This morning our new vet came for a visit to check on Jack: he's showing a head tremor, which is worrisome in a sheep as it can be a symptom of scrapie (an always fatal neurological disease). The vet believes, thankfully, that Jack's problems relate to his neck wounds received in the tussle with McKenzie - there may be an abscess in there still, or perhaps there's just been some nerve damage. He's on new antibiotics for a week now: if that doesn't clear things up we'll do some bloodwork and see what's going on, but all in all it's good news. We can deal with an abscess: it may be messy and a little painful, but it isn't likely to be fatal. Whew. I didn't want to lose him, he's such a sweetheart.
In other sheep related news, you may recall that in October I bought two purebred Icleandic ewes and two Suffolk/Icelandic cross lambs from a lady nearby. I got an amazing deal on the sheep: $50 each (CDN), so I couldn't turn them down! The ram lamb, Bruce, had been wethered ... or so I was told. (For you city slickers, this means he's been "fixed".) I assumed the task had been done with a Burdizzo when I noticed that he had a package - the boy's goods fall off when the task is done with an Elastrator, which is the more usual method in this neck of the woods. (Apologies to all male readers, who are now cringing at the very thought of the procedures involved, but this is relevant to our discussion!)
Anyway, I noticed Bruce paying a lot of attention to the girls earlier this week. Hmm, could the wethering have been incomplete? With a Burdizzo, it can happen. Well, since the vet was coming out anyway, I asked her to have a feel. Sure enough, this 'wether' has his full package and is likely to be fully functional! We have a ram! I'm quite pleased about this, actually, as Bruce has a fabulous white fleece that feels like silk, and it'd be great to have fleece like that passed on to some lambs.
Now, Bruce being intact would explain one other mystery that surfaced this week. Natalie, one of the Icelandic ewes, is looking VERY large in the middle. I had noticed Natalie's belly getting kind of big, but the Icelandics have so much wool I didn't think much of it. Then I noticed her belly seemed to have 'dropped' the other day ... ummm ... that's what they say happens before lambing! Here's the mystery: even if she'd been tupped (shepherd's term for 'knocked up') she couldn't possibly be showing yet, as she was only exposed to a ram after they were introduced to Jack in October. Sheep are pregnant for about five months, so that'd mean no lambs until March or so - it's way too early to be noticing anything. The mystery is solved, though: she'd been running in the pasture all summer with a sneaky ram lamb who was masquerading as a wether ... and Bruce apparently got some work done early!
The vet confirmed my suspicions when she was here this morning, she says it does look like Natalie is quite pregnant - so we're keeping an eye out for lambs now! I hadn't expected any early lambs but I'll be more than happy to have them ... The Boy needs early lambs for his 4H project: we were going to have to find some to purhcase, but if we can provide our own, so much the better. :)
Now to see if we can help our sheep through this adventure ... wish us luck on our very first, earlier than anticipated, lambing season!