In order to get female ruminants over the border into Canada, they either had to come from a premises that was certified scrapie-free for at least 5 years (which I could not provide, since I had only owned my farm for 3 years and had never sought scrapie certification) or they had to be spayed. I chose to spay Lucky Nickel and Kenzie in order to take them with me and comply with the regulations.
My vet kindly allowed me to observe the spaying operations first hand, which were very interesting for me. I was not at all disturbed by the inside view of my animals - they are marvelous living "machines" with a wonderful physiology that I find fascinating. I was confident after the operations that all had gone well. Due to their long incisions with multiple stitches, I had to keep them in the house for a number of days to prevent any infection. Both of them wore "Depends" undergarments for women (size small!) and t-shirts, with safety pins used to keep the Depends in place and thus keep the wounds covered. The first couple of days, both were very quiet. I put them in my basement unfinished area with lots of blankets, food and water, and frequent visits from me. The fact that my house was still on the market was a complicating factor! I could tell from her stance that Lucky Nickel was in some pain - note her hunched back.
Meanwhile, quiet little Kenzie stayed in the basement, and when I checked on her, I found she had not passed any solid wastes. I worried that she wasn't eating due to pain, and gave her banamine for pain relief and held her in my lap for a time.
On Day 5, Lucky Nickel was bouncing around on hay bales as if nothing had happened. Kenzie was quiet, listless, and remained unmotivated to eat. I really began to worry. I called the vet and made an appointment for her. The next day she went in and they thought she was constipated. She spent a day on fluids and milk of magnesia. No effect. The next day, they decided to operate.
Tragically, a loop of bowel had pushed its way through the internal layer of stitches, causing a blockage (and causing the lump that I had felt). Her colon tissue was only just beginning to die, after 5 days, which the vet said was really surprising, and an indicator of how healthy she had been. They removed a portion of her colon, sutured the ends back together, and hoped for the best. The best was not to come. She died that night, in the cold steel kennels that usually hold dogs and cats. Alone and in pain.
I did this to her. I chose to take her with me. I chose to get her spayed. I chose my own selfish desires to take a sheep with me on my long journey, so that I could have the comfort of their company when I arrived, and feel that I had taken part of what I had started here in Iowa. If I had not taken her, she probably would have gone to the same home where her sister went. Her sister was bigger - would Kenzie have been the one to die in the dog attack if she had been there? I cannot say. All I know for sure is that I was trying to make the right decision, and I failed her. This has eaten at me all week. I have had her cremated and will take her ashes with me to the home that she was meant to have. I hope she will forgive me my selfishness. I have cried enough tears to sink a canoe this week, and they're just not stopping.
Lucky Nickel has continued to thrive and is behaving in all her usual ways. She is horrified at the fact that she now has to wear an enormous COW tag in her ear for ID purposes. I have promised her that I can remove it when we are settled in Nova Scotia. She says she is NOT a COW! It makes her ear droopy and uneven with the other one, which is slightly amusing, but I try not to laugh at her.
In other news (which is actually good news but is still sad for me), my two angora bunnies went to a wonderful new home at Hedgeapple Farm this week. I bought my first registered Icelandic sheep there, and have spent many good times at my spinning guild with the farm's owners. I know my rabbits are in good hands. In addition, Valentino, the ultimate curly-whirly angora wether found a new home on an alpaca farm, and unexpectedly, Horton, Misky and Larke all went with him. While I am thrilled that my animals have wonderful new homes, it is still hard as they leave, each one taking a little piece of my heart and mind.
Despite all the unhappy news, I did have a huge weight lifted from me this week. I actually sold my farm, and am now just waiting for the inspection and closing. This is incredible, given that it has been on the market just a few days over 3 months, and given the dreadful state of the US housing market. I am in awe. When one is doing the right things in one's life, somehow, the pieces seem to fall into place. I have no other way to explain this turn of events. My mind just keeps saying the same thing over and over...."meant to be." I wish I could say the same for Kenzie.