Sunday, October 19, 2014

Fall Colors

Most of these are from several weeks ago.  Unfortunately, Fall is just about over with here.  It really seems like this was the shortest summer ever.  Everyone I know seems to be in a sate of benumbed shock that the weather forecast is mentioning snow all of a sudden.  It's just too soon.

Goodbye Summer, we miss you.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Wild Turkey

This is the hatch of wild turkeys who have been hanging around all summer.  This is a mother and her brood, which she hatched out very late in the season.  I think there started out being fifteen of them, lately, I consistently see ten.  There are always one or two hens who raise babies in my pasture each Spring.  This group was born in mid July, which is very late for babies to be hatching.  The mother must have lost her first clutch.  I wasn't expecting them and I nearly mowed them over with the brush hog.  I ended up having to leave a portion of the field un-mowed since I didn't want to kill them.  They've been making daily circuits around the property for weeks now. 

They LOVE the dust wallows that the donkeys have created and stop by for a bath every morning.

They stay clear of the donkeys because Emma will push them out of the pasture, but they also follow along behind them picking through their leavings.  They do a great job of breaking up manure piles.
I had the maybe-bright-idea to create a flower bed on this unmowable stretch along the driveway....

I used a telephone pole that the electric company took down in the Spring, filled it well aged manure....

Covered it with straw and figured I'd leave it till Spring.

The turkeys had a blast tearing it to shreds.

I haven't seen them for a few days now.  That's how turkeys are though.  They hang out in the same area for weeks or months at a time and then, for some unknowable turkey reason, they move on.  I probably won't see them again until Spring.  I'll give it a few more days though before I bother to repair the "flower bed" again.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Good Angels, Bad Angels

Good Angels...

Naughty Angels playing tug-o-war with the lead rope...

Bad Angels have no pictures or videos because they require two hands.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Fall Harvest

This was one of last week's projects over at the farm....

bathing and storing 5009 squash.

Well, OK, maybe that'a a slight exaggeration, but there are certainly enough to last the year.

We've been having frost regularly and everyone is putting the gardens to bed for the winter.  (I can't believe we're already using the "W" word. shudder.) We folded away the plastic mulch...

and installed a brand new pair of rototillers....

They went to work immediately.

They'll have the entire garden worked over in no time.

Nothing like happy, enthusiastic employees.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Taking Up the Slack

Hey folks, we're all still here.  Thanks again for all of your patience and understanding.  It's been a tough adjustment getting used to life without a Border Collie to keep everything running properly.  We're muddling through though.  Barely. 

Tanner was never technically a "working dog", but it's amazing to suddenly notice just how much he did to keep order around here.  The riff-raff element is definitely taking advantage of his absence.  There were at least 15 deer hanging out under my deck when I got home last night.  The deer are always a nuisance, but they have never been brazen enough to use my house as a scratching post before.  Darned vermin. There is a flock of wild turkeys doing laps around the house and a pair of rabbits sunning themselves in the driveway.  Intruders everywhere.

My daily walks in the woods, which are a vital part of keeping my own joints working, were just too hard to do all alone.  Tessa and the donkeys have had to step up and fill in - which they are thrilled about.

"Maybe we should've gotten rid of the dog earlier if it means more time for US."

"Especially since BEECH leaves are involved!  YUM!!!"

"I don't see any beech trees here Ma, let's go find some."

Donkey priorities are a bit different from a Border Collie's.

The only real trouble with taking the donkeys out each day is that now they think they should go out twice a day.  Or maybe three times.  For four hours each.  They start nagging to go out again just as soon as we get home.

Tessa is a big fan of hiking too.  She loves going for walks and she has truly mastered the art of beech leaf harvesting.  She goes for the bulldozer method.....

Farm Buddy has been doing some work on another farm and has been leaving Scout and Kelsy with me for babysitting duty one day a week.

The equines are great hiking partners (when you can tear them away from the beech leaves), but there's nothing quite like a good dog.  

And she rescued the basketball.

The donkeys have been having a great time with it, but I do cringe a bit watching them.  I know my poor dog must be twirling in his grave at the very idea of a basketball in the clutches of donkeys.  It is SO against The Rules.

I know this would make him MUCH happier....

We're muddling through.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

There's no stopping a Tsunami

I know a lot of people probably have questions about what happened to Tanner as his end came so suddenly.  The thing about kidney disease though is that there are no early signs of it.  Most dogs show no symptoms whatsoever until they have irrevocably lost at least 75% of kidney function.  Tanner, who was a hyper-dedicated, overachieving Border Collie did not show signs until he had lost closer 95% of kidney function and was on the brink to total renal failure. 

