Thursday, August 25, 2011

Stream of Consciousness

Things have been quiet for a while, save for the daily minutia of horse and farm care. Phyllis the chicken is getting fairly vague - we find her at a distance from the coop now looking faintly bewildered as though she neither knows how she got there, nor how to get back. She has become so teeny - even with her feather topknot (she is a Polish Crested) she weighs about the same as a stick of butter. Fortunately the other hens don’t pick on her (is that where the expression came from? “Peck” morphed into “pick”?).

Another chicken incident took place a few weeks ago. A woman stopped by to ask about the farm, and in getting out of her car took the dog out on the leash, presumably to pee. It slipped the leash and took off after the chickens, killing one. I was out doing errands, but my housemate reported hearing hysterical screaming - from the woman, of course, and presumably from the chicken who wasn’t taking the event too well. I came home just after the melee, finding my housemate holding a black plastic bag with The Remains, talking earnestly to the woman who was still crying. I felt terrible for her - it wasn’t even her dog (she was dog-sitting) and she was beyond mortified. We carried on with the tour, talking about possibilities for horsing around, but I don’t think she will be back even though I assured her repeatedly that accidents happen and I wasn’t upset (it was an old chicken). The memories are likely too painful...

There is a happy health outcome here. My old standardbred Spirit had been doing poorly for a while - appetite off, weight loss, stiff in his movements, seemingly a bit depressed. The thought occurred to compare him with another horse here who had had many of the same symptoms for quite a long time which we never could seem to address. Then she spiked a horrific fever along with some leg swelling, and the vet recommended doxycycline, as the probabilities were that this was a tick-borne affliction. Sure enough, her fever and swellings went away, but then so did ALL her other long-term symptoms - her appetite came back, her chronic scratches went away, her coat got glossy, she was much less stiff, and she became much, much happier. Conclusion - she had had a low level infection the whole time (though her blood work came back negative, apparently as it often does.) Our wonderful vet examined Spirit and agreed to the two-week course of doxy, and sure enough, he is responding. His symptoms were much less drastic, but I was unwilling to let him get any sicker before acting on my suspicions. Compared to the valleys, Plainfield has almost no ticks and fleas but they are around enough to cause the occasional problem.

We are hunkered in against the weather for the next several days - severe thunderstorms today and of course the hurricane aftermath predicted for Sunday. There have been several heavy storms in the last week. Last Friday I was driving home from a day in RI seeing my aged father, when I hit the serious hail and flooding 20 minutes from home and of course I was frantic. It seems as though I can’t leave for more than two hours in any safety, for pete’s sakes. There was somebody here at the farm, as always, but since I wasn’t here personally to get the horses and goats in out of the weather I was a mess of worry in the car. All other cars were pulled over, but I plowed on towards home, to arrive to the glad sight of everyone tucked into their stalls and dry and safe.

The drainage swales are being deepened as we speak to keep the water away from the barns, and I will be filling all water tubs on Sunday morning against a power outage. Plenty of feed in the barrels and hay in the barn - life is good.

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