Yet another rescue was completed today by your friendly Iowa blog buddies. Today, we rescued a goat and two sheep, of course, from the Animal Rescue League. We love our shelter - and they love us! These critters were surrendered by a farm in Northern Iowa but the shelter in their area only took their dogs and cats. That shelter called our shelter to see if the goats and sheep and horses could be brought here, which they were. Not long after that, the shelter contacted us....their favorite farm folks. And there began the story.
I went to see the trio on Thursday at lunch hour. What a sorry state they were in. I have never seen so many burrs on any animal in my life. But other than the condition of their fleeces, they were relatively healthy looking. Their hooves were fine and their weight seemed normal, so I agreed to take them on. This afternoon, around 3, we went to the shelter. It took some effort to load the sheep into the back of the pickup. Primarily this was because they lay down as soon as we put a lead on them. These are not small sheep. So the loading of the sheep required heavy lifting, significant persuasion, and a lot of heaving and shoving. Once they were in, we proceeded to load the goat. She was a different kind of trouble. Once on a lead, she decided to demonstrate her strength and determination. It took us both to get her loaded, but only after she took Kelly on a bit of a joy ride.
So, we brought them home, and decided to deal with the goat first, since she had some burrs in her fur, but nothing like the sheep. I honestly believe that animals can choose their own names. As I began brushing her out with a curry comb (which was highly effective in burr removal), I encouraged her to consider her name. I hugged her and pressed my forehead to hers, willing her to tell me her name. I suggested "Latte" and "Cocoa" and other names that pertained to her colouring, but nothing worked for her. Finally, after brushing out all the burrs, we took her out to the goat pen, to meet all her new friends and family. As I was holding her by the gate, it was as if she screamed her name into my head. It came in a burst of colour and light. Tulip. The name she chose was Tulip. So vividly she told me, I swear she spoke it. Off she went into the herd, to meet her new friends. Tulip had finally come home.
I'm not sure what breed(s) she is. She is extremely strong. She certainly hasn't got Boer or Nubian ears, although she has Boer strength.
She is quite stocky, but has a stripe down her back. She is way too big for pygmy. Any thoughts? I'm accepting all guesses and suggestions!
We went back into the barn and dug out the sheep shearing clippers that Kelly had purchased a couple of months ago. I also got out some garden snips, that I thought might be useful for areas that were tricky to shear with the clippers.
We knew it was going to be a tough task. These sheep were absolutely covered in burrs.
The condition of their fleece was appalling, especially around their head and neck.
I began with the snips, just to see what I was getting into. After a few careful snips, lo and behold, white fleece began to appear underneath the mess!
I progressed to the clippers and got about 1/4 finished, when the clippers decided to sort of explode in my hand, with pieces going every which way. Wow. Spectacular! Unfortunately, the tab that held the pieces in place had sheared, and we need new parts. So, the rest of the sheep was shorn using garden snips. Thank goodness they were sharp. It took about 2 hours, much of which I spent laying on the concrete floor of our unheated barn while Kelly held the sheep steady.
I was able to remove about 1 to 2 inches all over her, and still leave her with about 3 inches of clean fleece all over. As I clipped, I asked her about her name, of course. Just like the goat, she told me clearly. Buttercup. And so shall she be. I am sure she will remain warm in these cold days, and yet she must be more comfortable now. Her fleece, to my untrained hands, felt very greasy. There must have been a lot of lanolin I suppose. My hands feel very soft and smooth now. There might even be enough to have a decent amount to spin when she is properly shorn in the spring.
Look - a brand new sheep! She must feel so much better now!
What a tremendous difference.
Is that yet another sheep? Oh no, that is just the parts of Buttercup that ended up in a heap on the floor!
It was nearly 9:30 pm by the time we finished with her, so we will do her sister tomorrow. I haven't got a name from her sister yet though. We put them in the pen with Stuffin and Puffin for tonight, because they don't know any of the sheep outside, and it was dark, so we thought that might distress them. Look how grubby her sister looks with all those burrs in her. Poor thing. Just hang on until tomorrow!
I feel really good that we adopted these girls and have given them a new home where they will not only be well fed and housed, but will also be properly groomed and cared for. It is the very least that they deserve.
Anyone at all with suggestions on their breed, please speak up!!