Raulie’s Story

In 2011, we found ourselves going through financial instability. It’s difficult to fund a farm on your own and to start a family. We had been debating if we should keep our flock of Tunis sheep and keep breeding them or if we should let some go. We unwillingly listed some for sale, but there was no interest. In the spring of 2012 we figured that there must be a reason none of our sheep sold and so we decided we would purchase a ram and keep breeding.

We found Raulie for sale at another farm, but he was actually being used by the SVF Foundation in their heritage breed germplasm preservation program. The Foundation gathers genetic material (semen and embryos) of heritage breed animals to freeze for preservation and possible future use. Raulie had been donated to the Foundation and the farm we had contacted suggested we deal directly with the Foundation.

After talking with someone from the Foundation we agreed Raulie would come to our farm and settled on a date to transport him to Pennsylvania from Rhode Island. We would meet the person transporting him from the Foundation halfway. Lastly we talked about price, which I had been not looking forward to. The Foundation wanted to donate him to us since he was donated to them.

I think I cried. Probably because I cry at anything remotely emotional. But… God has, over and over, been Jehovah-Jireh for me. The LORD Who Provides. My LORD Who Provides. He doesn’t give me what I want, but what I need in the midst of hard times.

Raulie arrived at our farm in April 2012. He was so gentle, even during breeding season he respected our space.

Raulie

He sired 28 lambs for us over the years he was with us. We have kept two of his daughters, Harriet (2014) and Kathleen (2017).

In the winter of 2016-2017, we realized Raulie was slowing down and having some joint issues – perhaps arthritis. We decided to retire him from breeding, but I didn’t want him to leave our farm. He was special to me. He reminded me that God provides.

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In December 2017, Raulie started spitting out his cud. Large wads of cud. Our vet found a marble-sized lump on his trachea, but we didn’t do any invasive tests to look internally. We treated him with 2 weeks of steroids and changed his diet. He was to now get soaked hay pellets instead of hay (because the pieces were much smaller) and he was to be fed 3 times per day (so he didn’t have to digest large amounts at a time). He bloated with the steroids, but we treated him with baking soda and he got better. He went crazy for the soft hay pellets that didn’t even really require chewing! Ever morning, afternoon and evening he greeted us with bright eyes for those pellets, moving as fast as his arthritis would let him move.

When he started having digestive issues we decided we did not want to do “whatever it took” to make him better. He was a couple weeks from turning 12 years old, which is old for a sheep. We wanted him to have a good quality of life and we wanted him to not suffer. Each day we looked him over to be sure he was eating and moving well. I checked in our vet on occasion to ask questions about different things that came up.

When we sheared the sheep at the end of February, I made Raulie a sweatshirt so he wouldn’t be too cold afterwards.

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He was not thrilled about getting dressed in it, but he was a sport. I had been afraid he would not be in good body condition because of his eating issues, but he actually looked good when he was shorn.

Yesterday morning Raulie greeted my with bright eyes, as always, eager to get his breakfast. My father-in-law fed him his afternoon feeding and he finished it all. Last night when Dave went to the barn to feed him, he found Raulie dead. It appeared he had laid down, fell asleep and didn’t wake up. There was no evidence that he struggled at all.

I felt peace, like a confirmation that we gave him a good quality of life for the life he had left.

 

 

The Shepherd’s Lament

Someone shared this on one of my Yahoo groups.  It’s cute and I thought I’d share it, too.

by Dr. Darrell Salsbury, DVM

Now I lay me down to sleep
Exhausted by those doggone sheep;

My only wish is that I might
Cause them not to lamb at night;

I wouldn’t mind the occasional ewe,
But lately it’s more than just a few:

Back into bed, then up again,
At two o’clock and four a.m.

They grunt and groan with noses high,
And in between a mournful sigh,

We stand there watching nature work,
Hoping there won’t be a quirk:

A leg turned back, or even worse,
A lamb that’s coming in reverse.

But once they’ve lambed we’re glad to see
That their efforts didn’t end in in tragedy.

There’s no emotion so sublime
As a ewe and lamb that’s doing fine.

I’m often asked why I raise sheep,
With all the work and loss of sleep;

The gratification gained at three a.m.
From the birth of another baby lamb–

How can you explain, or even show?
‘Cause only a shepherd will ever know!

Dear Mom,

Today it’s 11 years since you’ve been gone.  Sometimes I think I miss you more now that I did all those years ago.  Now that I have a family and children I wish I could call you and ask you all the questions I have.  I want your advice when Noah and Hannah are sick.  I want to tell you about all the crazy and funny things they do.  I want to tell you about Dave and the things we’re doing on the farm.

Mostly, I wish I could talk to you “woman-to-woman.”  I’m done growing up now, but I’m still growing older.  I wish I could have you with me to guide me through this stage of my life.  I want to tell you my news, my dreams and goals.  I want to show you what I’ve made and built with my hands.  I want to know if you’re proud of the woman I’ve become and the life I’m living.

I wish I could hug you again.

Mom, you are missed dearly today and everyday.  I will love you always.

Love,

Kim

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I debated about posting this, but one thing kept telling me to post it.  Earlier this year, a friend lost her sister.  One day I was visiting her and she asked me how I dealt with the loss of my mom.  I didn’t know what to say.  That’s when I realized that although I’ve told people about my mom’s death, I don’t really talk about it. 

I didn’t deal with the loss of my mom very well.  I drank a lot, and I was very angry.  

I met my husband, Dave, several months after my mom died.  He was a Christian and, when we started dating, asked me to go to church with him.  I was hesitant because I was angry at God.  Eventually I went with him and one day I asked Jesus to save me.  I stopped drinking, but I still held on to that anger.  It was something that I had…I owned… and it was hard to give up.

Dave and I got married in 2002 and moved out of Philadelphia in 2004.  Noah was born in 2005 and I started going to the woman’s bible study at our church.  I grew a lot in our small church.  That year we studied the epistle of James, a book about Christian living.  

I learned to let go of my anger and give it to God.  It was hard because I had to give it all to Him.  He is faithful to heal, but you must be willing…He won’t force you.  James 4:7-8a tells us “Therefore submit to God.  Resist the devil and he will flee from you.  Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”  This is one of my favorite verses and has brought me great solace.

People often say that the loss of a loved one will get easier over time.  I think the pain is always there; you just think about it less as the years go by.  It comforts me to know that we weren’t made to experience pain or loss.  We were created to live forever and fellowship with God.  I look forward to the day we are in His presence.