Tuesday, March 30, 2010

"Chicken one day, feathers the next” - unknown

Chickens! Chickens! Chickens!
Everywhere on the farm, we got us some chickens! Mari says we are now chicken wranglers! I like to think of myself as the chicken whisperer! (ha - famous in my own mind!) In all seriousness, I have FINALLY gotten the chicks I've been waiting for for 4 years - no make that my whole life! And I've got PLENTLY! We started out with 32 until Mari called from TSC Monday and told me they had 3 different breeds we'd been wanting - Silver Wyandotte, barred Plymouth Rock, and Buff Orpington.....which means we are up to 44 birds...added to the already Rhode Island Reds, Bantams, and Cornish. 17 birds have been set aside as broilers (Dont pass out! Yes we are eating 17 of these cute fuzzy birds! - Dont worry they are quickly becoming gangly and not as cute, and we have some roosters in the mix that aren't quite as friendly as well and we cant have a bunch of roosters!) We did buy some straight run - meaning they try to give you all pullets (hens) but your not guaranteed that from the hatchery...and we did get some roosters...they are hilariously brave and funny. But when you sit with them for a bit and play with them they tame down quickly. Ummm yeah you knew already I was gonna play with the birds! Mari and I (yep we are co-owners - take that back - co-chicken-farmers) handle the birds daily so they will be friendly and easy to handle. We have been working on the temporary coop(s) that will house them until the yard and big coop is built (which will be started on within the next 2 weeks). The chicks and working on the coops have been a lot of fun, and spending time with Mari has been good, getting us both out and busy has been good for us both. Fun work - is great, gets your mind off of the mundane work you do every day! And now with the awesome sunshine out and your fingers and toes not freezing its been wonderful for the spirit! So here are some chick pics! They are growing soooo fast! And already their personalities are beginning to slowly emerge...you can tell which ones are calm and which ones are more aggressive and curious. BOY! They grow sooo fast! The first ones we bought (and we havent lost a single chick by the way!!!!!!) are already beginning to fly and getting their feathers, a couple are getting feathers all over even! Enjoy the pictures!
^Mari holding a Rhode Island Red Chick^
^This is Leah's little Bantam Chick^ she has named him her "Chicken - Coop" (Come on - get it? Gotta love her animals names!) These little chickens are so cute, they are the feathered leg chickens they have little "feathered boots" and are sooooo adorable, they will be small like Pepper - the chicken I have now.
These are the first 32 chicks we bought at about a week old...Rhode Island Reds, Cornish Rocks, and Bantams. We had to sit in the coop in order to catch them, the walls of the coop are too tall to reach in, Levi couldn't stand it that he couldn't get to "his new chickens and play too" so he had to look over and watch"
This is Doug's Chicken ^ which he has named "Chicken Wing" a little calm Rhode Island Red...Praying it is a hen...Roosters are notoriously mean so we wont keep him if he is a rooster...so far this little chick is very calm and we have him in with the small Bantams and the new chicks and there is no problems even tho' Chicken Wing is bigger.
We have moved the 17 birds that are MUCH bigger and the ones that we are using as broiler chickens into the bigger coop. They immediately seemed to act like big birds, taking dust baths, scratch, fly around....sooo funny. I got in the coop and the little roosters ran up on me and challenged me even! Too funny, but they also calmed right down and made friends right away, feeding them out of your hand works well and handling them I hope helps when the time comes to catch them to send them off to butcher!
Pepper was interested for all of a minute! The chicks however wanted more of her attention...she really could care less...
Here is one of the Bantams, you can see his little feathered legs!
