Sunday, February 13, 2011

Bliz-aster 2011!!! (narrowly averted)

Baby lamb, Max.
Greetings Humans,
I am Max, a yearling Shetland ram at R&B Acres farm in lovely Oregon, Wisconsin.  I know you have been reading stories from "The Hen House" that Brad has written, so I thought I should give you one from the sheep perspective once in a while.

You see, while I'm not an automatic "Alpha" like Brad, I am second in line to inherit the harem of beautiful ladies that my now late father, Parth, called his flock.  He was getting pretty old for a ram when he passed away unexpectedly earlier this week.  Parth must have been about eight years old and was really starting to show his age even before winter started.

Just prior to the "bliz-aster 2011", we've had a rather prolonged bout of cold weather that seems to have made my father a bit slow.  Then he caught a bit of a cold about a month ago and Renee, our human, put him up in the warm barn to recover.  He did and she brought him back out by us the night before the blizzard hit.

The main barn covered with snow.

As Shetland sheep,we are known for our hardiness and resistance to parasites.  Our lady friends love their lambs and rarely have difficulties giving birth.  They provide yummy milk for the human family to use for making cheese and wool for weaving.  Twice a year, a nice man comes to relieve us of our heavy, high quality wool coats and check our hooves for any trimming that needs to be done.  We are pretty low maintenance as animals go.  All we really need is fresh water and pasture or hay.  Renee has two shelters for us if we want to get out of the elements and even gives us treats of cracked corn if we come when called.  (I always respond to food :)

Bertha faces off for the use of our dome with former companion, Ellie. Winter 2010.

So that brings me back to this blizzard last week.  Since we had lots of hay put out for us inside the dome and our woolly coats kept us so warm, we didn't pay attention to the snow piling up outside.  I did notice our equine companions, Callie and Johnny started inching further inside as the night wore on but as the sun rose, our problem became apparent - we were snowed in!!!

Normally, when it snows, no biggie, we sheep wait for our long-legged pals to cut a path to fresh hay and water but this snowstorm left a drift higher than the Shetland pony's back and nearly as tall as the Saddlebred's back.  We were stuck until the humans could dig us out.  I was a bit worried when after five hours, Renee had not quite finished digging a trail to the water, left our paddock in her skid steer, covered in hydraulic fluid and swearing up a storm!

Lucky for us, she had cut most of the 50 foot path to the water and only had about six feet of the 4+ foot deep drift left to clear.  She came back from the main barn with a shovel and about an hour later, we once again could get to our water.  Crazy!  Even our heated water tank had become covered with the drift.  She had to dig that out too but we are good now.  As long as we don't get another storm like that one and she keeps bringing us hay until spring, I think we'll be fine. 

As for Parth, he weathered the storm with the rest of us and then Renee brought us all into the main barn for a few days because of the cold.  (I wasn't cold but I think she was.)  Renee did notice that Parth's wool was breaking off and that he really seemed slow but was eating and drinking.  When she came out to do morning chores the other day, she found him prone and unresponsive.  The rest of us were fine and waiting for breakfast.  She shooed us back out to the paddock with the lure of cracked corn and fresh hay and then went back in to check on Parth.  I knew his time was near and had already said my goodbye's to him but Renee didn't know how long he was like this.  She called a friend and together, they decided to help end Parth's pain and suffering.  It was quick and quiet and I know he is in a better place where the spring grasses are always fresh and the ladies are too ;)

Rest in peace Parth.  You were and excellent father and role model for me to follow.
New Alpha Shetland Ram
Heir to Parth, former Alpha Shetland Ram

No comments:

Post a Comment