One of my brothers asked if it was unexpected. People told me, when I brought sheep here, to expect them to die. People say sheep don't need much of an excuse to die. My first goal as a shepherdess, was to see if I could keep all the sheep alive for a year before I thought about anything else. Was it unexpected? I don't know.
The important question should be, "why do people expect sheep to die"? I think the answer is-- because people have seen it over and over. This tells me there is something wrong with the way we humans support sheep health.
Hildegard died from an overload of parasites . I know that this is the biggest issue with sheep and other animals and I know that the preferred treatment from the vast majority of vets is chemical dewormers. I also know, that they and all sheep farmers know that they aren't working anymore because parasites have built up a resistance to the chemical products. So now they are trying to find another chemical product.
Here at Cabin Spring Farm, we use the safest health support we can find. We use Apple Cider vinegar, molasses, garlic (James just gave me about 4 lbs. from his garden), herbal dewormers and minerals with diatomaceous earth and kelp and flower essences and homeopathic treatments among other things. The problem is that one needs to be on top of things and be giving the regime in a planned manner and not become complacent as I had. The best medicine is to stay healthy by eating and living well.
I did give Hildegard 2 doses of a chemical dewormer along with other treatments when I realized she was sick but alas I didn't realize soon enough and she moved on. Hildegard was always the resident sheep with the weakest constitution and she was under extra stress this summer so I guess it was not really unexpected.
The preferred method of dealing with animal bodies, when they are no longer needed, is composting. This was something I learned at one of the shepherd symposiums. So I knew what I needed to do and I had, awhile back, thought of a good spot on the property. The one thing I did not do was have materials on hand. The morning Hildegard died, my wonderful supportive husband went to Boxerwood (the nature center where I volunteer) and forked wood chips into the back of his truck and brought them down to a good spot on the farm. Hildegard's resting spot is under a large tree behind a fence not far from where the other sheep graze sometimes.
I am now building up my animal support program and soon should make a regular plan to follow. I would like to start formalizing information I have collected into a small book and dedicate it to Hildegard. If anyone would like to join me in this project I would love it.