Venus update

Several readers kindly have inquired after the progress of our pregnant Soay sheep Venus and her broken leg.  After we got her home on Friday and into the tiny cubicle pictured in my earlier post, we pretty much left her alone, thinking complete rest would be best, and we did not want to give her a chance to throw the cast off again.  In retrospect, we should not have left her so confined for so long.  By Tuesday she was listless, would not stand up, crumpled back down when Steve tried to hoist her, wouldn’t eat, wouldn’t drink water, and gave every indication of having lost her will to live.  We did not know whether her legs had simply fallen asleep, or her muscles had already started to atrophy, or she was perilously hungry, or thirsty, or what.

Our keen disappointment that we might lose Venus after such a good fight was nothing compared to the fear that we may have unknowingly contributed to her decline.  Concluding we had little to lose, we decided to get her out of her tiny confinement and take a chance on a slightly larger area where, if she had the will to get up at all, she could more readily move enough to get some circulation back into her legs.  We figured if we left her where she was, she would wither and die anyway, so the risk of having her fling the cast off again seemed the lesser of two evils.

As you can see in this picture, we put Venus in a ring of sheep panel we use as a substitute for our “jugs” when we cannot easily move a new lamb and ewe or for any other reason we need a small catchpen for a short time.  It is not secured to the walls; we literally roll it around as needed.  By dumb luck, it turned out to be just what Venus needed.


For a couple of hours she lay inert, even when we put yummy grain under her nose.  Then to our great relief, she must have decided it was “safe,” because she heaved herself up and actually got on her feet.  I couldn’t believe it.  She looked utterly perplexed.  What were the strange sensations in her legs?  What was that awful thing on her back right leg?  No longer, apparently, a charging coyote, because she did not try to fling off the cast as she had before.  But then she saw the water bucket and something clicked.  She stumbled over and drank, and drank, and drank.  Clearly she had gotten severely dehydrated.

Next she managed to drag herself to the edge of the circular pen, leaned into the side of the ring just a little, and lurched in circles around the perimeter, exploring her new world and trying out the leg in the cast.  It was remarkable to watch a representative of what is reputed to be one of the less brilliant family of animals create her own rehab program.  Even more amazing was the size of the pile she deposited once she had taken her constitutional. No wonder she had been listless! No wonder our doctors tell us to drink 10 glasses of water each day! 

It’s now Thursday and Venus is doing quite well.  She is thin, but still pregnant.  And she is curious about the new lambs on the outside of her confinement ring.  No telling what tomorrow will bring, but

For now …