When Buttercup's story was published in several magazines and newspapers, we received so many encouraging emails that we decided to give Buttercup her own page. Here is the complete story and some of the emails of those who found her story heart warming.
A SHEEP UPDATE - May 5th
This week has been hectic! Three sets of triplets born and then there was "BUTTERCUP". Her entrance into this world was not ideal-she was early and unwanted by her mother. Bob found her early one morning during his routine sheep chores. She was cold and wet and shriveled. Her mother was a miserable example of maternal concern and care - repeatingly stomping on her to get up and then ignoring her. Her tummy was bleeding and she was very undersized - perhaps a couple of pounds. Things did not look good for her future.
They got a lot worse. Her mother baptized her from head to tail with a lot of slimly, stinky diarrhea. At this point, Bob intervened. He filled a five-gallon bucket with warm water and dish soap and proceeded to dunk and scrub her. Scrub and dip, scrub and dunk! I thought she was a goner but since Bob had gone this far, I allowed myself to get dragged in.
A shivering mass of misery, dripping wet and more dead than alive was wrapped in a towel and quickly carried into the warm kitchen. She was too weak to be frightened by the sound of my blow dryer, or to protest wrapping up in a heating pad. She was soon dry and I decided to feed her. She was too weak to suck on a baby bottle, so I ran a tube from her mouth into her stomach and fed her some milk replacer mix. She took a little, but I thought she would probably die soon anyway.
It was warm in the green house and I had work to do, so the next step was to wrap her up in still more towels and take her to the green house with me. By evening, much to my surprise, she was still alive. She could not suck or stand up and I really did not think she would survive the night. She spent her first night in an old dog kennel in my kitchen.
I left her there for two days, feeding her with the stomach tube and milk replacer every few hours. On the third day, I gave her a name "BUTTERCUP" and she managed to stand for the first time. She also got her first lesson in drinking from a baby bottle. Most of the milk replacer ran down her chin, but some did get in her. I know that for a fact, because she promptly wet all over my clean blue jeans!
"Buttercup" is almost a week old now and thinks I am her Mom. She gulps down four baby bottles of milk replacer a day and goes to the barn and green house with me. She gives me lamb kisses when I hold her and is content to snuggle on my lap. She weights close to three pounds as of this morning. On Sunday afternoon, she is going with us and some of our other newborns (lambs, puppies, bunnies etc.) to our local nursing home. I think the old ladies, especially, will get a kick out of holding her and perhaps feeding her a bottle.
June 14th - What to Do About Buttercup?
She thinks she is a person! I have been making her six bottles a day and it is getting old. She is capable of eating creep feed, hay, or even grass, but is not very interested. She does nibble a little when bored-but that is not often. She is totally enjoying being a baby.
Buttercup has several places that she likes. One is her main pen inside the cozy barn. She has deep straw to snuggle in , a water bucket, new hay to eat, and a container of creep feed. There is also an old porch chair for me to sit in when I give her the bottles. Now that part, she really likes. The calico cat likes to sit on my lap and be scratched while I feed Buttercup. In the next pen over, two mama geese are trying to hatch eggs that, in my estimation, should have been hatched weeks ago. Sometimes, I can relate to the Noah's Ark people. This is all great if you have nothing much else to do. That, however, is not the case. She also likes a portable pen in the back yard. The other day we put one of the rabbits in it , and she tried to suck on his ears. She also likes the dogs. They try to ignore her, but it is hard.
The problem is, what to DO with her. I don't need any more pets and I doubt if she will ever fulfill her role as a sheep. Her front legs are crooked, broken by her mother's , but she is getting better. She is small, being premature, and she doesn't have a clue that she is a sheep. She loves people and follows me or Bob, where ever we go. She even tries to come into the kitchen via the back door.
Some one, who will remain nameless, suggested that we convert her into dog food when she gets big. That is NOT an option. I kind of think she is special-with a special purpose. After her very hard beginning, she is strong, cute, and overly friendly. She just does not know she is a sheep. Does anyone have any ideas??? If so, please contact me. I could use some HELP!!!!!
