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Reality check

Windswept Ranch

Had a harsh reality check to remind me of just how tough ranching can be this morning when I turned on my computer and went to check out facebook. A friend of mine in Oregon found one of her reindeer had been killed by a cougar. It wasn't just any reindeer, but the first baby ever born on her property. He was just 2 years old.

Not that I really needed a reminder. Ranching comes with both joy and sorrow. This year, we have already lost 2 baby reindeer. One was born dead, the other died shortly after birth despite the very best efforts of my vet. It seems that some things are not meant to be.

I have learned over the years that if a mother walks away from her baby, there is something wrong. It usually means my heart is going to be broken. Instinct tells animals when it is not wise to expend energy trying to keep a baby alive. Unfortunately, I do not have that instinct.

I don't know what is happening this year, but I will blame it on the weather. I have two sets of twin lambs abandoned by their moms. That kind of leaves me in the "mom spot". Bottle raising is a big commitment and one that I willingly take on. And so it was with Mischief and Misfit.

Both lambs seemed to be doing well and ready for weaning. They were eating, drinking, peeing and pooping. They were romping and doing everything right. Then Mischief was dead! After 8 weeks of bottle raising, midnight bottles, vitamins, colostrum.....just there on the ground dead. So I became painfully aware it could happen to Misfit. And sure enough, last Saturday we found her on the ground, almost dead and the battle began. We heated her up and began stimulating her. We pumped formula and electrolytes into her, and we prayed.

Five days later, Misfit seems to be doing fine, but I will always feel the need to keep an extra eye on her. And that is the harsh reality of ranch life. Animals are going to die. It is inevitable, no matter how hard you try. It is the one thing that constantly makes me rethink my choice of professions. It is the thing most likely to bring me to tears.

But some days, the tears are tears of joy. This morning we have a healthy baby reindeer. Momma is taking good care of it,everything looks right.

If you have never seen a baby reindeer, you really need to come on out to the ranch. You may not have another chance. We are open Saturdays through October from 10 – 4.