Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Lowered Expectations

Living with animals is a constant lesson in learning to let go. Let go of what you think you know about this that or the other, let go of your ideas for how things "should" work or be or behave. They will surprise you every time, in ways you don't expect.

The vet came today to ultrasound Lulu, Anna, and Amber, give Silas his boosters, and to give the ewes their annual CDT, trim Jazz's horns, and maybe ultrasound them too. Should have been fairly straight forward and routine.

The first trouble was with the ewes. I thought I was all clever, building them a catch pen. "It'll be easy," I naively thought. Simply set down some grain bowls, and then bam! shut the door on the unsuspecting gals and not have to worry about a chase or stress when the vet shows up.
Well, my smart gals were suspicious of this pen from the very start. They didn't like the look of it and they especially didn't like the sound of it, since I repeatedly accidentally tipped one of the panels over while I was installing it. Metal panels landing on a concrete floor is not a pleasant or quiet sound.

Anyway, I set some grain and fresh hay inside. My normally very food-motivated ladies would not set one little hoof inside the pen. I tried to coax them in, even resorting to doling out a grain trail, but nothing worked. They weren't having it. So when the vet and his tech showed up, we had to form a human barricade across the sheep pen. After some runaround and some impressive acrobatics on Dorrie's part (she very nearly went over the side of the pen), they eventually decided to pile on top of each other in one corner, where we could grab them one by one to administer shots. No ultrasounds, though, since there was no safe place to keep the expensive ultrasound equipment with all of us backed into a corner. But the vet did think they all felt pregnant, though he didn't feel any actual fetuses except in Dawn. Whether because she's farther along than the other ladies or it's just because she's so small, it's hard to say. Nothing to do but wait and let nature take its course!

The next trouble started with Lulu. We've been working hard and she's come a long way in her ability to be handled, but she reverted to her old ways the minute she set eyes on the vet. She wouldn't even let me lead her in his general direction! The tech and I eventually muscled her over to where the vet was waiting with his ultrasound machine, but she started screaming before the first squirt of alcohol even hit her belly. She continued to scream, started to kick, and worked up a good, frothy spit. The vet was able to get the ultrasound wand on her long enough to confirm there was a fetus in there, but that was it. Oh, Emmy Lou. Guess we'll need to start working much harder on practical applications of training.
She hides her inner monster well. Perhaps I should start calling her Jekyll.
Thankfully, Anna and Amber's ultrasounds went off without any drama, and I even got to see Amber's cria's heartbeat. Super cool! Alas, Anna is not pregnant. Whether she never was or she reabsorbed, I don't know. Kind of a bummer there will be only 2 crias this year, but oh well! At least she and Josie can be bred pretty much anytime now, instead of having to wait until late summer like the other gals will have to. Amber's cria will likely arrive around mid-June, and Lulu's right around July 4th.

Oh, and Jazz's horns? She got them shortened a bit as they were starting to grow too close to her neck. In the week between when I noticed the problem and the vet arrived, all the fiber on that part of her neck had been rubbed clean off. It was neat to watch the vet shorten them. He used a length of wire to just saw through the horn, then used what looked like an industrial cheese grater to soften the edges a bit.

They don't have the lovely curl to them that they did, but they will again eventually!
Before and after horn trim.

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