Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Life's Little Disappointments

"Yo Ma!"

"Yo Ramsey, what can I do for you?"

"We don't think you're installing these trees properly.  This is just not right!"

"What do you mean?  I know there's a lot of rocks, but I can't do anything about that.  They're in the gound and, hopefully, they'll grow."

"But Ma!  They're on the WRONG side of the fence.  How are we supposed to eat them from here?"

"Um yeah, about that....I'm actually kinda thinking I need to move the fence in another couple of feet.  Sorry and all."

"But MAAA, I LIKE spruce trees."

"Yeah, I know.  Let's get that fence moved, shall we?"

"Oh Ma, how can you be sooo mean?  Don't you love us anymore?"




Monday, April 27, 2015

Play Date

Riding Buddy brought her puppy, Maggie, over for some play time with Connor. It sure is interesting to see how the minds of these two highly intelligent, but very different breeds interact.  Blood does tell.


Saturday, April 25, 2015

When Bright Ideas Get the Best of You

Several people had questions about my vaccine post and I am working on trying to answer those.  It may be a few days though as one of my bright ideas has come home to roost.

Every year, the Soil and Water Conservation department offers trees and shrubs for sale.  Every year, I get their pamphlet and think I ought to buy some because my property could use a lot more trees.  They sneakily send this pamphlet out in the deepest, darkest heart of winter when planting trees sounds like such a nice, fun thing to be doing.  And, oh look, there's all this info on how to build a living snow fence that will grow fast and and stop the snow and be ever so easy and maintenance free.  God knows I need snow fence that actually works.

Of course, you have to buy these things in bundles of 50 or 100 and before you can plant that oh-so-easy, maintenance free willow hedge, you have to lay down 300 feet of landscape fabric covered deeply in mulch or else the weeds will just swallow them whole, and build fence around them so that the donkeys don't eat them, and those those little spruce saplings really ought to have holes deeper than all their roots, which turn out to be two feet long.

Just the thought of digging all those holes in the mixture of rock and clay that passes itself off as soil around here has me sputtering in run-on sentences. 

They look so innocent don't they? 

Those cute, little spruce transplants, all 50 of them.  That silly broomstick bundle of 100 willow slips and those 10 harmless little blackberry plants looking all small and pathetic.  At least the Farmhand is always up for more work.  Such a big help.

At least I've finally found a good use for the ATV that I got cheap from a neighbor who couldn't use it anymore.  It's supposed to be a farm vehicle, but I haven't used it much.  I've never been an ATV kind of person and I've been rather ambivalent about it.  It might earn it's keep with this job.


One down, only 159 more to go.

Good thing I have some help.

 


Friday, April 24, 2015

Vaccinating for Lyme

My little herd got their first Lyme vaccine last week.

I really agonized over this decision and before I was done, I think I had half a dozen vets on two continents agonizing over it with me.  I talked it over at length with my vet.  She talked it over with all of her colleagues.  I got in touch with some other vets I know and they talked it over.  In the end, together and separately, we all came to the same conclusion:

Given the near 100% infection rate in my little part of the world and the overwhelming likelihood of reinfection combined with the apparent safety of the vaccine when given to horses, it was really the only thing to do.  I've already found nearly 30 adult ticks and it's still only April, they are much worse in May.  I almost never find the nymphs, which are smaller than a pinhead and transmit 90% of Lyme disease.  What do you suppose the chances are of me being able to find all the ticks every day? 
I think I've already proven that I can't do it.  I doused everyone with the heavy duty permethrin, Tessa had a reaction to it and I still found ticks on the donkeys.  I am working on getting some guinea hens to, hopefully, kill ticks, but they won't be available until June.

As for giving the shot to the donkeys, one of these good people brought up an excellent point: almost none of the drugs we routinely give to donkeys has ever been trialed or been approved for use in donkeys.  
It took some digging, but I found that the vaccine has been used in quite a number of horses and we even found a few other donkeys who have gotten the shots so at least mine wouldn't be the very first.  None have reported adverse reactions.  In fact, the reaction rate in horses seems to be significantly lower than with most other vaccines they are routinely given.  This Lyme vaccine contains no adjuvants, which are what typically causes reactions.

