When last we left our heroes, Steven the lamb was on the couch, looking a little perkier but not really ready to go back out. Even through my “everything needs to be economical, this is a business” mindset, Steven has really touched my heart, so what follows reflects my failure to follow my own advice. I really wanted Steven to be okay.
Our first thought about his symptoms was to assume pneumonia because his breathing did seem labored. But as time went on, we realized that gastric upset might be the more correct diagnosis. If you have four stomachs, gastric upset is a big deal. We noticed that Steven was grinding his teeth, which indicates acute discomfort. He was also lethargic and his eyelids were very pale, indicating anemia.
So Matt and I decided to fetch him an iron supplement, and we also worked on getting him eating more hay. Finally, some farts and ball-bearing-like pellets indicated that he wasn’t obstructed. Pellets aren’t hard to sweep up and a little cleaning spray and we are in business, so we kept monitoring Steven inside. A few hours and dozens of pellets had Steven looking brighter, but certainly not well. I treated him with the usual constipation/bloat treatment- some olive oil to get things lubricated and moving again.
Matt had posted this adorable picture on his favorite discussion website:
And another user had made the comment “Wait, you have a lamb with gastric upset INSIDE YOUR HOUSE?”
As we pondered those prescient words, Steven started to baa. His tummy gurgled and we tried to bring him over to the mats beneath the parrot perches where bird droppings land. But he didn’t make it, and soon a jet of absolutely rank manure came straight out. We had the idiotic idea of putting him in the tub, but he’s large enough and tall enough to get out. So we had the obvious idea of *taking the lamb back outside where it clearly belongs* and we did so, post-haste.
I was still really worried, so I got up at 4:30am to check on Steven. He was fine, and more energetic than before. He had clearly, ahem, continued to empty his digestive tract but was happily munching a bit of hay.
Today, Matt and I were smarter. We realized that it was really too much to expect Steven to cope with weaning while competing with adult sheep, so we put him in a less-competitive environment- in with the other two bottle lambs. Despite the inconvenience of removing him from the pen so they can be fed without harassment, Steven can now eat his hay without being pushed aside, and he can more easily reach and drink the water he needs from a correctly-sized bucket. We are withdrawing them from being Certified Grassfed and will give them creep feed to help them gain weight without a mother’s TLC. Steven looks happier already, and I’ve already washed the floor again.