Tuesday, August 27, 2013

New Babies!

I have been a complete blog slacker recently! In my defense, I have been busy keeping up after everything here. Current count is 25 chickens, 10 guineas, 3 adult turkeys, 9 turkey poults, 3 juvenile turkeys, 2 dogs, and a partridge in a pear tree! Wait... scratch that last part. As of this year I do have the pear trees though! Along with the normal suspects that roam my property, we have 3 new additions! Well... new-ish. Yes, again I admit that I have been a slacker. The evening I was bitten by the snake I had just gotten them home and situated, so they have been here for a little while.

Meet Link, Jimmy, and Dean!!! I'm loving our new little piglets! Link is the red and black spotted one. Jimmy and Dean are both white, but they have small black spots in different areas so we can tell them apart. I made the executive decision to name them after sausage. I don't want to forget why they are here, but they are still being spoiled until then! They are such curious and energetic little guys! All 3 are boys and they have all been "fixed".

The boys started out in a hog ring, which was moved daily to give them a clean area to burrow in. Let me tell you, they are destructive little buggers! They can tear up everything in the ring within about 20 minutes of being moved. By the next day it looks like a waste-land. They have a little heavy-duty plastic waterer that is hooked up to a hose. When they push a lever with their nose water fills the little tray. I was worried that they wouldn't know how to work it and get dehydrated, but they took to it immediately. Now they push the button just to let it run all over the ground so they can wallow in the mud!

The 3 little pigs are now happily rooting up the overgrown and unused section of my garden. It looked like a jungle when I put them in there a couple days ago, and now it is almost cleared! I ran electric fence from one side to the other to keep them away from what is left of the sad garden that I am still trying to keep alive. They learned not to touch the fence within about 10 minutes. I'm considering only running 1 strand around the area that I am going to move them to because they are already doing so well with the fence. I'm worried that now that they are in the garden and know the fence is there, I won't be able to get them to come out to go into their new area! Luckily, they will do almost anything for eggs! I think I might be able to bribe them.

The piglets are so happy and I love to watch them rooting around, wagging their little tails and grunting their little piggy grunts all the while. No matter where they are, all I have to do it call "PIG PIG PIG" and all three come running over. Brad says that they get excited because they think that "the food lady" is going to give them something awesome to eat. I prefer to think it is because they love me... but yeah, he's probably right. LOL I can't believe I didn't get piggies before now! I'm enjoying them so much!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Update Post-Snakebite

I'm sorry it took so long to get back! The last week has been... well, I'm glad to be back!

Things went well at the hospital. Thankfully my foot and leg stopped swelling before they had to open it. I was really getting worried there for a bit. The whole hospital stay was mostly a haze. I'm not complaining because even with all of the pain meds I was on I was still in quite a bit of pain. It is amazing that such a little creature can pack such a punch! Once the swelling stopped increasing the doctor said that I could put pressure on my foot as soon as I could tolerate the pain and that I could leave as soon as I could manage to walk around the entire hospital ward. He failed to say that I had to use my foot, so I hopped the whole way on crutches. I realized just how out of shape I really am while I was at it! My foot seemed to have quite enough pressure pushing out form the inside without adding external pressure to it. The IDEA of pushing on it was nearly enough to bring me to tears. Just the gravity pulling on it as soon as I lowered it off the side of the bed was excruciating. The people that took care of me at the hospital were amazing. I couldn't be more happy with my stay there and the care that they took of me. I was ready to go home, though.

I got home on Friday evening, just in time to pick Keegan up from band practice after his first day of school. I still can't believe that they made him stay late in his first day, but he didn't seem to mind, so I guess it shouldn't bother me. I hate that I missed dropping him off on his first day of high school! Luckily his Aunt Samantha was amazing and took pictures for me. It was probably much less embarrassing for her to do it than me. I was pretty much on bed rest for the first couple of days, much to my dismay. I tried my best to get up but between Brad and Keegan fussing at me and the pain I didn't get very far. I don't know if it is after effects of the snake bite, side effects from the medication and anti-venin, or that I caught a tummy bug while at the germ infested hospital, but I have been terribly nauseous. It has cut down even more on the amount that I have been accomplishing. My very sweet neighbors and in-laws both brought us food so we didn't have to try to figure that part out. I knew I was blessed before this accident, but I have been overwhelmed by the amount of support we have had through this. People near and far have been helping us out, praying for us, and checking in on me to make sure I'm doing alright. I can't explain how much it has meant to me. I'm a lucky lucky girl.

