Does Mad Mary stay or go?

Have you noticed sometimes you care too much about a critter on the farm?

Have you noticed sometimes you care too much about a critter on the farm?

You give it treats when you go out to do chores, and then, once per year, you have a period when the checkbook rains on your love parade when the animal is supposed to produce something and doesn't.

I'm guilty.

Here's hypocritical me: I tell the kids never to get to attached to anything because sale day could come whenever a tractor breaks down or an emergency trip needs to be made. Most animals around here are labeled as "our savings account" or our "emergency fund." I also tell the kids no animal gets a free meal ticket.

So, why doesn't that apply to an ewe sheep? She lambed her first year, and that was it.


I have to tell my husband every year that everyone else has a lamb or two by their side, and she doesn't. This ewe is different — she's got sweet eyes and has a Southdown kind of smile. On the other hand, she's dingy and not particularly friendly. Why am I keeping her around again?

I tell him how she was traumatized and, because of this, will never lamb again, and now, it's our duty to take care of her. Each year, he either buys that rubbish or he just has given up. I can't tell for sure, and I don't ask questions.

Without further adieu, Mad Mary's story.

I came out of the house three or four years ago and noticed the ram sneaking back into his pen under some fencing that separated the older ewe lambs from his pen. First lesson I learned: Sheep aren't as dumb as I had heard they were supposed to be. I anchored down the fence and noticed a little wool on the bottom of it. Five months later, my daughter came running in saying Mary was lambing.

She was lambing, and they were hip locked. I couldn't get the lamb out, and it was dead. Because Ron was gone, I called neighbors for help. The only one home was my neighbor right across the road. I told him I just needed muscle. Bless his heart -- he came over quaking in his boots and wearing gardening gloves. You know the kind; the ones made out of knit.

He then proceeded to tell me he'd never done this before. His dad never pulled calves but always called the vet. He himself barely dealt with animals.

I told him how to go about it. He still wore the gloves and was stressed about having to reach inside her. He was so focused he wasn't even listening to me.

I tried telling him she was a registered show ewe, and we had to be somewhat delicate, but he didn't hear.


Finally, the neighbors who got my message started coming over. By this time, the lamb was pulled, and the neighbor was home and probably bathing in antibacterial soap and calling a counselor. They helped clean her up and gave her a shot so she wouldn't get an infection. She came through with flying colors but has yet to produce another lamb.

If she was bred this year, she would lamb in March. She's fat and sassy like all the rest, but I really don't think she's going to have a baby. Do I keep her around one more year, or do I put wheels under her? Or do sweet eyes, a cute smile and her happy idiot attitude justify her sticking around?

Time will tell, I suppose, or something will break down.

Until next week, Fairchild Farmgirl

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