Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Good, The Bad and The Handsome

The good: In some ways Tonka is doing really well.  His feet are rock solid, his teeth are good, and his winter coat is remarkably plush.  His weight is good (he could maybe lose 50lbs), his attitude is cheerful and his eyes are full of sparkle.

The bad: Despite all of The Good, I’m forced to admit that Tonka is becoming an old horse.  He’ll only be 23 in March, but it seems like a hard life is catching up with him.  First of all, he is stiff.  Kerstin had me try a month of 1 gram of bute per day, and that helped a little.  One scoop of Recovery per day didn’t help at all.  There is some risk of metabolic catastrophe for anything I add to his diet, so I haven’t tried other options.  To be honest, I don’t feel like I need to try anything else at this stage.  He appears perfectly happy, but he’s slow to get moving and less likely to kick up his heels than he used to be.  Sometimes he still goes for a lovely big trot around the pasture, though, or comes galloping back into the paddock.  A pasture-sound pasture pet suits us just fine, so it’s not a big deal.   Second of all, we continue to battle the itchy sheath.  Kerstin came up with the theory that it might be a severe contact allergy to something I often have on my hands (perfume? dish soap?) and I switched latex gloves for all netherworld interactions about 4 months ago.  It seems to help a little.  I read something on the Internetz about geldings getting yeast infections, so I treated him with Monostat 7 for an entire month.  It seemed to help a little.  I got a huge tub of hydrocortisone cream.  Sometimes it helps a little.  The guy has a seriously itchy sheath, and there’s not much I can do about it.  Third of all, there are funny little lumps and bumps popping up all over his body.  This is only to be expected with a grey, but my deepest fear is that he’s riddled with internal melanomas.  The ever-practical Kerstin is kind enough to tell me that it’s quite likely.  If true, he doesn’t seem much bothered in the here and now and that’s what is most important.

The handsome: This photo comes courtesy of our friend Natalie, and features our friend Mike’s daughter Martina.  Fizz is about to muscle Tonka out of the way, but he managed to get his treat.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A First Time for Everything

A couple of weeks ago something new happened: we had goat-related veterinary expense. For the last 3.5 years our pygmy goats (Timbit, Morsel and Roland McNugget) have been the least expensive farm denizens – they don’t each much (a flake of alfalfa between them daily, a bit of grain, and time on the pasture) and they have been in perfect health. So I was alarmed one Thursday morning (a day I work from home, thankfully) to hear Morsel bleating plaintively from the goat van while the other two tucked into their breakfast. When I arrived on the scene he didn’t want to get up, and I thought he had hurt a leg. It turns out that 50lbs of uncooperative goat weights more than 50lbs, but I managed to wrestle him out to the paddock and onto his feet. He stood there for a moment, then headed backwards at high speed, perfectly sound. So I stuck him on a leash and brought him into the yard to observe. His sides were heaving and he seemed to prefer going in reverse over going forwards, but he mostly preferred standing still and crying pathetically. At this point I called Daun, my dear friend and caprine encyclopaedia. She listened while I managed to take his temperature, and told me a bunch of things that it could be off the top of her head, all of which made it clear that I needed to call a vet.

hike 042

I kept my eye on Morsel while doing the chores, and intermittently used my iPhone to look up the stuff that Daun had told me about. Urinary calculi sounded most likely, given that Morsel (1) is a whether, (2) was whethered before maturity of the urethra, and (3) gets some grain in his diet. Once the chores were finished I resolved to watch him until he tried to pee or he actually peed. About half an hour went by before he took a really weird stance, bleated once quite loudly, and passed some urine. When the vet arrived he agreed that it had probably been a blockage and (on Daun’s advice) gave me several days worth of Banamine to help keep any swelling down. Total veterinary expense for goats thus far = $150. Morsel has been fine ever since, and seems totally unaware that we are watching him like hawks. At the same time we have made some changes to our goat husbandry – they will not get grain anymore, and I will always pay closer attention to the level of water in their paddock. Last week I installed their heated bucket, which I normally wouldn’t do until the nights were sub-zero. Let’s hope this was the first and last time!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Fork it Over

I hear your pleas for an update on Tonka, and I promise that it’s coming.  But first I want to wax pragmatic about manure forks.  Yes, manure forks.  When Tonka first came to Farcical Farm we bought two standard-issue Duraforks with wooden handles, and both are still going strong.  Today we bought a *third* manure fork with an aluminum handle, because I have taken to leaving a wheelbarrow in the paddock full-time and the wooden handles get slimy in the rain.


I digress.  What I really wanted to say is that I pity people who don’t know about manure forks because they are one of the most versatile garden tools on the market.  Raking  leaves?  Check.  Scooping up leaves and dumping them into a wheelbarrow/paper bag? Raking grass? Ditto.  Shovelling dirt? That too.  Sifting rocks out of dirt? The list goes on.  For what non-manure activities do you use your manure fork?  

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Frog Dog

Luna lies like this quite a lot, but she also leaps to her feet when she thinks something exciting might happen so I have never been able to retrieve a camera to get a picture before.  Today she stretched out beside me and I just happened to have my phone in my hand.