A Bad Farming Day

Warning: dead sheep photo ahead.

So today was forecast as a hot day. The plan was that I would do the animal chores, and Tom would cut the hay field.

But fairly quickly I found Moll dead. She had been having problems with breathing hard when she ran for a couple of years but otherwise was OK until in a recent heat wave. She was panting. I was considering treating her for pneumonia, but she recovered when the weather cooled so I didn’t.

I chose to go to bed yesterday morning rather than helping Tom with chores. It was rotating day. I was planning on moving the sheep to our near front field where there is shade, but Tom opted to move them to the near back field where there isn’t any shade. I feel like if I had done chores yesterday, I would have at least moved Moll to a field with shade. But instead this morning I found her like this.

I feel so awful about this. That I should have made sure she had shade and that I should have treated her for pneumonia or at least listened to her lungs.

So Tom had to hold off on cutting the hay field and use the tractor to move Moll. In that process the hydraulic hose to the loader broke, spewing oil all over Tom.  Apparently it had been rubbing and finally busted. Here is a photo of it.

Tom went to the local tractor dealership and was able to get a new hose for $40.  After lunch he was able to fix the tractor.  I went to some medical appointments, and when I came back he said he was able to cut two rows and the cutter busted up again.  So it does not look like we will be making hay this year, despite perfect grass and haying weather.

So a bad farm day, all around.  Here is a retrospective of Moll.  She was born in April 2008 at Everranch farm in Auburn and was 50% Gotland and 50% Finn.  We bought her and her half-sister Tanya in August.  Here they are the next month.

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Moll and Tanya in September 2008


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Moll February 2009


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Moll August 2009


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Tanya and Moll October 2009


In October 2009 we bred Moll with a Gotland cross ram that we borrowed, and then we tried to bred her to our Shetland ram in January 2010, but she did not become pregnant.

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Moll March 2010

We were able to send her and Tanya’s 2010 fleeces to Stonehedge Spinning Mill, and they were processed into fingering weight yarn.

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Moll and Tanya yarn cones June 2010

We began shearing her twice to year to prevent felting and sold those fleeces.

We bred her to Jocko (our Shetland ram) in December 2011, and in May she had triplets but two of them died.  We were able to save little Magner, but she then got a bad case of mastitis.

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Moll and Magner May 2012

We were able to continue to shear her and sell her fleeces, but we never bred her again.


Mona and Moll sheared March 2014


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Moll January 2015

Starting in 2015 we only had her sheared once per year, and her fleeces were felted.  But in 2017 I learned how to make felted fleece rugs with her wool.  These were popular, and I was able to sell them at Fiber Days and Holiday Festivals.  Here is the first rug I made from her fleece.

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Moll felted rug 2017


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Moll getting sheared March 2018


In October 2018 I first noticed her breathing fast only when she ran.  We did try to treat her for pneumonia then, but it didn’t make any difference.  She otherwise stayed in good condition and appeared healthy.

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Moll November 2019

This summer she started breathing heavily when it was hot out, but it went away when it cooled.  But this morning I found her dead, and I know she must have suffered yesterday in the heat.  I feel horribly sad about it.  I do still have her last fleece so may make a rug for myself with it.  Plus we still have Tanya who continues to do well.  Rest in peace, sweet Moll.  I will miss you.

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9 Responses to A Bad Farming Day

  1. Jeanne says:

    Donna, I’m very sorry about your loss. It so hard when a beloved animal diss, especially suddenly. I hope you can get a beautiful felted rug from her fleece. She had lovely wool!!

  2. Oh Donna, what a sad discovery. As hot as it got, Moll might have expired anywhere; some sheep seem a lot more susceptible to heat stress. She was a beautiful sheep with beautiful fleece. I’m so glad you still have her last fleece; please do make yourself something with it.

  3. Washe Koda says:

    So sorry about your loss 🙁 I don’t feel right clicking the ‘Like’ button whilst I did enjoy the other images 😉

  4. Donna says:

    Sorry guys. My original post went missing for some reason. So I had to repost it and fix it. So some of you saw it more than once. I am not sure what happened, but I will try to prevent this from happening in the future.

  5. FullyFleeced says:

    Poor girl. I’m so sorry Donna. The heat really is hard on sheep. I guess we’re lucky here that at last it cools off at might. but the afternoons can be rough.

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