19th July 2009
Merlin came to us one winter’s day in the arms of a farmer’s wife. He had been discovered desperately trying to keep up with his buddies as the flock was rounded up for a regular drenching. The bloodied and bone exposed leg told he had suffered some severe attack that could well have claimed his life. A makeshift bandage was placed over the wound and he was Edgar’s Mission bound.
But he was by no means out of the woods. He was immediately raced to veterinary assistance where we were told this was possibly one of the worst case scenarios. Little Merlin appeared to be an orphan and had been struggling for some time, hence his potty stomach and vulnerability to attack. The attack had occurred some days previous to discovery and the little fellow’s leg was not just broken, it was shattered and the bones had been exposed setting up the site for infection.
We named him Merlin, not so much because he looked like a little wizard with a pom pom of wool on his head, but because it was going to take a miracle for him to survive.
But survive he did. After enduring several trips back and forth to the vet, ours became a well worn path, little Merlin grew in confidence and bone building strength each day. A plaster cast for his leg was not possible initially due to the possibility of infection and the fact that the bones had shifted out of alignment.
Despite Merlin being very young and requiring the life sustaining milk of his mother, he had lost the sucking reflex of infants. Thankfully, all our past experience in raising orphans provided us with a wealth of knowledge that would help Merlin. At first syringing milk down his throat was difficult but history told us the little guy would come to not only accept this, but look forward to this as a yummy treat, and to this end Merlin did not let us down.
Days rolled into weeks and soon Merlin was able to make the final journey to the vet clinic to have his cast removed. With lots of physiotherapy and encouragement Merlin’s little atrophied leg became useful once again. To look at Merlin today one would never think his life was held so tenaciously in the balance.
Since their domestication between 9,000 and 11,000 years ago domestic sheep appear far different from their ancestors, the wild mouflon. These animals with huge horns and colored hair not fleece, looked more like goats than sheep. None the less, despite sheep having emerged as hardy animals they are no match for the harsh conditions of Australia hence we do not have feral populations of sheep. Flocks of sheep require shelter and shade to protect them from the elements and predators, along with adequate water and can live on a diet of only grass and hay. Sadly for them having been deemed “livestock” and labelled a “farmed” animal they are not afforded the same animal welfare protection as domestic pets.