And here are the new chicks! The Buff Orpingtons, Barred Plymouth Rocks, and Silver Wyandottes. They are in with the Bantams and a couple Rhode Island Reds that we think are pullets that are very calm and smaller that we had gotten later...its getting easier to tell the pullets from the roosters now, and we know we have at least one Bantam rooster, we will keep him for sure....and all the new chicks we just got are pullets..hope the little reds here are pullets too.So...what does Pepper think of all these new birds? Not much...she did get all broody, finally found her nest of eggs she had been hiding, and had about a carton of eggs underneath her, which I had to throw out, and now she moved her nest and I once again cant find any eggs....sigh....so now I'm putting her up at night, she is mad at me...but I have an old egg marked in a nesting box hoping she will lay in there. So far not working. She is too smart for her own good.
If they all have Peppers temperament and personality I'll be tickled pink! BUT...not counting my chickens before they hatch!
***King update*** The last two days he has bounced back again...I hate doing any updates on him cause as soon as I do he then takes a turn in the opposite direction and I'm afraid thats how its going to be from here on out. He is in good spirits the last two days, the weather has been warmer and this week its going to progressively get warmer into the 80's Friday and Sat...so that will do wonders for his arthritis. He is almost done with his antibiotic, and I'm still gonna talk to the Vet to come out the end of the week, would like to wait until my daughter is home so she can be here when he comes. I do believe this is how things will be for King, good days and bad days, a roller coaster with highs and lows, until its his time to go.
Thanks for your advice, good wishes and prayers....you all KNOW how much I appreciate your love and support!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Update On King Sunday 03/28/10

"Courage is being scared to death - and saddling up anyway." - John Wayne
That is where I stand today. Scared to death. Things once again have declined even more. The abscess has seemed to drain out, but we don't know if the infection had entered his blood stream or his bone. Really I don't know anything at this point. King improved greatly for a few days, the ulcer medicine helped him a lot and he ate so much better. Moving him to soft ground and fresh grass was heaven. And daily wrap changes and soaking of his hoof (tho' sore right after) really got the abscess to drain and helped it quickly - along with the antibiotic. The pain med appeared to begin to help his poor sore body as well. His tense body began to relax. But Friday and Saturday he began to lay around a lot and I became concerned. But he would get up when he saw me, so I was hoping that he was just able to get up and down and that that was a good sign rather than one of dread. But when I went to give him his medical care last night and feed his condition had become worse from what it was just that morning. His walking was labored and I could tell he was in great pain again. Though not from the abscess. We were expected to get heavy rain and high winds so I brought him in the barn where he would stay dry. My poor boy could hardly walk around the corner the few hundred yards it takes. He usually fights me taking any oral medication and last night there was no fight at all. And something was "different". There was a sense of "don't leave me". I got a clingy feeling from him. He wanted attention, so I stayed and rubbed on him and talked to him until he finally turned to eat some hay that I had laid out. But his eyes never left me, as I turned to look back at him he was still watching me.
I really dreaded going to the barn this morning. The Vet told me a few days ago that when the time came, if it did and I couldn't pull him through this, when I had that sense of dread - I would "just know" something was different and that the time was here for him to leave. I think I know what he meant. I think that's what I felt last night and today when I walked to the barn. I was so scared to turn the corner and look in. But he was standing...I really did breathe a loud sigh of relief. But he didn't greet me like usual. I gave him his pain med and again, no fight about it, even less resignation than the night before. The same "don't leave me" feeling. I gave King about 2 hours for the pain medication to kick in good and went back down to walk him out of the barn into his grassy lot, but when I went in the barn he hadn't moved one step from where I left him. In order to get the gate open I had to get him to step aside and when I lightly pushed on his shoulder his ears went back and his eyes widened and the whites of his eyes showed big. Every muscle tensed, so I knew the pain was terrible. So rather than chance him biting me out of extreme pain I tried to use the gate to move him. He was standing at an angle with his hip closest to the gate and I gently and lightly pushed the gate into him, barely giving any pressure, which normally he would