Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Sweet Relief

We've had so much unfortunate commerce with the vet lately, I almost didn't want to go this morning. But thankfully, today, we caught a break.

Worms. Tiny, microscopic parasites of the ruminant gut. These minute critters strike fear and wrath in the hearts of all shepherds. They can multiply and burden an animal's system to the point of wasting away to death. A couple of drugs can kill them, but the bugs are getting very resistant to treatment. Shepherds must manage their pastures and monitor their animals meticulously to keep the worms from getting the upper hand.

Some shepherds treat for worms routinely, on a schedule. Other shepherds only use the drugs when they see symptoms of a heavy worm load. I use the popular diagnostic method of regularly examining poop for the worms and treating if a heavy enough load is present. The vet performs this important test for me, since I haven't had a chance to develop my mad microscope and parasite recognition skilz yet.

It was high time to take a fecal sample to the vet. The hot weather is stressing the animals enough - they don't need the further aggravation of internal parasites. So this morning during my rounds, I scooped up some sheep and alpaca poo and headed for my veterinarian.

As usual, I was greeted by Deb, who was training a new vet tech. She introduced me: "This is Mrs. Telisak, the Poop Lady." Sad, but true. I handed Deb the two steamy zip-lock bags of greenish black beans, labeled "alpaca" and "sheep" and went on my way.

A positive fecal test would mean a day of catching and dosing all the sheep and/or alpacas. Alpacas get shots, and sheep get a drench--an oral medication. A negative test would mean we've dodged the bullet again, and we can relax for a while.

When I didn't hear from Deb for several hours, I called. She apologized for the delay and told me the fecals were negative.

Oh, heavenly bliss. The sense of relief seemed disproportionate to the actual result. But that's the way it is with our animals. Each time there's nothing wrong - it's a miracle and cause for jubilation. Every morning that I go out and all the animals have successfully weathered the night, I'm beside myself with joy. I've assumed the risk and responsibility for all of these sweet lives, and sometimes it gets a bit heavy.

But no one would keep at this lifestyle if there was no payoff. The joy outweighs all the hard stuff. Tonight, my heart is full of joy.

2 comments:

  1. Fantastic! Always nice when the vet can tell you something GOOD!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Anonymous1:10 PM

    Glad the poop tests were negative. Have you tried sprinkling some food grade Diatimous Earth on their food? It helps to kill the worms. If you are interested. I will get you some info.
    Alpacamama

    ReplyDelete