Posted by Johanna Harness on Apr 13, 2011
Finally, here it is: an explanation of The Great Sheep Incident and the mysterious elbow injury.
First an update on the elbow: Yesterday my doctor said the elbow seemed okay, but she sent me down for an x-ray anyway. Late in the day, a rush call came from the nurse, telling me the radiologist had some concerns. So today I went in to see an orthopedist. There are two fractures, one worse than the other. I’ll have this brace on my arm for the next four weeks.
It’s difficult to wrap my mind around how powerful a little sheep can be. Apparently this has been difficult for others as well.
Husand: What happened?
Me: I got tossed by a sheep.
Husband: You mean she knocked you down?
Me: Nope. She threw me.
Husband: You mean she butted you?
Me: Nope. She tossed me up in the air. My feet were off the ground. I landed on my elbow.
Husband: What happened?
Here’s what happened:
A ewe gave birth early in the morning. The lamb wandered among the rest of the flock, crying. Her mama responded to her cries, but never remained close enough for the lamb to nurse.
I did what I normally do in that situation: I moved them both into a smaller pen and brought the ewe extra food. Sometimes confinement does the trick. The lamb quits trying to bum milk from every available ewe and focuses on her mom. The mom stays close. It works itself out.
I waited and watched. The lamb kept crying and the ewe kept side stepping. I waited even longer. Still no progress.
Mama and baby needed an assist. I’ve helped lambs and ewes in much worse situations. This was nothing.
I planned to hold the ewe until the lamb started nursing. Usually ewes figure out pretty quickly that the pressure on the udder lessens and this is a good thing.
So I eased up next to the ewe, making soothing noises. I planted my feet. There should have been nothing very challenging about this. I was already close. The ewe was relatively small. She had nowhere to run.
It never occurred to me she would bounce straight up.
In the split-second I was in the air, holding tight to wool, I remembered the time my dad tried to teach me to water ski. “Just hold on,” he said. And back then, when I fell, I did just that. I kept holding on while the boat dragged me along under water. My sheep revelation bubbled up just the same, a slow motion consideration of the possibility that hanging on might not actually be a good idea. Maybe I should let go.
Wool released, I slammed against the other side of the pen. All my weight came crashing down on my poor elbow. I cried and cursed and rolled around. When I opened my eyes, the ewe stood over me, staring down at what she’d done. Hay spilling out one side of her mouth, she chewed and tipped her head, clearly confused. And in that moment, when we both assessed each other, stunned? The lamb saw her chance, jumped in, and started to nurse.
I’ve posted more pictures of lambs in my Flickr stream.
I have a video of House Lamb on YouTube.
And today I posted a blog entry about lambing and writing on Gem State Writers.