Apr 13, 2011

What happened?

Finally, here it is: an explanation of The Great Sheep Incident and the mysterious elbow injury.

First an update on the elbow:  Yesterday my doctor said the elbow seemed okay, but she sent me down for an x-ray anyway.  Late in the day, a rush call came from the nurse, telling me the radiologist had some concerns.  So today I went in to see an orthopedist.  There are two fractures, one worse than the other. I'll have this brace on my arm for the next four weeks.



It's difficult to wrap my mind around how powerful a little sheep can be.  Apparently this has been difficult for others as well.


HusandWhat happened?

Me: I got tossed by a sheep.

Husband: You mean she knocked you down?

Me: Nope. She threw me.

Husband: You mean she butted you?

MeNope.  She tossed me up in the air. My feet were off the ground.  I landed on my elbow.

HusbandWhat happened?



Here's what happened:

A ewe gave birth early in the morning.   The lamb wandered among the rest of the flock, crying.  Her mama responded to her cries, but never remained close enough for the lamb to nurse.

I did what I normally do in that situation: I moved them both into a smaller pen and brought the ewe extra food.  Sometimes confinement does the trick. The lamb quits trying to bum milk from every available ewe and focuses on her mom. The mom stays close. It works itself out.

I waited and watched.  The lamb kept crying and the ewe kept side stepping.  I waited even longer. Still no progress.

Mama and baby needed an assist.  I've helped lambs and ewes in much worse situations.  This was nothing.

I planned to hold the ewe until the lamb started nursing. Usually ewes figure out pretty quickly that the pressure on the udder lessens and this is a good thing.

So I eased up next to the ewe, making soothing noises.  I planted my feet.  There should have been nothing very challenging about this. I was already close.  The ewe was relatively small. She had nowhere to run.

It never occurred to me she would bounce straight up.

In the split-second I was in the air, holding tight to wool, I remembered the time my dad tried to teach me to water ski. "Just hold on," he said.  And back then, when I fell, I did just that. I kept holding on while the boat dragged me along under water. My sheep revelation bubbled up just the same, a slow motion consideration of the possibility that hanging on might not actually be a good idea. Maybe I should let go.

Wool released, I slammed against the other side of the pen. All my weight came crashing down on my poor elbow. I cried and cursed and rolled around.  When I opened my eyes, the ewe stood over me, staring down at what she'd done. Hay spilling out one side of her mouth, she chewed and tipped her head, clearly confused.  And in that moment, when we both assessed each other, stunned? The lamb saw her chance, jumped in, and started to nurse.



33 comments:

  1. Oh, my. I am so sorry for your poor elbow. I must say, however, that the last line of this is priceless. I find myself cheering the nursing lamb.

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  2. Wow, that's quite a story, Johanna! So sorry you're injured, but at least the lamb and ewe sorted it out. Is that a silver, milky lining?

    Get better soon!

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  3. Even small animals do have surprising strength. Once when I was a kid, I was trying to hold a foal to show my parents, and the little stinker knocked me flat on my back and went flying over me. I remember lying on my back looking up at those sharp little hooves, thinking, "Please get all the way over. Please don't step on my face or something."

    In my case, my pride was hurt worse than my body, and the bruises went away in a few weeks. Hope your elbow heals well and quickly.

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  4. Oh Goodness! Do you suppose she found out it was you who took her wool and made sweaters last year? Or is it a sheep uprising? Maybe she's a SEKRIT pirate sheep with bad intentions!

    I guess you showed her.

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  5. Ohmigosh Johanna! Glad you're on the mend -- and, well, at the lamb figured out its nursing. A sheep throwing someone, oh man that crash had to hurt...

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  6. I shall make up for laughter by cheering for your mad writing skillz. Even injured after your sheep surfing incident, your writing shines. Go you!

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  7. What an amazing story. You are an amazing woman! Sending prayers for total healing. Thanks for the inspiration!

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  8. Johanna, so sorry about the elbow, so glad your injuries are not worse. This sounds like something that would happen to me so I am very, very empathic. I hope you mend well and quickly. Lambing season is one heck of a time for this to happen.

