Friday, August 16, 2013

sheep sitting

One of the hardest things about owning livestock, by far, is the difficulty getting away from them. Dogs and cats, no problem. Pet sitters can be found. Kennels can be booked.

But there are no kennels for cows and chickens, and very few sitters that can deal with sheep and goats.

We have been blessed, for years, with a wonderful family friend that stays at our house and watches all the assorted pets and livestock with which we have afflicted her. She was a family friend long before we got the farm, and amazingly, she still remains a friend. We have heeded her warnings that she draws the line at reptiles though. Quite honestly, so do I, but her opinion far outweighes my own in standing with my family, and thanks to her, reptile-free we have stayed.

One of the advantages of 4-H, at least in a livestock club, is making connections with others who have the same concerns and considerations. Which has led, this long weekend, to our farm-sitting for good friends while they are taking a much-needed and much-overdue family vacation.

To keep the record straight, their son watched my sons' pigs during our last two vacations (there are some things you just don't do to an old family friend), so it was waaayyyy past time for payback.

One of our charges is a very sick ewe. Her problems started with an overload of parasitic worms in her gut, and progressed to flystrike (flies laying eggs in her skin; when the maggots hatch, they start eating the live animal's flesh). She is not a happy camper, understandably so, but we are doing our best by her and praying like holy heck that she doesn't die on our watch.

Ignore the old lady wrinkles on my hands. The point is the purple dye, compliments of Woundkote, my go-to spray-on concoction for livestock skin lesions. Purple fingers are an easy giveaway that an ailing animal is in my jurisdiction. I am like that old lady in the Frank's Red Hot Sauce commercial: I put that #$&* on everything.

Unfortunately we found more maggots on her today. You know you are a hard-core livestock farmer when you can pick maggots off a sheep with your bare hands. I hit the lesions with all the purple dye I could muster, and have my purple-dyed fingers crossed for the best.

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