Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Shaded Out

Hmmm, sunbathing on a cold day....looks like a good idea, but the best spots are taken.  What's a big donkey to do?

The Little Brown Brat certainly looks comfortable...

 Out of the wind and in the sun...

That sure does look like a good place for a big donkey.

"HEY you BIG LUG!  Get out of the way, you're blocking my sun."

"Humm, am I?  I hadn't noticed.  What a pity."

 "Life is so unfair.  Why did Ma ever have to bring that big lug home"

Friday, February 9, 2018

Two Shots in The Ear

Another guest blog here (With a few comments from the usual blogger in italics) from me, farm buddy (what a pathetic nickname!!!!).  

Since Farm Buddy doesn't like her nickname, I guess I should tell you that her real name is Elva, which means Little Elf in Norwegian.  I think we should should start using that instead, the Little Elf will be thrilled.

There has been lots of drama here on the farm, what with a pregnant Maremma, bored Border Collies, cows that are dreaming of the upcoming grazing season, and impatient chickens. However, first things first….Today (yesterday) is Ms. Dancing Donkey’s birthday, so please everyone wish her the happiest of birthdays!!!!!!

Next on the agenda, of course, would be Bess, the pregnant one.

Bess is on the second day of her fifth week!! She has been experiencing a little bit of loss of appetite, which had me worried, but she acts totally happy and healthy, and she is eating her normal amount of food, just without her usual enthusiasm. By next week, she should start having a voracious appetite. I am giving her a high-quality kibble with added beef, eggs, milk, and vegetables; all produced here on my farm (except the kibble of course). I have purchased a dog wading pool, with a diameter of 50 inches, which is the width of a double bed, and also a special whelping pad that goes inside. I will be setting that up for her soon in my living room, and I will be sleeping right next to the pool, so I can make sure everyone is safe, happy, and healthy. I have wool from my sheep that I will also have in there, so the puppies will be exposed to the smell of livestock right from day one.

Most of the drama on the farm has centered around the cattle.

 A while back, I noticed that one of my bred heifers, Caddie, (Short for Cadillac) was limping. I suspected hoof rot, which I haven’t had a problem with in many, many years, but also wasn’t sure if she slipped on the ice or just tripped on some frozen manure outside. Caddie is a big girl, probably 750 pounds, and although she likes me to scratch her and pet her, she would not take kindly to having a halter put on her or having her sore foot closely examined.

I called up one vet and asked if I could give her a little tranquilizer, so that I could examine her foot. Caddie is due to calf sometime after June 1st, and I wanted to make sure it would be safe. Well the vet totally freaked out, wondering where I had gotten a hold of tranquilizer, obviously thinking that I was going around selling date rape kits, (we DO normally use the tranquilizer on the big cows so that they can be bred via AI.  How would you like to wake up pregnant from an unexpected nap?) and she informed me that she would never give tranquilizer to a pregnant heifer, and told me to just soak her foot in warm water for two hours.

Obviously SHE does not know Caddie!! 

After worrying about this for days, Ms. Dancing Donkey convinced me to contact her vet. Her vet was very nice, and told me that OF COURSE it is perfectly SAFE to give tranquilizer to a pregnant heifer, and she supplied me with antibiotic that was supposed to be administered in the back of both EARS! 

Just the thought of this almost made me faint!!!! 

Luckily, Ms. Dancing Donkey volunteered for the task (Let’s be honest, she thrives on these kind of challenges). So last Saturday night, after a couple of failed attempts the days before, I got up my nerve to successfully administer tranquilizer to an unsuspecting Caddie. I had waited until evening because it had been a sunny day, and the cows were outside all day catching rays, so I had to wait until they wanted to come inside. 

As soon as I gave her the shot, I ran to call Ms. Dancing Donkey (let’s shorten this to MDD), (MDD?? What kind of nickname is THAT? Sounds like something nasty you'd read about in a doctor's office) and she came right over. However, Caddie did not seem to be tranquilized enough to allow a halter and two injections in the BACK OF THE EARS!!!! 

This required much agonizing on my behalf until MDD finally convinced me to give her more tranquilizer. Meanwhile, while we were waiting for Caddie to fall asleep, I had to tackle another problem. I had a handsome Belted Galloway bull named Hercules on the farm from August to December.

Hercules was good, except I was very worried that my June born heifer calf, Parsnip (Last year's calves were named after cars, this year's were tubers.  The Little Elf also has a cat named Mud and I'm the one who gets greif about nicknames!), might have been bred. This would be horrible of course, as she is way too young. This necessitates the use of a drug that would stop the pregnancy, if she was indeed pregnant. 

