Saturday, March 5, 2011

Baby Momma Drama

Yesterday was one of the hardest days I've had as a sheep raiser. A few weeks ago Purl prolapsed. The vet came out and stitched her vulva so she wouldn't prolapse again. Stitching is an alternative to using a prolapse spoon, but unlike the prolapse spoon stitching must be removed before lambing.

Every day for the past two weeks I've been worried about Purl lambing. I've checked 'round the clock and found excuses for leaving work once a day to drive home and check on her. Unfortunately, yesterday I was unable to leave work to check on her. Thanks to Murphy's Law, Purl decided to lamb yesterday afternoon. I got home and immediately went to the barn to check on Purl and I heard a lamb bleat. My heart sank. I think I even said a few choice cuss words. Since I wasn't there to remove the stitch, Purl's vulva tore when she pushed the lambs out. It wasn't pretty.

She was acting ok, more concerned with her 2 new ram lambs than anything else. I once again put in a call to our vet. He came out pretty quickly, since he happened to be at another sheep farm down the road a few miles. He was able to put in stitches to pull everything back together. Purl got a dose of Banamine (a pain reliever, fever reducer, and anti-inflammatory) and is on a weeklong round of penicillin.

Purl settled in for the night and everyone was ok. Except me. I was a mess. I felt horribly guilty for not being there. What was I supposed to do? I have to work. My life has revolved around Purl for the last 2 weeks. I was afraid to go anywhere because I thought I might miss it. I never guessed that she'd pick the one day I couldn't check to lamb. Mainly I was upset because this sealed Purl's fate. I definitely could not breed her again. The vet assured me that her vulva tearing didn't change that fact. When animals prolapse there's such a good chance they'll do it again, and I was fooling myself to think it was a freak thing for her and she'd be ok if I bred her again.

I've mentioned before how I have a small property and only a few animals, so I can't afford to keep one around that can't pull his/her own weight. I don't just want pets, I want to produce things. If I can only comfortably fit 2 ewes and a doe on my place full time, then I need 3 productive animals. Purl simply can't stay if she can't produce lambs for me. I still have a hard time making decisions like these because I get attached. It's especially easy to get attached when I only have a handful of animals.

Shortly after David and I met, I had to sell my flock of 10 sheep and a goat. I had hauled these sheep (not all 10) around from my parents' house to Vermont after I graduated college, then back to Maryland and from borrowed space to borrowed space. I finally knew I couldn't hang on to them anymore and sold them. I cried and cried, and I told myself that when I got animals again I would not get so attached and I would be able to cull problem animals for better ones. It's easier said than done. I cried last night for Purl, because of what she went through and because even though she's alive, it's a loss for me. A loss of a breeding animal that I've become fond of. I plan on finding a pet home for her, somewhere with someone who wants sheep but has no intention of breeding them.

Just when I am getting more comfortable with the whole situation, I go out to feed this afternoon and what do I find? Purl was trying to prolapse again. Luckily nothing had protruded because the whole area is pretty stretched out, but it was puffed out and definitely not normal. I wanted to avoid a third vet visit, so I called my neighbor who has a flock of Border Leicesters. She came to the rescue with a prolapse spoon and harness. The two of us were able to prop her hind end up on a crate (so gravity would help everything fall into place) and I pushed the prolapse back in. Then we used the prolapse spoon and the harness to keep everything in. The harness is great, and I'll be ordering one in just a few minutes. If she were to hunch up to strain and push, the prolapse will get tighter against her hind end to keep everything in place. I'll keep checking on her throughout the night. Hopefully tomorrow things will still be in place and she'll be able to recover. Thank goodness for good neighbors too!

I'll keep you updated on the whole situation. Hopefully it will be drama free from here on out!


Caitlin-Cats Critters said...

I'm so sorry you have to get rid of Purl and the lambs are very cute, and I hope they are doing well.

Lynsey said...

I'm sorry,too - keep staying strong!!!

Kim said...

So sorry, Katie. It sounds like you are being sensible about the whole thing but it doesn't make it easier, I'm sure. Bet those twins are cute.

Becky said...

Oh no! She tried to prolapse again?! I'm so glad your neighbor let you borrow the spoon and harness. I know these past few weeks have been so hard but you've handled it so well. I'll cross my fingers that she doesn't prolapse again.

Jennifer said...

Poor Purl, very sad. Very scary. I hope you find a very nice, sweet home for her to live out her life. Congratulations on the new babies.

Deb said...

Katie, my heart goes out to you and Miss Purl. What a tough time you've had these last few weeks and you have been so strong and professional through it all. I am so very proud of you but also know you need a break. I wish I could wave a magic wand and it would all be a disney movie with little birdies singing happy songs and the new lambs hopping in a lush green pasture. Hang in there and how enjoyable our family vacation will be when it comes. Love and soft and gentle hugs, Momma

Toni aka irishlas said...

Sorry to hear about all your trials and tribulations with Purl.

Thankfully you have good neighbors, too.

Wishing you luck with moving forward.

Susan said...

Poor Purl. Poor you. I am so impressed with how you dealt with everything. Farming can sure be hard, in more ways than one. Big hug.

The lambs are absolutely darling.

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