Surely She Can’t Get Bigger

Yesterday after a long day and night of anxious watching, I turned Katika out to graze. I snapped these photos while she was still standing by the gate.

Her back legs can barely shuffle around her huge bag. Poor old girl, her udder suspension is getting worse with age.

By the time I’d finished chores and moving the sheep down in Betty’s pasture, the sun was hot and high. The flies came out in droves, so I brought the cows and Birch back into the dark of the barn.

I stuck close all day, digging out and resetting a gate post, hanging the gate, mowing (and breaking the new mower by sending a rock through the mower deck). I checked Katika every twenty minutes as the hours ticked by. Unlike the day before, she was eating, drinking, and chewing her cud placidly.

When I began to put my tools away to go home for supper I checked her one last time. Naturally, now she was straining again as she breathed. Not eating. Not cudding. Looking intently inward. Groaning softly.

I checked her every two hours until bedtime and then again at 1 AM and 5 AM.

Still no calf.

However she is beginning to slime and her ears, which I”ve been groping anxiously at every opportunity, are cooler. (Cold ears are a sign of milk fever, the potentially deadly calving disorder.) I’ve turned her out for a bit of grass while I have breakfast and then return to muck the barn before bringing the animals in again. Towels, iodine, molasses, and milk fever meds are lined up on the grain room counter.

Surely today.

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4 Responses to Surely She Can’t Get Bigger

  1. Missy says:

    Poor Katika, fingers and eyes crossed for today.

  2. Oh my gosh. This is agony for her and for you. Keep us posted. I don’t know what I’d do…nature does not seem to always take the best course. Augh!

  3. Cindy says:

    Hi, I’m sorry for a total stranger like me leaving a comment — I came across your blog today looking at your portable sheep shelters. I’m concerned for Katika, since I lost a ewe earlier this year, right before she was due — she was hugely pregnant with what I suspected was triplets. Afterwards, I thought that it must have been milk fever, but my vet told me that it could just as well have been ketosis (even though I was checking for that nail polish smell every day).

    If Katika is refusing food and not moving her back legs well, it could be either one, so I’d strongly advise taking preemptive action right away if you can. Get some glucose into her any way you can. Either drench with propylene glycol, or at the very least, put some molasses into her water. For calcium, if you can give her a dose from one of those calcium gel tubes, it’s much safer than giving calcium glutinate by injection. But I would have some calcium glutinate on hand and be ready to give it SQ if she should go down! If I had done this with my ewe, it’s possible that I could have saved her. 😦 At least I know now that any sign of difficulty with moving (especially the back legs), or going off feed at any time, should be treated as a near-emergency!

    Good luck, I really hope she will calve soon and safely.

    ~ Cindy

  4. Missy says:

    Hey Selden, thinking of you and Katika tonight and wondering how she’s doing. Haven’t seen any SOSes on KFC yet so fingers crossed she’s ok for now.

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