September 25, 2011
It’s been obvious for a few weeks that Downy, the older of our two Southdown wethers, was working on a cough. Frankly, given the record-setting heat and drought that’s afflicted North Texas this year, we’re surprised the whole flock wasn’t hacking away.
We mucked around on the web and found that a wide range of diseases could express themselves in a dry cough. These ranged from bacterial like pneumonia, which is life-threatening but can be treated with antibiotics, to viruses like OPP, a common wasting disease for which there is no treatment.
We called our neighbor Mary to brainstorm. An energetic woman of indeterminate age, Mary is a helpful resource on many issues, a one-woman Rolodex of useful contacts and phone numbers. She is sweet and spry and down to earth, particularly for her age, whatever the heck that is. Her calm savvy bespeaks a lifetime of experiences far more interesting than any that you or I may have had.
Not surprisingly, Mary had some ideas. After a quick consult with a vet, she produced a potent supply of recent-issue penicillin. Since Mary herself is allergic to the stuff, we still needed a hypodermic and, more importantly, someone to pull the trigger. Enter Midge, yet another self-sufficient Texas woman and a former nurse who boards horses on her nearby ranch. Mary brokered a meeting. Her son Mark would load Mary and Midge in his pickup and the whole group would descend upon Sun and Wind Farm for a needle party.
The hour arrived and the makeshift medical team entered the shed where Downy has been isolated. We nudged and cajoled him for a few minutes, bribing him with the promise of a Fig Newton. Soon he was in place for the ceremonial pinch of the needle, and Midge quickly did her work. No muss, no fuss.
Later in the day, we repeated the process. Next day, same thing. We still have a few days to go, but Downy is already more energetic and clear-eyed than he’s been in weeks. Win, lose or draw, we are enormously grateful for the selfless actions of these folks we don’t really know very well. We tried to thank Midge, but she would have none of it. She looked at us matter-of-factly and said, “That’s what neighbors do!”