As I was biking my way to Dutch class this morning I had to roll another sheep over. You don’t hear that every day! Yep, it’s the second time I’ve had to grip that spiky barbed-wire fence and alley-oop myself over to the sheep side.
It’s actually a very sad thing to see, a sheep on its back, legs in the air…they look like they are dead. It’s freaked me out both times now (until I get a bit closer and can see her wiggle).
As I made a bee-line to said sheep, the others slowly stood up, eyeing me, and cautiously walked ~just a little bit~ farther away from my determined direction.
(In my head, they were graciously parting the Sheep Sea for me as I was to SAVE another friend. I’m so glad she’s here, they group-think.)
I softly spoke to the little lady and said, “Just one sec”, “It’s okay”…the usual sheep-flipping talk… she just solemnly flailed her legs and kind of looked me in the eyes.
(In my head, she was thanking me repeatedly and pledging that all animals everywhere should love me.)
I bent over and lightly pushed the dewy-wooled sheep and POP! she’s ok again and gives a little jog away. Then looks back. They all look back…at me.
(In my head they did this, but not for real.)
The first time this happened the sheep’s little lamb was standing by her throughout the whole ordeal. Talk about pressure! It was so sweet, but also so sad as I approached —not knowing if the mother was still alive. She was! And she too scampered away.
Back on my bike and off to class.
So, in English (because I wouldn’t have a clue where to start this sentence in Dutch!), I tell everyone “I just had to flip a sheep over”.
They stared at me. Oh, okay…I need to explain this..no problem. “Well”, I say, “I just learned about this myself recently, but if sheep get stuck on their backs they can’t get up and they can die! Did you know that?!”
Nooooo. So, I thought it was understood. They got it.
Then one of the other ‘students’ (such a sweet man) says: “It’s not that cold out, the grass is still green. They won’t die.” I debated about whether I should try to explain it further and decided to just let him think I’m an idiot! hahahaa
Good thing I’m always on sheep patrol now!
Fact: Cast sheep A sheep that has rolled over onto its back is called a “cast” sheep. It may not be able to get up without assistance. It happens most commonly with short, stocky sheep with full fleeces on flat terrain. Heavily pregnant ewes are most prone. Cast sheep can become distressed and die within a short period of time if they are not rolled back into a normal position.
Why does a sheep die on its back? A sheep has a rumen which enables it to digest grass. This is basically a large fermentation tank where various bacteria break down grass to produce digestible food. This process produces a lot of gas! The fermentation tank has a pipe in at the front and a pipe out at the back. When the sheep is upside-down, these exits are blocked so the gas produced cannot escape and just builds up in the rumen until the poor sheep’s lungs are crushed and it is unable to breathe.