One afternoon in December I was out gathering eggs when I looked across one of the pastures to count heads as I always do. Our sheep and goats are divided across the farm for various reasons. Sometimes it feels more like we are running a nursery school as they must often be divided by size, temperament and ability to get along with others! That afternoon I counted twice as I only saw Buddy, the larger of the Lincoln lambs. Inky Dink, his little half-brother, was missing. I put down my egg bucket and walked to that pasture to look to see if Inky was perhaps down the rise and out of sight. As I approached the gate I called his name. I immediately heard a very weak little cry. Not twenty feet from the gate a scattered pile of hay was moving. Inky was on his side and almost buried in the little bit of hay on the ground. He was on a bit of a hill with his head lower than his feet so I lifted him up, brushed him off and assumed he would shake it off and get going as soon as he got his bearings.
I gave him a hug, let him go and he flopped back to the ground. I noticed his neck was stiffly turning his head back toward his shoulder. That was bad. I hefted his 50 pound little body over my shoulder and hauled him into the stable. I then ran back to the house, checked all my information on listeriosis, pulled out the penicillin and a few other meds and went to work. Listeriosis is a bacterial infection of the brain which usually results in death in a matter of days. I did not want to lose little Inky so got to work. To make a long story short, after a month of nursing him he was up and around again. My sweet husband even set an alarm and gave him his 1 a.m. injections for that first week.
Now Inky is showing the effects of that health crisis. He is showing a wool break. It was not unexpected and I first noticed it a week ago. He seemed to be shedding out. He had been going about his normal day and the shedding wool was tangling in itself and dragging behind him.
Rather than let all his pretty wool go to waste, we began harvesting handfuls as we petted on him. He has a nice new healthy coat growing underneath. We were saddened to see how thin he had become but considering that he was ill for nearly a month and had very little appetite we were not surprised. In the time that he was down we watered him with a syringe, fed him grains by the handfuls and always had good hay with him but he had very little interest. Now that he has been up and about for a month his appetite is improving. He has learned that he will be rewarded with an extra treat when he follows us into the stable so meets us at the gate as soon as he sees us coming and trails behind us on the chance we are going toward the feed room. He has continual access to hay and is pulled aside for an extra daily feeding as well. It is just so good to see him up and on his feet even if he does look a little silly right now.