Every day the swelling has gone down a bit and I have been able to get around a bit better. I started being able to put a little pressure on the outer edge of my foot on Sunday. Every day I have added more pressure to it and used the crutches a little less. Today was my first day crutch free! My foot and leg are almost back to normal size.

I have been feeding the animals since Tuesday. Brad and Keegan both fussed at me. I couldn't stand sitting flat on my butt and feeling useless anymore. Especially while they worked so hard to take care of everything and then take care of me. I also really needed to get outside! I managed to get a tennis shoe around my fat foot (along with long pants) and beat my way through the jungle that my garden has turned into check on things. It is bad... but I will get to that later. The snake was gone though. Apparently I didn't stomp on him quite enough to do him in. Hopefully he has learned to watch where I walk from now on... I have sure learned to watch where I walk! Today I not only managed to feed the animals but I cleaned out the chicken coop and turkey brooder! It was getting pretty nasty in there because I haven't been able to keep up after it properly. It doesn't seem like a whole lot but it took twice as long as usual with me hobbling around at extra low speed. I feel like I have accomplished something for the first time in what seems like forever.

We are short one animal as of yesterday evening. Sam, the turkey massacre'er, was finally picked up by someone willing to foster her until she can be placed with a forever family. She had been tied out front for a week and a half while we called everyone we could think of and begged them to please come get her! She was a very sweet girl, but she needed to be far away from poultry, and she couldn't stay here. Finally a wonderful woman took pity on us and went out of her way to make it happen. I can't thank her enough!

Because the dog was no longer here for me to worry about, the three remaining turkey-heads got to come out of the hoop coop today, for the first time since the attack. They seemed thrilled to be able to take a proper dust bath. The girls, at least. Yellow followed me around, fluffing up as best he could with only half of his feathers remaining, and strutting. He is such a sweet boy. He has gobbled a few times and I'm so happy to see him and the ladies feeling better. They still have some wounds, but they are definitely on the mend. I guess all of us are. Even the sun came out to shine on us today, and chased all of the rain clouds away. Things are getting back on track. Good thing because there is a lot of work to catch up on!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Why You Shouldn't Wear Flip Flops in Overgrown Areas

I learned the hard way. Keegan and I went to the garden to see if there were any tomatoes ripe to have with dinner. While we were out there I was picking caterpillars off of the plants and giving them to him to feed to the turkeys. I picked up my foot to take a step and felt something strike my foot. It only took a glance to realize what had happened. I had stepped on a copperhead and when I moved it bit me. It was only a little over a foot long, but apparently it was big enough to do damage. Keegan ran inside and told Brad, who promptly called 911. Luckily I have a lot of experience with snakes and could not only identify it, but knew not to panic. I walked calmly to the front porch, sat down, and waited patiently for the ambulance to get there. Before I knew it, my yard was filled with paramedics, firefighters, and neighbors checking to make sure everything was alright. Brad and Keegan followed the ambulance to the nearest hospital.

At the local hospital, they kept an eye on me, did blood work, and measured the spread of the swelling. After a couple of hours they decided that it was spreading too much. They administered antivenin, along with pain medicine because it was smarting quite a bit by then. The doctor said that I needed to be at a hospital where they had a surgeon on hand in case the swelling got severe enough to cut off circulation. If that happened my foot would need to be opened. I was transferred about 45 minutes away to a larger hospital. That was Wednesday evening. They haven't released me yet. My foot, ankle, and leg are still swelling and they have me on bed rest until it stops and begins to go down. Thankfully everything seems to be going well. They haven't had to open my foot up, and only gave me 1 dose of antivenin so far. I have an IV in each arm. One for a steady drip of solution and the other for meds. I would think that they only needed 1 but they insist that they want another one ready "just in case". I've been on a steady supply of pain meds, benadryl, and Prevacid (not sure why). I'm hoping that I get to go home tomorrow. Not what I was anticipating when I went to pick tomatoes... Needless to say, there will be some serious mowing going on as soon as I'm up and mobile, and no more walking through overgrown areas in flip flops!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Even On The Stormiest Days, The Sun Peeks Through The Clouds

One of my turkey hens came back yesterday afternoon! It was Tabby, my dark bourbon hen. She had braved the wilderness for 2 days and nights and still managed to make it home! What a fighter! There is nothing behind my property but national forest for miles, so every manner of wild animal is likely to be in very close proximity. I thought that if the wounds from the dog attack didn't claim her, the infection she was very likely to get from them or wild animals would finish her off. She is in really bad shape. She is missing more skin from her back than she has left, and she has some pretty deep lacerations. It is really gruesome. I immediately gave her a shot of penicillin, cleaned her up the best I could without stressing her, and sprayed her down with vetericyn. She is resting in the small hoop coop with Yellow and Tallow.

