Sunday, April 30, 2017

Assorted Catch Up

The lambs are all doing well so far.  A couple of the multiple babies went off to a nice new home today where they will eventually be part of a new flock.  That will take some of the strain off the moms and ensure that everyone gets enough to eat.  There are still several ewes due any day so lambing continues.

Catarina is due in June if she is actually pregnant.  She has had babies before and she was bred last year so we assume that a space alien baby is on the way.  It probably has to find the right wormhole or some such in order to get into this arm of the galaxy before making an appearance.

If the baby is a girl, she will stay on the farm for good.  If the new space alien is a boy, FB will find a different home for him when he is weaned.  Apparently, male llamas can be a dangerous problem around sheep so a boy will have to find another planet to live on.  Girls rule, boys drool.  Right?


I spoke too soon about the fish in my pond.  I saw all six of the carp earlier and they seemed fine, but in the past two weeks all of them have died.  I have no idea why and I am very discouraged about it.  There are hundreds of frogs and salamanders in the pond as well as numerous painted turtles and they all seem perfectly healthy so I have to assume the water is OK.

Someone suggested that they might have starved, which I find very disturbing.  I asked all the fish experts last year if the carp needed anything from me and I was assured that they did not.  It bothers me a great deal to think they died for lack of food.  I'd have fed them if they needed it.

The carp were all significantly larger than they were last year so it seems like they had to be eating something all winter.  I don't know enough about fish to know what went wrong and I have not been able to get in touch with any of the experts, but - dead is dead.

I am not sure if I will bother with any more fish.  They were supposed to be easy and self-sufficient, but so far, they have been as heartbreaking and expensive as beekeeping.  I may just leave the pond to the weeds and the turtles and let them sort it all out without me.

I have never seen any catfish bodies floating around so I am choosing to believe that they are still OK.


I've started working on an interesting new hoof problem in an older donkey.  His story will be coming up in a bit.  He is a sweet, opinionated fellow whose feet fell through the cracks of indifferent farrier care.  He is going to be another interesting challenge, but I hope to get him feeling better.


I am trying to get back to more regular posting.  I never really meant to drop out like I have lately, but  another bout of bronchitis and sinus infections really sidelined me for a bit.  Ten days of antibiotics has helped a lot and my brain seems to be functioning a little better.  Hopefully, it will continue.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Wooley Tide

It's that time of year....

These were the firsts arrivals a few days ago, a nice set of triplets.

With a proud and attentive mom - Flora.  She was one of the X twins from a few years ago, one of the two with the X on the face, which you can just barely see now.

This morning brought a full set of quads.  All healthy and bouncy and delivered with no problems or assistance.

FB doesn't like for the moms to raise more than two babies so a few of these lambs will probably go to new homes and be raised as bottle babies.  It is the only good way to ensure that everyone gets enough to eat and that the mom stays healthy.  We'd prefer it if these ewes stuck with having twins, but there is no arguing with them.

Catarina, who also got sheared last week and is looking especially space-alien like, is deeply interested in the new babies and is very eager to meet them.  She loves her sheeps.

There are lots more babies on the way....

...maybe even another space alien.

I presume space-alien babies arrive in the normal fashion, but we will be on the lookout for odd flying objects just in case.  You just never know when aliens are involved.

Meanwhile, the more prosaic sorts will, hopefully, continue popping out little lambs in good order.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Dog Day

Border Collie stand-off.

Old geezer on a mission.

The dynamic duo.

The Super Psycho.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Spring Ledger

It's finally Spring on the farm, my favorite time of the year.  It is also the time of year when we all look around and take stock and see what the winter has left behind.

The ice finally went off the pond on April 5th.  It had been frozen over since mid-October and I have been concerned about the fish I put in there last year - that is a long time to go without fresh air or sunshine.

I am happy to say though, that I have spotted all six carp and have not seen any sign of the catfish, which I am taking as a good thing.  No one came bobbing to the surface when the ice melted so I am going to assume that the catfish are still happily hanging out on the bottom of the pond.

The carp had some white patches on their backs, but a couple of days with sunshine and no ice and the patches have already disappeared.  I am assuming it was some kind of skin condition caused by lack of sun.  They have made it this far though, so am also assuming they are fine.  Which is just as well as I would have no clue how to help them if they weren't fine.

I finally saw the first turtle yesterday afternoon.  I was glad to see them as I was a bit worried that they might not get along with the carp.  I think they are just holding out for more sun though.


