Waiting for handouts
She contracted pneumonia. When I called the vet I could tell by his voice that there was little hope. Apparently it's the weather patterns: lots of wet followed by a hot day acts as a trigger factor to allow the infection to develop in a sheep. I dosed her with antibiotics and painkillers, but nothing worked. All the sheep are vaccinated and wormed so there's not a lot else I can do but accept it.
Or in my case, sit on the couch and sob my heart out.
Ewe Two, my little orphan Texel
I realise it's a sheep but I also realised she's been a companion to me. I've spent more time recently in her company than in Mike's. She responded to basic training, and to affection. She wanted to be with me even when I didn't have food. She wagged her tail like a dog when I stroked her.
I had to swallow my tears because I was due to meet a farmer taking delivery of pheasant food. I didn't want him to see red eyes and have to explain that I was crying over a dead sheep. I used a bag of frozen peas as a compress, then slapped on a pair of sunglasses to hide the rest. Delivery done, I called the hunt kennel.
The hunt kennel is an approved dead stock handler. They take "fallen stock" to feed their hounds. I had to deliver the ewe to the waiting kennel man, which meant getting the 90kg ewe into the back of my truck. I weigh 61kg. I didn't do the maths.
Lifestyle magazines have a lot to answer for. Pictures of outdoor tables with teapots and bunting, piebald cows, ladies in aprons throwing scraps to hens with shiny conker-coloured feathers. Do you know what the reality is? A woman in sunglasses, dripping in sweat and tears while she tries to lever her sheep companion's bloated carcase 3 foot up into a truck. And fails. Then tries a rope. And fails. Then tries strength and sheer willpower. And fails. All the time being bitten by horse flies.
There was no one else but me to do this. I don't have a big extended family on my doorstep, and I'm not 'in' with the locals well enough to ask dead stock-moving favours. Of all the situations I've been in since I started this life, I think yesterday was my lowest point. I have never felt so alone or disheartened.
Well, I did get Ewe Two in the truck eventually, and I did get her to the kennel, and I have stopped crying now. And when a farmer tried to give me some well-meaning advice that I should stop keeping sheep if I couldn't cope, I decided that he was wrong.
I coped. OK, I needed advice, sheep meds, a bag of frozen peas, sunglasses, a rope, a hurdle, and some itch relief cream for fly bites, but I coped.
I'm not giving up my sheep.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go and bury Nell's ashes on the hillside, walk the dogs, and check on MY flock.