Sarka has been with us for a few years now. She has always been a bit nervous but Sarka and Nicole have a very close friendship. I think she quite likes me too!
As it turns out, she has a heart condition. This means that if she gets anxious, she can get into quite a panicky state with racing heartbeats and shallow breaths. Last year, the vet’s prognosis wasn’t good. However, straight after that vet’s visit, she started to improve and has, basically, since then been quite a healthy sheep.
Sadly, recently, she she seems to have developed arthritis in one of her front legs making it a bit difficult for her to walk. The vet said nothing could be done. Nicole wasn’t having that and after some research, found that willow is a favourite of sheep and has painkiller properties. Well, we have plenty of willow here. And it worked, she became more mobile and seemed pretty happy. Just a clicking sound when she walks, but the vet assured us that was nothing to be worried about. We had to take quite a lot of willow in because the rest of the flock tucked in with gusto as well.
With autumn and the leaves dropping, we have switched to willow supplements.
Anyway, in the last couple of days she has developed a problem with one of her hind legs. We can’t tell if she’s twisted it or whether the arthritis has spread. It coincided with the rain on Thursday so she could easily have slipped.
We have been quite lucky with the weather recently, cold but bright. That is the sheeps’ favourite. However, today winter conditions arrived with a vengeance – driving heavy rain, and 50mph winds. The sort of rain that soaks through waterproofs in about 10 minutes.
On the morning inspection, Nicole found Sarka right up the hill. On the picture to the right, trace the wall up past the copse and she was up there. In fact, Sarka was about as far away from the main field shelter as she could get! Nicole took some food up; hedge stuff (which Sarka really likes), veggie garden produce, willow and haylage (also very popular).
Of course, at this point, I was reading the news on the computer. However, with Nicole being out for a while, my brain cells started to work and I thought I should go and check everything was OK. I found Nicole filling the hay feeders with hay, much to the sheeps’ delight. Sarka, however, was up the hill and so we returned to check on her.
To me, she seemed OK, but also a bit out of sorts. My intuition was telling me we needed to get her out of the rain. But how? We couldn’t exactly put her on the quad bike and she certainly wasn’t able to walk anywhere. Thankfully, we have a pig arc up in that field (you can’t see it in the photo, but it’s over to the right). It was a fair way from Sarka (about 50m or so) but it was downhill. On impulse, I started to lift her. Now, your average sheep weighs around 80kg so this was easier said than done. I needed Nicole’s help to get up on my feet, but I had her and set off I set as fast as I could. The ground was tricky – sedge grass, puddles, soft bits – we had to be careful.
Sarka was heavy and my arms tired quickly (I was carrying her in what I call a “dog lift”, my arms wrapped around her legs). Every few steps, I had to stop and let Nicole take the weight for a few seconds. As I neared the pig arc, I could feel Sarka starting to roll off me, but Nicole answered my panicky cries and between us, we got her into the pig arc.
Nicole had already filled it with fresh straw, so it was very warm and dry. We are so relieved and will be looking after her carefully.