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!