Notes from Windward: #62
A profile of Marge, one of our elder sheep
Marge relaxing in the Elder pen
It's time for the sheep in the Elder Pen to graze. Marge struggles to her
feet and hobbles over to meet me. Her arthritic knees fail her enroute
and she stumbles and falls several times on her way to the gate. But Marge is
determined to get there. She knows I have a special treat for her - alfalfa
pellets. All she has to do is make it to the gate.
Marge is a retired sheep. That means that her childbearing days are over. It
also means that she has special privileges. She lives in the Elder Pen where
there is not as much competition for food and status as in the Main Pen. The
Elder Pen has a longer grazing period than the Main Pen and is allowed to graze
unattended. So Marge is able to graze at her own pace and to go where she chooses.
She has a pattern she usually follows. First, she gets her treat from me at
the gate. Next she nibbles at the grass near her pen. Then she circles around the
main pen picking up the hay that has fallen on the ground near the feeders. After
that she hangs out near Heather's place for a while hoping to get one of her
favorite treats - bread.
Marge is the daughter of Ten and Lambie Pie. Ten was one of the first ewes
purchased for Windward. She was a Suffolk sheep and was the first Windward ewe to
have triplets. Lambie Pie was a Polypay ram and was one of the most beloved of
the Windward sheep. Among Marge's offspring are twin ewes born in 1997; a ram
born in 1998; and triplet ewes born in 1999. Marge and her mother have the
distinction of being the only Windward ewes to have borne triplets.
Not a pretty sheep, Marge is a big girl with a big face. She is eight years
old and now, because of the arthritis, it is difficult for her to stand and walk.
At her age her fleece doesn't grow much so she can no longer be shorn. Although
she looks shaggy, she is assured of having a nice warm coat for the winter.
Marge is not one of the 'friendly' sheep. She has a history of being wild -
i.e. skittish and easily startled. However, she eagerly comes to be fed treats by
hand. She will tolerate a pat on the nose when she gets her treats but she does
not want to petted or unnecessarily touched.
Marge has demonstrated that she has the determination to go for the things
she wants. Last year she developed an eye infection. She was sequestered from the
other sheep to prevent the infection from spreading. Marge didn't want to be
alone. She wanted to be with the flock. So she escaped from her isolation pen,
went to the gate of the main pen, and stood there waiting to be let in.
We have started giving Marge Glucosamine to ease the stiffness in her legs
make her final months more comfortable. Unfortunately, she doesn't like it and we
must use subterfuge to get her to take the pills. For our first attempts, we hid
her pills in bread. She caught on to that right away. No matter how we disguised
it, after a few chews on her bread, she found the Glucosamine and spit it out.
The same thing happened with bananas. Finally, we found the solution. We cut the
Glucosamine tablets in half and mix them with alfalfa pellets. She takes the
pills willingly in her crunchy treats.
Sheep-sheep! Sheep-sheep! It's time for the Elder Pen to come in from
grazing. As the sheep come back to the pen, I can see that Marge is not stumbling
as much. Walking around has done her some good. She hurries to the pen with her
companions. They get their oats now, a very special treat.