Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Third Time Pays for All??

I Hope So

They say bad things come in threes. Two kitties was hard, but worrying about the third is not easy. So when I went out to the barn this morning, I'm not sure how I should have felt. For there, lying in Chances's stall was a very sick red fox.

I had seen the little guy/gal last night in the hay shed and he/she'd run away as soon as I appeared. Then, I noticed that nearly all its fur was missing from the front of its body and it was really thin.  I suspected a bad case of mange, but no more.

This morning the poor little thing was just there, shaking and totally "out of it" in the hay under Chance's feed tub.  Chance came into the stall and the fox did not even react.

I brought Chance into the aisle of the barn to feed him and came back into the house to call Animal Control. The dispatcher assured me she'd radio the animal control officer immediately.

I guess it took about 20 minutes or so for him to arrive. He told me he'd call for a policeman as well, since he was pretty sure they would have to destroy the little fox, and shooting was the only way.

At that point, we went out to the barn and the fox was till there, shivering and semi-conscious.  I took the Boys out to the pasture so I could lock them away from the barn.  Tucker was first and when I took Chance out, of course Tucker "assaulted him" nearly getting my arm pulled out on the end of Chance's lead rope.  But fortunately, when Toby realized the other two were being closed out in the field, he marched right through the gate on his own and I then had all three safely secured out there.

I called back to the barn to let the officers know the horses were safe and soon I heard two really loud "bangs" from inside the barn. Dave, the animal control guy, had warned me to expect two shots as he said, "These new officers don't know how to put an animal down the way the old guys did, so it will probably take two shots."   By the time I got back inside, Dave had already put the fox in a bag for disposal. He said what usually happens is the fox gets mange, and then distemper and it's so weakened by both it cannot recover. I asked if they routinely test for rabies, but he said, "Only if it's bitten someone."

I'm not overly concerned about that since all three horses have rabies vaccines as do my outdoor and indoor kitties. And I, of course, had no contact with the little one at all.

So sad, and not the best way to greet a rainy morning here at Follywoods, but perhaps in the end it bodes well for my little Cocopuff.  If bad things do come in threes, the number's up, and she is going to be OK.

RIP little fox. I'm glad, in a very sad way, that at least you found a dry place to spend your last hours and we were able to speed you on to fox heaven. Bless your little heart.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Seminar and a Hike

All That on Cold Winter Days

Wednesday t night, I attended a seminar put on by my veterinarian, Dr. Elden Klayman, on horse metabolic diseases. He discussed EMS--Equine Metabolic Syndrome, and Cushings.  

While I did know most of the information he was presenting, it was still interesting. He had actual horse hooves there with laminitis from horses he had humanely destroyed do to the damage. Seeing a hoof with the coffin bone pushed through the sole of the horse's foot was a sobering reminder of how serious the disease can become. 

Both Tucker and Chance are "fat boys," although Dr. Klayman prefers to refer to fat horses based on a scale of 1-9 rather than "fat."  It could well be they are both EMS candidates, but despite their weight, they do not show the fatty deposits serious EMS horses are. But there is a new test that does not require fasting to diagnose the disease, so I may get them checked. Actually there is not much to do to treat it except manage their diets.  Most supplements suggested do not do much to help them better regulate their insulin production and its effect. 

Cushings, which Toby tested positive for, is now controlled with Presecend--peroglide, a drug that helps regulate the thyroid. The only upsetting fact Dr. Klayman stressed is that Cushings cannot be cured, but it can just be managed. It's likely that as time goes on, Toby will need higher doses of the drug to manage his symptoms. 

It was a good night out, despite the bitter cold and a relatively long drive in the dark to get to Freehold for the seminar. 

So, yesterday, the weather was not much better. But my fellow environmental activist, Joe, and I are not deterred by wind chill factors. Off we went into the southwestern part of the Pigeon Swamp State Park, to explore.