Yellow and Tallow are looking much better! They still look pretty bad, but they are visibly more alert. Seeing them stand taller and move around more fills my heart with joy. They still aren't eating much, which worries me, but I'm really hopeful that as they start feeling a bit better, that corrects itself. It may be, simply, that the antibiotics are making them nauseous. I know it does that to me.

As it turns out, I was wrong about who owned the dog. From what I am told, the dog has been roaming the neighborhood for about a month, although I had only started seeing it about a week ago. The neighbors that recently moved in on the other side of the neighbor that I thought the dog belonged to had taken it in and been feeding it. They were quick to pay for the replacement of the turkeys. They sent half of the money over with the police officer and said they would pay the rest in about a week. The dog is still here, but the neighbors gave up rights to it and I am working on getting animal control to come pick her up and take her to the shelter. She is still tied up on a run and we have been caring for her until they can get her. She is a good dog, but has a taste for expensive turkeys. I'm hopeful that she will find a good home, far far away from poultry. I work closely with the animal shelter (fostering puppies for transport to areas that don't have overpopulation problems where they can be easily adopted) and all of the dogs I have owned since I became an adult have been shelter dogs. I am confident that she will have a happy ending. Because the neighbors were willing to work with us and gave up rights to the dog, I told them not to worry about the rest of the money. I'm just happy that I don't have to worry about when the next time she will end up in my coops will be.

It has been a rough few days, and was a really bad situation. I am amazed that even with such a bad situation, good things keep happening. If this was going to happen, I can't imagine a better ending to it. We aren't feuding with the neighbors. I don't have to worry about the dog ever coming back to finish my birds off. I thought I had lost all of my birds, but amazingly, I have three left. I have offspring of the others so I can watch them grow and love them. The sun does shine, even on cloudy days. We are blessed.

And in more happy news, tomorrow we welcome our newest homestead babies! It has been a long time in coming and we are very excited!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Dog Attack

I woke up this morning to Brad grabbing the gun and yelling at me to go outside "NOW". I walked out to see a huge dog standing in my turkey coop surrounded by carnage. I've caught the dog in the yard a couple of times in the last week. Usually as it was being chased out of the yard by my dogs. I was hoping that it was a friendly dog, or that it wouldn't come back. Apparently, I was wrong. Who knows how long the dog had been in the coop. My dogs were inside for the night. It was in there long enough to do a lot of damage. When I ran out there yelling at the dog, it stopped. It sat down and waited for me to let it out of the coop. We couldn't shoot a dog that listened when I fussed at it. I got her out of the turkey coop and tied her in the front yard and then went back to survey the damage. The dog had climed up the side of the coop and busted through the bird netting at the top. There was a hole in the other side of the coop where some of the turkeys had gotten out.

One turkey was killed and half eaten (RT). Three others (yellow, tawny, and chester) were in really bad shape. The remaining three (tabby, tallow, and tom) were MIA. I grabbed a pot of warm water and the vetericyn and tried to get the three injured turkeys cleaned up. Chester and Tawny were shaking and visibly in severe pain. Yellow was not quite as bad but it still wasn't looking good. To add insult to injury, we only had 2 bullets. They have been nearly impossible to buy recently. Brad went to Walmart in hope that they had some, which they didn't. We had to call all over the neighborhood just to find ammunition to put my turkeys out of their misery.

I went to pick the borrowed ammo up. While I was gone, Brad found Tallow. She was walking around the very back section of the property. She was obviously fearful, but she let me slowly approach her and look her over. She is banged up, but not as badly as the other turkeys. After a few minutes I convinced her to let me pick her up and carry her back to the coop. I looked chester and tawny over once more just to make sure that they were beyond help. I have a hard time convincing myself to put anything out of its misery. I like to give everything a fighting chance instead of deciding that it is beyond help. Chickens and turkeys don't show when they are sick or in pain until they are on death's doorstep. It is a defense mechanism. They don't want to show weakness because they don't want to be picked off by predators. These turkeys were obviously in a lot of pain. They had deep gashes and were missing skin over large areas. The chances that they would survive was not good, and it would be impossible to keep them from getting an infection in wounds that large and deep. After many tears and reasoning with myself, Brad put them down.

