33_2When I woke up this morning and looked out the kitchen window, something immediately caught my eye. The llama standing oddly, with a white lump somewhat underneath her. Sheep down! Sheep down! I hustled into some clothes and went down to check.

It was #KRK33, one of my favorite triplet-bearers. She was on her back, with her legs feebly paddling in the air like she was about to expire. I rolled her upright and she struggled to stand, staggered, then fell again. I inspected her, nothing seemed really amiss. She had a small fresh bloody scab on her hock- nothing drastic, but recent. Bronte!

I had noticed last night that Bronte had managed to ditch her drag chain, and had made a mental note to go find it in the daylight. It helps curtail her running and sheep hassling.

LegWhat I think happened was Bronte singled #33 out, was hassling her, and 33 fell down. Into a small swale. And got stuck there. Sheep are remarkably helpless when they get stuck on their sides or backs. Despite having birthed triplets and nursed twins this year, #33 is already pretty rotund from lush summer grasses, so she’s not exactly agile.

What’s interesting is Loyal Llama, how she knew #33 was in trouble, and stayed with her. This sense of protectiveness is not something sheep have for their peers, it’s almost elephant-like. Last night when I went to feed dogs, I saw the llama’s shadow there in the dark, in that same spot. I was tired, it was cold. Instinct told me to go check on the sheep. I walked to the end of the pasture where they had bedded down, everything seemed fine. There are too many to count, so it’s not obvious if one is missing from the group. It was a little odd that the llama wasn’t with them, but from a distance, it looked like she was grazing, so I dismissed it. Now I wonder if #33 was stuck there last night, and the llama’s head was down because she was sort of “lowing over” her friend. Note to self: take llama more seriously the the future.

33While I worked on helping #33, the llama fended off the curious dogs with venomous anger. I helped #33 lay upright, and massaged her all over to get her blood flowing again and assess the state of her rumen. A sheep being stuck on their back or side for very long is bad news, it’ll trigger bloat. In a few minutes, she was feeling better, and struggled to her feet. She still needed to lean against me for several minutes to regain her balance- I wonder if her legs were literally “asleep” from poor circulation? She urinated for a long time, including on me. Smile with tongue out Her urine smelled strangely, maybe concentrated from so long collecting up.

Finally #33 was able to navigate again. Typical old crotchety lady, she stamped off to rejoin the herd, seemingly miffed at the whole ordeal. The llama stuck carefully close. The dogs were leering, so I took them to the second pasture to lock them up for the day and give #33 a break from any further annoyances.

SyringeAs a precaution against gassy  bloat, I syringe-fed her a cup of water with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, baking soda and Pepto Bismol mixed in. Then topped it off with some squirts of Nutridrench, to give her some energy after not having eaten. Her rumen didn’t look distended, and when I massaged it with my fist, it was soft and doughy, so I suspect she’ll be fine. I encouraged her to walk quite a bit, to help relieve any gas buildup.

When she stood up and started walking again, the llama did the most charming thing. With me, her behavior is usually brutish, either bashing into me to get away, or shoving her head forcibly into feed buckets. If she spoke English, I think the only words she’d use with me are gimme and get llamaaway. But at this moment, she seemed to clearly observe that I had helped her peer. She leaned right into my face and nearly kissed me, with her ears forward and making direct eye contact, in a rare friendly gesture. I imagine she was thinking, human, maybe you’re alright after all.

Despite her usual twitty behavior, I have to credit her this one. I may not have noticed #33 was really down, and not just lying down, if the llama hadn’t been lording over her, and had I not remembered that’s exactly where the llama was last night. That ewe is likely pregnant with triplets, so that was a $800 save! Nice job, Loyal Llama!