The Black Lagoon Strikes Again!

13 05 2020

A few years ago, I was walking on Uldale Common (my local common) when I found a sheep stuck in a bog and successfully rescued her (here) Now, whenever I walk there, I always call by the dangerous bog and check there’s no-one there. The other day, yet again, there was a woolly body sticking out of the bog… I went to investigate…

All the way down to the bog, I was hoping I was looking at a rock… but it definitely looked woolly… As I neared, I saw it was indeed a sheep’s back sticking out – just its back mind…

I rushed over and could see bubbles rising from the head end. I quickly fished into the bog and dragged her head out – there were bubbles coming out of her nostrils. I hoped I was in time…

I pulled her upwards a bit by her horns (hoping not to break her neck!) and laid her head on the bank. Remembering last time’s rescue, I then stopped to take off, not only my shoes, but my rings and my watch – this is a ‘sucking bog’. I then waded in slightly.

I had to again dig down for her front legs one by one. I located them both, freed them and also hauled them upwards onto the bank. However, this rescue was much harder than my previous one as this ewe was at least unconscious and wasn’t helping me at all. Also, as her body was so well sunk (only a few inches had been sticking out), the bog was sucking at her to try to keep her.

I hauled as hard as I could on one horn and the front legs and managed to get half of her sticking out of the bog. But, with her position, her body kept trying to roll back in. I had to get on with the back end and quickly.

At this point, I checked her open eye. She looked to be dead – her eye was fairly glazed and dull – that does usually signify death. I felt her body and she seemed fairly warm though. What were the bubbles coming from her nose then?

I was really puzzled but decided I had to not only get her out of the bog but also a good way onto the bank in case she came to and rolled back in.

I had to wade much deeper and further into the bog – my furthest leg was already past the knee and the bog started sucking hard to pull me downwards – oooerrr!

I delved down for her back legs and located them one at a time and brought them back up. However, a full-grown, wet and muddy sheep is a very heavy beast indeed and, heave as I might at her midriff, I could barely lift her, never mind free her from the sucking of the bog.

I looked up the banking to see if there was anyone around I could shout to for help – not a soul (damned lock-in!). It was just me then – I’d have to manage.

I heaved away at her midriff, legs, horns and anything else I could until I got most of her on the bank. My back was killing me by now (probably didn’t do it a bit of good either). None of this was helped by the fact that, if she was dead anyway, I was wasting my time really…

Eventually, I got her swivelled around and mainly on the bank but, at one point, her head went back in. I was alarmed to see blood coming out of her nose due to all the heaving around her body had withstood. Surely that meant she was actually alive and I’d internally injured her or suchlike? I was pretty horrified but had to continue to get her whole body onto the bank and then dragged away.

Eventually I succeeded in getting her onto the bank. Now I had to drag her, with bare feet, across the huge patches of nettles to get her away from the side. Nettlerash on your sensitive parts of your underfoot is really horrible!

Finally, it was done. She was on the bank, appeared to have stopped bleeding but that eye still looked dead. Fortunately, this time, she had an ear tag which said which farm she belonged to. I rinsed my hands and feet off the best I could and put my rings and watch back on and then my shoes – I then set off for the farm.

I found the farmer and reported the sheep, said I thought she was dead and asked why they didn’t all get together and fence off the bog as I was always having to check it and had had to rescue animals before. He said that, as it was a common, the Lake District National Park (LDNP) wouldn’t let them.

Personally, I’d have gone ahead anyway if I wanted to graze somewhere with such a dangerous bog. And, surely, if it was trying to suck six-foot me in past my knees, it must also be a danger to children?

So, I’ve written to the LDNP and suggested this bog be fenced off. A lady replied and said that would have to go to the Secretary of State. I sent back another e-mail saying that, not far away, on High Pike (Caldbeck Common), the mine shafts are fenced off here and there to keep sheep out of them and surely this was the same? She hasn’t replied to that and I don’t think she will.

So, it looks like I’ll be checking this damned bog ad infinitum. Maybe I should tote a length of strong rope around my middle when I walk that way?

Anyone got any suggestions as to why the sheep looked dead but bled from her nose after being hauled around? And what were the air bubbles coming out of her nose?


