Showing posts with label Shaun the sheep. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Shaun the sheep. Show all posts

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Local insects and animals - Blue faced honey eater



video


Meet another new addition to the family; Barry. He is a blue faced honey eater,

Barry came to us from the little girl next door; she rescued him from a group of noisy miners who were beating him up after he fell or flew from his home nest. His parents were nowhere to be seen so she bought him to us. He is living with us until he learns to feed and defend himself, then he will be free to go where he pleases. The usual progression with social birds is that they hang around the humpy, getting the odd free feed when times are hard until they meet a group of their own kind and head off with them (kind of like teenagers).




Blue faced honey eaters are a social sedentary species who eat insects, nectar and pollen. They are like a large family gathering; loud, hilarious and lots of arguments. The adults have a brilliant blue around the eyes (very 70s disco queen) but juveniles have a greenish tint around the eyes, they aren't allowed to wear eye shadow until they are about one year old.

An adult with full disco battle paint. I found this photo here


Barry is a little camera shy, but you can see his greenish eye shadow.

Barry is a late sleeper, often not waking up until well after I have fed all the outside animals, he sits with his head tucked under his wing and mutters curses at me if I poke him (gently). Once awake he demands breakfast in a loud squeaky voice until I give him some honey eater mix and meal worms. He is a playful little fellow; hanging upside down on his branches, flying in tight formations in his cage and fossicking under the newspaper on the cage floor for lost meal worms. At the moment he is spending part of each day out of his cage, flying around the humpy. Soon he will decide it is time to go out into the big world and explore the trees flowering around the place. 
This is the danger time for release birds as it is easy for them to go too far and get lost or be taken by a predator. We can't keep them in cages forever though, they are mean't to be free. It is with mixed feelings of joy and trepidation that I watch each one learn to live independently (much as I felt when my kids went off to uni) but most times it is joy that wins out.


On an unrelated subject, we planted a tree on Shaun's grave. It's a mandarine and every time I pass it I think of my little mate.

The Shaun tree

Friday, 1 January 2016

Goodbye Shaun the sheep

It is with much grief that I am writing this post. On New Years Day we lost two very important beings in our lives; our close friend Geoffy, and Shaun.

Geoff died after a short battle with lung cancer; he never did things by halves that man. Having discovered he had lung cancer he shortly thereafter discovered a brain tumour and bone cancer, so his illness was short. Geoff was a surrogate father of sorts to my daughters when they were growing up, he was there for all the important events in their lives; birthdays, Yule, graduations, driving lessons, first boils, first boyfriends, first break up. He provided a sounding board for ideas and a release valve for venting, all mixed up with a wicked sense of humour and bourbon. We will miss him deeply.

The story of losing Shaun is a cautionary tale...
After his adventure in the wild he seemed his usual self, helping me about my daily business; following to the chook pen, around the garden, sitting by me as I spun, begging for rice crackers, but he was a ticking time bomb.
Several months ago we changed wormer from white to clear (there are three types of wormer for sheep; white, clear and organophosphate), we have been worming as usual but didn't realise we had clear drench resistant worms in our herd. Three of my girls were underweight, but we put that down to them feeding babies. When Nut died, I attributed it to mushrooms, but I now believe that was worms as well.

Shaun and Spot begging for rice crackers while I try to spin.



Shaun didn't eat breakfast on New Years Day, by that afternoon he was looking very sad and we decided to take him to the vet (always on a holiday). We got to the vet at about 8 O'clock, Shaun looked very sick by then and couldn't stand up. The vet wasn't hopeful but agreed (in the face of my tears) to try anything possible for him. He rang the next day to say he had died through the night. I am currently drenching the remaining 5 sheep once a day for three days with a new brand of white drench and hoping this will break the cycle, I can not cope with any more loss at the moment.

On the way to the vet, looking very sick.

If only I had thought of worms.

My heart is breaking; I have lost three close friends in the last two weeks and feel incredibly guilty about not picking up the worm problem sooner. On top of all that (yes...there's more), Big (one of our old roosters) got beaten up by one of his sons, one of Book Book's babies (our little frizzle hen) is not well, Spot (our 16 year old dog) hurt his shoulder and needs to be carried to the toilet and back every hour or so, and just because I like a degree of difficulty...a White faced heron baby has come into care (he eats live food, so I am catching fish and tadpoles in the dam for him three times a day).

