September 15, 2010


Today after work Jordan and I went down to do the evening feeding. All the sheep were headed towards the pole barn too; their internal clocks signalling dinner time. Notag, the alpha ewe, is always first in the barn, first to the oaks, first for everything. She came trotting in, bahhing and I notice something wrong with her nose. On the top there were 25-30 porcupine quills.

My exact words were "Oh shit!" Fortunately none of the quills were in her eyes, mouth or nostrils. And no one else seemed to have been hit. We fed everyone and went upstairs to call the vet.

Since it was after 6pm, the vet was closed. You can choose #1 in the options and leave an emergency message that will be called back in 15 minutes. I wasn't sure this qualified as an "emergency" but I also had never dealt with porcupine quills before. I pushed 1 and left a message. Dr. Scott called back in about 10 minutes. I could hear children in the background, so I presumably interrupted dinner or homework or something else completely un-work related.

Dr. Scott has is the owner and chief vet at our local veterinarian hospital. He has been there since dirt was young and knows everything about all farm animals (or at least that's how it seems when he has answered my questions during past visits.) Dr. Scott said he had never heard of a sheep getting hit by a porcupine - horses, cows and of course dogs, but never a sheep. I explained where the quills were and he thought maybe Notag was trying to push the porcupine away. Which makes sense because that is exactly what she does with the cats. He said to get a pair of pliers and start pulling. Great!

After dinner we headed down for some quill-pullin'. Turns out that if you use needle-nosed pliers and are able to grab the black portion of the quill, they come out without much hassle. And Notag, being the best sheep ever, let us remove them all in about 15 minutes - 35 quills total. I guess that didn't really qualify as an emergency! But now I have acquired a new farming skill - porcupine quill removal.

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