More about Buttercup
Remember Buttercup? She is the lamb who should not have survived but did anyway. She is the one whose Mother did not want her and exhibited that by stomping on her immediately after birth, and then baptizing her with a lot of discussing diarrhea. She is the one who my husband, Bob, scrubbed up in a bucket of suds and hot water. Yes, the same one that lived in my kitchen for awhile, was stomached tubed for survival purposes and then spoiled rotten by demanding SIX bottles of milk replacer a day! She is the same one who is convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am her Mother and that all other sheep are stupid! She has managed to worm her way into the hearts of folks from all over the U.S.A.
It is probably my fault. I first wrote about her here. Then a local newspaper wrote about her when one of their reporters was here to interview me about our 8000sq.ft. organic garden. The reporter met Buttercup and it was LOVE at first sight. Next, I wrote several of my favorite magazines in the hopes that someone could give me some good ideas of what to do with her. That is when it really got crazy.
We have received phone calls, emails, and regular mail - with offers of adoption and good advice. Several great people offered to drive from Colorado to Minnesota to get her! With all this advice and attention, you would assume that Buttercup is no longer with us. WRONG! WRONG! WRONG!
To thoroughly understand the reason for this, we need to go back some. My oldest son and his family came to visit in August. The grandchildren are four very busy little boys ranging in age from two to ten. They come to the farm every summer to visit us, to help with chores, to pick stuff out of the garden and to go fishing. This year was no exception. We decided to keep Buttercup long enough so the kids could play with her and help with the bottles. Then we would deal with her. It did not go as planned.
The little boys gathered eggs, picked tomatoes, road in the cart behind the tractor, dressed up the baby New Zealand rabbits in bath towels, petted all the Great Pyrenees dogs, fed the ducks, bossed around the big geese,, and absolutely adored Buttercup. Everywhere they would go-she was sure to follow.. Did I mention that she still has her tail? It wiggles and wags behind her as she walks. We usually dock the tails on all of our lambs soon after they are born. A good shepherd will do this for sanitary purpose. We never did dock Buttercup's tail because she was so little and weak. We did not want to add to her stress level. I was beginning to weaken. My son's vacation time was over all too soon and he took his sweet wife and my busy grandsons home to Indiana. When I would begin to miss them, I would hug Buttercup and smile. The point of all this is, there is nothing cuter in this world than a baby lamb, with her tail wagging, trotting along behind my grandsons.
Since she was still here, I decided to find a use for her. She became my lawn mower and puppy trainer. Buttercup will follow me wherever I go, so as I worked around the yard, I took her with me. She very contently nibbled grass and watched my every move. She did a good job-especially on the dandelions.
We recently purchased two female Great Pyrenees puppies to add to our pack. Buttercup became the Pyr puppy sheep trainer. I could not let the puppies run with the adult ewes. The pups were too young and too little. Buttercup was just the right size for puppies in sheep guarding training. The puppies would pounce and bounce all around her and she loved it. They would wear themselves out and then curl up together for a nap. Did I mention that Buttercup likes dog food? She also enjoys drinking out of their water bucket. The adult Pyrenees like her too. They are protective and patient and seem to enjoy her tagging after them.
As I write this, my husband is out in the barn. He is building an oversize doghouse. It has a front porch and a shingled pointed roof. It will be painted Hunter green and moved out to the front pasture. Great Pyrenees love the snow and the cold does not bother them. Can you guess who will share the big green doghouse? Go Figure.
It has been suggested that I continue to write about Buttercup and her many adventures at Milk and Honey Farm. This may turn out to be a series of children's stories. I would welcome input and ideas from those folks who have read and enjoyed the Buttercup articles.
Read about Buttercup in the Fence Post...we too had a Buttercup. Mousse was due with her first lamb and had a large ram lamb, everything was fine until we checked her a couple of hours later...now she has a ewe lamb that is almost dead, Mousse wouldn't have anything to do with her, so in the house we go. Hair drier wasn't enough to bring her temp up so I sat in the bath tub with her while we kept the hot water going. After an hour or so her temp was back to normal and Daisy showed some signs of life. We got some milk down her and she and our daughter fell asleep wrapped in blankets in front of the fire.
Both of Daisy's front legs were very crooked, her jaw was off a little and one ear was very small and bent in half. She spent the next week in a stock tank in the family room, as we were getting ready to have a litter of bearded collies, she then moved to the welping box until she figured out how to get out and then found the stairs from the family room to the rest of the house. We splinted both front legs and she was soon running things. When the pups arrived Daisy graduated to the garage...poor Daisy! She is very smart there wasn't anything she didn't try to escape from...she loved being in the kitchen and watching tv with our daughter.
