Farm Lesson 8,452 – Monitor What Your Animal Eats AND The Amount
My mother learned a lesson the hard way that you have to monitor not only what your animals eat, but the AMOUNT they eat. I lived on a farm as a kid and I had a pet sheep. Patience was her name. Patience typically ate grass while tethered in different pasture spots during the day. She was then returned to her pen in the barn at night.
It was the end of summer which equates to canning time. The apples were ready and my mother and grandmother were canning copious amounts of applesauce. Large washtubs were brought inside to hold the mounting pile of apple peels. When full, the washtubs held between 15-20 gallons of apple peels. When the washtub was nearly full my mother recruited my sister and I to help and we carried the tub full of peelings outside to Patience on her tether line.
The tub was emptied within reach of Patience and she dove in. Thoroughly thrilled to have such a treat she ate and ate and ate. Sheep aren’t known to be the brightest of animals and they apparently have no stop filters. Patience neatly polished off the entire contents of the washtub.
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Not long after finishing her treat we heard loud, continuous, frantic bleating. Going to the back door to check, we saw Patience running full tilt around and around on her tether line bleating maniacally.
Dad Comes Home
My dad came home not long after Patience started her dance. He took one look at her and asked my mother, “what did you feed her?” Mom replied, “just a few apple peels.” “How many is a few apple peels?” he asked. “Oh, just that washtub full,” said Mom. While heading for the door to take care of the sheep he said, “she’s drunk!! You can’t give an animal that many peelings! She’s drunk as a skunk!”
Patience never slowed down for a minute as my Dad approached her and untied her from her stake. Holding tight to her tether line, he headed down the hill towards the barn with her still running, swaying side to side, bleating crazily. Once inside the barn he put her into her enclosed stall where she immediately collapsed onto the bedding and fell asleep.
Like someone sleeping off a big bender, she slept without moving for the next 12+ hours. Once awake, the next day, she resembled someone with a bad hangover. Low energy, aversion to her food and uncoordinated movements.
To this day I can hear my Dad as he headed out to care for Patience, “she’s DRUNK, you gave her too many, she’s DRUNK!” Thankfully, no permanent damage was done and we learned a lesson that has stayed with all of us for life. A little treat might be nice for your animals but “little” is the operative word there.