A little over 4 weeks ago I couldn't have told you if this brave and precious little soul was going to live or not.
Her life was hanging in the balance, and the scales could have tipped so easily either way. She was so frail but for a tiny stubborn spark of life, but honestly I wasn't sure if it was enough.
Late afternoon, when the shadows were growing long and the chill was slowly creeping into the air I first gazed into Nicki's beautiful amber eyes. Dad laid her sniffling and shuddering slightly at my feet and told me he found her caught up in the fence and it looked like she had been there a couple of days unnoticed; her efforts to free herself had only made the damage worse as the wire had bitten deeper and deeper into her front legs, rubbing away the flesh and scarred her with two twin wounds down to the bone on either sides of her legs. He wasn't sure if she'd make it but told me to do what I could. Now it's important to note that we live in a pretty rural area and born from the fact that the closest vet is a four hour drive (but we since have gained a closer one who is an hour and a half closer) so we have to be a little self reliant when it comes to stuff like this and we have a pretty extensive animal medical box and over the years I have done a lot of consulting on the phone, I think I could make a pretty decent vet nurse ;)
Anyways, I gave her a shot of antibiotics, something for the pain and rummaged though my homeopathic kit for something to fit her symptoms (I'm a big believer in holistic medicine, but sometimes you have to use it in conjunction with conventional medicine) and began to clean away the mud and blood from her legs, it wasn't a pretty sight that greeted me. But I soon found myself giving thanks that it had only damaged the soft tissue and had just missed all the important stuff (a benefit for an artist living on a farm is that knowledge of anatomy comes in handy not only for drawing!) When I had finished cleaning and disinfecting her wounds I packed them with Manuka honey (I have had some really good results with this stuff) and bandaged them with bight and cheerful bandages. I also made a prayer to who ever was up there listening that however this went, good or bad, that she wouldn't suffer.
It was a pretty tense week with a lot of ups and downs but she hung grimly to life and as I tended to her I sent her as much love and compassion as I could. She didn't have the strength to stand, so we made her a soft bed of oldtowels to keep her comfortable. We had to turn her over periodically and massage her legs to try and keep circulation in her legs. We also had to monitor her pain with painkiller, and try to keep her as painfree as possible so she had a chance to heal.
At night we covered her with a warm horse rug and tucked her in with a hot water bottle.
My sister cared for her while as I was at work and I worried every time I saw her name on my caller id that it was was bad news.
Half of the first few days she refused to eat anything that I offered at all which was a concern, so I had to force feed her warm milk via a syringe, which she finally decided wasn't that bad and began to take without protest. I remember when she finally began to eat the wisps of hay I offered her, I whooped with such joy that my brother, who is normally quite oblivious to such things, stuck his head out the window and asked what I was yelling about.
I have been though this process with sheep so many times over the years with various ailments, and sometimes no matter what you do you can't save them, but when you can and you do, it is always such a blessing.
She was on her feet again by the 10th day which was such a miracle, and slowly she grew stronger and stronger until she was skipping and running around the yard with our 4 pet lambs and two other sheep who had also had miraculous recovery's in the last couple of months.
Living on a wool producing Sheep Station you get to see the whole circle of life and death up close and personal, and sometimes its just so damn unfair, like seemingly endless cycles of drought so bad that it seems that it will never end and stripes of green across the dry dusty country seems like a faraway dream. It breaks your heart over and over, but then there are times that little tiny sparks of life, tiny little miracles in the grand scheme of things just light up and warm your heart. You realize exactly why you haven't gone grown that thick skin and a hard heart.
Nicki is one of these little woolly miracles that I have been blessed with over the years: Andrea, Mildred, Sully, Moe, Iris, Buddy, Teddy Teabags (who memorably managed to heal after breaking his front leg in two places!) and so so many more. It never gets old that warm fuzzy feeling that fills up your whole heart when they recover. Its just the best feeling and makes all the heartbreak that you endure for them just a little more bearable..
Thank you for reading,
Love & Light,
Siobhan is a Visual Artist Connecting Animal Lovers with Customized & Magical Animal Portraits, and an optimistic realist with a day job.