March 22, 2004--July 9, 2010
Rocky was born to a big Dorset ewe, June, who had large dramatic eyes and a creamy fleece. His sire was Blue the big Merino. His brother was born first, and as Rocky was being born, I thought something was wrong with his face. Then I realized he just had his momma's big eyeliner eyes! Little did I realize there was something else wrong with the little fellow.
It didn't take long to see though that something wasn't right. The little guy couldn't stand up, and when he did, he couldn't stay up. Rocky was the first and so far only bottle lamb I've had in the ten years I've kept sheep. He stayed with his Mom that night and the next day, as I was hoping that things would improve. June was becoming very skeptical of the little thing and would bat him away with her head. She was never terribly mean about it, but very firm.
Off to the vet we went to see if they could tell what was up. My Mom drove and Rocky rode calmly on my lap in the front seat of the van. At the vet's there was much bewilderment, and finally an attempt to make a wire frame and cast for his front leg that seemed most effected. Sixty-five dollars later we were on our way home. I left the cast on one day, and then took it off. He could not get up at all with it on. Even I could tell it wasn't his front leg that was the problem, but something in the construction of his shoulders was off--something a leg cast was never going to fix.
By then Rocky was standing on his own and could even do quite the little run and playing gig. I tried to keep him in the house at night, but the slick floors defeated him, so out to the barn he went to his own stall at night. Eventually he spent most of the day in a pen by the house, nights in the barn with the flock and when I was home, dogging (or lambing?) my footsteps. His front legs were always going to be shorter than his back legs, but he managed quite well.
For a bottle lamb he sure was a stubborn and independent cuss. Once he was big enough to be with the sheep he went out with them during the day and became a solid flock member.
He loved the lambs and for many years would participate in lamb races. Since he couldn't run as fast as the lambs (although he could run pretty darn fast when he was younger!), he would strategically place himself about halfway down the lamb race route and join them on the last half of their lap. It was quite the sight to see. The other sheep always accepted him and never gave him any hassles. The only danger was at feeding time when it was 'every ewe for herself', so I fed Rocky separate.
As he aged he lost some of the agility and mobility he possessed in his first years. Each year he seemed to lose a little more, but still seemed cheerful and in good spirits. Only in the last year, for the first time, had I noticed that his light was waning. I had made up my mind to have him put down in the fall so that he wouldn't have to endure another winter.
Most farms would not have kept Rocky alive. But as you probably figured out this isn't most farms. As long as he seemed to be in no pain, I was willing if he was to let him live out his life here. Life always had challenges for Rocky, but his stubborn, independent spirit overcame them daily. He always had to do things his way, and I'd often get exasperated at him, but also admired his spunk.
Rest well, little guy, we miss you very much.