Big getting his injuries documented for litigation (possibly)

Book Book's baby not feeling great

Spot, on doggie pain relief

Our new baby...a White faced heron

Spot ans Shaun.

No, I'm not complaining...I love my life and giving my heart to every animal that comes to the door ends in tears more often than not, but if I don't fall in love with them I miss the magical part of caring for them (without the magic it's just poop and feeding). I will fall in love with the next being who comes to the door looking for help too...it's who I am.

Saturday, 26 December 2015

What I did this Christmas

I don't do Christmas, not being a Christian and believing that the symbols traditional at this time of year are all wrong (who needs solar symbols and the promise of life returning when life is in it's baking prime outside the door). Instead I have a few 'recharge' days.
As I do every year, I planned a quiet couple of days without people around. My partner and daughter went off to visit family (the other daughter had to work) and settled in to finish an assignment and have a well deserved break from humanity.
Well that was not to be... first Nut (one of my sheep) came in not long after being let out looking sick, so I put her in an old aviary in a straw nest and called the vet. The vet advised me to give her electrolytes, worm her again and call back after Christmas (the vet version of take an asprin and call me in the morning). I had no injectable electrolyte so I made an arrangement to get one of my sisters to pick some up on the way to my parents house. With that all arranged I checked on Nut and found her standing up and hungry, so I got her some food. Meanwhile Shaun and Sid were trying to break into the aviary to get the food so I put them out to graze and went back to study.


Nut and my daughter's butt.

It wasn't until I had lunch that I noticed I hadn't heard Shaun for a while, I went out and called him...no answer. I looked in all his hiding places...no Shaun. Worried now I decided to check Nut and go for a longer walk. I found Nut had died' still standing with a mouth full of sheep pellets.
As you can imagine, I was shocked and dismayed. I said my goodbyes and ushered her soul to the afterlife (as is my ritual) then went looking for Shaun. I searched the entire area around our humpy with no luck, calling myself hoarse and crying in worry and grief. I rang my partner and daughters to tell them what had happened, and tearful conversations followed. Eventually my sister showed up with the medical supplies.

Shaun as a young lamb

Slightly older

Good naturedly wearing a tutu and wings

Shaun now

Begging for rice crackers

My sister and I continued to search for a few hours, re-covering ground I had already searched, but no luck. I was beginning to lose hope now. My heart broke then, losing both Nut and Shaun in one day was too much to take, Eventually I went inside and did the usual evening chores and went to bed, only to toss and turn all night with dreams of him returning. The next morning (Christmas day) I got up early and dug a HUGE hole and buried Nut. Some advice here; dead sheep are heavy, I eventually got the wheelbarrow out and struggled her into it. Sid, very worried about Shaun escorted the hearse to the grave site and stood with his head down beside the grave like a well trained mourner until I had filled the hole half full of soil (and my strength gave out). The rest of the day was filled with searching and calling and tears, for both Sid and I. In the evening my mother called and invited me to tea, feeling that I needed a distraction I gathered up a bottle of wine and went.
I came home just after dark (fairly late at this time of year) and did the night time things; feeding animals, bringing babies and old folks inside for the night, then staggered off to bed (remember the wine). About an hour later I heard Shaun's sweet voice calling at the front gate, having dreamed this the night before I couldn't quite believe I was awake (remember the wine), but I got up and checked anyway. There he was demanding to be let in, I let him into the house, checked him for injuries and got him some food. He was very hungry and thirsty and appeared to have had a bath, but otherwise he was fine. That's when it occurred to me I might still be dreaming.
I rang my partner (who luckily was still up) and told him that Shaun was back, but I could still be dreaming, he said send him a photo as proof and that would tell us one way or the other. I did that and he confirmed it was Shaun, we were both relieved and happy to see him. It wasn't until much later it occurred to me that he would have responded that way if I were dreaming too (remember the wine). I decided that if he was still here in the morning , he was real and off to bed I went.

The photo I sent to Kev' for confirmation

He was still there the next morning and is now under house arrest until further notice. I still haven't finished my assignment (due in a few days) and have had no break from people at all, but what I thought was tragedy has now turned into an interesting story and I have Shaun back.
As for why Nut died...in my rambles around the paddock I found some nibbled mushrooms and sheep do love to get high. I am guessing that she ate some bad mushrooms and they stopped her heart. I will miss my old friend deeply.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Latest news from Shaun the sheep


About a month ago we took Shaun to the vet because he suddenly stopped taking bottles. Of course I went into panicked mummy mode and rang the vet straight away to make an appointment. We decided to take Shaun to work with us and leave for the vet straight from there. He didn't mind at all as he loves car trips and going to new places with us.

