Like a walk through the country side living on a small farm is full of daily surprises, sometimes wonderful and amazing, and other times puzzling and sad. I hope you will walk with me as I live out my dream of living on this tiny farm. You will come to know the dogs, cats, Shetland sheep and chickens that make up this farm and what goes into keeping them happy and healthy. Come and join the journey with me.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Fairlight Jeffrey

Fairlight Jeffrey April 21, 2003 -- May 14, 2010

Jeff came up sick over the weekend a few weeks ago. His primary symptoms were shuffling walk, head held down and no ability to eat. After five days of supportive care, vet and fellow shepherd's advice and using the 'shotgun' approach to try and address as many potential issues as possible, Jeff died.

Jeff and his twin brother Callum were the picture of health--fat and sassy and seemingly doing fine, so it was a shock to have this happen. While they are seven this year, I didn't consider that very old for the little tough Shetlands. I'm mystified about what happened.

Jeff and Cal came here 'in utero' after I bought their mom, Willow and another ewe lamb, Rain, to begin my Shetland flock. Working with their breeder, she let me board the girls through the summer and fall so that I wouldn't need to keep a ram the first year. Jeffrey and Callum were the first Shetland's born here. Over the years Jeff gave me four daughters, and many, many sons. Unfortunately I never kept one of his ewe lambs. This past year I was hoping he would give me a pretty little grey ewe lamb, but alas, he produced only rams for his last lamb crop.

Jeff and Cal were both rams until they were about three, then Callum became a monster and had an important appointment with the vet. Not long thereafter he and Jeff got into a battle (the little snots fought all the time) and Jeff got Cal down. Someday I'll post Callum's story --of his probable fractured spine and the recovery that followed. Eventually the brothers were reunited and have been pasture buds most of their lives.

As you can imagine, this has left Callum bewildered and very upset. He was near during the time that Jeff was ill, with only a cattle panel to separate them. He dutifully stayed close, coming back from the grass when Jeff would baa at him. The last evening though, Cal wandered off and I knew by the way he was acting and the way that Jeff was responding to things that his time was near.

After Jeff passed, the problem of Cal became my main focus. Callum knew that Jeff died, and was at quite a loss. Letting the girls down to graze near him in the evening helped a little. Finally I decided that I would give Cal three or four days to adjust to not having Jeff around and then I would attempt to move him in with the ewes. Cal was a ram for three years and has a full headrack so I have some concerns with how he will interact with the flock.

Cal is now in with the ewes, and like any new kid, he tries hard to keep up and figure out what is going on. Because of his horns, I had no fear anyone would pick on him. So far, other than a few words with Blue across the fence and half heartedly chasing a few ewes around he has done well. The ewes were mortified and didn't want a thing to do with him at first. After a few days though they have mellowed. Strangely enough Cal has attached himself mostly to his mom, Willow and stays pretty near to her, despite her initial dismay.

So for now he is with the ewes, and seems to be doing okay. I catch him once in a while standing in the corner of the paddock by himself staring down at his and Jeff's old home. If he gets too dorky in the fall, by then I'll have some wethers old enough to make up a wether flock for him.

So it goes. We miss you Jeff.


Vicki Lane said...

So it goes, indeed. The down side of animal husbandry.

Michelle said...

You know how very sad I am for you, Tammy. I'm glad the Callum has a flock now; that's got to help his spirits some. How did you wether a three-year-old? I know a lot of vets advise against it.

Tammy said...

Hi Michelle,
Thanks for all your help with Jeff. Cal was wethered by using locals instead of full general anethesia--although you have to have several people to hold them still, since they aren't going to just stand there! The vet castrated him surgically. It went well, over quickly, but then he got hurt the next week in the fight. My shearer bands the bigger commercial sheep at yearling or over with a big calf bander, says they do fine...Maybe combined with a local this might be an option too.
Vicki--yep...for all the good there has to be the bad to balance it out.

Shula said...

Tammy I am sorry to hear about Jeff he was a very handsome ram. I hope Callum can take some comfort from all of the companionship he has right now.

I need orange said...

I'm so sorry for your loss.

What a shocker to lose him so suddenly, and for no reason that can be determined.

Nancy K. said...

How sad to loose your handsome ram. Other than his horns, he looks like a lamb in that first photo!

RIP, Jeff...

AJ-OAKS said...

Sorry, it took me a few tries to finish reading about the loss of Jeff ( tears started streaming). And Callum's journey through the loss of his brother.
Hugs to you and Callum.

Kathy said...

OMG, Tammy. I am so very sorry I didn't "check in" and know about what Jeff and you were going through. I am so very, very sorry for your loss. I know you and that you did all humanly possible to help Jeff combat whatever the issue was. You are one of the shepherdesses I hold in very high esteem. And your care shows in how you take car of your animals.
I am relieved to hear Cal is OK, too. I only wish I had been close enough to let you lean on someone if you needed to. I'm so sorry I'm late in sending you this.
Hugs to you...
I hope that fond memories of Jeff will eventually outweigh the shadows of his passing.

Kim said...

Farewell Jeffrey. You were a handsome ram, and you made beautiful babies. You lived a blessed life on Fairlight Farm, under the care of your devoted shepardess. You will live on forever through the lives of your offspring.