Monday, July 28, 2008

A sheep survives

Sunday morning, Jonathan called us to the sheep pasture when he went out to do his chores. Teddy, my brown spotted ram, was missing a large piece of skin from his right side. It was the work of coyotes. We brought him into the barn, and I washed the wound with peroxide. A four-inch by six-inch piece of skin was gone, and there was a long vertical slice in the meat of his leg. Seeing such a huge piece of exposed muscle and fat, I immediately remembered what happened to Princess last summer with the maggots. I grabbed the can of Catron to spray it so the flies would stay away, but then Margaret convinced me not to use it since it says you can spray it on "superficial wounds."

Doing what I've done for the past five years, I posted messages on two of my Yahoo groups -- the Shetland sheep group and my homesteading group. People on both groups had lots of good advice for how to handle the situation, and I was encouraged about Teddy's odds for survival. One woman said she had a ewe whose neck was completely skinned by coyotes, and she survived. So, combining the advice of nearly a dozen people, I washed Teddy's wound with iodine and sprayed it with the Catron after we had a debate of how one defines "superficial wound." My husband argued that since blood was not squirting out, it should be okay. It was only meat and fat that were exposed. Wanting badly to spray the Catron on the wound, so I would not have to spend hours picking out maggots in the next few days, I quickly agreed with his definition. I also gave Teddy a shot of tetanus antitoxin and penicillin.

I suppose the llamas are doing their job. Unfortunately, they did not know about the coyotes until they had attacked Teddy. However, if they had not been there, no doubt we would have found nothing more than bones and Teddy's gorgeous spiral horns scattered across the pasture. Seeing what happened to Teddy makes me feel even sicker about how Princess died. I am learning more about how coyotes attack and kill their prey, even though I never wanted to learn those lessons.

After decades of being inspired by Walden, I've concluded that Thoreau learned little during his time in the woods compared to what I've learned. He talks about wanting to experience the ugliness of life, but I don't think one truly understands ugliness until you've experienced personal loss. Losing animals to parasites, hypothermia, or disease is ugly emotionally, but losing animals to coyotes is visually ugly, as well. And as painful as it was to find the bones of my beloved Princess, it is even worse to be faced with an injured sheep several times a day as I nurse him back to health. I only had to see Princess's remains once, but I have to see Teddy constantly -- and be reminded constantly of how ugly life can be.

6 comments:

melanie said...

In Teddy I see beauty - the beauty of caring shepherds who are doing everything in their power to help one of their flock.

You seem to have gotten good advice from the lists - keep us posted we are thinking of you!

Anonymous said...

Maybe I am just an ignorant city person, but ...

Don't you also have to worry about rabies when your animals get attacked by wild animals and survive?

Hope all goes well for you and the flock.

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

I am so glad that Teddy survived, and I hope the situation heightened the llamas' awareness of and alertness to predators. I hope those llamas take one down and kill it, convincing the rest of the pack that there is easier dinner to be hunted.

Carolina Trekker said...

Teddy is dear,,glad he got away.
Hope the Llamas do the trick,,know your family is worn out. Take Care,,we are thinking of you in the Carolinas.

Nancy K. said...

What a handsome ram you Teddy is. Thank God that he was spared! I'm praying that your llama's now know what they are up against and will be extra vigilant. You and yours have suffered MORE than enough....

Deborah said...

Thanks for all the good wishes. Teddy's condition is improving, but I can tell he is not happy about being poked with a needle daily.

As for rabies ... it is only spread when an animal with rabies bites another animal. It is spread through saliva, blood, etc. The coyotes are just hungry. They didn't attack him because they were crazed with disease. Also, the state keeps track of rabies, and the only cases of rabies in the last few decades in wild animals in Illinois have been bats and skunks.

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