10 June

Sad Morning: Decision For Jake

by Jon Katz
Decisions For Jake
Decisions For Jake

We went out at midnight to check on Jake, he was under the hay feeder, his sister Deb was staying close by, as she has the last few days. We saw that Ma is now rejecting Jake, pushing him away as sheep do when the smell on their lamb changes. Jake is deteriorating rapidly, he can’t lift his head and can barely move.  I was struck this morning to see the contrast between Jake and his sister.

The vets are right of course, sick sheep rarely recover, sick lambs even more rarely.

Jake barely made it out of the womb, and has been frail and sickly since, it is clear he is suffering and none of our medications have really worked. We have decided to euthanize him to spare him further suffering and recognize that we have come to the limits of what we can reasonably or humanely do.

Maria will help me prepare Jake, carry him and tie him up.  I will put him down shortly using my .22 rifle. I believe it is the fastest and most humane death, I will take him far out into the woods, away from the other animals. As always, I wanted to be honest with you. It is a sad and disappointing thing, Jake and Deb are special lambs, very spiritual creatures. I was hopeful yesterday he might make it, but my experience with lambing said otherwise. I was not really surprised to see his condition this morning, I am touched by his sister’s fealty and affection for him.

Maria is strong, it is a hard thing for her to experience.

I remember when I crossed the line between having pets and having animals during an awful blizzard at the first Bedlam Farm, I had a lamb shaking and suffering greatly, I called the large animal vet and asked what I should do. There was three feet of snow on the ground, more coming, and I doubted the vets could get out there.

“Do you have a rifle?,” the vet asked. Yes, I do, I said. “Good,” he said, “that would be the best thing for your lamb, to shoot him and end his suffering.” I knew I had crossed into a different terrain, and live there still.

Life is not simple to understand and explain sometimes, I try to accept it and understand it after thought, discussion and some quiet time. This is the truth about a life with animals, it is not a perfect life it is not a fable or fairy tale. There is no such thing as a no-kill farm, no life for animals or people that does not involve suffering and loss. I’ll check in later.

Jake is a special creature, a white animal,  he came with a message, I will try and understand what it was.

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