He lazed around the Backpackers while we cleaned showers and toilets, attracting attention and praise. Then we set off for the vet, two towns over.

Shaun lounging by the cleaning supplies shed in the shade.



Shaun lounging in front of the toilet door

Shaun lounging in the outdoor eating area


At the vet's office



He's such a patient little boy

After much undignified poking and prodding (which he politely tried to decline) the vet decided he was just beginning to wean himself. However the vet noticed that his legs are shorter than usual and that he is sort of disproportionate. It is hard to tell without genetic testing (expensive) but it looks like our Shaun is a dwarf sheep. Apparently this can be caused by genetics, mother's diet and heat during pregnancy. It isn't very common and we aren't sure if it will effect his life span.


Apparently there was another farmer named Wright who managed to breed dwarf sheep, which he called Otter or Ancon sheep. Unfortunately they were prone to all sorts of health problems like arthritis, joint problems and digestive upsets, all things that Shaun has had trouble with. After a lot of reading and thinking about it I have decided that Shaun will probably not make the usual ten year lifespan of an ordinary sheep. Whatever his lifespan though, Shaun will have a home with us and we will do our best to keep him happy and healthy for as long as possible, because he is family now, and we love him.

Sid; Shaun's brother, is growing up fast. He is such a sweet and caring boy.

You can see Shaun's stumpy legs and bent ankles in this photo

He does look a bit like the photos in the journal article above.


Friday, 18 September 2015

Shaun the sheep - meet Sid, Shaun's new brother

After nine weeks of taking him to work, staying home or arranging a sheep sitter to avoid stressing him out, we have finally found a suitable brother for Shaun. We have been combing the classifieds, Gumtree and animal shelter websites since Shaun was born, looking for an orphaned lamb we could offer a home to. We haven't got a lot of money to spare so cost was an issue, as was the distance we would have to travel to pick up our new baby. Eventually I found a listing for orphaned lambs on Gumtree from a woman in Kyogle, which is quite close to us. I eagerly sent a message and found that she did indeed have some lambs left, one who was twelve weeks old and twins who were ten weeks old. Because we couldn't afford to get the twins (and siblings should stay together), we arranged to pick up the little boy. Enter Sid....

Sid...Shaun's new brother

Due to a car breakdown (requiring the car to be at the doctor's for a week) we had to delay picking Sid up, but the big day finally came and we set off at 7.30 am for work with Shaun in tow.
We have been cleaning the local Backpacker's for a month now and Shaun has been welcome to come with us and provide entertainment while we work (consequently he now has a following in Korea and Japan), it seems every time I emerge from a toilet block with buckets, sprays and brushes I find Shaun in the centre of an admiring mob with cameras (he loves every minute of it). While this has been a handy arrangement, it can't continue forever as sheep grow up.
So Shaun's last day at work proceeded as usual and we all piled into the car of a friend who gave us a lift to town to pick up our car (She also helped us clean...Thanks Meeka). We picked up the car, had a quick (and unsatisfying) lunch and sped off to collect our new baby.

A quick stop for lunch

The farm was a delight; animals of all kinds running around together, an eclectic collection of caravans as a dwelling and some very friendly dogs (felt just like home). We trooped out with Shaun on his lead to meet the herd (specifically Sid) but Shaun showed no interest in them at all. He walked along contentedly with us and didn't even get excited by a thundering herd of sheep running past him.

Sid was considerably bigger than we anticipated, but he had the sort of face you just want to hug so we took him and the lovely lady who owned him did the rubber ring thing to castrate him for us (I am a terrible shot with those things). My partner made up a nest in the back seat with towels and newspaper and we put a collar and lead on him (which he took to easily) so I could control any leaping about. Shaun and I climbed into the back seat with him and the fun began....

