Saturday, December 27, 2008

Cherrington Alice 1997 - 2008

Rest in Peace my little Ali-baa-baa.

Sadly, after a brave battle, Alice passed away on December 26th, 2008.

I write this as a tribute to the wonderful ewe and mother that she was - and to help make me feel better. I always find writing to be very therapeutic - but, as I write this, I can't stop crying.

Alice (or Ali-baa-baa as I nicknamed her), was a most gentle and loving ewe.
She loved to eat, she loved attention. She was a wonderful mother to her lambs -and had a very friendly personality. She was never skittish, and thus her lambs were very friendly. She was totally trusting.

Ali was not the most correct shetland I've ever had. She had a jelly belly because she loved to eat - however - her fleece was the most amazing - white, single coated, crimpy and soft fleece I have ever experienced. We never sheared more than 3 pounds from her - but what we got was a treasure. She never complained during shearing, and willingly submitted in exchange for food.
A couple of times, Alice spent the evening in the back pasture alone - under the pear tree, because she was too busy eating pears to join the rest of the flock.
In the autumn - she knew where the good stuff was - and always led the flock out to the pear tree for wind fall pears.

Alice had a most unusual and Deep Baa - she could have sang baritone for the opera. She had the ability to let out a deep baa - and hold that note for a long, long time. At first, when we got her, she drove me crazy with her baa - then, after a while - I found it soothing, reassuring. I knew that everything was good in the pasture or the barn when I'd walk in and hear her. Someone once asked me to sell her to them, and I declined - based mostly on the fact that I would miss her baa in the mornings - what am I going to do now?

I bred Alice 2 years ago, as a final breeding before I retired her. I noticed that she was having a hard time keeping the weight on, and last winter moved her over to my special needs group so that she could get a bit of extra grain and mash every day, and she rebounded.

A few weeks ago, I noticed that there wasn't a baa when I went out to the barn.
I had been busy getting ready for Christmas - and away tending to several pottery sales. I hadn't been spending the time with my sheep that I should have.

We pulled her from the flock to the special needs stall, but she really wasn't all that interested in her food. She was content to sit under the heat lamp and look around - loving the attention - chewing her cud.

Although we treated her aggressively, in the end, we knew that it was best that we spend as much quality time together as possible. I spent a great deal of time just talking to her and petting her and scratching her ears - which she loved.

We aren't sure, but do suspect that she may have had pneumonia, although she
didn't show real signs of respiratory distress until late Christmas night. Yesterday morning, I knew - and I hugged her one last time. When I returned to check on her a few hours later, she had slipped away.

Silly - but we buried her with a pear to nourish her during her journey. Many people will tell you that animals have no souls - I beg to differ.

Alice isn't the first sheep I've lost - and of course - she won't be the last. But we will remember her fondly as one of the best sheep we ever had

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

I want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas - and a happy and blessed New Year.

Sorry - there will be no pictures with this post - but I will have more pictures with my next post.

As 2008 comes to an end (and many of us will be happy to see it go), we all hope for a
wonderful, happy and healthy 2009. May it bring us all better days.

I seem to be playing catch up an awful lot these days. It seems that Christmas crept up on
us without warning.

So, here's what has been happening around here:

This past week, we have had 3 snow storms - and 18" of new snow on the ground. That's 18" of snow on top of the already 12" of snow on the ground. Then, on Christmas Eve day, we had rain - pouring rain. Now - we have lots of ice. We still have lots of snow - but under it all is Ice. This week is forecast to warm up a bit - but we're supposed to get another 2" of rain on Saturday - at least it may melt some more of this snow.

Luckily, my daughter was able to get a flight in from Newfoundland last Saturday (hundreds of flights were cancelled due to a storm the previous day, but hers managed to get through) - we changed her flight at the last minute - otherwise she would still be in Halifax. It was so wonderful to see her again - since she's been away at university in Newfoundland since September. It appears that for the next few years, we may only get to see her at Christmas, as she will be doing her officer training with the Armed Forces in New Brunswick during her summer break (more on that when we get confirmation).

On the sheep front - my poor sheep are all barn bound - and a little bit stir crazy. We have had horrible cold weather, snow storms, wind storms, rain, freezing rain, you name it. They have all been locked in with very little time outside. I am able to get them outside on a bit of a rotational basis when we have the odd nice day, but that hasn't been very often.

Unfortunately, one of my favourite ewes "Alice" is down - and it doesn't look good. She
is 11 years old, and since breeding her last year, I've had a hard time keeping weight on her. I noticed that other day that she was looking really skinny, and when I pulled her, she's not well at all. I suspect pneumonia - and am drenching, giving shots and treating her agressively, although I don't hold out much hope, as she really is refusing to eat. My vet will be back out on Monday to re-assess the situation. At that time, I will have him also look at my oldest ewe Mary, who is now 13 years old and is having great difficulty getting around. Mary has the most wonderful and soft fleece - even at 13 years of age. She is very arthritic, and this past year has been rough on her. I've noticed with this last cold snap that she is having a really hard time getting up and moving around.

As far as family goes - luckily, we are all healthy. I currently have a nasty cold, and feel quite blah - but other than that, all is well. We feel blessed that our daughter made it home from Newfoundland for the Christmas break. Our wonderful son, who has just turned 16 has been a wonderful help here on the farm. Both him, and my husband have both been wonderful in helping with the barn chores in the evenings while I have been so busy with work, pottery sales, and getting ready for Christmas.

That's all for now - hopefully, I won't get so busy again that I can't post for 6 more weeks.