Saturday, January 24, 2009

Two sheep in the hand are worth a goat in the bush

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!!


Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

I've never had an animal give me its name; interesting! A suggestion on both sheep and goats: halters. They work great; much better at controlling the animal with less pulling on you, less strain on their necks for them.

Paula said...

Oh my gosh! I've never seen anything like that. All those burrs are terrible. Those poor girls are so lucky to come home to your farm. They look like Columbia's to me, but I haven't raised sheep in many years so I could be way off.

Deb said...

Not all animals end up in such a great home as these three did - how wonderful for them that you were willing to take them in!

Those poor sheep - I was given a ram and a ewe once that were covered with burdock. Holycow, those burrs are horrible. I can only imagine how much better that poor sheep feels!

Great names for these lucky creatures - not sure what kind of goatie you have but she's adorable :)

JK said...

The girls are so lucky you adopted them!

Tulip might be an Alpine/Nigerian Dwarf cross bred goat.
Her ears...if she was crossed with a Boer or Nubian (long ear goat) she might have airplane ears. Ears that stick straight out and droop a bit, not stand straight up as hers do.

Also she is shorter, stockier than a full size breed dairy goat like a ND. But then again, if she had a rough start in life, poor nutrition and such, any goat breed could be stunted.

Her nose might me a hint (kinda hard to tell in the photos)to her breed if it were a Roman nose, with that continuous curve...Nubians and Boers have the Roman type nose.

It's just wonderful you gave the girls a home!

Oh and on Stuffin, is she drinking more water of late, laying down more, nesting (trying to paw a bed like area) or has her udder plumped up more so lately? Those are signs we see as to their getting closer to kidding.

The ewes may be aggressive towards
Stuffin...2 against one type thing if you keep them with her.

Don said...

wow, what a nice story. I agre with your other commenters that you are so nice to rescue these animals and all of the work you did to remove those burrs!!! Your hands must have gotten a little sore after all that clipping.

The thought of the lanolin as a sort of reward to your hands is a nice thought. I can immagine that it got a little cold out there!

I look forward to updates on these newbies.

Joanna@BooneDocksWilcox said...

Tulip looks something like my Nigerians but a little different so like JK said, may be part ND.

If I lived close by, I'd come over and help ya anyway that I could. Another big cyber hug.

Mare said...

Oh my Goodness Claire..When i saw that picture of the sheep with the burrs, i started to cry. Poor things....I know with all that fleece it looks worse than it feels, but you know....I helped a friend clip an elderly dog once, who was that matted with burrs. It just breaks my heart what some poor creatures have to go thru. But now they are safe. I love their new names. I almost always wait and let the animals name themselves. That way, the name always fits just right! Sometimes i get the name after i have decided to take another animal here! It's a very strange thing, isn't it?

Mom L said...

Claire, I'm tearing up! I don't know if it's because of the condition of the sheep, the fact that anyone would let them get that way, or that you and Kelly have taken them into your barn and hearts. Tulip, Buttercup and what'shername must feel they've landed in Heaven this time!

Christy said...

Oh how wonderful! I'll have to check our local shelter and see if they get in farm animals. We are looking to get some sheep and I'd love to rescue some from a bad situation.

kristi said...

So, are you working like a non-profit rescue? Are you going to just rescue and/or raise certain breeds of livestock also? It disgusts me to know how irresponsible people are when it comes to having livestock. I use to see some pretty nasty things when I was working at the vet. When you take the animals, do you do all the worming & shots yourself? Premier #1 has pretty good prices on wormers & shots. I always have a bottle of Pen G & LA 200 on hand for those emergencies:) Okay, I'll shut up now:)

goatgirl said...

My first thought when I saw Tulip was Nigerian cross. She is lucky to have found you.

Diane L. Dodd said...

i love them! the comment above mine made me think you should name the third well with their story :)


girlwithasword said...

I totally agree with you about the names. our pets tell us theirs, when they arrive at our house! My dog Ollie took several days to tell us his name; so did our cat Asparagus.

Those burrs are AWFUL! I bet they are so grateful to you for a nice grooming and haircut.

Claire said...

Michelle - animals are pretty good with giving their names around here if I am patient enough to wait! The halters are a great idea. I'm going to buy some next week because we haven't got any.

Paula - Thanks for the Columbia suggestion. I'm adding it to the "maybe" list!

Deb - that poor ram and ewe that you got - how did they do over time?

JK - Thanks for the ND cross suggestion - several others have suggested it now too. We have 3 ND and they are so tiny in comparison, it never occurred to me before! Stuffin's udder has certainly plumped up, but it did that about a week to 10 days ago, and hasn't changed much since, although the initial change was considerable. No more laying down, drinking, or nesting than usual.

Don - thanks! My hand that used the scissors (right hand) is rather sore today. That was a lot of cutting! But she's so much better off for it, I don't mind!

Joanna - thank you for the cyber hug - I am sure my goats would love to visit your goats if you were closer!

Mare - it was remarkable how the names came into my head so vividly. I really felt like they were talking to me. Even though I'd had other names in mind, those came through loud and clear. I teared up when I first saw them at the shelter - so sad, but my heart is glad that we have given them a home.

Nancy - stay tuned for whatsername to speak up!

Christy - I hope your shelter takes farm animals. Sometimes they don't but they have a list of names of people who are willing to take them if the opportunity arises.

Kristy - no, we just help out our local shelter by adopting barnyard buddies (but not horses). We don't intend to be a shelter, and many of the animals we adopt can help us here on the farm - the donkeys are guardians for the little goats, the sheep have wonderful fleece for harvest, the angora goats' fleece is amazing, and the hens lay eggs. All our rescues have their jobs here on the farm! Yes, we do our own injections. I too keep a bottle of Pen-G in the fridge, and LA-200 and also Tylan and Sulmet and Aureomycin for the chickens, in case of coccidiosis or bacterial infections. I will check out premier next time I'm ordering!

Goatgirl - seems you're in the majority with the ND cross!

Diowa - I'll see if whatsername likes Lanolin, or if she provides me with another suggestion. It's all up to her!

Girlwithasword - I love the name "Asparagus" - maybe one of my chickens could get that name. They are not as forthcoming with name suggestions to me. Silly birds.

Shiloh Prairie Farm said...

What a difference! I love their new names!

Deb said...

They did pretty well for neglected animals. The ram has lived here for 4 years now. We love him - he's a finn and his fleece is gorgeous. Very gentle fellow and produces lovely babies :)
The ewe had a gorgeous fleece after we sheared off all the burrs and it grew out again. She was wild and scared to death of everything and everyone. It was so sad. She was never very healthy and despite all our best efforts, she didn't make it.

I was never sorry we tried and I would did it again.

I'm sure your girls will be fine. They look like they are pretty calm from your of luck!! :)

IsobelleGoLightly said...

Tulip is beautiful! Of course with all that beauty she must be at least some part Boer like me - hee hee. I'm sure those sheep are very happy in their new home!
Best wishes from Isobelle!

Wrensong Farm said...

Those are some mighty lucky sheep/goat! You are a saint!

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Awwww, that just breaks my heart all those burrs. They both looked so uncomfortable.
I bet Buttercup feels better now. Poor things :(


Brownie said...

Tulip looks like an Alpine/Nigerian Dwarf cross. And goats DO tell you their names...sometimes. Some need help, and want you to give them a name...others will tell you plainly! So happy that Tulip "spoke" to you!!!