Tuesday, 29 June 2010
Sheep- are they intelligently designed?
Yesterday started well. I saved a life before breakfast.
I looked out of my bedroom window at 7 am. and in the paddock beyond our garden I saw what looked like a sheep. Nothing unusual there, but this sheep appeared to be lying flat on its back with all four of its legs sticking up vertically in the air. Further observation through binoculars showed it was not one sheep but two, one of which seemed like an adolescent lamb sleeping near its unconscious upside down mother.
I knew from our local shepherd that the ambition of every sheep is to try to die before it can be sold in good condition at a market, and this sheep looked to me to be about to achieve its ambition.
I dressed hurriedly and approached the inverted sheep which was comatose,wheezing softly and intermittently discharging copious quantities of what commonly steams out of Cowes backwards other than the Isle of Wight Ferry.
The lamb skipped off, happy as Larry, and I knelt carefully in a dry bit beside the mother.
I knew that this sheep was a Texel, a breed known for its large size and its broad back, and when it turns turtle, just like a turtle it cannot turn over again. The weight of its own body then compresses its lungs and gradually suffocates it, and this was clearly what was happening here .
Heaving manfully on its woolly flank I just managed to roll it over, whereupon it behaved like a newborn zebra, i.e. it lay still for a few seconds, opened its eyes, coughed a bit, tried to stand, wobbled and promptly fell over again. It repeated the standing, wobbling and falling sequence several times, then gradually got it strength together and wandered off to graze as though nothing had happened.
The lamb, which was an adolescent ram, then returned to mother, and although it was almost the same size as its mother, it tried to suckle, and when she would have none of it, it tried to mount her.
What does this ovine adventure teach us? One might venture to suggest that sheep are not intelligently designed, as the Creationists would suggest, but I suppose one might equally argue that Texel sheep are designed by Man by selective breeding to have broad meaty backs, so we can't blame God if they die whenever they roll over.
And what about the behaviour of the teenage ram? It just confirms my view that propogation of the species is a very strong instinct, and humans shouldn't be surprised when cuddly toys behave like animals.
Anyway I went off to breakfast quite pleased with myself and ewe and son are both doing well.