side step or walk forward, and it almost knocked him off his feet. I was overwhelmed with dread and sadness. Of course I closed the gate back and let him be, just gave him a treat and rubbed on him and talked to him again, gave him some hay which he totally ignored, and I had to leave the barn. I was not prepared for this today. I'm going back down in a couple hours and giving him another dose of his pain med, its not anything to overdose him...but hopefully it can relieve his discomfort. I've come to realize suddenly that its not the arthritis that's gotten him down. I believe that I'm sharing Kings last days. The sadness I felt a short while ago with him made me leave the barn, I cant be there like that...its not what he needs to feel from me, not when he is projecting that and I feel it from him. I figure I need to be feeling love and support right now. He feels what I'm feeling. And he doesn't need to feel my grief right now. That time will come, soon I'm afraid. I'm not throwing in the towel and I'm praying I'm so completely wrong and tomorrow I'll write a post that tells you what an idiot I am for thinking all these thoughts. But if you could see him, you would just shake your head too at this point. My Boy is 30+ years old, half dead when I rescued him....how much can I really expect at this point besides a miracle. I take pride that we have given him such happy healthy years! I just wish I could make him comfortable right now. So at this point I'm kinda waiting - hour to hour - to see what my next move is...if he lays down on me, Chad or Jeremy,2 of my Vet's - the one's who are the most knowledgeable about horses and quite good with them and know their stuff will come out and promised me they would be here right away.
So right now....looks like I'M the one you need to be praying for - don't know if I can hold it together....my emotions are a wreck today. So I'm off here, and off to the barn with a book and gonna sit and be with King for a bit. Don't know if I'll have that chance again.
Love your horses an extra bit today.
Picture above was taken last year - King in his prime since he has been here - no more pictures of him except in good times.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

King - My Old Cowboy needs some prayers....

There comes a time when our best friends call on us one time or another for support on the phone and you drop what your doing and it doesnt matter what it is...your there by they're side to help them through whatever crisis it is. We give our hearts to our friends, our friendship and trust and often depend on them to pull us through hard times that come up. Many times we disappoint each other, and sometimes its not by fault of our own, just our of our ignorance that we dont understand the need someone has for us at that moment. I think that those of us who have horses in our lives love them so much for the reason that they never let us down. They are steady and true, they are always the same from sun up to sun down. You can bet your horse is not gonna change - he is who he is - and you can bet he will love you more tomorrow than he did yesterday. If he trust you, he is going to until YOU do something to loose that trust. Its all up to you on how your relationship will go...he wants it to work out and is eager to see it succeed.
A bond with an animal, horse or otherwise, can be stronger than with any human friend we have. Thats how it is sometimes. They get us through those rough patches when we call on them - they never say no. They stand and let us saddle up, or groom away our troubles. Then there is that time they call on you.....My Boy King has had his times he's had to call....you may recall I saved him from the killers at a horse sale, starved and one of THE ugliest horses I've ever seen. We thought then he was about 25 yrs old. Everyone said for years he was a dead head....fattened him up and got him healthy and sold him - he was Mr. No Personality. I really didnt like him, but did feel so sorry for him. The same man who bought Gypsy from me when I had to sell her 4 years ago bought him just 6 months before buying her. So they were together, until I moved here...I was reluctant to buy him back, he is so tall, and again...Mr. No Personality. Dead Head...again that name came up. BUT for a beginner like me, really he was the perfect trail horse. Fate had plans for both of us...fate brought both of my horses back to me and I'm so grateful for that. I made King a challenge, I saw that his eyes were dead...but he had get-up-and go....yeah, he was a dead head...but not in the way they were saying, this horse had been hurt in his life and I was going to reverse that. Tear down those walls and make him happy again. I did that...it took me almost 2 years and I have today a happy horse who loves affection, loves to know whats going on, doesnt hang in the backdrop anymore, and has become the leader of his herd. I was told last year when we got his teeth floated that he was maybe 15 or 18 yrs old, and I was so excited!!! He was fat, muscular, and acted every bit of that! He loves to run and has a proud canter.
