Where there’s livestock, there’s deadstock (GRAPHIC)

I’ve mulled over this post for a few days but I’ve decided to post it, as I said I was going to post the bad, along with the good.  There is a pretty horrific picture further on down this post.  It’s not nice but imagine how I felt finding it!

*it really is a horrific picture so don’t go any further if you are squeamish and if you do, don’t bother complaining to me*

It is of one of my favourite sheep, found dead in the croft.  Here is the sheep with one of her twins, minutes after they were born in mid April.  I was given a black sheep for my 10th birthday (yes, a little strange, I know) in 1994 and I’ve always tried to keep a black female to keep the strain going.  I hadn’t had any black females for a few years and unfortunately both this years lambs were male.  So ends the bloodline.  When you have a small number of sheep, you get to know their personalities.  This one was a good mother and a little bit wild.  She didn’t like people and would hang back a wee bit when someone that wasn’t me was about.

I usually take the dog in the croft for a walk every second day, or so, to check the sheep.  It’s not uncommon to lose a lamb or two in the summer months so I like to keep an eye on them, just in case anything goes wrong.  I don’t normally count the sheep or lambs, just walk through them and make sure they all look ok.  I went in last Monday night, having not been in since Thursday night and didn’t notice anything wrong.  I walked through all the sheep but decided to carry on to the bottom of the croft, just in case there was anything I’d missed.  As I passed this mound that I’ve pictured, I smelled death.  One of these things you can’t describe unless you’ve experienced it.  It took me a minute or two to figure out where it was coming from because I couldn’t see anything.  Looking at the picture below, you still can’t see anything.

On closer inspection, the sheep was on her back/side on the other side of the mound, with her horns stuck in the fence.  She had absolutely no chance of getting out.  To say I was gutted is an understatement.

I covered the carcass with the bath you can see in the earlier picture and came in the next evening to bury the sheep.  I did it at the ‘cemetery’ at the bottom of the croft.  This was when things got messy though.

Before I show the picture of the sheep, I’d better mention that I came home that day to be greeted by a dead chicken!  No idead what cause of death was but I chased some crows off the carcass.  I buried the chicken with the sheep.  This is when things get gruesome.

So, like I said, this is when things get nasty.  The sheep had probably been there for the best part of a week.  Add into that the warm, dry weather we’ve had and it’s not a good mix.  I had to use wire cutters to cut it free and then when I lifted it, the side that had been on the ground had been eaten away by maggots.  The smell was horrible and the carcass a lot lighter than it should have been.  Into the transport box on the tractor with it and buried as quickly as possible.  One of the low points of the year on the croft so far.

I’m not ending on that pic though – here is a pic I took of the sheep in April 2011.


  1. It’s such a shame when you loose one, especially when it’s one with personality. We were lucky with our croft in Carloway because pretty much the entire croft was visible from the top road, so someone would always be able to tell us if we had a sheep in obvious trouble like through a fence.

  2. A true account of life on the croft, death and all. I’m more familiar with these sorts of scenes than you might expect – but I walked the length and breadth of the island in the winter of 2004/5, and encountered more scenes like that than I care to remember.

  3. As you say, the smell of rotting flesh is hard to describe and not pleasant to experience. I remember being out cycling when I was younger and catching this awful smell for about a quarter of a mile before coming across a dead badger absolutely crawling with maggots. That was forty years ago and I can recall that smell but can’t really explain it to anyone.

    Perhaps you were a little fortunate in finding it sooner rather than later!

  4. Pingback: A look back at 2012 « Air an Lot

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