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Lambs are cute and fluffy, but they are also farm animals, and having been to a petting zoo once or twice does not make a person an expert in animal husbandry. It’s generally safe to assume that a farmer knows more about her animals than a random person off the street, but this weekend a would-be animal hero attempted a daring rescue of some baby lambs, and it ended with disastrous consequences.
Violet Hill Farm in West Winfield, N.Y., is a family farm that sells its wares--meat, eggs, mushrooms, and other products--at Union Square in New York and at McCarren Park in Brooklyn every Saturday. This weekend, owner Mary Carpenter had some extra passengers when she came into the city, because she found herself bottle-raising seven orphaned newborn lambs. The lambs had to be fed every four hours, so she brought them with her in the back of her converted yellow school bus.
Carpenter and her family have a lot of experience hand-raising orphaned lambs, but on Saturday evening some would-be hero discovered the lambs cavorting in the back of the bus and decided that not only were the lambs cold and hungry, but that he was qualified to rescue them. According to Carpenter, he broke into the bus and fed the lambs a half gallon of cow’s milk, despite the fact that they were lambs, not cows.
Carpenter was livid when she went back to the bus to feed the lambs their next scheduled meal and discovered the break-in. She says the back doors of the bus were left wide open and there was an empty container of cow’s milk on the seat next to the lambs.
Newborn lambs are delicate and very susceptible to scours, a life-threatening illness that can be brought about by overeating or an inappropriate diet, which is why Carpenter was bottle-feeding her lambs on a strict schedule. The lambs were also eating milk replacer specially formulated for lambs, which is not the same thing as cow’s milk. The person who broke in and fed the lambs cow’s milk does not seem to have had any idea what or how lambs eat, and he put their lives at serious risk. Carpenter says two of the lambs have already died as a result of the meddling.
“I have now learned that they boarded the bus once, went to the police, who then told him not to enter the bus,” Carpenter said in an email. “The NYPD looked through the window and saw the lambs were in a box with bedding and all had diapers on!! He saw the parks pass on our windshield for the market and surmised (correctly) that the bus belonged obviously to a farmer who knew what they were doing. Nothing was in danger.”
Despite the police officer instructing the would-be sheep saver to stay off the bus and leave the lambs alone, the culprit appears to have decided that he knew better than both the farmer and the police, and he boarded anyway.
“Taking matters into their own hands resulted in the death of two lambs, so far,” Carpenter wrote on Instagram.