Then last Wednesday, My best friend called on me.....I noticed suddenly how thin he was Tuesday..overnight, he was standing funny. LITERALLY overnight. Okay things like this dont happen overnight I know, but when you have a laid back horse its easy to miss some of the signs of what I missed...or so the Vet tells me....doesnt make it any easier on myself...I should have seen...My Boy went down and went down fast....his poor body is sore from arthritis all over. His hips appear to be the worse, but every joint is just popping. Then On Friday He was holding his front right hoof out straight! Oh no what now..already he was on a large dose of bute...and his feet were checked over and they were fine 2 days before. Wed he could barely walk as it was...now it was heartbreaking to watch him struggle to move. One of the other Vets came out after hours, luckily the other horseman and he looked him over good, found an abscess that had come up over night from an OLD abscess that was there a year ago. He explained to me that where that old one was...and all the pressure he was putting on his front legs to relieve the pressure off his rear end, had festered that old abscess back..yes the old one was healed completely...but where it was there was still a hole...and the problem was that the new abscess is growing inward toward his bone rather than outward toward the hoof wall. And the second part of that problem is that it is very near the bone. Instructions are to soak his foot in Epsom salt
daily and change his wrap daily and apply ichthamol (okay the spelling is way wrong on the medicine packing ! LOL) He is on antibiotic shots...and after today (since its taking him over an hour and half to eat just one flake of hay and 2 scoops of grain - yes he is getting more hay thats just what I had laid out for him while I was doing his feet) he is now on ulcer med since the bute is so hard on their stomach. The pain med is not doing anything for him. Well actually the Vet told me today that it is, if he was not on it, he would probably be down or not moving at all.
So..I've never been here this is new territory for me. I found out King is NOT 15..he is 30 or older....the abscess endangering him of complete lameness and poisoning his bloodstream and bones with infection, he can barely walk his body has gone down so fast with arthritis that actually has probably been present for awhile, but being such a laid back horse, the signs just wernt as visible and it was very gradual until this week. It could be that he, well.....I hate to even speak the words but that he is going down and that these are his final days. I'm a realist and I had to ask the Vet his opinion and his thoughts are what I am fearing the most. BUT I'm not giving up. I cant. I didnt give up when everyone else thought My Boy was a dead-head, when all along there was this wonderful horse inside all along just waiting for someone to find him. So we have cornered off a small grassy lot thats soft ground for him to graze...he has already put weight on so fast its crazy...he is eating better since I've been feeding him apart from the others, now that I know they have been pushing him out of the feed.
This is Norm and Neil putting up the hot wire fence in his new lot
He can still see the others and get fresh grass on soft ground, which will help his foot tremendously!
Here he is...eating his hay, which shortly after this picture he gave it up for the grass...of course!
He is not liking all the meds and wrap changes, his foot is SO sore and it hurts to stand on 3 legs so badly, but in all he is a trooper and thankfully he is such a well behaved horse that will do anything I ask...today however after giving him his bute paste and THEN giving him his first dose of ulcer med that is also a paste he was SO not happy with me and was VERY hesitant to take his treat...he thought I was tricking him into more meds!
You can see how he doesnt put any pressure at all on his leg, especially right after a wrap change.
So...I'm praying that King will heal from this and my worse fears wont come true, he's gone down bad and gone down so fast. Its going to be the hardest thing to go through when that time comes to say good bye, I hope I have more years with him- I need that...I'm just not ready, and I'm not ready to give up on My Boy...he needs your prayers!
This evening after tending to King, Norm brings me a little orphan...probably a twin, starved and took to the bottle right away. If you remember Oliver - the first bottle calf I had....this is the only calf since then that has been like him. I am hoping that I have a little Oliver in this calf. He began following me from the moment he took the bottle, took me as mom! Just like Oliver did! Next to Oliver, this calf has been the 2nd easiest calf to take to the bottle. He is a few days old so I was prepared to have to tube him, but luckily I didnt! I am already in love...just need to think of a great name! More pictures to come for sure!