This time we headed into the woods on a trail that disappeared soon after we took the left branch. We were headed for another lake in the woods. This one is also an abandoned sand mine. It was once part of the operation across the street from my house, but ran into some kind of problem with access because in order to mine the company had to cross State Lands. At any rate, it closed down and the land has bounced around in ownership for years, finally being traded by my Township to the State in order to do some road widening project that was encroaching on other State lands. (Things get kind of complicated around here.)

This lake is really pretty and larger than I thought.  While there were no trails around it I did manage to get about half way around before hitting some pretty thick brush. Meanwhile, we also found The Great Ditch and explored the west side of it a bit--no way to cross as it was full of water.

What is The Great Ditch?  It dates back to the 1700's when the local farmers tried to drain the swamplands for farming by digging a drainage canal. These farmers, from what we know, were rich and powerful landowners in the area with huge tracts of land, tons of grain and crops to sell to the other colonies, and--slaves to do the work.

The Ditch itself stretches for miles, and I'd surmise much of the digging was done by slave labor, and certainly by hand. Written history of the project is pretty sketchy, but there is an official New Jersey proclamation authorizing the project.

Draining a swamp is virtually impossible, mostly because true swampland is where the water table rises naturally to the surface. It would take far more than a 10'-15' wide canal to drain water that's naturally fed like that. But engineering back in the 18th century was not quite as informed as we are today.

I plan on walking the east side of the Ditch soon, just to see where it goes and better appreciate its scope. At some point, on the West side, it feeds into a brook that leads to Farrington Lake, thus serving as the headwaters to a large water supply to the area. I am always intrigued by the the interconnection of our waterways, so exploring the source of one is fascinating.

While it certainly was cold out there and I did, despite some very good layers of clothing, get pretty chilled, winter is the time to explore these areas. If we wait for warmer weather, the mosquitoes will carry us off.

Not my favorite way to travel. *G*

Monday, February 18, 2013

What to Wear

Or Just Go Naked

Thought I needed a post here to lighten up the mood a bit. Little Cocopuff is isolated in the sunroom for the time being until she tests negative again for Feline Leukemia, so I have been spending time with her several times a day. We play with a riding whip string toy she has three times destroyed when I left her alone with it. I think she has her mother's hunting instinct.

So, I have been well entertained as the weather shifts from one mood to the other outside.

Which leads to the the topic line. What to wear?  The horses, not me.

When I boarded out, I paid strict attention to the weather reports. I hated to ask the busy barn help to constantly change blankets and sheets on my horses, so I tried to keep it as simple as possible. I usually double layered if the night was extra cold and then only asked for the top sheet to be removed in the morning before turnout. If my boarding barn was truly budget price, I'd go there in the morning to put the right "clothes" on each horse if I hadn't been able to garb him correctly the night before.

Now, with the Boys in the back yard, is should be a cinch.

Well, it would be if Mother Nature were not so fickle. More than once, I've found myself trudging out to the barn to change  a blanket to a sheet or vica versa as temperatures wildly swapped from freezing to tropic within hours.

When I get called to substitute teach for the day--gee, it's like not being retired--then I have to decide in the morning exactly what the Boys will wear for the day.

I chose right today. Even though it was supposed to warm up to 37-38F and be sunny--weather for sheets--I left the little herd in their midweight winter blankets. The wind stayed brisk all day and wind chills made it feel as if it were in the low 20's or even colder.

Obviously, the "naked" option mentioned in the subheader would solve the problem altogether.  Horses can survive just fine without extra coverings when they are well fed, have some kind of shelter from the wind, and are allowed to grow their own winter coats.

But, I feel better when they have the added protection of waterproof sheets and blankets in the erratic weather of New Jersey winters.

So, I keep my eye on the weather forecast for each day and try to make the right decision. It's an interesting game of chance.

Monday, February 11, 2013


On the Feline Front

Little Joseph started sneezing at the end of last week and by the blizzard weekend, it was clear he had some kind of respiratory infection.

