Saturday, 16 April 2016

Tiny Visitors

This week’s blog comes with a health warning. If you harbor a severe dislike to tiny, itchy creatures, start scratching now.

A week has passed, a week without the company of my dear husbands. It's good to take a break now and again and this time family and friends met in Cyprus. This sent Mr. Chip into a tailspin and our dog glued himself to me for the duration of the holiday. I have literally not been alone, this week. Mr. Chip also realised that if you sleep on top of somebody, that particular somebody can't vanish into thin air, without you noticing it. So I'm a bit flatter now.... Dear husband got back today and our dog can relax again.

We had the vet out to check on the sheep this week. Mandy has bled a few times from the rear end (I'm being discreet) so we thought it would be good for her to see a doctor. Our vet thought it had to do with spring and stuff and not to worry. Then she made the mistake of commenting that some cows bleed a bit after their weeks of being in season. Mandy turned around and gave the poor lady such a stern look that she started apologising. Mandy does not take kindly to being compared to a cow. Now we know... We took poo samples and there was no need to deworm and that was good. Then I showed a spot on My, where she's been itching and no problem was found there, either. All in all they seemed like happy, slightly round animals. As we live in the middle of nowhere, small, itchy spots should not be a problem.

Two days later, however, I found chewing lice on our poor sheep. They are tiny, active creatures that make the life of a sheep very uncomfortable. So for the rest of the week I have been hunting lice eggs and killed as many of the small blighters I have been able to find. The big question is how they got there, as our animals have not met any other sheep for two years. This little louse moves from sheep to sheep, not via someone else. We will get help next week, as the "medication" in question was sold out, at the vets. We still need to identify our visitors so the stuff we use is the right one.

Calling around to see if anyone else has this problem only resulted in everyone starting to feel itchy. Some ideas about how to get rid of them were put to us, while they were scratching behind their ears. Saunas were mentioned and home made sheep dips. But more as jokes, I hope...

While I've been hunting small game, an idea for a children's book came my way. Would it not be fun to write a story about a happy community of lice? Adventures and events in their life, accompanied by funny, sweet pictures. Children would love it and it would test the mental strength of the reader. How long before you break down and start scratching... As I'm too busy with our tiny visitors I'm happy to see someone else take this idea and run with it. I promise to buy a copy of the book when it's finished as I'm starting to get immune to lice and bugs. It also gives me a whole new meaning to the expression "A big knitathon"...... If you meet a group of lice out running.... Hens do not share their tiny visitors with the sheep and vice versa so at least that's one less thing to worry about.

Spring is here and I get to call for our sheep in the afternoon, again, as they have restarted their life as nomads. It's the most wonderful feel when you call for our friends and you get an answer and there they are, Mindy, Mandy, Molly and My; four happy explorers, lice and all. How we got on with that problem will be a tale for another time. Until then, I will sit and go through their wool and think of more book ideas. It does make me feel like a little monkey, though, all this grooming...

Credit: Dasha Dimitrova

Monkeys apparently pick specs of dry skin and salt from each other. They very seldom suffer from any kind of lice and knits. I hope they know how lucky they are on that front.

P.s. We got the medication needed and four polite sheep stood in a row while my dear husband squirted the liquid on a spot between their shoulder blades. My job was to make the parting in the thick wool and to actually find a spot for medicating. Not an easy task with our polar bear lookalikes. Now all we can do is hope it does the trick and the itching stops. I did clear out all the bedding and hay from the stable, just in case someone was setting up home in the corners. It's been a tough week for tiny visitors, around here. At least the sheep are calmer and I have time to do something else than pick knits. My eyes are sore from all the squinting...

You can stop scratching now, it does not help!

Text by Nina

Next blog post on the 24th April. 

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