I was told when I started keeping sheep that they have two aims in life: to escape and to die. We succeeded in keeping our first orphan ram lambs alive and well (until they went into the freezer anyway) so I was feeling marginally confident that I was ready to start with a small breeding flock of ewes. And so far they haven't escaped or died either.
But, part of the 'not dying' program involves a semi-complex vaccination and deworming cycle. And this can feel like rocket science. There are SO many drugs available to accomplish this.
Six weeks ago, I started their course of injections. If you remember, I accidentally injected both myself and the lambs that first time.
Well, it's not just a one shot deal, so to speak. A second course of vaccine has to be given within 4-6 weeks of the first, or you need to start the whole process over. And injectable wormers need to be given once, then again 7 days later, and repeated on a bimonthly cycle, plus extras 4-6 weeks before lambing to ensure the immunisation is passed onto lambs.
And then there are flukicides to administer. And pour-on treatments to prevent flies from laying their eggs on a sheep's arse. Sheep are to be pitied for sure, with all of god's other creatures out for a free meal at the sheep's expense. I'd run away or die too, if I were being plagued by flies, worms, parasites, and snails that ate my liver.
Anyway, there was some confusion at the vets and I ended up with 3 syringes of vaccine and a window of 8 hours to administer them to the sheep. I jumped in the truck with my meds, called underkeeper Pete to give me a hand sheep wrangling, and was ready to go. It all felt very "Mission Impossible".
The sheep are significantly larger than they were when I gave them their first injection 6 weeks ago. We tied some sheep hurdles to the fence like a kind of makeshift crush. I lured a sheep in with food and squashed her between the hurdle and the fence - like a sheep sandwich.
Syringes, bailing twine to tie the hurdle, and a scoop of feed - all the necessary tools according to the book
I tried with the wormer. I got half of that injected into her and the needle out just in time, as she lunged over the hurdle and made for the other end of the paddock. I thought that there must be an easier way. I had 6 more injections to give and I didn't know if the sheep could take it, let alone my immune system as I was guaranteed to jab myself at least another three times.
On the up side, I wiped the blood where I'd stabbed myself onto the sheep's back, for easy identification of which sheep only needed a half dose. Just a handy tip for you.
I called the vet to see if a vet or vet nurse could come out and inject my lambs, and show me how to do it properly for next time. No one was free. I now had 6 hours to get the meds into the sheep, and I had to drive back to the vets for another dose of vaccine to replace the one that was now drying and crusty on the sheep's wool.
In desperation, I went to Tuss, the farmer who gave me the lambs. He and his three brothers are tenant farmers on the estate. They raise cattle, sheep, and crops. The farm is hidden in the woods. I found the farm and the youngest brother (in charge of milking). He directed me to Tuss's house. I got lost but ran into the oldest brother (in charge of beef cattle) and eventually found Tuss. I apologised for showing up unannounced and promised I could do it myself next time if he just showed me what I'm doing wrong, and anywaythevetcan'tcomeoutandI'mworriedthatI'llmissthewindow missionimpossibleandallthat...I was in a bit of a flap by now. And I was down to 5 hours.
No worse for wear