He may not meet the Jacob breed standard, and his horns may be a little funky…but he is a very special boy!
This is Ector with his mom, Holly.
Holly had a rough go shortly after lambing. She presented with symptoms of polio. After consulting with my vet, we believe she had low calcium levels, which caused her to have polio. He explained that polio was usually a secondary illness to another problem. Polio is the easy to say term for Polioencephalomalacia. Polio is caused by an inadequacy or depletion of thiamine. The symptoms are neurological abnormalities with a sudden onset. These may include incoordination such as a staggered walk, bumping into objects, and some will wander randomly, often in circles. Sudden vision loss may also happen. Unfortunately, this is what happened to Holly. In the morning she seemed fine, but by afternoon she had obvious problems. If left untreated, the animal can go down very quickly. The vet had me give her Thiamine twice a day along with oral calcium. She seemed better after a week of treatment, but her vision did not return. I have kept her in the barn in a pen that she is familiar with along with her lambs, but I hate keeping the sheep locked inside – nothing is better than fresh air and green grass! I experimented with turning them out and watching her to make sure she could navigate through the gates and pastures. She had a hard time for the first couple of days, but then I noticed something amazing. Her ram lamb never left her side and would call to her when she was lost!
He is always by her side, which is very different compared to before she had the problems. I used to call him, his sister, and Duchess the ‘Three Amigos’ because they were always together and never with their mothers. Quite the independent little buggers. His sister is still very independent, but he has become a momma’s boy…in a good way 🙂
I have been watching the relationship with fascination and I thought it was maybe just a fluke, until yesterday evening. I went out to bring the sheep in from the pasture and Holly got left behind the big group. Ector got caught up in the moment and ran to the barn with everyone else, I thought I was going to have to help Holly in, but then Ector stopped. He turned around and called and called for her. She could hear him, but was too far away to figure out what direction he was calling from. He tried one more time, then he ran over to her and started walking with her to the barn.
What an amazing thing to witness!
I noticed that she has some eyesight tonight and I am hoping it returns 100%. The vet wasn’t sure if it would after this long, but he suggested that weaning her lambs early may be a good idea. After seeing how much her ram lamb helps her, I know this would be a bad idea. He is her own seeing eye lamb 🙂
Be sure to check out all of the other Farm Friend Friday posts!