Sunday, September 29, 2013

Sunday Stills - Creepy things

This was a tough challenge for me because the things I think of as being creepy are not things I would ever have a chance or desire to photograph.  Things like driving into work and finding the police arresting someone in the parking lot.  Or walking next to one of the abandoned, long condemned factory buildings near the parking lot and hearing a baby crying inside.  Watching two groups of young gang thugs pass each other on opposite sides of the street, their pants around their knees, hurling insults at each other and egging on the underfed, berserk Pitt Bulls lunging at the ends of heavy chain leads.  Pitt Bulls aren't the problem, it's the creepy people who want to own Pitt Bulls that are the problem.

Ticks are creepy.  I have found numerous deer ticks this week, but I never take the time to photograph them.  I can't kill them fast enough.

Thankfully, the closest thing to creepy that I could find to photograph here were these rather slimy, deadly looking mushrooms.  At least I think they are a fungus of some sort, although their lack of spores and the copious amount of gelatinous slime they produce make me wonder.  Maybe I've stumbled upon an alien life form.

The last time I posted pictures of fungi, someone asked if any were edible. I have no idea and I am not brave enough to find out.  I think of them as another kind of wildflower and I always like finding new or interesting types, but this is one food I am perfectly happy buying from a grocery store.

I have found some really beautiful specimens over the years and each year brings something different depending on the weather.  I am sure some of them are edible as some do get eaten by other critters almost as fast as they can grow.  I don't see anything coming near these things though, which I take as a warning sign.  If one was needed.  Would any of you mess with these things?

I don't know anything about them, but I sure wouldn't touch them.

On the other hand, there are rather cute creepy things, like my favorite little salamanders who appear to think these mushrooms are rather tasty....

 and a wooly bear who seem to have lost his stripes.  What do you suppose that means for the winter weather forecast?

There are things that my not appear creepy at first glance, but the hazard they represent gives me the creeps.

A horse that belongs to a friend of mine got tangled in some ancient, half buried barbed wire a few months ago.  It severed one of the main tendons in the back of her foot.  The horse is still trying to recuperate, but will never walk right again.  The damned stuff is all over the place and is the main reason I walk a path in the woods before I take the donkeys out on it.

Some slithery, creepy things...

I don't want to deal with the kind who bite, but these little guys who live in the woods are fine with me.

And perhaps my favorite creepy thing...I'm rather fond of spiders...

Friday, September 27, 2013

Follow Me

I did a stupid thing this afternoon.   I'm gonna blame it on the annoyingly persistent low-grade fever I've had all week, my mind is not where it ought to be.  When the donkeys and I were out walking in the woods today, I made a wrong turn and before I stopped to think about it, we were in the middle of the hemlock swamp.  An area of wet ground, dark pools, rotting fallen trees and treacherous, deceitful footing.   There is a path of sorts and Tanner and I walk through there all the time, but a path through a tree swamp that works for a foolish woman and a border collie is no place for hooves. 

By the time I realized my mistake, going back was nearly as bad as going forward.  I turned to my donkeys and told them, "we can do this, but you have to stay close and be careful".  And they did.  Emma followed me and Ramsey followed her.  Carefully, watching and placing each foot in just the right spot, never panicking when the right spot turned out not quite so right after all. 

The end of the swamp is marked by a little ravine, not big, but a steep, slippery drop down into a rocky, slippery streamlet.  All the books will tell you that donkeys don't like crossing water and mine were none too pleased with the idea.  I showed Emma the path down several times, she watched and worried, pacing the edge several times and then I asked her to trust me and take the leap.  And she did.

Ramsey thought about it briefly, followed after and then it was through one more little ditch, around a dead tree and we were on solid ground once more.  When we got home, Emma took the lead, heading straight for the best apple tree.  I willingly and gladly followed, trusting her to know best.  Those were well earned apples.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Pity Party

We are finally having the wonderful weather everyone around here has been dreaming of all year and I am feeling mighty sorry for myself because I have got the flu.  I am not really good company at the moment so I am going to go find a nice rock to crawl under for a bit. In the meantime, I leave you with some pictures of either the pretty wildlife or the darned annoying pests depending on your point of view.  I will be back in a few days when I am once again on speaking terms with the world, probably about the time it starts raining again.

See, what'd I tell ya?  Not good company.  Make sure to disinfect your computer screens thoroughly!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Monday, September 23, 2013

Lakota - Making Progress

Lakota's feet are one of the reasons I have been delving into equine nutrition so deeply lately and have had all of our hay and pastures tested.  While many people would say that his sunken coffin bones are the result of founder, I know that this horse has never suffered an acute laminitic episode.  He has been tested for IR and he is negative, nor does he show any signs or symptoms of IR while Hawkeye does.  Lakota's feet have slowly, steadily gotten this way over time and the alarming aspect of this is that I have seen the beginnings of such symptoms in every horse who has lived on either of our properties for more than a few months, which is why I suspect a nutritional or environmental issue as one of the initial causes of his troubles.  There are a lot of factors at play here, but that may have been the pebble that started the avalanche.

I have the hay test results and one of the glaring issues is the balance between the trace minerals.  The ideal ratio of trace minerals is generally considered to be 4:1:4:4 iron:copper:zinc:manganese.  I don't have the numbers in front of me, but when I did the math, my pasture ratio was in the vicinity of 20:1:5:55.  We have added a high copper/zinc supplement, which has helped, but it is still way off.  I am working on creating a custom mix, but I still need more information.  The levels of manganese in all of our samples were higher than the highest range in the entire Equi-Analytical database and I have not yet been able to determine a safe way of balancing this.  I am still working on it and when I get things figured out more, I will post some of the results and what I am doing about them.

