A crofter on Fair Isle and the community’s nurse have come up with a novel way of helping a young lamb get back to full strength following a debilitating illness – homemade “bionic” legs.
The adorable Blossom, who is nearly three months old, has been sporting makeshift supports made out of metal rods in a bid to toughen her two front legs.
Videos of the cute lamb have become something of a hit, with clips viewed thousands of times.
Fair Isle, located between Shetland and Orkney, has a population of around 60 people.
The lamb, owned by Rachel Challoner, developed nephrosis when she was less than one month old.
This meant that she could not suck, and subsequently couldn’t feed, so Ms Challoner took Blossom into her “gang” to look after the lamb herself.
The lamb appeared to make a full recovery, but about a month ago Ms Challoner noticed that Blossom could not walk properly.
“She was trying to stand up but kept falling to her front knees,” she said.
“Having checked her feet for any problems, joints for heat and swelling, and liaised with one of my friends’ sons who is a vet and also Vicky, our island nurse here on Fair Isle, the diagnosis was that it was some kind of spinal nerve damage which was essentially causing paralysis in her front legs.”
Blossom spent the next three weeks receiving steroids and injections, as well as daily “physio” sessions on her legs.
She recovered enough to stand up, but Ms Challoner said the lamb’s front legs were “incredibly bent and weak”.
“This is where Vicky and her husband Bob stepped in to help,” the crofter explained.
“Vicky used her nursing expertise to set out what was needed in order to help Blossom’s legs to straighten and gain in muscle tone and Bob made it.
“Initially it was pipe lagging with wooden dowel rods, all held together by duct tape, but then she snapped one of the dowels when she was lying down, so now she has thin metal rods in and the splints have Velcro fastenings so we can take them off at night to rest her legs.”
Her right leg has made good progress and no longer needs the splint, although the left one still requires the help.
“I know it seems like a lot of trouble to go to just for one lamb, and the story might have been different if I’d thought Blossom was suffering or in any pain, but – aside from her legs not working – she is such a healthy and happy lamb who is in great condition.
“I may never breed from her now but she’ll have a happy home here for life with all her friends.”