Thursday, February 27, 2014

Nothing Good to Say

Just when you think this endless, horrible winter can't get any worse - it gets worse.  I just came in from snow-blowing the driveway in blizzard-like conditions with 40mph sustained wind so that I can try to drive through this to work.  The sure knowledge that the wind will eradicate the work I just did within the hour and make the driveway impassable for my (hopeful) return later adds a certain piquant flavor of misery and futility to the experience.

Would anyone like to buy a small farm in upstate NY?  I think I have had enough.

As I am trying hard not to be too much of a downer, how about a little video of a mother and daughter playing together.  These two just left for a new home as breeding stock on another small farm.  Hopefully, they will have a nice life together.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Throw Aways

I think I mentioned that someone dumped a box full of kittens and their mother at the end of farm buddy's driveway a while ago?  We found homes for those kittens and made an appointment to have the mother spayed. The weather interfered with her appointment and as the days went by, Miss Marigold started getting suspiciously large.  Three weeks ago, these showed up...

Nothing like having a box of kittens dumped off with the added bonus of another litter on the way.  I am not going to get into how I feel about people who dump cardboard boxes full of kittens on the side of the road.  Nor am I going to go into the stupidity inherent in the idea that "all farms want more cats".  If I get started down that route, I'll be typing all night.  

Suffice it to say that I am not impressed with people who throw away animals with the same uncaring disregard that goes into throwing a bag of garbage out the car window.

With all of that left unsaid, we just need to find homes for another bunch of throw-aways.  They will be ready to go in about 5 weeks.

All that is required is a promise to take care of them, get them neutered and not throw them away again.

Marigold, the mother, has a home waiting for her with Farm buddy's sister when the kittens are weaned.  She is an excellent mother, but these will be her last kittens as she will be spayed as soon as possible.

That leaves five very well socialized, friendly, healthy kittens looking for good homes.

Would anyone like to adopt a little throw-away?

Sunday, February 23, 2014

A Little Bit of Magic

I changed Tessa's bandage this morning and found some interesting things.  I've also had a number of people send me emails wanting to know more about how I am treating Tessa's foot so I thought to share it all here. 

When I took the bandage off today, I found a number of small slivers of the flower stem that had worked their way out of the foot and were captured by the Magic Cushion.  I used a sterilized horseshoe nail as a probe to gently examine the puncture and was able to remove several more slivers.  There was a small amount of pus, which drained out with the removal of the splinters.  Once that happened the wound bled cleanly just a bit. 

This is Tessa's foot after I had cleaned off all the old hoof packing and cleaned the wound.  You can see where I had to pare away a good deal of her frog to remove the stem.  the frog appears black and nasty because of the hoof packing not because of disease.

This is what I have been using to pack the wound and I do think it has worked some magic. 

It has simultaneously drawn out the offending slivers, protected the wound from contamination and prevented infection.  I don't usually go on about stuff like this and the makers of Magic Cushion don't know I exist, but I can't say enough about how this stuff works on abscesses and puncture wounds in hooves.

I used this on Ramsey's foot a few months ago when he got an abscess in his bad foot.  I have been watching that abscess slowly grow out since then and cringe when I see how much of his foot it affected.  This nasty looking black goop may very well have saved his life. 

I do hope that donkeys have as many lives as cats and I really hope Ramsey stops trying to use them up.

I won't say that this stuff is easy to work with.  It is messy, its sticks to everything except what you want it to and if it gets on something you don't want it to, you may as well throw the thing away - unless it is something you can scrub with WD-45, which will clean it up.

The strategy I have come up with to work with this is to use a gauze sponge to scoop some of it out of the jar.  You don't need a lot, a walnut sized glob is about right for a full size horse hoof.

Make sure you have everything ready before you start.  If you have to put the foot down in the middle, you'll have to start over and you'll end up with sticky, black goo everywhere.  Ask me how I know:)

As a side note, the bandage I am going to make is a real bear to get off.  I have found that the best way to cut through it is with a set of wire cutters.  Scissors won't do the job, but these will...

Make sure the hoof is clean and DRY (that makes applying the goop much easier) then use the gauze to apply the magic Cushion.  Get it down into the crevices and covering the entire frog, but push the majority of goop forward towards the center of the hoof. 
Once the animal starts walking on the foot, the goop will spread out and ooze out the back no matter what you do so even if you are only trying to protect the back of the foot, it is best to have plenty of goop in the front half of the foot.  Do not even try to remove the gauze, just wrap over it as is. I have found that this not only helps keep the cushion in place and makes it easier to wrap and work with, it also makes the wrap stick to the foot better as the goop won't interfere with the glue on the wrap this way.

I used 2 inch Elastikon here.  I am not worried about protecting the toe so I left it open.  The toe is where the bandage will fail first.  If you don't need the toe wrapped, leave it open and the bandage will hold up longer.  I try to take the wrap around the back of the heel buttresses, but NOT over the heel bulbs.  If a bandage covers the heel bulbs for any length of time, they will get very irritated and cause a lot of pain.

No matter where the roll of bandage ends, I always make sure to cut it off so that the end is on the bottom of the foot.  This is always the part that wants to unravel first, if it is on the bottom of the foot, it gets stuck back into place with every step rather than pulled loose.

I try to overlap and criss-cross the bandage as much as possible as this makes it stronger.  However, I do not like to cover the coronet band if I can avoid it....

so my final step is to trim the top back off the coronary band.

