(This is the story of Duncan. This story has some very gross parts because Duncan has had a rough life. If you are squeamish, it might be best to pass.)
Duncan is the last of the males in our flock. Then we will move to the girls. Duncan is a ram who is currently living at a friend’s farm because we are not set up to maintain two rams.
I had no plans for a second ram. But sometimes God’s plans are different than mine (sometimes-HA!) 🙂
(Photo: Duncan as a 3 month old lamb with Truffles the goat and his mom, Coleen)
Duncan was born in 2009 and we sold him as a three-month old lamb. He is the son of Coleen, the grandson of Brianna. His father and grandfather are Saxon. (It’s called in-line breeding, it isn’t illegal, we’ll discuss it in another post.) So genetically he is 3/4 Saxon. I sold him to a man who wanted to improve the quality of the wool in his flock– perfect assignment.
Several months after I sold him, a ewe (Chloe) died from our flock. It was haemonchus contortus, aka barber pole worm. It was a perfect summer for this parasite’s growth–warm and wet. According to the vet and feed store, sheep and goats were dying all over from this worm. Chloe had been on a regular worming program. My neighbor regularly wormed his goats and he lost most of his herd that summer.
I called those people I had sold lambs to, to warn them of what was happening. Duncan’s owner said, “Well, it’s funny that you called, he is almost dead.” He too was succumbing to haemonchus contortus. Amazingly, he was brought back from near-death with a blood transfusion from one of his ewes. Then he began to grow again, and became strong and beautiful.
The following spring (2010) when Duncan turned one, I got a call from his owner, distraught. The neighbor’s huskies had gotten into his pasture and killed the ewes. Duncan did his best to fight back against them to protect the flock, but they may as well have been wolves. When the owner happened onto the scene the ewes were dead, and the huskies were getting ready to finish off Duncan. He could not get the huskies to let go of him. He ended up shooting and killing the dogs.
Duncan was damaged but still alive. The vet came out and stitched his face back together and repaired as much damage as possible–he was covered in puncture wounds. When the man called me he was almost finished treating Duncan with the second round of antibiotics and asked me to please take Duncan back as he no longer wanted to keep sheep.
(Photo: Duncan comes home)
Of course, we welcomed him back home. I finished off the antibiotics and about a week after we got him (gross part coming up here–close your eyes if necessary) Duncan’s cheek sloughed off. It was beyond disgusting. Here we are at the height of fly season and his face is completely raw muscle and tendons. (Flies really torment sheep by laying eggs in wounds, to feed the maggots when hatched- it’s called fly-strike).
To top it off his rear end and leg grotesquely swelled up, obviously with some latent infection that just took awhile to manifest. Poor guy. I had to put him through two more rounds of antibiotics, this time injected into the muscle, not to mention keeping his face protected while it healed. Eventually he was better. And he was so sweet through everything. He is the friendliest sheep I have ever had, even more than the bottle-babies. He is totally people-oriented. I suspect he was very spoiled by the man who had him first.
So now he is fine, and I have two rams, and Saxon is going ballistic with Duncan on the other side of his gate. Saxon tried to get the gate down and did a very good job bending the metal.
Then a solution presented itself. A friend moved back to the area and wanted to borrow a few of my sheep for her new farm. She and her husband fell in love with Duncan and happily took him. Colin went along for company. In November we brought Colin back home and gave Abby to Duncan as a companion. The two will return home for shearing in March, and maybe a birth in April.
I can’t wait to see Duncan’s wool. He has been shorn twice but when sheep are injured they get a break in their wool so the fleece becomes unusable. After both of his life-threatening incidents the wool broke. This coming March will be the first complete fleece. After seeing his earlier samples, I think he might beat his dad in show– it’ll be exciting to see what happens!
So Duncan has had a very rough start to life, but he seems healthy and very well adjusted now. So that counts as a happy ending!