I should have known something was up when Avo was crowing at 2:30 a.m. This morning we found Phoebe laid out cold on our morning rounds, and on closer inspection her remaining blind eye, as blue as the Earth from space, blinked. We moved her into the sun where I fed her warm molasses water with electrolytes. She perked up a little and gummed an apple and some alfalfa, but went slowly downhill and passed in my arms.
She had been feisty, her usual self in the days before. The only thing I noticed was she was foaming around the mouth whenever she ate the last couple days, and today discovered a hard mass under her jaw and she appeared anemic.
Nobody knew how old she was when we found her three years ago by the side of the road, poorly cared for, blind, and presumably hit by a car. She always looked sort of rag tag, but we gave her the best of care and loved her just the same. Because of the neurological damage she always walked in circles and her hooves grew shaped like bananas because she always went in the same direction. You could tell her general mood by the diameter of the circle. Our vet didn't think she'd make it, but she was one tough sheep. So tough--and much to our surprise--she dropped a lamb a few weeks later--two rescues for the price of one!
The vet did not expect Finley to live either, but, of course, he did too. For Avo the outcast rooster, she became the big fuzzy hen of his dreams and she put up with him in a way no one else would. They were inseparable. Farmer Rick and I are heartbroken, and Finley and Avo will be at a loss without her.
This video was taken just last month, you can see the happy trio together.
Interestingly, right before Phoebe passed a raven flew overhead in the direction of North. Native Americans believed the raven was an omen of death, and that they carried the souls of the dead away. North represented winter and old age.
Farmer Rick had to leave for a school rehearsal, and we will bury her before the evening performance. Death is never convenient. We put Finley out to graze earlier and I just let him back into the pen to say farewell. He did not seem to recognize or even be curious about the lifeless body of his mother; instead he looked in all directions crying out for the life force he once knew her as.