Shaun sniffed Sid a few times then settled down to sleep away the trip (as he usually does), Sid on the other hand was politely uncomfortable (just having had a rubber band put around his testicles) and was a bit embarrassed to talk about it, so he settled for repositioning himself in various ways on the seat throughout the ride; he tried back to the front of the car with his back leg braced against the seat back, with his back leg down and with all his legs under him, he tried back to the seat back with all the afore mentioned leg arrangements and he tried standing up. At each position change he found it necessary to empty both bowels and bladder, resulting in a huge mess in the back seat and three (Shaun, Sid and I) very messy beings. We eventually made it home and I must say that Sid was very well behaved under the circumstances. As we got home a thunder storm rolled over our humpy...

The aftermath of the storm, the air is so clean and crisp.
Anyone who knows me will attest to my unreasonable fear of storms, but there was work to be done. Sid and Shaun were dumped in the playpen, an old chook dome, while we cleaned out the car. We scrubbed the back seat with a nail brush and lots of cleaning products (it is actually much cleaner now than before we went) while thunder roared around us. Shaun and Sid retreated to the little shelter in the playpen to bond/hide. By the time we had finished the car the storm had passed and we were able to bring the (now cleaner) boys into the back yard where they will be living together for a while.

Shaun and Sid explore the playpen, and food


This is by far the best photo I have of Sid so far.

Shaun is spending all his days outside now and only comes inside to sleep in his little house. When we go to work he doesn't stress as he has his bed and one of my shirts in the shelter with him and he is always very glad to see us home, as is Sid (he has picked up some of Shaun's behaviours). It looks like they may bond well and become brothers, which means that Shaun will transfer his dependence to another sheep and may even learn to eat grass.

Sid spends his nights in the outside shelter on a pile of hay. He seems to prefer being outside (as most sheep do).

Shaun still likes to come for a cuddle now and then. Look at that contented face.

Shaun and Sid's outside house. Sid likes to sleep here at night.

Shaun is still having three bottles a day, while Sid has some lucerne chaff (because he's weaned now)


Shaun's little house inside. Sid is already too tall for it and hates being inside anyway.


In the back yard...just playing around.



Sid likes to eat some chaff while I feed Shaun, he is such a sweet boy.




Friday, 4 September 2015

Update on Shaun the sheep - seven weeks old


Shaun has come a long way in seven weeks.

Shaun is growing so fast, he is seven weeks old now and is beginning to behave like a two year old child. He has discovered the container cupboard and loves to pull things out while I wash up, he is shy of strangers but really curious at the same time and he loves to run and play outside.
Having him live with us is just like having a baby again. We take him everywhere with us; to town for job network appointments, to social gatherings, on quick trips to the local shop (a half hour drive away). We have to consider bottle times and pack a 'nappy bag' with towels , bottles and wipes when we go out. Recently we started a new job and luckily the boss allowed us to take him with us, we are cleaning backpacker accommodation and he runs around outside the toilets and showers while we clean, attracting attention and becoming a Facebook star. He can't come to work every day because sometimes my long suffering partner is cleaning on his own while I work at our local primary schools, luckily my mum was available to Shaun sit for a few days.

Shaun with Bandit, Jess and Big the rooster...some of his herd.

Shuan with Spot and Bandit

Cuddles by the fire in the evening

You may ask why we don't just stick him in a cage and leave him while we go out....and I would say, because sheep are herd animals. Sheep spend all their time with their mother until the age of about twelve weeks, unlike calves whose mothers hide them and go off to graze for hours at a time. Even as adults sheep do not feel secure unless they are with their herd. Consequently we are standing in as Shaun's herd until we can pick up another orphaned lamb as a mate for him. I take the responsibility of caring for another being very seriously and that inevitably includes psychological well being as well as physical health.

Shaun in the park in town

Shaun 'helping' me spin

Shaun meeting a fibreglass lamb at my mum's place.
Our next move is to find another lamb as a friend for Shaun. Animals who are raised as 'poddies' often become aggressive as they mature, maybe because of familiarity and a lack of fear as most people say but I believe that the animal becomes used to being the centre of attention while they are young and cute and have problems adjusting to being just another member of the herd when they grow up. In effect they suffer from a form of 'only child' syndrome; where parental bonds remain stronger than other social bonds past their useful life.  To answer this problem we are going to try to raise Shaun with another baby, the idea is that they will bond like siblings. The sibling bond will become stronger than the parental bond during adolescence and hopefully they can move out into the wider world together without severing any bonds, the parental bond will be allowed to whither naturally.

Hopefully we can raise a well balanced, fully functional sheep (except the reproductive function). Watch this space. I also hope to return to sewing my own clothes soon, there has been very little time recently for extra play.