We finally moved her to the barn to make her a sheep, but now 5 years later she still has to help if you're in the pen where she is or out in the field she has to help, you don't dare leave the garage door or open the front door to the house if she is around as she still comes in and checks things out.
We raise CVM sheep for the fleeces for hand spinners. She has a great fleece her legs are fine her ear is still bent she has a breathing problem when it is hot out but other than that she is great. When she was 3 a ram got loose and we didn't think he had time to do anyone....but in June I was feeding and found a little white ewe lamb that no one seemed to claim ( Daisy is always more interested in eating) I picked it up and went around the barn when it cried here came Daisy...( we never thought she could handle being bred or lambing) Annie is her lamb's name has a great white fleece and this year Annie gave us Mister Mister a dark brown ram lamb. Daisy has a dark head and a silver - gray fleece we can usually sell her covered fleece for $ 8 to 10.00 a pound in the grease. I hope Buttercup gets to stay and contribute to your place as much as Daisy does to ours. These are very special sheep.
Return to TOP
Hello, my name is K. and I am writing in regards to buttercup the orphan lamb. I read the article in the fence post and feel she may have a great home here. I have a ranch in Colorado. I have one lamb here, named Baby Boy, who is just a pet. When he was born I could not butcher him, his sister and others are know gone. He hangs out with the cows but might like a new friend. I have a variety of animals, chickens, ducks, peacocks, turkeys, emu, rabbit, 11 horses, cockatoo, parakeet, ferrets, cats, dogs...
She would be very happy and loved. If she has a new home that's great and hope she is well. Please let me know how she is. thank you .
Return to TOP
(At least I hope you are the same Sarah in the Fencepost!)
My friend M. asked me to let you know that she would love to give Buttercup a home. She already has a sheep named Rootbeer who was crippled by coyotes and she paid for over 60 stitches to put his leg back on. He gets around pretty good considering.
Rootbeer is doing great but his companion, Sally the goat, is much older and he already has a fit if she goes too far from the barn. So he needs a younger sheep to keep him company. Buttercup would find my friend M.'s place a great home on 70 acres with a big barn, cats, geese, chickens, ducks, horses and only one very good dog. Rootbeer, Sally and all the cats are kept in the barn every night to keep them safe from coyotes. Rootbeer likes to pull the horse blankets down and snuggle up in them. He's sheared every year and kept well fed... since he sleeps at the bottle of the hay pile!
The best part is my friend's 8 year old daughter D., who gives lots and lots of love to them all. M. is a horse breeder and trainer and every horse on the property is mellow... and sheep friendly. Take care and God Bless you and your animals.
Return to TOP
In the Nov-Dec 2001 issue of 'Countryside' you have an article about the lamb "Buttercup". You asked for solutions to the problem of her over socialization with humans. She sounds like a perfect lamb for a petting zoo or nursing home. Since she doesn't know she is a sheep she would never feel out of place among humans. We raised sheep until last fall when we sold our flock due to the frustrations with finding shearers and the severely depressed wool market. It sounds as if you have the answer with direct marketing your fleeces through the wool comforters. We also have no mills near us. We now are raising meat goats and are enjoying the personalities they have. Good luck with "Buttercup"!
Return to TOP
Hi, if you still have your lamb and are still giving her 6 - 8 bottles per day, do what her mamma should have done. Begin to decrease the milk at once (mamma's milk supply begins to go down at about 2 months and goes to nothing by 6 months) when she is hungry she will be more interested in hay and grain. gradually decrease the milk ( you may even make it more dilute with less and less replacer and more and more water) As she begins to eat more , eliminate bottles. Also get her back in with the sheep or at the very least give her a sheep companion. We raise our bottle babies in the sheep pen so they will know they are sheep (not that a very sick on does not spend some time in my kitchen but they are in the barn (usually housed in the creep) as soon as possible. Do not give up on Buttercup as a sheep. Our Polyester- the first female colored merino we had- was the first of triplets and Mamma could only count to 2 so she abandoned the weak, birth stress firstborn on the pasture - we found her hours later. Poly did indeed spend time in my kitchen (and at work with me those first few days until she could stand and take a bottle) She still thinks she is people - but she lives with the sheep, accepted the ram and raised her twin lambs this spring without assistance.
