his house.  He has shelties and did not want coyotes, or other predators, coming to get "bait" by his house.

I can't say I blame him.  It seems to me that if you are going to have animals, and especially if you are going to breed animals, you need to be willing and prepared to humanely kill them if that is the best/only option.  Euthanasia is preferable in my book; but I know that is expensive.  A shotgun works too.  If you don't have the guts to do that (and we don't, so I'm not judging), for Pete's sake don't leave the animal a mile up the road, in front of someone else's home.  If you don't want to draw coyotes to your property, I understand.  But don't draw coyotes to your neighbor's either.

8 comments:

  1. A pet peeve of mine.

    Humane euthanasia is part of the cost of doing business if you are a "farmer"... and the morally correct thing to do otherwise. I would spend my last dollar to give a comfortable, timely end to one of my animals.

    Glad you and Brett shared some comfort withe the little one...

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  2. oh, that's bad. and very sad. she's 80, but my 82 yr old neighbor wouldn't hesitate to do the right thing - by calling a vet or shooting it herself.

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  3. Very distressing. Sorry the "owner" didn't feel it was necessary to take care of what needed doing. Poor little thing, and poor all of you who had to get involved, glad at least he ended up with someone willing to take whatever action was appropriate.

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  4. thank you for taking in that lamb and making sure that he recieved that care that he needed.

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  5. This is the most horrible @#*&@$%*&@ story I have ever heard. Turn. Her. In. Completely irresponsible and cruel.

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  6. Please let me know if there's anything I can do to help. Thank you for caring and comforting an animal who deserved better than she'd been dealt.

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  7. Oh my gosh, that is so upsetting! If she can't bear to shoot the poor thing, how in the world could she leave the little guy to either starve, freeze or become lunch for a hungry animal? Good grief, how much more un-thoughtful and heartless can you possibly be!!?? I agree with you Annette. If you're going to raise livestock, you HAVE to be able to deal with their death, however unsavory that might be, but it does happen, and when it does, you have to be kind and humane. Grrrrrr!!! Poor little thing...miracles do happen, maybe he'll come through. Or somebody could rig up one of those contraptions with wheels and he could motor around that way?? I'm sorry it happened, regardless of how it ends up.

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  8. I am utterly shocked. None of the farmers I have ever known would do such a thing. They care for and do right by their animals. I 'm glad you found the right place for the little guy. Will you ever find out what the outcome was? Ie was he PTS or not?

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Thanks so much for commenting! I love the conversation.