It isn’t often that something happens within the flock that I haven’t seen before. After nearly seventeen years, I’ve seen a lot of weird stuff, both in my own flock and in the flocks of friends and acquaintances, so when my young ram lamb Pistil had me stumped this past fall, it was a notable experience!
It all started when our farm helper Seth and I were working among the rams and ram lambs near the end of the breeding season. We were making preparations to break up breeding groups and bring the working rams back to the ram pen. As the younger ram lambs moved around to avoid our efforts, I noticed that Pistil — a young moorit brown Romeldale I hoped to use in 2017 — seemed to have something in the front corner of his left eye.
I mentioned it to Seth, and we eventually caught Pistil to get an up-close view of what we had been seeing only in glimpses. I should have photographed it, but I simply decided to keep an eye on it in the coming weeks and to call the vet if the growth started to create problems.
It was actually pretty interesting-looking at that point. It grew from the lacrimal caruncle — that little lump of visible tissue that we have at the inside corner of the eye. The abnormal growth looked somewhat like a crown, with three or four pointed sections, each about a half-inch long, that curled outwards from the center. It didn’t seem to bother Pistil at all.
Over the days that followed, I considered what this growth might be. I suspected it was likely some type of wart, but I didn’t know for sure. I had never seen anything like it. The rams came in from the fields, became reacquainted, and settled into life in the ram paddock. It wasn’t long before Rick and I spent the Thanksgiving holiday in Curacao, then left again shortly after for North Carolina and the birth of our first grandchild. The entire period from the end of October to our arrival back at home after Christmas seems a bit of a blur, but every once in a while I would look over Pistil’s growth and didn’t notice much of any change. I made a mental note to give our vet a call when things calmed down after the first of the year.
When I was feeding the rams this past weekend, I decided to take one more look before calling the vet in the morning, I was much surprised by what I saw! Although I know that Pistil still had a fairly large growth in the corner of his eye when we left the farm on December 12th, when I looked at him happily nibbling the hay bale on January 8th, it was gone! What the heck was that unusual growth, and where had it gone?
The answers elude me. I have talked to Seth, who managed the farm in my absence, and he never noticed any blood or sign that the growth might have been torn off. Somehow over those three weeks or so, the growth simply disappeared.
Before writing this blog, I did a bit of research, as I normally do when writing about a topic that is new to me. In this case, I found literally hundreds of online photos of ugly warts and all kinds of mysterious skin growths, but none — not a one — resembled the growth that both Seth and I had seen so near Pistil’s eye. This incident will have to go down in my records as unexplained. I may never know exactly what the growth was, what caused it, or what eliminated it after a few months. I have only the mention of it in Pistil’s records and a vivid memory of its interesting shape.