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