I called the police and made out a report. The police officer was very nice and understanding. Apparently he had ducks that had suffered a similar fate. He had to put all of them down. After talking for a while and showing him the damage, he went over to the neighbor's (suspected dog owners) house to talk to them but nobody was home. I assumed that the dog belonged to the same man whose dog killed my turkeys last November because it looked a lot like that dog and appears to be about the right age to have been a puppy right around that time. She is huge, but young. Nobody was home. The police officer told me to hold onto the dog and he would check back in with me before the end of the day.

After he left and the police report was made I took Brad to work. He had already missed half of the day by that point. I went to the feed store and talked to a wonderful women there that is also a vet tech. She helped me find an antibiotic that will hopefully work on the turkeys. I bought them some injectable Penicillin. I gave each of them a shot of 1/2cc into their breast and they will need it every day for the next 7 days. I'm hoping that it will help Yellow and Tallow to fight off the infection and heal. I'm going to be keeping vetericyn on the wounds. They are obviously still very sore, but I hope they will make it. I moved them both from the big hoop coop, to one of the hoop chicken tractors. It is smaller, but they need to be resting. I also wanted to get them on clean grass. I can move them every day this way and it will be more sanitary.

This evening the police officer gave me a call and let me know that he was back at the neighbor's house, but there was still nobody home. He went to the next house over and talked to the people that lived there. They are Hispanic and speak very little english. Apparently, the woman acted like it was actually her and her husband's dog. Not the neighbor that I had though she belonged to. The police officer explained the situation the best he could to her and said he would be back over here in the morning to take pictures of the dog to give them to make sure it was the right dog. He told them that there would be damages that they have to pay. It won't replace my sweet turkey-heads.

I was holding out the hope that maybe when it started to get dark tabby and tom would come back. They didn't. I know that they were probably pretty badly injured by the time they managed to escape. They probably went off somewhere and died. All of my bourbon reds are gone. My 2 blues are in bad shape but I'm hoping that they pull through. Most of Tallow's eggs got smashed in the struggle. I'm assuming that the rest are scrambled. She needs to heal herself before she hatches any eggs anyway. Thankfully I still have some of their sweet babies. I was disappointed because I hadn't sold all of them. It it late in the season for people to be wanting turkey poults. I'm so thankful to have them now. They won't replace their parents but I hope that they will have a lot of their traits. I got so attached to my turkeys over the last year. They were more like pets than anything. It breaks my heart to have lost them and most of all that they had to suffer like they did.

I will spare you the gruesome pics of today and instead share the way that I will try to remember them.  The way Chester would strut for me and then look up at me with those big beautiful brown eyes to make sure that I saw how handsome he was. The way they would move like a school of fish around the yard, following my every move. How sweet, funny, and curious they all were. I will miss my sweet turkey-heads dearly. It has been a really rough day.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Clothes Washing and Lawn Mowing May Now Commence!

I fixed the lawnmower today! Well, I rigged it so that it works for the time being. I found some extra clothes line rope to use as a pull cord. It was a bit too thick to wind back up correctly, but I found a solution that should make it usable until I can get a real pull cord. Swiping it, a few inches at a time, over a candle and then rolling it between by fingers condensed the fibers and made the rope a bit thinner without making it brittle or weak. It worked! It started raining about 10 minutes after I got done, but there is a small patch of yard that looks wonderful! Have I mentioned that I love youtube? They have videos on how to fix virtually everything!

The washing machine part came in today, as well. It only took Brad about 5 minutes to put it in when he got home from work. I've already done a couple of loads and it is working wonderfully. Hopefully tomorrow it won't rain and I can hang some clothes out on the line. I much prefer to line dry than machine dry. The amount of electricity a dryer uses is ridiculous! I also hate that I pay money for the electricity to dry clothes and then have to spend more money on electricity for air conditioning because the dryer puts off so much heat! Its nice during the winter, though.

Earlier today I tied up the tomatoes again. The 2nd planting of tomatoes are over 5 feet tall now. I need to put up another pallet support system for them. I picked several caterpillars off of them. I'm not sure if the Bt didn't work or if it just rained too soon and washed it off. I will try putting some more on and hopefully it won't rain for a couple of days. They are looking beautiful!

Last night I planted some seeds indoors for our autumn crop. I planted lettuce, onions, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, dill, cilantro, parsley, oregano, garlic chives, and LOTS of basil (italian large-leaf and sweet). The parsley, oregano, and chives are to keep inside, but the rest will go outside next month. Soon I need to start some other seeds outside. I'm already looking forward to eating it and it hasn't even germinated yet!