Yeah I was blabbing...as usual! My mouth is always running, hard to get a good picture like that...and easy to keep a calf still when your fingers act as a pacifier!
This is Mari...she has been helping me with King and our newest venture.....CHICKENS...yes FINALLY..I got my chickens 32 total now! Here is more of the calf (need a name!!!) then some baby chick pics! Here are some cute baby pictures and silly me..I didnt take a picture of the baby-coop we made...DUH ME! We did so good too! Mari, Leah, and myself did so good! I'll have to take those later! So enjoy, I'll write more on these guys later!

This next little guy is Leahs chicken - she calls him her Chicken Coop!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Should we start acting more like cows I wonder?

~*~Pepper - a.k.a "FARM DIVA"~*~
No, my dear Pepper hasnt changed one bit since I've last talked to you about her. She is as "divaish" as ever if not worse. The world revolves around treats and being anything other than a chicken which has become an unspoken word around her. It is a BAD word. She still thinks she is a cow, prefers cat food and pineapples over *whispering* chicken feed, and her best friend is my horse Gypsy second to only me. She coos to me- yet (excuse the french) B*@^&'s to everyone else who will lend an ear to her squawking. She has to approve of any change, movement, and activity that goes on in and around "her" barn. Man - I LOVE that chicken! For one little "cow" she is one tough bird!
She does however look on the Sunny Side Of Life and the best part of that is tattle telling on everyone she can! Makes me laugh every time...such a Diva!
57 calves left to come!!!! We have entered a stand still..happens every time right about now, seems they take a break before all at once they decide to fill the nursery up again. The "babysitters" have all been chosen and its one of my favorite things to see when I drive out on the farm when we go to check the cattle and do our counts of Cows and Calves to make sure everyone is safe and sound with no calving problems and that calves are all feeding well, and Cows are not having any health problems before calving. How awesome it is, that God has given them seemingly human emotion to "hire" a babysitter to watch over the kiddos when they need a break to graze, or mingle with their buddies for a "mom's day out", just like we do. Isn't it amazing how they also have they have the inherit ability to hide and bed them down when they are first born for the first week, maybe more when they go to eat until the baby's are strong enough to keep up and learn danger, or when its time to calve- to go into the woods away from everyone for labor and quietly give birth hidden away from danger, calves hidden away from everyone and everything. You can tell the weather if you watch your cattle, you'll know a storm or snow or a strong rain is coming - they will be heading for the woods, in flood they will head for high ground. People say cattle are stupid. Are they? Have you ever watched a cow, a herd? Why would someone say this, because they are cautious and can be coaxed into a pen? But lets look at people. How often are humans coaxed into a pen? Followers by nature, not curious enough in fact jumping in with both feet with NO fear of danger. We dont watch that hot wire fence - even when we are told its hot, we have to touch it to see if they are right dont we? No, I disagree, cows are smart, much smarter than we are. They have the sense to stay with they're baby's in quiet, to bond, to get their baby sitters, and often you will see mom run back suddenly to where the baby sitter is laying and check on her baby, giving her calf a lick on the side or head for her own reassurance and walk back to the herd to continue her "Moms day out". Her calf is NEVER forgotten in this important dangerous vulnerable time that is ultimately HER responsibility. She has the smarts to move with the herd when they ALL see the signs that rain or snow is coming, the sky's are darkening with a storm moving in, its time for shelter - move to the woods and protect each other. Letting the trees provide wind break and and umbrella from the rain or snow and cold temperatures. What do we do? We stand at our doors and watch, or go outside and drive to town to the movies with tornado sirens going off, send out kids down the street to play with neighbors we dont know. Keep our weapons in reach of small hands, teach them to be bigots and prejudice, we sit them in front of the TV rather than take them to church, let them out of our sight at ages we should be watching them and holding them closely. We dont say our prayers and often too tired for that kiss - if just to reassure ourselves they are still there, BUT momma cow does - and she is just a stupid cow huh?
