Goodbye, Little Eeva

There are times that farm life is very sad.  It is always REAL – there’s no denying the muddy boots, the fragrance of barnyard wafting through the kitchen window, the aching back after shoveling manure, and the bruises after catching and vaccinating sheep.  Every day life on a farm is real.  And sometimes it really is tough.

Last Sunday morning, I went out to the pasture to check on the flock.  I walked through the flock, counting lambs.  Elina and her ram lambs were at the entrance but Eeva wasn’t near them.  That was unusual as the triplets still stay fairly close together while grazing.  Elina was calm so I thought Eeva was napping; I looked in the shelters and brush.  No Eeva.  I went back to the barnyard, looking in the barn.  No Eeva.  While a horrible knot grew in the pit of my stomach, I searched the pasture three times and the barnyard twice.  I had the thought that a bald eagle got her.  As the smallest lamb, she weighed just over 12 lbs.

With sadness, I headed toward the house to tell TH she could not be found.  As I turned to open the gate, I saw her lying in a corner of the barnyard.  The one corner I didn’t search.  I had the faintest hope that she was just napping but as I approached, she was completely still.  Little Eeva was curled up and looked as peaceful as a child’s stuffed toy.  She was dead.  I was devastated.  Sobbing, I scooped her up and brought her into the house.  We could find no signs of an animal attack, her belly was soft, no diarrhea, no cuts or injuries.  She had blades of fresh grass in her mouth.  So sad.

A few days earlier, we had weighed, vaccinated, tagged and banded lambs.  Everyone seemed to be doing fine.  Little Eeva was her spunky self.

I have read that lambs can suddenly die.  No symptoms.  After speaking with a few more experienced shepherds, we will modify our vaccination program next year, in case that was the cause.  This was a real aspect of farming which I would rather avoid.

I am a “glass is half full” sort of gal so I have been reflecting on all I learned from Little Eeva.  I learned that I can manage triplets and supplementally bottle feed a weak lamb.  I learned I don’t mind bottle feeding because I rather enjoy that little lambie running toward me when she sees me outside.  I experienced the immense satisfaction of aiding a tiny, frail lamb to make it through her first night when she likely would have died without intervention.  And I learned to let go of that one little lamb that I really hoped for – a brown spotted Finn ewe lamb.  Goodbye, Little Eeva.  You touched a lot of human lives in your short time on earth.  Thank you for all you gave us while you were here.

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10 responses to this post.

  1. I’m so sorry for your loss Terri. I know that feeling one gets as they search for a lost lamb. This is a beautiful tribute to Eeva.

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  2. Oh Terri, how traumatic and sad! I can’t imagine finding a perfectly healthy lamb dead; I haven’t heard of that kind of thing. And your special brown spotty, too. I am so very, very sorry.

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  3. How sad…I feel a pain in my heart for her .

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  4. Posted by Tammy on 06/17/2010 at 9:56 AM

    This is so incrediably sad. I’m very sorry for your loss. She was such a pretty little thing and I know she was very special to your farm. I know exactly the feeling when one comes up missing though—there is just a horrible dread. I have had one nice looking little wether just die for ‘no apparent reason’ one late evening. He was about 2.5 months and fine one minute and then when I checked on them only an hour or so later he was just dead. Never did figure that one out. Some ideas from other shepherds were that he was carrying a heavier worm load than any of the indicators gave and that stressed his system. But I really don’t know as all the others were fine and he looked hale and hearty.

    Take care,
    Tammy

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  5. Terri – so sorry for your loss. Thanks for sharing some of Eevas life with us – we’ve only just started out the farm and I’m driving home over lunch to check on the chickens already. Thanks for sharing, Peter

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  6. Posted by jim on 06/17/2010 at 7:53 PM

    What a beautiful post. So sorry for you loss. I get to drive by your farm at least twice a day and it always puts a smile on my face to see the animals out enjoying their lives.

    Sad, but she seemed to have a joyful, if short life.

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  7. Posted by Amanda on 06/18/2010 at 5:32 AM

    I’m sorry, Mom.

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  8. Oh, Terry! What a heartbreaking turn of events. I have tears in MY eyes ~ You have to be hurting. She was such a sweet, special little lamb from the very beginning. You certainly gave her a great life ~ short as it turns out to have been.

    RIP little Eeva…

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  9. Posted by Mark on 06/21/2010 at 8:31 AM

    I’m so sorry for your loss. She was certainly our favorite from the short visit to the farm.

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