If there was not snow on the ground I would add several layers of duct tape to this.  However, that does not work well in the snow.  I fully expect this wrap to hold up for at least a week and I'll need the wire cutters and a lot of swearing to get it off.  The thing I like the most about the Magic Cushion is that, no matter what kind of mud, snow or dirt Tessa walks through, when I take this off, the wound in her foot will still be clean and protected.  The stuff is an antiseptic, a drawing slave, and a protective barrier all in one messy, sticky mass.  That's why I think Magic Cushion really is magic.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

One Week Later

Well, it's been one week and Tessa is totally sound on her punctured foot.  I haven't wanted to talk about it for fear I'd jinx it.  I have kept it wrapped with the Magic Cushion doing it's magic under the wrap. 
I am going to continue with the wrap and magic goop until I am sure the puncture has filled in from the inside out and the frog has a chance to grow in a bit.  Tessa has horrible, weak frogs to begin with and they are only just starting to get healthy.  I want to protect what we've got.

Call me paranoid, but I'm going to knock on wood and keep wrapping her foot until even a superstitious worry-wort like me thinks its safe to stop.  This combination of Magic cushion with Elastikon wrapped directly around the hoof works very well and will hold up for a week at a time in the snow.  It doesn't interfere with Tessa's movement in any way and won't harm the hoof = effective and cheap peace-of-mind.  Not that Tessa seems to care...

"You worry too much Ma, close your eyes and enjoy this tiny bit of sun we've had."

"Actually Ma, seeing as how the sun only comes out once every four months, I think I need some shades, I can't seem to open my eyes."

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A Day at the Beach

On our one, brief day of sunshine we all decided to head off to the beach for some sun and surf.  Emma and Ramsey were kind enough to demonstrate proper sunbathing techniques:

First step is, of course, appropriate beach attire, stunningly modeled for us here by Emma ,with the entire coat set at maximum poof....

Next step is proper alignment.  Emma shows us the full on broadside while Ramsey goes for the sundial effect.

Once properly aligned and poofed, put the ears in neutral, close your eyes and enjoy the sun.

Of course, a day at the beach would never be complete without a bit of people watching as well.

After a nice snooze in the sun, nothing beats a little dip in the sea...

and a quick stop at the snack bar.

At the end of the day, it's good to head out just a bit early to beat the afternoon traffic....

so that you can get back home and put your ears up for the night.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Life's Little Injustices

Tessa is about the same today, just a little lame on her foot, but not worse.  I don't think we will be in the clear for at least a week though.  I will let you all know what happens, hopefully it will be very boring.  Meanwhile...a couple of pictures taken just before the Attack of the Evil Golden Rod, while we were still having fun

We actually had a sunny day today.  It only got to be about 15 degrees, but the sun finally had a hint of warmth to it and the air was still.  I think it's the first nice day we've had all winter, we all did some much needed sunbathing.

On a side note, looking at this picture, it always amazes me how fast horses gain muscle.  Even the short walks we have been doing have buffed Tessa up a wee bit.  The snow adds to the workout a little as it's much deeper than it appears here (she is standing on a packed trail, it's over her knees in most places).  I walk with Tanner every day AND take the herd out as often as I can, not to mention waiting on them hand and foot, but I sure don't buff up like that.  The injustice of the world. sigh.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Where's the Bubble Wrap?

image stolen from internet

Yesterday afternoon, after snow-blowing again(!), I took Tessa and Co. for a walk.  Much fun was had by all in spite of the ever deepening snow.  When we returned into my back meadow, Tessa and Ramsey had a rousing gallop in two feet of snow.  There was much bucking, kicking and general hilarity (although poor Emma had to stay with me and help keep order).  I finally managed to coax my reluctant herd back to the barn and all was well - except....why the HELL is there a spot of blood on the snow?

My first panicked thought was that Ramsey's foot had fallen apart again, but no, he is well as is Emma.  I picked up Tessa's foot though and found this....

If you are wondering what that is, it is a God D*****, F******!! stem from a Golden Rod plant.  A bleeping, bleep FLOWER STEM impaling her foot .

Sorry about all the swearing, but sometimes, it really is the only thing to say. 

In dealing with puncture wounds in the hoof, it is usually a good idea to get x-rays before removing the offending object.  However, it was late Saturday afternoon, the road conditions were terrible and the nearest vet with a portable x-ray is at least two hours away in good weather (which i can't even remember at this point).  All that also assumes that a flower stem would show up on x-ray, which I don't think it would (although I may be wrong there, I am no expert on X-ray technology). 

Added to all that, every moment the stem was being driven deeper into the hoof and shattering into splinters.  The only hope of getting it out intact was to do so immediately.  As it was, the part you can see in the above pictures broke off as soon as I touched it.  I had to use my hoof knife to pare away enough frog to be able to get a forceps onto the stem.  This is what I pulled out, it was buried 3/4 of an inch and the splintered end was inside the foot...
The wound bled profusely when this was removed, which is a good thing.  The only other good things are that I had kept Tessa out of the barn and in the clean snow, her foot was as clean as a hoof ever gets and the stem could not have been in her foot more than a few minutes.  I left her in clean snow until the bleeding stopped (there has to be something good about snow) then applied a thick layer of Magic Cushion and wrapped the foot.

I have mixed feeling about soaking a fresh puncture wound.  Some vets recommed that , some don't.  In my experience, soaking can help draw out infection, but in a wound this fresh, soaking was likely to just introduce bacteria and create a problem where one might not have developed.  I've done the best I can, all I can do now is to keep treating her and hope that all the pieces of stem came out intact and did not leave anything behind.  Looking at the above picture, that seems a slim hope.

Tessa was sound on it this morning, but slightly lame this afternoon, which I would expect one way or another.  Time will tell at this point.  

I've always known that horses are prone to inadvertent suicide, but a flippn' Golden Rod stem?!!!  Seriously, a FLOWER STEM???  That is just too dammed much.