Besides being worried about using the vaccine in the donkeys, we were worried about giving it to Tessa because she had quite a bad reaction a few weeks ago when she got her routine Spring shots (which she is not going to get again).  Of course, if we had known that she had Lyme before giving her those shots, we wouldn't have done it.  Such is the beauty of hindsight.  

Tessa does tend to be very sensitive and reactive to any possible irritant so giving her another shot, especially an experimental shot was scary as hell definitely worrisome.  Before she got the Lyme vaccine, we gave her a dose of banamine (NSAID) to help prevent problems.  It turned out to be unnecessary, but better safe than sorry.

All three of mine and RB's 2 mares all got their first shot last week and no one had any reaction whatsoever.  Emma and Ramsey were so busy mugging the vet tech that they never even noticed getting a shot at all.

(Hawkeye was treated for Lyme last Fall, but is showing renewed symptoms so is being retested.  If the test is positive again, he will have to be re-treated before he can be vaccinated.)

The vaccine protocol that is being used is pretty strict and has to be followed in order to be effective.  The vaccine used has to be the Recombitek Lyme vaccine made by Merial...

The protocol is three shots.  The first can be given any time so long as the animal tests negative for Lyme.  The second shot has to be given 3 weeks later, the third is given 3 months after that and then a yearly booster.  The timing does matter.

If the animal tests positive, it needs to be treated first. The shots can be started during treatment, mine got their first shot about 2 1/2 weeks into treatment.  Hopefully, it will start providing some protection before the antibiotics end next week and the ticks come out in force. 

This is not something I would have done unless I felt fairly confidant that it would be safe, be of use and if the Lyme situation in central NY weren't so bad.  Even if the vaccine works as hoped, I still need to be hyper vigilant about tick removal because the vaccine won't do anything to protect against other tick borne diseases.  Those are still rare (especially compared to Lyme) and the symptoms are more apparent so I hope we can avoid them.  There is nothing else to be done.

For anyone interested in learning more about this, all I can say is: talk to your vet.  Don't be surprised though if he/she refuses to even discuss it or completely rejects the idea because it is not yet approved.  You'll have to do your own research, weigh the risks, accept the liability and then find a vet who is willing to work with you. 




Thursday, April 23, 2015

A Puzzle

A few years ago, a friend of mine gave me a little stuffed border collie toy.  Connor got hold of it and took an immediate liking to it.  When he started to destroy it, I took it away from him.  A while ago, Mr. Oh'Connor climbed up onto a bookshelf and stole it back.  He is the sneakiest rat-fink-thief I have ever known.  I took it away from him several times, but he always managed to find it and extract it from its hiding place.  He finally managed to sneak it outside where he proceeded to drag it through every mud puddle, manure pile and mess he could find or create.  Connor is very bright and extremely energetic, he can create a LOT of mess.

Eventually, he got distracted at a crucial moment and left the poor, pitiful thing in the barn.  The donkey reaction to it was very interesting.

By the time it made to the barn, I can only imagine all the smells it had picked up.  It certainly didn't smell synthetic anymore.

Normally, the donkeys will check out anything new and, after sniffing, pawing, pushing, they bite it and pick it up.  It's how they explore new objects.

Thier reaction to poor, little Teddy here was very different.  They examined it from every angle, nuzzled it, tugged very gently on the fur, nudged it very softly, Emma touched it ever so lightly with her hoof, but they never put thier teeth on it.

They never tried to pick it up or play with it.  After nearly thirty minutes of intense scrutiny, they finally lost interest and left it.  However, it never became a mere object, they were careful with it and around it.  No hooves ever came near it.  

Tessa saw it, but never even looked twice at it. 

Donkeys seem to rely on scent nearly as much as dogs do, much more than horses do.  This was a real puzzle for the donkeys and I'm not sure what they decided about it other than to treat it carefully and with respect that they never give to inanimate objects.  I'm not sure why it appealed so strongly to Connor in the first place.

Border collies and donkeys have a lot in common.



Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Lap Donkey

There's nothing quite like having a nice, sweet, little lap donkey to take a break with on a sunny spring day.

Who needs a fluffy white puppy when you've got a big, chocolate lap donkey?