Good Luck, JL
Return to TOP
Just read your article in Countryside about Buttercup. We had a similar experience about 5 years ago only with a bum lamb. A friend called and said she had been given some bums but there was one she just didn't know what to do with and would we PLEASE come help. We did and ended up taking home this tiny thing that walked on her knees, had inverted eyelids and couldn't see, had pneumonia and scours. Her bones had not calcified in her legs properly and could not hold her weight, so we cast the worst one using the stuff you put around pipes to keep them from freezing and some splints. We taped her eyelids back (using every tape known to man to get it to stick to the wool) and started her on antibiotics and Kaopectate. She spent the first few weeks of her life in our laundry room and then graduated to the back yard with the dogs and cats. Her legs healed and she was named Ilean because she was left with a limp.
The day she decided to follow the dogs through the doggy door was the day we knew a decision must be made and soon. We finally turned her out in the pasture with the other sheep and although she wasn't a bit pleased she did eventually adapt. She still, all these years later, will look at us as if to tell us she really doesn't belong out there with those other creatures. But she comes when she is called, has had one set of triplets and one set of twins, and is the first to make a new bum comfortable. She is also the matriarch of the small flock we have. Although her first week with us was more than tenuous and we were very prepared for her to die, we have been thankful ever since that she didn't. She is an addition to our little farm and will always be part of our family. Good luck to you and Buttercup. You might try turning her out with a young sheep or two more her size but within sight of the rest of the group for a while before you turn her in with a large flock.
It seems if they can bond with just one that is already a member of the flock it is an easier transition. Write and let me know how it goes.
Return to TOP
My husband and I receive the magazine "Countryside", and I saw your article about your lamb. Last fall we had the same thing happen with a goat. We had a miniature goat that had triplets. The mama wouldn't take care of the first born. We took her inside to try and warm her up and then rushed her to the vet. The vet told us that she was sure that she wouldn't make it. She made it through the night, and we were so thankful. We took her back to the vet's and got her another vitamin b shot. Needless to say the vet was surprised she made it through the night. By the third day, we gave her a name. Elizabeth, (affectionately nicknamed "Lizzie"), became part of the family.
She also thought she was a human. When the goats would come around her she looked at them liked they were foreign. She even tattled on them if they tried to play with her. At times, it even sounded like she was saying "mama". Whenever I would go out and sit on the porch swing she would come over to me and want me to pick her up. She didn't want to be held like most animals do, she wanted to be held up over the shoulder (like how you burp a baby), or held like a baby. We enjoyed her till the day she died.
I guess my reason for writing this to you is sometimes god gives us animals to just enjoy. I would recommend doing just that or letting someone else do that with her. Maybe there is a child that needs a lovable animal. I wish I was closer I would take her off your hands. We homeschool and our six year old loves to take care of animals. It has caused her a lot of happiness, and she has learned things that books cannot teach.
Good luck with your decision on your "Buttercup" and thanks for the wonderful story. It brought back many, many found memories of our "Lizzie".
Return to TOP
If you are looking for a good home for her I would be very interested, I have and raise shetland sheepdogs. We have a variety of animals and have talked about adding a sheep for some time now. She would fit right in with our menagerie . Ducks, dogs, one cat, a bird....and a lot of drop offs. Would also be interested in the price of a female "Pyr" - not for breeding,
only a pet and guard for the children and home.
Return to TOP
Sarah, this is in response to your article in Countryside. I got an orphan lamb in the dead of winter. Raised her in the house (with diapers) with my dogs. When the weather broke and she was old enough we built a house for her in the back yard with the dogs. She to wanted human companionship (although she'd settle for her flock of dogs) and was on a bottle until she was 2 years old. I could never see her drink out of the bucket so I kept a calf bottle set up for her at all times. I wanted to move her to the barn but she was terrified of any animal that wasn't a dog. I was given a young, hand raised de-horned goat and I decided to put her with Sheba to see if she could adjust to other animals. All was well until Sheba learned how to use the doggy door! I finally moved her and her friend (Tinker) down to the barn. They had bonded and although Sheba still likes to see us, she has become a part of the goat herd. To this day she is terrified of sheep. Each year we take her to get sheared at a friend's sheep farm and Sheba will not leave my side until she gets sheared and then it's right back to my side. She will have nothing to do with sheep. But, I think if I had paired her up with a lamb it would have been a different story. I'd be interested to know how your situation worked out. M
Return to TOP
After reading about your plight with the "human lamb" I had to write. I have a 200 lb., eight year old wether named "Fonzy" who was the same way. His mother died right after she had him, and so he was raised as a bum. I didn't know what to do with him because there was no place to keep him here at the house where he'd be safe from the coyotes and cowdogs after he started feeling better. I raise any triplets with their mothers, training them to come to a bottle or bucket so they can remain sheep..