Now at this point I must assure all of you that I am not a farmer that uses lots of drugs! I hardly ever do, but I cannot risk a too-young heifer being pregnant, and I could not have separated her from the bull, as I wanted Parsnip’s mom bred, and Parsnip is still nursing and must be with her mom. As for Caddie, I will not have an animal in pain just because I don’t like to use antibiotics. If one of my animals needs antibiotics, I will give it to them. However, if this was a steer, I would not sell the beef to one of my customers, even if the steer received the antibiotic a year before becoming beef. I would keep that steer for my own beef. Luckily, so far, I have never had to use antibiotic on a steer. I hardly ever have to use antibiotics at all. 

Okay, back to Parsnip.

She is a fast little wild child! There was no way I was going to be able to get that shot into her without slowing her down, so I had to give her tranquilizer too. Yes, that is an injection too, but I only had to give her 1/2 an ml instead of the five ml needed to stop the pregnancy. A little shot IS easier to give on the fly than a bigger one! 

So while Caddie was falling into a deep sleep, I snuck up on Parsnip and administered the injection with a bit of difficulty. Parsnip was very annoyed.  (The rotten little stinker jumped like a fish and took off at warp 9. A cow jumping over the moon is not that far-fetched.))

Back to Caddie….she finally was put under enough that I could get a halter on her and firmly hold her head while MDD nonchalantly administered an injection in the back of both ears!!! 

Luckily, I didn’t pass out. 

(Little Elves are so darned squeamish)

We then closely examined the foot, washed it out, put antibiotic on the exterior of the foot, and made sure that Caddie was in a comfortable position to sleep off the tranquilizer. The plan was now to give Parsnip HER Injection, but she was having nothing to do with it. Apparently I had not given her enough tranquilizer. (This is one heifer who won't wake up pregnant one day without knowing why.)

This was all occurring between eight and ten at night. MDD finally admitted defeat with Parsnip, but we celebrated our victory with Caddie, and MDD went home. At around 11:30 that night, I went to check on Caddie, and I found that Parsnip was a little groggy. After consulting on the phone with MDD, it was decided that I should attempt to give Parsnip a little more tranquilizer. 

Oh joy. 

Once again, I got up my nerve, chased her a little bit, and successfully got more tranquilizer into her. I then waited around for twenty minutes or so, and amazingly put a halter around her. She then decided to drag me around the barn for a bit before I was able to get my halter rope around a post and, oh yay, finally get that injection into her!! Oh happy day!! 

I then had to go out and check on her until 1:30 in the morning to make sure that she was up and eating. What a night!! 

Now, you must all think I have wild and crazy cattle, which is totally not true.

I pet, brush, and sing (so I am not a great singer, but they like it!) to them every day, but they are very smart, and they know when I am up to no good. Furthermore, they are big, heavy, and fast!! I am small, light, and slow! Bad combination. However, I am happy to report that all is forgiven now, and everyone is doing fine. 

Now, since MDD just posted about the chickens, I thought I would let all of you know that her old chickens are doing great at my farm. I LOVE chickens, well my chickens anyway, and they have the greatest life here.

They are locked in a chicken coop at night, but they are let out early in the morning where they are free to do whatever they want. Every morning in the winter, I bring them warm water and chicken food, and then I top it off with black-oil sunflower seed, which they love. They get that three times a day.

They also have access to my entire 140 foot barn. Of course in the good weather, they like to go outside.

One half of the barn has the cattle in it, and the other half has the sheep, and the chickens mostly hang out with the sheep. They dig in the sheep bedding and take dust baths, pester the pigs, and pick through the cow’s hay looking for seeds and such.

I have Buff and white Orpingtons, one black Australorp (The Godmother), some speckled Sussex, some New Hampshire Reds, some Red Stars, and the Silver-Laced Wyandottes. I do not think any of them are thugs, although I will admit the Red Stars are fearless and always trying to get into trouble. Hopefully MDD will supply some recent pictures of these beautiful chickens for you to look at, along with cattle pictures and some of pregnant Bess and my old boy, Scout, who is now 15 and a quarter!!

Well that is all the news for now, but you can anticipate many pictures of pregnant Bess in the future. And wait until mid-March when there should be PUPPIES!!! 

I can hardly stand the excitement!!! 

