RIP Penny


I am so very sad to report that Penny did not make it. She died during the night. I found her laying in her usual spot, already cold and stiff. She was laying in a completely normal sleeping position, with no signs of thrashing in the bedding around her. At least I can imagine that she just went to sleep peacefully without suffering. I don’t know what happened, but I don’t think it was bottle jaw that killed her. She just wasn’t showing symptoms of a life-threatening case. She was definitely not showing symptoms of listeriosis. We have also lost sheep to Johne’s disease, but she was not showing any signs of that either. Sissy is at a loss, too. We just don’t know.

All I know is I am going to miss her. She was one of the first ewe’s to make friends with me when I started helping with the sheep. She didn’t have a name at that point, but I looked up her ancestry and named her Penny after seeing that her mother’s name was Copper. I remember her first lambing. She ran out the door with the rest of the herd and it wasn’t until she was racing to the pasture that I noticed a lamb’s head hanging out of her vulva. Thankfully she was so friendly I was able to walk right up to her in the pasture. Her labor had stopped with the lamb only partway out. I helped her finish delivery and attempted CPR right there in the snow. She seemed to be relieved to have the lamb out, but didn’t show any motherly instincts toward the dead lamb. I was concerned enough by this that I kept close watch for days when she was due to lamb again the next spring. But she did just fine on her own, giving birth to twins, Peppa and Suzy. We still have Peppa. This year she had twins again, Peppy and Poppy.

Penny was a sweetheart. She was on the small side, but well-built for her size. She loved getting attention, but was not pushy about demanding it. She LOVED eating pumpkins. The photo was from last fall. She would stick her whole head inside a pumpkin to eat it. When she ate hay she liked to stick her head right into the middle of the hay in the manger. She would actually lay down and burrow her head under the hay through the bottom opening so her entire head was buried. I wish I knew what happened to her. I was giving her extra attention these past few days because she seemed to want extra love. I wish I could give her more. My poor girl.

Poor Penny


Penny has been acting weird for a couple of days. She was being clingy, staying by the gate, yelling at me for attention instead of grazing with the rest of the herd. I thought she might be in heat. Then, yesterday she didn’t seem to have much appetite, just stood by the water tub, sipping water. Today she seemed depressed, her ears were cool (usually means a sub-normal temperature) and her lower jaw seemed a bit swollen. Texted Sissy to come and take a look at her.

Sissy thinks she is developing bottle jaw. Bottle jaw is caused by intestinal worms. Barber pole worms cause anemia (which would explain the sub-normal temperature) and fluid retention under the jaw. Severe cases can even cause death. Sissy gave her a dose of de-wormer, vitamin injections, and pro-biotics. Hopefully Penny will be feeling better soon.

I’m no sheep expert. I don’t always know what might be ailing them, but I usually can tell when there is something wrong. When Luna got listeriosis I knew I right away because I had seen it before in our ram last year. I have seen bottle jaw before. Bandit had it a few years ago, but her jaw was much, much more swollen and she never seemed to lose her appetite. I feel bad for my poor girl. I hate when they aren’t feeling good.



Luna is definitely feeling better. How do I know? She is getting harder to catch when it’s time for her shots.

Last night it took me half an hour to catch her for her midnight shot. Of course when one runs, they all have to run. So I was standing in the middle of a miniature roller derby. Round and round and round. I finally had to resort to using the crook to get ahold of her. Every time I tried to cut her off the whole herd reversed direction. Don’t get me wrong; it’s great that Luna can run in a circle that goes to the right. But I just wanted to give her the shot and go to bed. Two more doses to go, tonight and tomorrow morning. Just two.


Luna is still drifting to the left, but she hasn’t gotten worse. Either she is getting smarter about aiming her left turns to get her where she wants to go, or her circling is not as bad as it was a few days ago. And sheep are not known for their smarts…

Luna Update

Luna is not showing any improvement. But she is also no worse. She did manage to make it through the day without getting herself stuck, so that’s a good thing.

Luna update

Luna is still hanging in there. Not much change. She can still only travel to the left. I had to rescue her again this afternoon. She got stuck in the hedge row. The sheep often go in there to be in the shade. Luna managed get herself against a couple of saplings. One tree trunk was against her left shoulder, the other against her left cheek. There was plenty of room on her right side, but she couldn’t move that way. I got her out OK.

BTW, she HATES getting her 3 times a day shots! Lucky for me she is easy to catch. She runs like heck. I just have to intercept the leftward circle. LOL. Poor girl.



Poor Luna is sick. She couldn’t get up when I let the others out. After a few false starts I managed to get her to her feet. Her feet and legs seemed fine. When she started moving the problem became clear. She kept circling to the left. She can not walk in a straight line or turn to the right. She can only travel towards her left. We had a ram with the same problem last year. Listeriosis! Also known as circling disease. Very bad news. It is caused by the listeria bacteria, which is often found in silage or wet feed. It causes inflammation of the brain stem and can be fatal. We don’t feed our girls silage and certainly don’t give them wet feed. It can also be found in soil and damp bedding.

It has been such a wet summer, so much rain. The girls often get soaked while they are out to pasture, then come in dripping all over their bedding pack. That is my suspicion, anyway. I called the vet for a consult and he agreed with my diagnosis. She will have to be on high doses of penicillin G 3 times a day for the next week. Hopefully we caught it early enough. That is really the only hope for survival. If it is caught too late it is pretty much always fatal. Riley, the ram, made it through OK. That is a definite advantage to having a small herd. When their behavior is off you notice right away.

Even though she was having a hell of a time getting around, Luna insisted on going out with the rest of the girls once I got her up. I went with her to help. The pasture the girls are on now is to the right after going out the barn door. She could not go that way. So, she staggered to the left and took the scenic route, following the fence around the barnyard until she got to the correct gate. She got along pretty well that way except when she got to the corners. I would have to pull her out of the corners and turn her in a left circle until she was facing the correct direction and let her go. The problem came when the rest of the girls headed back to the barnyard without her. I had to go get her. We ended up following the fence line back. She fell down trying to eat out of the grain tub, but she got up and made it to the water tub OK. After a few circles she made it to the hay manger and was munching happily away when I left the barn. I’ll be heading out shortly to give her tonight’s medicine. Keep your fingers crossed that she will make a full recovery.

While the girls were out I put down an extra layer of bedding and scrubbed out their water and feed tubs. Don’t want anyone else to come down with it!