The beehives are not to bee.  The bees disappeared from one of them very suddenly last August.  They had lots of room, bees and food and then they were just gone.  The other hive, which was super strong in the fall, never made it to the new year.  I was going to write about it, but then Ben got sick and then Ramsey and etc, etc....

The hives are still out in the field, full of honey and I have not been sure what to do with them.  For now, I think I will continue to ignore them.  Wild bees will come and steal the honey, which is fine with me as it is un-salvageable at this point and will do them good.  Who knows, maybe a swarm will decide to move in.

But I am done.

I am going to sell off what equipment I can salvage and my beekeeping days are over for as long as I live on this hostile hill.  I have heard that most NY beekeepers suffered a lot of losses this winter, but this was one loss too many for me.  It's just not to bee.


Connor is doing well despite the fact that he had a vet appointment last week and tested positive for Lyme.  He is vaccinated and I have consistently used Vectra on him to guard against ticks, but it was not enough.  Nothing is enough.

I think it is going to be an especially bad year for ticks as we had a huge explosion in the mouse population last year and mice are the greatest carriers of ticks.  Every mouse routinely carries 60-80 ticks and there is no good way to get rid of mice.

And please don't tell me to get more cats.

I already have Kipper and there are several cats from the neighbor's that routinely hang out in my hay shed.  They leave me "presents" of dead mice in my tack room - dead mice, heavily infested with ticks who then go looking for the nearest warm body, which is always going to be me, Connor or one of equines.

I tried guinea hens, and they didn't last a single season.

I am finding 20-30 ticks per day on the donkeys no matter what nasty chemical I use to prevent them.  It is a hopeless battle and neither the cat or chickens (or guineas, chemicals, or mousetraps) seem to be helping much.


Speaking of....The four chickens are doing well.
The red hen was sick for a few days and I thought she would die, but she got over whatever it was and is doing better now.  I've always wondered if there is something a bit wrong with her though as her feathers always look moth-eaten and the other hens often shun her or pick on her.  I have found that chickens always know when one of the flock is not healthy and they ruthlessly go after any weakness.

I wonder if chickens get Lyme disease?


Tessa and the donkeys are all doing well now, although they are all losing the battle of the bulge.  I have already put them on their pasture track and taken away all the grass, which they are very annoyed with.  Now that the weather is warmer, I am also soaking their hay to leach some of the sugar out of it.

Soaking hay for a whole herd is a massive pain in the ass, but my asses are all getting alarmingly wide so it must be done.  Surprisingly, they don't seem to mind eating soggy hay, which is good since they are so mad at losing access to all the pasture.

As for me...I have not been feeling well for a while, but I have just made an adjustment to my thyroid medicine and, hopefully, that will help.  I might even be able to do more than stare stupidly at the computer when I sit down to write a blog post.  That would be nice.  At least it's Spring, which makes everything better.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Hard Days for Old Dogs

A week ago (it's really taken me a week to write this blog post?  Something is very broken)...

Anyway....a week ago last Sunday, I got a call from FB to come over because something was not right with Scout.  He had been fine all day, but suddenly, he could not stand or walk.  His head was tilted to one side and his eyes were constantly flipping back and forth and were not tracking evenly.  He was drooling and withdrawn and we were fairly certain he was having a stroke.

Unless you want to load up a very sick, very old dog and drive 1.5 hours to the chaos and stress of a trip to Cornell, there is no emergency vet service available late on a Sunday night.  Since the only thing that can be done to treat stroke is to give steroids, we gave him some prednisone and got him comfortable for the night.

FB was able to get an appointment for Scout at his regular vet first thing Monday morning and we took him in to see if anything could be done.  The vet decided that it might not be a stroke, but is more likely canine vestibular disease, which is a fancy way of saying severe disturbance of balance for no known reason.  It could be a stroke, it could be a brain tumor.  It could be that he is just getting really old.  The vet prescribed a short course of steroids, which may or may not be of any use.

Because of, or despite, the steroids, Scout is doing better.  He is able to walk again and has a good appetite and seems to feel OK.  He is certainly not 100% though and there is no way to know if he will recover fully or have more of these episodes.  The only viable treatment options are good care and good food, which he certainly gets.  For now, he is doing better and, hopefully, he will continue to do so for a long time to come.

It's not easy getting old.