Of course middle child, Kelsey, is sick of all this puppy talk and just wants to play Frisbee. Sound familiar?

Monday, February 5, 2018

Where Are They Now

Rebecca wanted to know if I still have the mobster chickens....

I started out with five hens and a baby rooster.  The rooster was intended for someone else and he left as soon as his "mother" lost interest in him.  One of the red hens got eaten by an unknown predator within days of their arrival.  That left the Godmother (the Black Australorp), her two thugs and the Redheaded Stepchild.

They all had lots of fun running around the farm, terrorizing the insect population, squabbling amongst themselves, chasing the cat, annoying the donkeys, pretending to rule the world and destroying everything they could.  Typical chickens.
And then...I went out one day to find that there had been a murder in the night.  One of the thugs was gone, leaving behind nothing but a pile of speckled feathers and a trio of very upset hens.  They went on about their lives, but refused to reenter the chicken coop and moved into the hay barn, much to my dismay.  I didn't blame them for not wanting to live in a crime scene, but lordy, what a mess three hens can make. 

The Godmother eventually decided to get broody again despite the fact that there was no rooster here and her efforts were doomed from the start.  However, Farm Buddy had ordered a batch of chicks and she wanted a mother for them so the Godmother went over to her farm to raise the new babies.

FB set the Godmother up in her own pen, waited until dark and then stuck the baby chicks under the hen.  The Godmother was delighted to wake up and find that her "eggs" had hatched and she set about raising her new family.

That left just the one thug and the Redheaded Stepchild.  Without their Commander in Chief, the Thug became even more thuggish and spent most of her time alternately shunning or abusing the Redheaded Stepchild and took to following me around.

During all this, the Redheaded Stepchild kept having health issues.  I made sure she got apple cider vinegar and probiotics and she would get better for a while and then sick again.  After seeming to get better and look quite healthy, she suddenly went down hill and it was clear she would not live out the day so I finally put an end to her suffering. 

That left just one lonely hen, one of the thugs, who followed me around and looked pathetic for several days.  I told FB that she had to take her because one hen is not a happy hen.  FB, of course, wanted me to get more chickens, but until/unless I build something solid for them, I am not going to have any more.  FB was worried that the Thug would get picked on by her hens and would cause trouble.  I told her that I had no doubt whatsoever that this Thug could handle herself and she would be just fine. 

And she is.

She went over to FB's at the end of summer and fit right into the flock over there.  She and the Godmother are living happily ever after over at FB's farm. 

So...five hens...two got eaten by predators, one died of natural causes (maybe - the red hen loved to eat the foam insulation surrounding my house as well as a truly bizarre assortment of oddities, I suspect this played a significant role in her demise.  You are what you eat after all.)and two went to live at FB's where they still are. 

Not a terrible track record considering that just about everything (including me) likes to eat chicken. 

Monday, January 29, 2018

Big Ben

I finally got the results from Ben's latest blood test to monitor his Cushing's disease. 

He is on 1/2 a tablet of Prascend (brand name for pergolide) and his ACTH level has come down to 14.3.  The normal range is 9-33 so the vet and I are happy with this number.

He is generally doing very well with the meds now and I have not seen him turn into Dragon Donkey for quite a while. 

I am hoping that we won't need to increase his dose for the foreseeable future.  He will get a new blood test in about 6 months, just before the start of the natural seasonal rise of ACTH, to make sure his numbers are still good before going into the danger zone. 

Pergolide is an odd drug that can cause some odd reactions, which can occasionally be worse than the disease.  I am glad to say that Ben is adjusting well and the lower ACTH should greatly reduce his risk of laminitis, white line disease, thyroid disease and a number of other endocrine disorders. 

Ben never stopped eating, which is a common side effect of pergolide, but he has gotten a bit more choosy about what he eats.  He used to be rather single-minded about food, now he tends to look twice before consuming.  It is generally a good thing, although, the day I started the prascend, he stopped wanting to eat his vitamins, which he really does need.  Maybe I should mix them with some dried goldenrod and tree bark. 

All-in-all, the Big Guy is doing well.  He is sound and moving well.  His feet look great, his coat is soft and shiney, he is super cuddly and he has a nice smile. What more could you want?

I also want to send out a special Thank You to TheCrazySheepLady who sent us the remainder of the Prascend she had on hand after the very sad loss of her own equine friends.  I am very sorry for that loss and I wish she still needed the Prascend.  I hope it will bring some comfort knowing it is going to a good cause.  All the donkeys send hugs and thanks.