It is not unusual for Pam Ahern to receive phone calls at all hours about distressed or injured farmed animals, but this call was a little different. A wildlife carer phoned Ms Ahern, the owner of central Victoria animal sanctuary Edgar’s Mission, about a lost sheep discovered on a mountain nearby.
And he wasn’t in a good state.
“He had 40 kilos of wool on him when he came to us,” Ms Ahern said.
“He had urine, sticks, twigs and bugs all over him — it was heartbreaking.
“The wildlife carer was lamenting on the phone about whether it would be kinder to let him go but she wanted to give him a chance.”
When Ms Ahern arrived at the scene, she saw him lying down on the ground unable to even lift his head.
“But I looked in his eyes, I saw terror in his eyes, but I also saw life, and that was enough,” she said.
“I couldn’t even part his wool to inject fluids into him but on the way back he shot his head up and looked at me and I thought, ‘You’re going to make it buddy’.”
Ms Ahern said the sheep’s fleece was so matted, she was unable to even make a start taking off any of his wool, so she called in an expert.
“It was critical, if we didn’t get it off him that night, I actually don’t think he would have made it through the night.”
Holly Kendall, a local shearer said the sheep was exhausted when she arrived.
“On these over-fleeced sheep it’s hard to know where to start, and it took some time to get the matts of fleece off him,” she said.
“When we finished he still needed help to stand but you could see his eyes getting brighter by the minute.
“I have no doubt that if Edgar’s Mission didn’t get to him when they did, he wouldn’t have made it much longer.”
Alex is not the first sheep to feel the weight of the wool on his shoulders.
Ms Ahern said Alex had likely escaped from a farm when he was young, and with the amount of wool on his back he may not have been shorn for at least six years — if ever.
Alex, named after the mountain he was found on, Mount Alexander, has since made a full recovery and is now a full-time member at the sanctuary.
“Luckily he did find one thing that was going to save him, and that was human kindness,” she said.
“He’ll now stay with us, and he’s already formed a strong bond with Chloe and Molly Brown, our two other sheep.”