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It's National Hug a Sheep Day (and a heart-warming story)

29 Oct 2011
Sunny 21°C / 70°F

In case you are not aware, today is National Hug a Sheep Day! Finley, however, prefers skritching since hugging is much too confining (as in uh-oh the wormer must be coming next). He suggested I tell his story.

Five years ago I rescued Finley’s mother, Phoebe, off the highway where she stood motionless for four days. I had no idea what kind of animal she was, almost black with beaten up horns and white for eyes. She was emaciated and blind from a case of pinkeye that had obviously gone long untreated. She was, at the very least, frightening looking.

There were no other similar animals around, nor could I locate an owner, so I convinced Farmer Rick to help me bring her home. She could only run in circles, so we were able to grab her, and after much struggling, got her into the back of the SUV. We put on a head harness and basically had to drag her to back to the pen.

My vet identified her as a Barbados Blackbelly (hair) sheep with possibly some Rambouillet (wool) sheep mixed in and said the animal had neurological damage. Perhaps she had been hit by a car. At first Phoebe was wary of us, but she really liked having a steady supply of water and nutritional sheep kibble. For a wild sheep, she was full of personality. We got rid of the pinkeye, but she was still blind. Her eyes looked like large blue Earths. She started putting on weight.

A lot of weight. In about three weeks she had become more friendly and almost doubled in size. Then one morning she swished her tail and I saw them. Milk bags! I called my knowledgeable shepherding friend in Kentucky and she said ewes usually lamb in February. So I ordered a book about ewe and lamb care.

Finley arrived before the book! We had a rooster named Avo living with Phoebe (he’s featured in my regular blog masthead). He had been a little rough with the hens so we built him an apartment on the side of the sheep shed. Little did we know that he would fall in love with the blind sheep, who became his “fuzzy hen”. He would mount her and ride her around, and would tidbit at her food dish so she could find her food. They grazed together. It was very sweet.

The day Finley arrived I knew something was up, because Avo was pacing frantically back and forth at the gate and Phoebe was nowhere in sight. Just as I looked behind the shed, there was Finley popping out! The vet did not think either of them would live. Phoebe lived another three years, and considering her former abused life, lived to be an old lady. Finley is a strapping lad. I hope someday to get a few more sheep and learn to spin.

Be sure to hug a sheep!

1. Avo and Finley 2006
2. Baby Finley, day one
3. Avo and his “fuzzy hen”
4. Avo helping the blind Phoebe find her food.
5. The Flowerweaver and Finley on National Hug a Sheep Day 2011!


Photos


Comments

great story

Posted on 29 Oct 11 (over 5 years ago)

why do you have so many awesome stories about such phenomenal animals? You need to write a book.

Posted on 30 Oct 11 (over 5 years ago)
graibeard

graibeard

Folia Helper

Australia9b

Pinkeye is a nasty disease by all accounts. I’ve been doing some reading on it lately and it seems that nature has to take its course basically, and good care, and attention are the best treatment. Luckily for Phoebe she found you!
Great story, great pics! Give Finley a hug for us, or a skritch if it’s too close to worming time! :-)

Posted on 30 Oct 11 (over 5 years ago)
Orenda

Orenda

Folia Helper

United States5a

No Sheep around here ~ so please give Finley a hug (and a cookie, your YouTube of him begging for one is delightful) from me. I also agree with anelson….you should write a book! Thank you for such a heart warming story.

Posted on 30 Oct 11 (over 5 years ago)

What a wonderful tale – it made me both smile and brought a lump to my throat.

Posted on 30 Oct 11 (over 5 years ago)
laurieann

laurieann

Folia Helper

United States7b

great story and I’m with anelson – you definitely need to write a book!

Posted on 30 Oct 11 (over 5 years ago)

It’s Nanowrimo – aka write a novel in a month month. No time like the present to step up to the book. :)

Posted on 31 Oct 11 (over 5 years ago)
Tralamander

Tralamander

Folia Helper

United Kingdom8b

A lovely story and some gorgeous photos. Thank you, flowerweaver. :)

Posted on 31 Oct 11 (over 5 years ago)

Thanks flowerweaver! What a great thing to read on a chilly monday morning! I think that the animals just know where to find you (:

ps – I’d buy your book for sure!

Posted on 31 Oct 11 (over 5 years ago)

@mikewrt @graibeard @LouiseM @Tralamander Thanks!

@anelson @Orenda @laurieann @Jocelyn @nickyn Thanks! Many people have told me this over the years: write a book! I have been published in magazines (mostly about plants and outdoor adventures) but I have been reading books about writing memoirs and thinking that I probably have enough interesting material between the animal stories and the odd characters in this little town :)

Nanowrimo sounds very interesting, but this could not be written in a month, especially a month with so many events and travel plans. I’ve also committed myself to a 3 month book project I will soon be sharing with my Folia friends!

Posted on 31 Oct 11 (over 5 years ago)
vaericks

vaericks

Folia Helper

United States4a

Great story. Never would have guessed Finley was that dark as a lamb!

But really, this has got to stop – while you were struggling so with the drought your journals would often bring tears to my eyes…and now that you have water you get me weepy with a sheep story!

Posted on 03 Nov 11 (over 5 years ago)

@vaericks Thanks! Finley’s skin is black, his hair (what you see in his baby pics) is red, and his wool is brown bleached to blonde by the sun. Usually Barbados Blackbelly sheep have hair (being considered desert sheep), but Phoebe was part Rambouillet which has a very soft and fine brown wool. Since I live too remotely I’ve never found a shearer, so I roo him, by gently pulling the loose wool off in sections over many weeks. But if I did shear him, you would see the red hair is still there underneath all the wool.

Posted on 03 Nov 11 (over 5 years ago)
carms

carms

Folia Helper

United Kingdom8a

virtual hug for Finley

Posted on 04 Nov 11 (over 5 years ago)

How adorable!
I happen to know a little bit about spinning and weaving, and that hobby led me to an interest in sheering sheep… But the labour was so painful, and I’m a city girl with no sheep around so my shearing dreams kinda went wayward. I can say though you may have a hard time finding someone to shear just ONE sheep, as they tend to want to do the larger jobs, especially if you are in a remote area. Perhaps try contacting your local 4H club to see if there are any young sheep shearers in the making that would love some practice…?

Posted on 04 Nov 11 (over 5 years ago)

Flowerweaver, I absolutely adore both you and Farmer Rick! You are just such kind and wonderful people. I wish you lived close by.

Posted on 04 Nov 11 (over 5 years ago)

@bcgarden2010 I’ve long since given up trying to find a shearer, and rooing is very simple. I think Finley actually enjoys it.

@sheepandwool Thank you for such a sweet comment! If the drought continues you may find us living closer!

Posted on 04 Nov 11 (over 5 years ago)

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