I think personally, that we have a lot to learn from a cow when you come to think of it.
Just my thoughts this morning....

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Love often comes in a whisper....

How ironic my post today was about the horses, when it dawned on me that tonight, March 11th, 2010, at 2:52am it will be a year since Radish has passed. Some of you may remember my little foal who graced my life for a mere 67 hours, just a whisper in time. But the impact he made on my heart is forever engraved with love and lessons that can never be erased.
Radish was born March 9th at 8:30 am - premature. Born into this world from an infected womb and rejected by his mother. The labor was taking too long and we called our vet and he assisted Radish into a cold morning. I never felt the cold wind that day or noticed anything other than that beautiful golden foal laying crumpled on the dirty barn floor. I remember I could hardly breathe and my heart was skipping beats and I was in love. And I was scared. I knew he was early and I knew the mare was not taking to him.
And that is how Radish came to live in the house with us! I did know caring for a foal was a 24 hour job, especially one born premature, and chill and pneumonia would kill him fast and our barn wasnt equip to keep those things at bay. And no, my feet were planted on this and they weren't moving. So Little Radish was placed in a wheelbarrow after a couple hours after I had cleaned him off and dried him up and wrapped him in a blanket and he was wheeled to the house. 67 hours of constant feeding, a preemie cant eat like a full term baby so it was much more often, many of my blogger friends here gave me so much advice and I was on her constantly asking for help and they were giving it right back! (THANK YOU AGAIN GUYS!) He was so precious. He would neigh, nicker and whiny for me. Those sounds I can still hear today, and I would know them as his alone and if I could only hear them now, oh what I would give! If I was gone for any length of time he would call for me and I'd look in on him and his ears would be held high and he would be looking around for me, see he couldnt stand yet cause his legs were not fully developed, and his sharp little eyes would see me and they would light up and he would start to get excited and he had figured out how to scoot to me. He would nicker and work his way or try to over to me, his little tail swishing. I swear he would be smiling. I was mom. He was my baby. I became a very tired mom...napping when I could and getting baby sitters so I could nap, a foal can mess your house up fast, even one that cant walk, tarps are a must, it takes more than one person to feed, they cant feed laying down so someone has to help you hold them up while they eat. Little Radish would often fall asleep when he was eating, so I'd wake him up and he startle and eat again like a little piggy. Or thats what I thought....he was actually having seizures. The seizures had started at birth, so small that we never saw them. What I thought was just falling asleep when he was eating, or just a tired baby, wasn't that at all. I should have known, but I'd never taken care of a foal before, and I was learning as I was going along. And I did, I learned a lot about foal care from Radish. I learned a lot about love in 67 hours that I've never learned in 38 years.
Radish did stand, he did walk, he did make progress that you wouldnt think he would looking back now and seeing that all that time his seizures were getting worse. He was a fighter my little man. He took his first steps to get to me, on legs that were not formed straight and strong yet, and had he been given the chance to live, within another week of life would have been strong and straight like a full term baby foal should be. But he made them work, his love moved his legs, and I was lucky enough to have those first steps on video. Heck, I'm typing through tears now and I cant watch that video and I've only watched it once since he's passed....my hearts not healed yet, I guess a part of my heart will always be with him, and maybe one day I can watch it again with a dry eye and laugh at his silly face determined to get to me! But he did he walked to me and defied a lot of odds in 67 hours looking at what we know now about his condition.
Yeah, he was my baby....I tucked him in at night, I held him close...
Norm figured out finally he wasnt going outside until he could stand (this was before we knew there was a problem) so be built me an indoor stall..smack dab in the middle of the living room....hey I couldnt live in the barn...so the barn came to me.
Yes on March 9th, 2009 at 8:30 am Love came to me in a whisper....his name was Radish. Rest in Peace sweet my angel....