Fonzy was a different matter. But, having no choice, I decided he needed to learn the same way. Talk about trauma--the crying, wailing, and whining that went on the first day I put him back down with the sheep--and that was just ME! He was REALLY upset. I started him out at an hour or two at a time, and wouldn't feed him anywhere else. It was a pain, and hard on us both, but in time he got used to it, although he still maintains he is part human. Yes, he stayed with us instead of being slaughtered--he is halter-broke, comes to me anywhere at all, and is a gentle giant. The only thing he refuses to do is wear a bell! I kept him because of all this, and the fact that the other sheep think maybe he knows something they don't, and FOLLOW him! He's definitely been worth his weight in gold (and more than he would have been in lambchops...). I have never again become attached to a wether, but when Fonz is gone I will train a ewe lamb to take his place. (Actually, I ALWAYS become attached to all the lambs, and cry when they're gone...), but maybe Buttercup could be that special bell ewe for you. I have had broken-legged ewes that bred up and raised lambs beautifully, the same for runts, and a sweet "granny" type ewe that will comfort newly weaned or sick lambs is a godsend.
I hope you find something that works--my first ewe was a Rambouillet bum named "Buttercup" and she just died last year after having been retired for two years. Aren't sheep just wonderful? Don't know what I'd do without my small flock of ladies (and Fonz). I can do almost all the work myself, and they are great after working with cattle who try to run you over. The cowboys are pretty tolerant of them as I keep their calving lots weed-free during the months they're not in use. This year (our second of awful drought) I had to cull about half my flock because my good pasture is not irrigable, and it was just awful. Now I'm down to 12 and hope the drought breaks soon. Hope things work out for you and Buttercup! BL
Return to TOP
I certainly did enjoy your story of the sheep who thought she was human. Many years ago (the 60's) we cared for a flock of sheep for a man who went to CA for a month. All the babies were born during his trip. Planned??? Any how there was one orphan sheep. Dam would not care for her. We named her Bumper and she surely was human. When I was planting the garden that year she went with me. Once in awhile for no reason at all she would jump into the air and do twirls until she was exhausted. We had a horrid time when we decided she needed to be with the rest of the flock. She bleated 24 hrs a day for weeks and never truly became a sheep. I truly enjoyed your story as it brought back such fond memories. I am now retired living in Fl far from the farm and all the work. Only when I read stories like yours do I miss all that work and hardship, but it was a good place to raise the kids. CB
Return to TOP
Sarah, I just got my Countryside today (late), so your problem with Buttercup may already be solved. I also had a lamb who thought he was a person, and also a dog! I took care of the front end by bottle feeding him & my dog took care of the back end by cleaning him as she would a puppy! She also kept him warm by sleeping with him. He is now a 4 year old wether, very healthy, very friendly, but knows he's a sheep. I cut his bottle feedings down gradually and he ate the creep feed, hay, & grass when he got hungry enough. I put him out with the other lambs more & more frequently for longer & longer periods until he decided he would rather be with them than in the house with me. If this doesn't work & you can't keep her as a pet, maybe a petting zoo would take her. Good luck!
Return to TOP
Hello Sarah, I really enjoyed your article on early imprinting in Countryside magazine. Did you find a home for Buttercup yet? We live in Illinois, but we do have 21 acres which includes a 33-year-old pinto horse, a pygmy goat, and our newest additions, 3 Rhode Island Red chickens. These are ALL pets, and will never go into the freezer. We could make room for Buttercup if we could find a way to get her down here:) I currently have about 1 acre fenced with HorseGuard electric fence for the horse, goat, and chickens. They all share a 16 x 12 run-in shed, and get along well. There is always room for one more pet here!. IL
Return to TOP