Farm dog Max, our Pyrador, gave us quite a scare recently! He spent a night at the emergency vet, where he was sent by our own vet’s office. Our vet had just gone out of town, and they have no overnight coverage, so thankfully the local emergency hospital could take him. His official diagnosis was gastroenteritis. He was lethargic and vomiting, and we were on watch (because of course this all came to a head in the evening, not during office hours!). We were withholding all water until his stomach could settle, but then the bloody diarrhea started! Eventually it all more or less settled down overnight, but the plan was to get him to the vet first thing. He was still not feeling well at all.
That morning they gave him fluids, but his x-rays showed some questionable areas in his intestines (blockage? Gas bubbles?), so at the end of that day we took him to the emergency vet to spend the night where he could be monitored, get more fluids, and get additional x-rays in the morning. The hope was that the fluids would clear things up, with the worst fear being he had a blockage and would need surgery.
Thankfully, things did clear up and he was put on medications and sent home. It took a few days and slowly getting him back on food to finally get back to feeling himself. What happened? He ate something he shouldn’t have – perhaps the rock we found where he had gone to the bathroom outside, but we can’t be sure that wasn’t already on the ground. One thing we do know for sure is that he is always eating something he shouldn’t! Previously that week I had taken two different pieces of what looked like old pottery out of his mouth. He and his sister dig in the yard constantly and there is so.much.stuff.everywhere. I have tried to clear out any questionable plants, but things constantly pop up in areas we thought we’d cleared. The joys of owning an old farmhouse. We do the best we can, and hope that he outgrows this bad habit.
By the way, we had never used the emergency vet before. Our regular vet is almost always available, and he did have some coverage this time, but not overnight. I was a little nervous about it, I’ve heard good and bad things about them. Oh my gosh, don’t believe everything you hear! They could not have been any better. Everyone was SO nice, and they kept in constant communication with us. They called me first thing Saturday morning to give me a report on how he was doing. And they went out of their way to tell us how much they loved Max!
Other Farm News:
Barn Cats: It’s amazing to see how much the barn cats have slimmed down once the weather started warming up. Over the winter, they all put on weight and grew extremely thick coats. Mother Nature does know what she’s doing sometimes. They are happily hunting chipmunks and occasionally chasing the farm birds just for the fun of it (and the birds do return the favor!). We no longer get any mice in the house!
Birds: We decided to save some money this year and hatch our own chicks. We ended up hatching 10 that look virtually identical! Apparently, our rooster Lemonade was the daddy to all. Charlie the rooster still acted the part, but we have a feeling he’d been slowing down for a while. Sadly, we lost that beautiful bird this spring to old age/illness. Lemonade seemed to sense his weakness and that caused some fights, so we had to separate them. But we soon realized Charlie was just not going to make it.
The chicks spent their first couple of weeks inside the house, but then we moved them out to the coop before they started making a big mess, and outgrew the box we had them in.
The guinea fowl are just being their crazy selves. Nesting season is always dramatic with them and they are quite noisy! For a while they were laying their eggs right in the coop, but I guess we knew that wouldn’t last. One of the chickens thought she should sit on the eggs and try to hatch them but after a time she gave up. I wish we had gotten a photo when the chicken and guinea were sharing the nest! Eventually the guineas moved on and we found the first outdoor nest for them, so we know where to find the eggs for a while anyway. Let the games begin! Eventually one of them will decide they want to sit on the eggs overnight, and we’ll have to empty the nest and make them move on. It’s not safe for them to be out overnight, as much fun as it would be to see those eggs hatch!
With just an occasional loss of a bird here and there due to unknown predators or illness, it was a pretty good winter and spring on the farm. I’ve found the longer we do this, the easier it is to accept those losses. While it still makes me sad, I’ve learned it’s all part of farming. We choose to free range our birds because we believe they are happier and healthier that way, and we feel like it’s worth the risks. We also do everything we can to mitigate those risks. They only free range when we are home to watch them.
Farm Dog Copper Sue has been doing well, and she and Max are keeping busy and happy ruling the farm and doing their Barking Dog duties in letting us know when any strangers approach the area. Max has quite the big dog deep bark, but no one must know that he is really just a big love. Both dogs are over a year old now and we can see a small decrease in the puppy antics, and believe they are going to settle down into being wonderful dogs as they grow up! They have slowly been earning more and more freedom in the house when we are gone. They love each other so much, and Copper was pretty quiet while Max was gone. She even took it easy on him for the most part once he came back home. I’d say she’s quite happy he’s back to his old self though!
The vegetable garden is finally planted, and I’ve even already had some fresh radishes. Whew, that’s a lot of work! I may scale it back a bit next year, even with an extra day off it’s a lot trying to get that all done while running a full-time business! It’s been a good spring at the shop. There are still ups and downs, as is the norm in retail, but overall the numbers are up over last year and that’s what we like to see.
Spring weather has been crazy here! We went from several 90-degree days over Memorial Day weekend, to plunging into the 50’s with rain virtually overnight in early June. A late May freeze/frost did damage to a lot of local crops in our state – mostly fruit trees like apples. Luckily, I had only put out a few early plants, which are normally frost-hardy, and they did take it a bit hard. Most have bounced back now though. We are now finally getting back to normal temperatures – mid 70’s – which is where it should be.
I look forward to more time to relax in the summer! While the garden will have to be weeded, which is never-ending, I’ll also still have to add more mulch to hopefully slow them down. Then will come the fun part of harvesting (hopefully, ha ha). I have one of those splash pads for the dogs that will be fun to try out when it gets hot. It will be interesting to see what kind of weather summer brings, I have heard cooler than usual? Dad and the dogs would be happy about that! Me, I’m just happy if it’s warm enough to be outdoors!