This is Cocoa, the oldest, dearest member of my flock. Cocoa is one of the pair of my very first sheep. My flock started with her. Cocoa will be 17 in March which is very old for a sheep. She's doing incredibly well, given her advanced age.
I took this pic this morning after we fed her and bedded her pen. She and three other senior ewes live in our "Assisted Living" Barn. They get individual pans of grain and mushy alfalfa cubes soaked in warm water every morning. Winter is especially hard on old sheep. We do what we can to help them get by.
I received some sad news just after Christmas. "Chocoloate Chip" who was Cocoa's very first lamb, born 16 years ago, died the day after Christmas. Chip had been living at my sister's house, along with her menagerie of other sheep and goats. Kathy found him in the snow that morning. Like Cocoa, he had been receiving preferential treatment, although declining. And like Cocoa, he lived a long and contented life.
It's difficult seeing out the senior members of our flock. Chip's passing makes me grateful for every day Cocoa is still on her feet at the gate to greet us when we enter the barn. Although she is stiff-gaited and her eyes are clouding over, she's wily, strong and independent.
We had lost another old timer back in June. I was so sad at the time, I'm sorry, I just didn't feel like blogging about it. It was Pansy, a 13 year old Cormo ewe who was the last of our original Cormo matriarchs. She lived long enough to be present for a Sheep Shares gathering in June (if you attended that event, you may remember the frail ewe in the Assisted Living Barn). Pansy passed away the very next day.
Our flock has a higher than average number of old timers - ewes, mostly, who have more than earned their keep over the years. Not all of them are as personable as Cocoa, Chip or Pansy, but their presence is part of the spirit of this place and they are dear friends. Let's hope winter will lighten up for the sake of the old timers.
* note - post edited to fix grammatical error, yikes.