Apifera Farm - where art, story, animals & woman merge. Home to artist Katherine Dunn

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Saturday, March 14, 2009

There's a new star in the sky tonight

At 7 days old, the little orphan lamb of Rosie died last night. I was shocked.

He had been making some headway, and had a good day in the sun. There were signs yesterday that he was not normal, however, and I suspect white muscle disease, caused by selenium deficiency. All the signs were there: weak hind end and difficulty moving. When he was born, he could not stand until day 2 or 3, but we gave him the benefit of the doubt since it had been a dam with ketosis and he was a triplet. His walking had been stronger, but yesterday I noticed a limp on the one hind leg, but he still walked with me up to the chicken coop. But he spent the entire lying down, and completely separate from the flock. He took one bunny hop [a normal lamb activity], but then rested. He was still eating ok, and had jaw strength. But when I brought him into the house at night and put him in his fireside box for feeding, I noticed a sudden change. He seemed weaker, suddenly. When I returned 15 minutes later to feed him, he could hardly stand, and his heart/pulse was pumping so hard I could see it move in his little body. His breathing was slightly labored, and he kept stretching his neck - obviously uncomfortable and trying to breathe better.

It was clear he would die. It seemed so sudden, but he had never really been quite right. My understanding is there is a cardiac version of white muscle disease [which is basically like muscular dystrophy] and a lamb can literally stand up and have a heart attack. I had given Rosie selenium supplement in her feed, and I had given him a Bose shot [selenium and Vit E] but I assume that with the triplets and the ketosis, he just lacked it. Or he might have had a multitude of deficiencies from his birth. If I had not helped with the delivery, he would have died. I question if saving him was the right thing. He had seven days of life, it meant something. I'm not sure what at this point, but it meant something. I don't have a guide book on the meaning of life.

I'm so glad yesterday was warm and sunny, so his last day was spent in warm sun on some hay. He was held a lot, and Huck licked him like a mama ewe. I let Guinnias in to the orchard so he had some creature companion within sight. I asked him at one point, "What is your gift?" Not sure I have words for that answer yet.

I will bury him by Rosie. So look for a new, shiny, bright star tonight, perhaps in a group of three, with one slightly larger star hovering near by.

15 comments:

farmlady said...

They are all together again. Rosie will be so pleased.

Kathy said...

What a sad season it's been for you. I hope you know that there is a special place in heaven for you. You're a very special lady.

blackfeatherfarm said...

Well this one breaks my heart .....

Terry Busse said...

I'm so sorry. what a sweet little one he was.
Lots of love to you and your farm

maccandace said...

It's too sad, I'm sorry, he was a precious little life.

Claire said...

Oh no! I am so surprised. Maybe he just needed to be with his Mummy. I'm so sad for all your losses. I loved to see the pictures of your "Life" post to see that it still goes on.

Tonia said...

I am right now, struggling with the question of putting my cat Sibella "to sleep." I am sorry for the losses you have had. It is hard to see the big picture sometimes. The wheel turns and there is loss or life. If you find a guide book on the meaning of life, let me know. You are in my thoughts. -tonia

coloredsock said...

so sorry, K...

Apifera Farm said...

Thanks, everyone.It has been sad. WHile I'm relieved he went fast, it seemed so sudden - but he had a hard birth, and really would have suffered down the road. Once these animals lie down, they are suffering - that has been the hardest part, watching so many suffer - so the death is a relief.

Tonia, it's a hard decision, but how lucky we are as caregivers to be given the choice and means to end their lives when they need us most. If you have never been with an animal that is put down, to not be afraid, it's very peaceful, and they are with you when it happens. if we coulld all have it like this.

whimseycreations said...

Oh I'm so sorry. You've just been having a hard few weeks and I pray they get better for you. Poor little guy. Hugs!
Jill

Deborah Weber said...

Katherine - I did see the stars tonight. They are all held in a vast sea of love.

Sunflower said...

I am so sorry. Losing someone you love is devastating. I learned this week that we will be able to be with our animals in the life after this. I thought that was so comforting to know because we all love our animals so much. You are so good to the animals you take care of. You are such an inpiratation, Katherine.
Debbie

Shanster said...

Oh - I'm sorry to hear this! Take care of yourself. Let the new life from the other ewes help to heal... they are healthy and strong. You did a great job - may not feel like it to you - but you did. Cheers -

Red Fish Circle said...

oh my, so sorry to hear this news. seven days of love though.

Cathy said...

Oh my dear, I completely missed this. Wishful thinking, maybe. I'm so sorry.

I've learned so much from your wisdom and compassion. This little boy's gift is special, and I thank you for sharing the miracle of his brief life with all of us.

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Thank you for reading! The farm and my art/writing keep me hopping, so might not respond immediately. Thank you for understanding. ~Katherine & Apifera ~