While his end was sudden, in hindsight there were some subtle signs.  I took him to the vet last year and told her I thought something wasn't quite right.  His coat wasn't quite as beautifully soft and silky as it always had been, he tired faster.  This summer, I noticed signs that his vision was not what it had been.  No one but me ever noticed and given Tanner's extreme phobia of all things vet related, his vet and I both agreed that lots of test were not in his best interest. 

I can say now that Tanner had Chronic Kidney Disease.  It happens in about 10% of dogs and 20% of cats.  It can happen for a number of reasons, but in Tanner's case it was most likely either congenital or occurred secondary to a cancerous tumor.  We did not bother to figure out which as it was completely irrelevant.  The end would be the same regardless. 

Kidney disease is a bit like a Tsunami.  It starts like a little ripple out in the deep ocean that builds and grows slowly.  It gradually gets bigger, gathering momentum and speed as it moves relentlessly onward.  A boat traveling over it in deep water probably won't even know it's there, but when it finally reaches shore, it's path of destruction is unstoppable.

In Tanner's last couple of weeks, he started getting increasingly picky about food.  Then he began leaving meals unfinished.  Eventually he refused to eat altogether.  At first, I took no notice.  He has always been a somewhat fussy eater and it was not unusual for him to skip a meal.  He was never highly food motivated, he'd drop a steak dinner at the sight of a Frisbee. 

He began to have increasingly bad breath.  I thought he might be having trouble with a broken tooth or have something stuck in his throat - his habit of playing with sticks finally coming round to haunt him.   Last Friday, he was still playing with his brother, the picture of health.  By Sunday, he wouldn't eat and was showing signs of lethargy.  On Monday, I set out to find a new vet for him as his regular vet had retired.  After trying 4 different clinics, I finally lucked out on the 5th when the vet herself actually answered the phone.  She told me to bring him in that afternoon. 

I think she knew before she ever saw him.  If he was someone else's dog, I think I would have known too, but denial is a powerful thing.  I had managed to convince myself that we could fix this right up until the vet stepped out and showed me the test results.  His numbers were so bad that the blood analyzer kept throwing error messages, convinced that they couldn't be right.  But they were.

We tried.  We put tanner on intensive fluid therapy and fomotadine, hoping that he would respond, but the Tsunami had hit the shore.  He went downhill VERY fast. 

Once I knew, or accepted, that it was hopeless, I made arrangements with my horse vet to come out to the farm and put Tanner down, honoring a promise I made to him many years ago, that I would not let him suffer and I would not let him die in a vet clinic.  The night before, I gave Tanner a large dose of prednisone and lots of fluids, which fixes nothing, but made him feel better.  We played some Frisbee.  In the morning, more prednisone and FB and I took him and both of her dogs down to Tanner's favorite creek.  For a short time, he was once again the Lord of the Forrest, the fearless trailblazer, the steadfast companion, the protector.  He even went for a swim.  Afterward, one last car ride home and we sat on the lawn together.  He was very content, sitting with me, enjoying a massage as he surveyed his kingdom.  Eventually, he laid his head on my thigh and went to sleep.  The vet showed up shortly after and Tanner barely woke.  I held him in my arms as we all said goodbye. 

I know a lot of vets advocate yearly blood tests, lots of screenings.  Had I known of Tanner's hidden illness earlier I might have been able to start fluid therapy sooner, but he would have HATED that.  Some dogs respond well to a very low protein diet, then again, many don't.  Some advocate a diet of very high quality protein instead.  Tanner got nothing but best all his life.  They say fish oil can help.  I was already giving it to him for his joints.  There is some possibility that I could have bought him a couple of more months if I'd know earlier.  Then again, it may be that all the things I was already doing had already bought him an extra year.  Knowing would have been a blight on both our lives.  I'm glad I didn't put either of us through the trauma to find out.  There is no stopping a Tsunami anyway.

I made a pledge to Tanner when he was just a pup that I would give him the best life possible, that I would make every day his birthday.  When there were thunderstorms or gunshots and he had to hide in the bathtub, he probably thought they were lousy birthdays, but I know I always tried my best.  I have no regrets, but I miss him terribly. 


I'm going to take a little time off from the blog, from the computer.  I tried, but it's just too hard right now and I'm not good company anyway.  Thank you all for your caring and support, I can't tell you how much it means.  I'll be back in a little while, for now, I have to go hug a donkey.