Flystrike. Mmm, yum. Nothing like dealing with that to bring one back to earth when one has been living in the abstract for a couple of days.
Background: Last week I found one of the sheep caught in the fence with one leg trapped. I pulled her out, and she wandered off and started eating grass. What I didn't do was check her over. I knew that for her to get caught like that, she was probably a bit weak, but these hoggets are all a bit weak and I didn't think that there may have been something special to cause this one to get caught. Anyway, she seemed fine.
Fast forward to yesterday, when I saw her wagging her tail frantically and biting at her sides. That's a sure sign that she's flystruck - the maggots sting when they bite and she was trying to dislodge them. So I grabbed the shears and the dressing and caught her.
When I had cleared the maggoty wool away from her rear end, what I found was um.. horrifying. This sheep had somehow managed to impale herself on something, right in the vulva. It had torn, leaving a cut about two inches long. This had become infected, and what she was then left with was a large hole that incorporated one side of the vulva and underneath, approximately an inch and a half deep inside her vaginal tract, full of pus and maggots.
I'm not squeamish, but this one made my stomach heave slightly. Anyway, I cleaned it all up, got the maggots out, treated the whole area with maggot-killing dressing, and afterwards it all looked a whole lot better, if such a thing can look any good. Then I let her go and she wandered off.
What I would have done had this been my own farm, was get a shot of anitbiotics from the fridge, give her that, dust the whole lot with iodised powder, and move the mob to the paddock next to the yards so I could get them in daily and treat her. As it is, I'm enlisting Polly to come with me tonight to dag and flypel treat the rest. As for the injured one, she will have to take her chances - short of getting a $150 vet to a $40 sheep, I've done all I can with what I have at hand. *sigh*
Chances are, the injury happened after I pulled her out of the fence, in her weakness after being caught in there for at least 24 hours between my visits. There would have been blood with such an injury. But I do wonder if it happened before, and the infection was slow to start, and getting in the fence was the first sign of weakness from the infection - so the blood was already gone and I didn't notice it because I didn't check her over. Sheep are very good at hiding signs of injury or illness, it's one of their survival traits. But I should have checked.
Yes, I will find a way to blame myself. It's what makes me a good farmer, learning from experiences such as this.
The good part is that she's peeing and pooing, which means she's eating and drinking. And if she's eating and drinking, she's not ready to die yet, and I just improved her chances.
Please wish her luck.
So yeah. *THUMP* When you're bent over a sheep's ass with maggots and pus about 18 inches from your face, berating yourself for being negligent, it brings you back to earth really fast and other worries melt into insignificance. It keeps it real. I recommend sheep therapy for anyone who's feeling a bit disconnected from reality.