I made a vet appointment this morning and took him in.  As a precaution the vet took blood for a feline leukemia test.  For those of you who may not now, FLeuk is a fatal, incurable disease of cats. Before I allowed Joseph, his mom, and sister into the house, I had his mom, Calliope, tested when she was spayed.  She was negative, so odds are, her kittens would be fine too.

To my utter horror, Joseph tested positive.  There was no other choice but to have him humanely euthanized.

But worse, since he'd been living in the house with all my other cats, they now were at risk for the disease. My older boys had had feleuk vaccines in the past, but they were all due for new ones.

I rushed back home, managed to wrangle all seven cats into cat carriers--my hands the worse for wear when Callie took exception to being crated--and drove back to the vet to get everyone tested.

Shockingly, Calliope, my lovely calico mommycat now tested positive too.  Thankfully, all the other cats, including her daughter, Cocopuff, were negative.

Once again, I had no choice but to put Callie to sleep as well.

Neither the vets nor I can figure out what happened.  Was Joseph the carrier who infected his mother, or had she contracted Feleuk prior to her first test?  The disease can take up to six weeks to show up on a test, unfortunately.  So, actually a negative test just indicates no infection at that time.

It was absolutely heartbreaking to have to put two lovely cats to sleep

Rest in Peace, sweet Calliope and her sweet son, Joseph.  You will be missed. I love you both.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Taking It As It Comes

The Boys and Kitties Face Mother Nature

We whine and complain when the weather's bad. We shudder at the snow and shrink from the rain.

But we are, as Desmond Morris named us, "The Naked Ape," and need protection from Mother Nature's whims.

Our animals perceive the world differently and simply, "take it as it comes."  They have a limited ability to modify their worlds so they accept.  I do put sheets and blankets on my horses, although I know full well that if allowed to acclimate to the seasons, they'd be fine without. But I do think they appreciate the extra protection from the wet or, better yet, the bugs.  Since Toby's colic last weekend, I put his midweight winter blanket back on.  I will probably have to change it to a sheet this week when it warms up, but for now he has a little extra warmth for the cold nights.

I still haven't gotten any good action shots, so here goes a gallery of horses, "just standing around," and some barn kitties doing their "things."  Peppercorn is the all black boy kitty. Calliope is the calico indoor/outdoor mommycat, and Misty is the gray stripey who kept trying to get out of the camera's eye every time I tried to get a good picture of her.

On with the show!!

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Well, It Did

Snow, That Is

At first it seemed we were going to luck out with just a few inches of snow, but after dark, the heavier part of the storm hit us.

Now, mind you, what we had hear pales in comparison to the 24-34 inches in some of the New England States, but it was enough.  I measured 7 inches, but the official reports from my Township said it was 10 inches.

Suffice it to say, the driveway needed plowing.  Sweet Kubota and I were out there for perhaps an hour and a half doing a good job of clearing.  I started out at around 7:30 AM, mostly because I didn't want to wait until the rest of the world decided to go out driving--ending up on my road as they usually do. Traffic here is bad, and the cars and trucks do not slow down if they see a tractor across the road.

So, with the road snow covered itself--plowed, but still pretty white--I had a chance to push the snow across the way out of the ends of each driveway. (My driveway loops around my house so it had two ends.)   I still had to watch and wait for cars and one or two big trucks, but it wasn't too bad.

Once I was done with the pass through, I cleaned up the back yard part and the area in front of the garage.

Then, I pulled out my new snowblower. It started right up with one pull, which was nice.  It worked pretty well clearing the area directly in front of the garage doors, but I will need some practice to figure out the best way to use it. I also widened the sidewalk path from the house with it.

Lesson learned....blow the snow in the direction of the prevailing wind, not into it. I turned into a snowman myself with the snow I was blowing blew back on me!!

