Oregon writer, Rain Trueax, and Oregon painter, Diane Widler Wenzel co-author Rainy Day Thought. Diane generally posts on Wednesdays and Rain on Saturdays. There may be extra days or changes as situations warrant. Comments are always welcome and appreciated as it turns an article into a discussion.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


There are some days that just seem to evolve in ways that I would never expect in the morning, and the farm is good at giving us that kind. We had planned to be gone this week-end; but we felt it just wasn't going to work. We could not get everything done if we left; so we redid our plans. Talk about lucky on several counts.

The morning Saturday began with selling lambs. This is my least favorite part of raising sheep. I understand how some feel when the only time money comes into a farm arrives, but for me, it is always accompanied by sadness. I don't raise livestock for the money. It's for the love of the animals and satisfaction in living the country lifestyle. I like knowing we are contributing a real product to other people but that real product is alive and it is painful when the time comes to face the basic reason we can do this.

Thanks to Craig's List, we had found a buyer for all of this year's lambs plus a few from the year before that had not been sold. That means the grass will be doing much better and these lambs went to someone who takes good care of their sheep until such time as they are butchered. He also said he'll be interested in seeing our lambs next year too.

When the sale had been finished, we drove into town to deposit the check, got some more alfalfa and medication for bad sheep feet, and came back to the farm to move irrigation pipe.

We had decided to let the flock out into the main pasture while we moved the pipes. The only time they get out now is when we are around with a gun.

When the sprinklers came up, I stayed for awhile with my Farm Boss's .22 Magnum. I found a spot in the shade of some big trees to watch for trouble. Surprisingly, one black lamb headed away from the herd, right past me as though she didn't see me, and down the slope straight into what we call the swamp although it's pretty dry right now. This is a wooded area and not where sheep generally go at all. Frankly, I had never seen a sheep behave this way as she disappeared from my sight. I had no idea where she had gone or why. That was more wolf behavior than sheep.

When we brought in the rest of the herd, I could not see this lamb at all. I was simply not going to give up on finding her though, and Farm Boss began looking with me. Finally he found her lying partially under an old log. She had gone there to hide in the shade and we realized quickly why. She had a nasty infection on her hip where she had lost wool a week earlier when she had been stuck in the hay pile before Farm Boss noticed her in time to save her life.

This is where the ATV really earned its keep, not that it hadn't been already in moving fencing. He tied her legs together and lifted her onto it before driving her back to the sheep enclosure, shearing her, treating her wound, giving her an antibiotic injection, and putting her in the small pen so we can keep an eye on her, feeding her extra alfalfa before we release her in maybe five days.

That little ewe had gone into the swamp to die and die she would have done had I not been lucky enough to see her go in. It took our determination to find her as she wasn't making a sound or moving.  Even when she was lying on the back of the ATV, when I offered her alfalfa, she ate it. She has a strong will.

I've said it before that raising livestock is often as much luck as anything else. If I had not seen her go in, we'd not have missed her in time. She is a sheep of an independent and stubborn personality. She looks like she will make it, but she likely would not have had we not had some luck and then stubbornness of our own.

Nothing went as we had expected on Saturday as later in the afternoon our son, daughter-in-law, two grandsons and one of their friends came out for some creek fun. The photo below is our son reaching to catch a creek crawdad to show the kids before releasing it back to the creek.

By evening, we were tired, but it had been a very good day!


HMBabb said...

Good times. Takes me back fifty years. Thank you for sharing.

Parapluie said...

You have the world in your ranch and so much richness there.

robin andrea said...

How lucky for that lamb that you watched her walk down toward the swamp. I really hope she makes it, and if not for you and Farm Boss, she would not have had such a good chance.

Peggy said...

Lovely story of your life on your farm...made me smile from ear to ear.

Kay Dennison said...

I am so glad you found the ewe and that she will heal. I love all your stories about the farm. It reminds me of my grandparents' farm in many ways.

mandt said...

A wonderful story! So well told. Just maybe,maybe you could keep her permanently.

Rain said...

Definitely she will stay. She's having a tough time right now with the necessary treatment on her abrasions but she's strong and will make it. We didn't sell all of this last year's lambs :) I still have my pinto sheep and two other black ewes.

Anonymous said...

Well, I'll admit that it was very different than my Saturday. I went on an art tour. I'm so glad you found the lamb. Today's Gospel reading was about the lost sheep so your story made it even more meaningful to me.