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17 responses

30 05 2020
KC Redding-Gonzalez

May the sheep gods smile upon you regardless… Such a horrible way to go, thank you for thinking about that poor animal…she surely knew you were there at the last…

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30 05 2020
mountaincoward

I hope so anyway. I just wish I’d been half an hour sooner – maybe that would have been enough. Must walk faster!

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23 05 2020
myplaidheart

Wow, you are a true hero. That was a very brave thing you did! I do hope the old gal survived.

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23 05 2020
mountaincoward

Actually, see a later reply I made to Alli lower down – I’m pretty sure she was dead all along but not long so. Awful really. I wish they’d fence that damned bog!

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24 05 2020
myplaidheart

Awful indeed. You were kind to try to save her.

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22 05 2020
jester1970

It’s not easy rescuing a sheep, more so when it is in a bog! I’d be wary of doing so. Many years ago I was out on exercise with the army near Loch Ness and got stuck in a bog. Due to the weight of all my kit I couldn’t get free, and only did so eventually after disentangling myself from my bergan and rolling across the bog to firmer ground. Not an experience I’d like to repeat…

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22 05 2020
mountaincoward

I couldn’t really leave her there – to me it would be the same as leaving a person in the bog. The only thing though was that, this time, I think she was dead so it was an unnecessary risk.

I do think the bog should be fenced off anyway – with or without the relevant permissions. No-one will complain because no-one will know if it’s done unofficially!

Also, pretty much no-one goes there so, yes, I was taking a risk. I’m not sure how deep the bog is but am hoping not more than leg length or suchlike – still a danger to children and smaller folks though. I do know about the rolling out of danger if you can bit though.

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14 05 2020
Mark Adams

Well done!

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14 05 2020
mountaincoward

Thanks Mark! I just hope she was alive and recovered but it looked very doubtful…

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14 05 2020
14 05 2020
mountaincoward

That was good of them. Must have been a much harder rescue. Mind you, there were more of them and a rope!

Our horse once got stuck in a bog when I lived in the Outer Hebrides – we had to go back to camp and get a load of fellow squaddies to get him out.

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14 05 2020
Blue Sky Scotland

Had a go a rescuing a few sheep myself over the years, including a large ram with its head and horns stuck in a bush and its not easy. Very heavy animals especially if wet or muddy so you are always worried about hurting the animal further due to sheer body weight and what it takes to move it or even keep it still. Ram nearly mashed my fingers struggling but I got it free at the third attempt. Found a collapsed ewe once in winter on a remote hillside and got it on its feet but it just fell over again and would not stay upright more than a minute. Been lying too long and any farms were miles away down in the valley below. I know with larger animals their own body weight, once keeled over, slowly kills them.

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14 05 2020
mountaincoward

You also have to be careful rescuing horned sheep from those stock wire fences with the squares just big enough to get their head through. When you’re trying to get their head back through and they jerk backwards hard, you stand to wire off your fingers between the wire and the horns!

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13 05 2020
Alli Templeton

You’re a hero for trying such a dramatic rescue, Carol. I love the way you just get on and deal with these things fearlessly. I’d be the same as you about fencing the bog off anyway, and well done for taking it up with the powers that be. Let it go to the Secretary of State, why not? If you want something done these days, you usually have to go to the top so I’d get in touch with them directly. You can never rely on people passing messages on. I wish I could help you regarding the air bubbles etc, but I haven’t got a clue about this kind of thing. Hopefully someone will be able to fill you in. Either way, I admire your tenacity and your drive to help the animals. 🙂

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13 05 2020
mountaincoward

I never thought of approaching the Secretary of State myself but that’s a great idea! Thanks!

Liked by 1 person

13 05 2020
Alli Templeton

Only too happy to help! You’re entitled to approach any MP you like, so why not cut out the middle man and go straight to the top? I’ve done it before and it can be very effective. Good luck, and let me know how you get on. 🙂

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15 05 2020
mountaincoward

As no-one seems to know about the bubbles/blood etc. coming from her nose, I’ve had a little Google. Apparently, it’s quite common in drownings for froth to come out of the nose after death. My sources said it was due to the water mixing with surfactants which are produced in the lungs and these then froth out. The blood could also have been expelled via her nose from her lungs as, apparently, they would be suffused with blood if she’d drowned anyway and the blood would come out with the froth. I probably was too late after all 😦

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