In the mean time, I am still working on the trimming aspect of Lakota's feet and we are making some progress there.  About 8 weeks ago, after the x-rays, I started trimming and wrapping Lakota's feet every two weeks and it is fianlly starting to pay off.  Before that we were seeing some tiny improvements, but mostly just maintaining the status-qua.

I have been looking for ways to stimulate better growth and improve circulation, especially in the back of the foot, which was so horribly weak.  This first photo was taken 4/20/13 and shows what I mean.  The frog is so badly atrophied and diseased that the heel bulbs are actually growing down and under the foot in an attempt to protect the sensitive tissue underneath.  Combined with the paper-thin soles and disconnected walls, it's really amazing that this horse could walk.
In these next two photos, you can see that we are finally making some real progress.  The one on the left was taken 9/9/13 and the right taken 9/21/13.  On 9/9 we decided to try a product called Magic Cushion made by Absorbine.  It is a hoof packing material with antibiotic/microbial properties, it sort of feels like putty mixed with tar.  I packed it into the entire bottom of the foot and put the casts over it.  Two weeks later there are some good things happening along with a few things I am not sure are good or not.  The things I really like are that the heels and frogs have widened considerably.  In fact the entire hoof has gotten wider and shorter.  If you look closely at the distance between the apex of the frog and the tip of the toe, you can see that the distance has shortened by about a quarter of an inch.   The overall width of the foot from side to side has gained nearly half an inch as has the back of the frog, all of which is excellent.  This was the very first time the the heel buttresses (which are right about where my thumb disappears) had not folded forward on themselves and had instead widened.

The Magic Cushion also softened the sole a great deal and for the first time ever, there was some dead sole material to remove (note: I did NOT cut any sole back.  I only scraped off the dead material so I could really see waht it looked like.  Don't cut live sole, especially on a horse who only has 2mm to begin with).  The reddish areas that you can see on the right are the bruises finally growing out that you can just make out on the left photo.  They look fresh because they have not been exposed to air before. 

This softening of the sole was good and very helpful for the moment, but I would not like to see it any more soft.  I like what the Magic Cushion did, but I wouldn't use it continuously, at least not under the casts in these conditions.  Because of that and because I want to really support and stimulate the back half of the foot, we decided to try this:

This is an impression mold material.  It is the same stuff that dentists use to create molds of teeth.   Each part has the consistency and feel of silly putty, when they are mixed together the stuff begins to set up into a soft, squishy solid that retains its shape.  I think it is some kind of silicone epoxy, but I don't know anything about how it is made.  It is fun to play with though and I can already think of several different applications that I want to try.  That will take a bit of contrapting though and I need to think about it more.  If my ideas work out, I'll share them some time.  But I digress, back to feet...

A custom fitted, cushioned orthotic, the toe area is cut out to help remove any pressure from the tip of the poor, abused coffin bone.

Below is the trimmed foot, with its blue cushion and ready for a new set of wraps, check out how much flatter the hair line is and how much shorter the whole foot looks.  Also look at where the heel tubules end now (they hit the floor just behind where the light colored trimmed portion ends), if you can remember back a few months, they used to be so long they were actually in front of the leg. Now they are just behind the leg, still too far forward, but better...

The next morning, the phone rang while I was in the shower.  I could hear RB's voice leaving me a message, but couldn't make out the words.  Because it's the way my mind works, I immmediatly started imagining that she was calling to tell me that her horse was lame and I'd done something terrible to him.  I came out a few minutes later and listened to the message with some trepidation....

"Kris, I just had to call and let you know that Lakota is out here running and bucking and kicking in a way I haven't seen long, long, long time.  In AGES!  He hasn't stopped running in the last half hour..."

That's a good way to start the day.  I can't wait to see what these feet look like in two weeks. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Moving Mountains

The Twin Peaks...

A neaighbor who owns a small dump truck and very ambitious garden plans...

The Old Red Dragon and ground just barley dry enough to work over...

A couple of Treasures unearthed...

and the mountains are no more, leaving just a bit of well aged black gold that I have to shovel out by hand.

I would have liked to put this on my own land, but I don't yet have a spreader and the weather is deteriorating fast.  I am glad to have it gone and it won't be long before the mountains are growing again and more treasures being hidden away.

Yesterday was foot trimming day at Riding Buddy's, there are some interesting things going on.  I'll be posting about them soon.  I also have the hay/pasture tests back, there are some interesting and very odd things going on there as well.  I haven't quite figured out what the oddities mean, but I'll let you know when I get it worked out.  Lots going on and at this moment I need to go bring in firewood and get the stove going.  It's freezing in here. 

Happy equinox.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Neighborly Visits

Riding Buddy was here with her horse Hawkeye last week.  I am always interested to see how new horses get to know one another and I was even more interested to see how the donkeys would react.  Hawkeye is a sweet natured gentleman who generally gets along well with nearly everyone.  He and Tessa are totally besotted with one another, and every time we ride together, they are always trying to nuzzle and schmooze with each other.  Emma and Hawkeye seemed to be equally intrigued with one another.

Ramsey's reaction was a bit more guarded and equally interesting.  Tessa was tied in the barn and he hung back with her, a little unsure of what he was supposed to do, for several minutes before venturing out to keep a close eye on the proceedings.

I found it fascinating to discover later that, before he came out, he urinated in front of where Tessa was tied up.  He never, ever pees in that spot.  A fairly clear message I'd say:)

He hung back and watched...

and watched and sniffed and made some small donkey noises....

and finally decided that maybe Hawkeye is not so bad and invited him to come play some time.