I was going to take some pictures of the Boys in the snow, but by the time I finished all my chores--including shoveling a path to the manure pile--I was worn out and a bit cold.  I ended up spending the rest of the day until feeding time inside.  I only went out to get these pics near the house.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Awaiting the Storm

Will It or Won't It?

There is a nor'easter on the way and no one seems quite sure just how hard it will hit us in Central New Jersey.  The forecasts call for anything from a few inches to 8+ inches of snow.  It may rain, it may snow, and we may have heavy winds.

The winds bother me, mostly because of the threat of power outages. Despite my new generator, I still do not have the well pumps hooked up, so if we do get caught, I will be stuck without water...again.  That is my only worry. I have heat and I can cook and with batter power, I  have lights.  The generator will keep the basics powered up, except for the well.

The trouble this time of year is that even if I fill up all my emergency horse tubs, what's to keep them from freezing so I can't use the stocked up water?  The good thing is that temperatures are forecast to pretty much stay above freezing for most of the time, so we may be OK.

My hay guy stocked me up today and I went to the feed store to get grain and alfalfa cubes.  I started up the tractor and ran it for a while to charge up the battery and make sure everything was working. I did not start the snowblower, but will do that tomorrow. I have some bales of hay inside the barn and my snow shovel is on the back porch.

Not much else to do except wait and see.

Just wish one of my electricians had put my job on the priority list instead of the back burner so that darn well pump would work.


Sunday, February 03, 2013


Poor Toby

I went to my church mission fundraiser dinner last night and when I got home--going on 11 PM--I found Toby colicking.

He was pawing, looking at his side, and trying to go down to roll.

I rushed back into the house changed quickly into a warm layer of clothes and raced back out to start walking him.  After about 10 minute of that, I called the vet.   She called back within 15 minutes and told me to try to keep him on his feet while she headed over.

Now, it was snowing and cold out there. I managed to keep him up and walking for perhaps 30 minutes before he finally just stopped dead and would not move at all. He had, by then dropped a fairly big pile of manure, so I was hoping he'd feel better, but instead he just stood there despite all my efforts to make him walk.

So we stood.

But then, his legs crumpled and down he went. He rolled, though I tried to stop him and then just lay on side for a while before finally propping himself back up on his belly on the rock hard, snow covered riding arena. I could not get him up, so again, I just stood there with him, waiting for the vet.

It takes, on a good day, at least 30-40 minutes or so to get to my house from where the vet on call lives, and the weather slowed her down. Still, I'd say she was here in under an hour.

By that time, Toby was back on his feet and not showing much in the way of pain.  Dr. Parisio and I both agreed, however, not to take any chances. Toby was still "gassy" and although he seemed much better, we decided "better safe than sorry," especially since it was after midnight on a Saturday/Sunday.

She gave him some Banimine and a tranquilizer and with a bit of hard work managed to get a gastric tube into his stomach to dose him with water/electrolytes and mineral oil.  After I walked him some more to make sure he was not going to have any bad reaction to the tubing. I settled him in his stall--minus any hay or other food, and headed back into the house to warm up for an hour or so.

I went back out around 2 AM or so and walked him for another 20 minutes and then came back inside to get some sleep.

This morning, he looked bright and happy, but we are taking the cautious route. He had minimal hay for breakfast, a soggy mash and some well soaked alfalfa cubes. Then I left him in while I was a church.

When I got home, I checked to see if there was manure in the stall--there was--and I finally decided to let him out with his buddies.  With Toby, it's kind of tricky.  If he stays locked in his stall, he frets and fusses as soon as Tucker and Chance disappear from sight--even if they only go to the other side of the barn. It's hard to say, but I think his anxiety is worse than the potential danger of his being out.  I certainly don't think getting hysterical is good for a tummyache.

Hopefully, he is OK, but I'm keeping an eye on him. If I see any signs of discomfort, I'll be right on it.

Meantime, I bless my vet's office for having a good answering service and even better emergency care.