    Hugs,

    Ardee-ann

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  9. I found myself reading sections to my son. "Come here, come here, you have to hear this part!" I knew lambing season was difficult, backbreaking work. Ewes and lambs not quite getting with the program meant you had to guide them together. Never, not once, did I think it was genuinely dangerous. I can relate to your husband's part of that conversation - which had my son in stitches, by the way.

    Please know you're in my thoughts as I send energy for healing. You have a terrific family. Hopefully, they'll tie you down so you can rest at some point each day.

    Take good care of you,
    Jess

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  10. Oh, my gosh! Who knew sheep could be so dangerous? That must hurt like the dickens! Hope it's healed soon. :)

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  11. Oh, what a story! Laughed at your poor husband's reaction. Though not laughing at your painful elbow. I know how hard it will be to wear a brace while you walk around taking care of everything in your life.

    Take care, and I hope that ewe is very sorry!

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  12. Ha, ha, ha, ha... I'm sorry. But the line, "In the split-second I was in the air, holding tight to wool," had me rolling. I couldn't stop laughing. I'm so... sorry about your elbow, but that was just too funny. I truly hope your elbow gets better and getting hurt was no laughing matter, I'm sure. But that line was.

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  13. Not only did Johanna Make Sweaters..She Sold some of her Wool..to Run off with Pirates to write a Book...Seriously Johanna..I hope all is well will ck in...

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  14. Oh, I hope you're okay. But on the bright side...your new technique worked! Distract the momma by flying through the air.

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  15. Classic Johanna, absolutely priceless. I trust the elbow is beginning to mend? Four weeks is a long time if it means you can't write. Hopefully it doesn't. Anyway loved the tale of milk and broken bones.

    Cheers.

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  16. There should be a La Leche League for sheep. :P
    Heal fast!!

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  17. Hooray! A good story makes the pain hurt less. :)

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  18. Ha! A silver, milky lining--absolutely!

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  19. Those moments stay with us, don't they? I grew up in a family full of story-tellers. Many of their stories originated in farming and ranching. Feels like a fine tradition. What are a few bruises when you have a story to tell? :D

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  20. ERIK THE VIKING SHEEP by Elizabeth Creith is a fantastic picture book. You would both love it:

    http://umanitoba.ca/cm//vol4/no10/eriksheep.html

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  21. It's so good to see you, Anthony! Yeah, the flying wasn't bad. Just the landing. :)

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  22. Sheep surfing! LOL. Oh such fun. Thanks for the wonderful compliment. Music to a writer's ears. :)

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  23. Thanks, Ardee-ann. Now with only one arm, I'm an accident waiting to happen. I'm waiting for the kids to start following me around with video cameras. :)

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  24. Oh how I love the idea of you reading this aloud to your son! Makes my heart dance.

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  25. Thanks, Linda! After I posted this, @debbieduncan pointed me to this account of Libba Bray fracturing both her elbows last month: http://libba-bray.livejournal.com/60002.html

    She handled her pain so much more graciously than I did mine. I wailed!

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  26. Thanks, Marisa. I really lost track of the number of times my husband asked me what happened. Even after I explained, he kept looking from me to the sheep, clearly holding back laughter. "Now tell me again," he'd say.

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  27. Laughter speeds the healing. I love hearing what lines make people laugh. Thank you for that!

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  28. LOL. Yeah, I don't think I'm going to try to use that technique again, but it's good to know it works. :)

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  29. It is. I asked the doc about writing and he seemed relieved that was the worst of my worries. He said I'd see rapid improvement in the muscles, so typing should soon be no problem. The bone will take longer.

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  30. Exactly! Do you think sheep would eat the cabbage leaves before they could be used for a compress?

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  31. According to the old Western movies, cattlemen always said sheep were ornery critters and minions of the devil! Next time, hold on and ride that critter!

    Hope the elbow mends quickly. Funny, wonderful story, especially the picture of the ewe and you at the end, with the straw hanging out of her mouth and lamb going, "Aha! GOTcha!" lol!

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  32. Thanks, Marian! @kerryschafer agrees about the evil sheep theory, but they always make me laugh---even through the pain.

    Thanks for the well-wishes for my elbow. It's been just over two weeks and the muscles are much better. The fracture takes a bit longer to heal.

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