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Farmette1769's Blog

by Monica Melograna-Ward

Category Archives: dogs

 

There is a full feature film of this from 1982. The title is a Hopi Native American word meaning “life out of balance”. I have not thought of it in a while, but it possibly describes what our life is really like. I write these blogs about our lifestyle here on the farmette, but they are merely glimpses into our lives. There are so many days when I feel the world is coming after us full force.

This time last fall, the medical issues of my husband started picking up speed. Early the next year, January 2018 (I think – it’s all a blur), it was confirmed that he had Lynch Syndrome. The tests and procedures continued until a major surgery this summer 2018.

It was brutal. The range of reactions, emotions, house prepping, financial insecurity, disability planning and so on, wore us down beyond belief. And that was before the big day. Jamie could have died on the operating table. He could have come out of this with chronic medical problems. With all that, we would also lose the farmette, in addition to living the nightmare of my lovely husband/devoted father’s suffering.

A few weeks ago, we were clearing the whole property of objects that could become weapons in a hurricane. Tropical Storm Florence did make it all the way from the coast, straight through our farmette, which falls within the Greater Charlotte, NC Area. Even though the winds and rain were not as bad as expected, it was a deadly storm in our county, Gaston. In Dallas, NC, a few towns over, a tree fell on a mobile home and killed an infant.

 

This Week.

On Sunday, our young dog, Mr. Barry White, ate a mystery something on his walk. He lunged for it, so I know it was something smelly and likely meat-based. On Monday, he got really sick. He had severe diarrhea and threw up a lot. I’m pretty positive that some of our chickens then ate the throw-up, because that mess miraculously disappeared. Wednesday or Thursday morning (It’s a blur), our dying rooster, Agador (The most spectacular rooster that we have ever had) was hunched over a dead hen. He did not last long after that, maybe an hour or two.

Barry stayed sick for a few days. I gave him a bit of plain Greek yogurt and then eventually some chicken and rice. He’s a healthy boy, so we managed his illness ourselves. He’s fine now.

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That ran into the next disaster.

On Wednesday evening, Deirdre, our eighty-five pound, twelve and a half year old Collie/Golden Retriever hybrid (Gollie), was laying on the floor, refusing to get up. Within a few hours, she was prone on the floor and would not lift her head or even a foot. If you whispered in her ear enough, she would wag her tail a little.

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The family gathered around her, crying and saying goodbye. In the wee hours, we eventually went to sleep, and woke up to Deirdre sitting up a bit.

On Friday, she made it up onto her feet. By mid-day she did not look good again, so I called the vet. I got off the phone and pondered the situation a bit. Then I called back and scheduled a fit-in appointment for 5pm.

X-rays were taken, and surgery was discussed. At that time I did not want to put an old dog through that. I called my husband at work. He did not want to put her through that. I took her home, after making plans to meet the vet at 7:30 am, Saturday morning, to put her to sleep.

Deirdre and I got home. Within a minute or two, she was bleeding from her back side – a lot. I walked out of that room and into the main living area. It was at that point that I saw Vincent.

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Vincent – the 19 month old, gorgeous, extremely smart, black cat.

I had taken him to the vet three weeks ago. He seemed to have lost weight. It was confirmed that he had. He had gone from 9.8 pounds down to 8.6.

Vincent had previously tested negative for feline leukemia at Tri-County Animal Rescue. The vet did not think he had a major illness like diabetes or a thyroid imbalance. We decided to monitor him and hold off on any testing.

Approximately 7 pm Friday night (It’s a blur).

The look of Vincent was bad. He was unbalanced. His eyes were somewhat glassy. However, when I picked him up, limp in my hands, he was purring. His symptoms worsened. By then, it was late at night and we had early plans with our dog. So, I caught a quick three hours of sleep.

At 4am, he was still alive – and purring. At 5am he was still alive, and quiet. At 6am, he started a painful cry.

I took Deirdre outside to the grass in the front yard. She wet. I did not have her on a leash. She took off trotting down the sidewalk and up the front stoop steps. Apparently that blood loss had also relieved pressure. She was acting like herself, full on.

At 6:45 am, Vincent was loaded into the van. Then my husband and I loaded his big, uncooperative dog into the back. At that time, the plan was to have the vet look at Deirdre second, and then, ATT, figure out what to do next with her, but try to save Vincent first.

At 7 am, Vincent was deceased, before we even left the driveway. That was when we really began to unravel, me more than my husband. My husband describes my behavior upon arrival at the vet’s office as unhinged. I wholeheartedly agree.

According to our description of what happened to Vincent, and especially his sudden distended abdomen, the vet is almost positive he had something that has a nearly 100 percent mortality rate. There is no effective vaccination or treatment for this virus. Albeit a contagious, yet uncommon, disease, it mysteriously affects indoor cats with no outdoor cat contact. Other cats in the household don’t normally fall ill after the fact. It hits kittens and young cats 0-2 years old.

Feline Infectious Peritonitis

We were at the vet with Deirdre. She was her happy self, but still bleeding a bit. Since xrays had been taken the night before, only a blood test was necessary at this point. Between all of those results and her heart rate, etc. she was good to go for surgery.

Deirdre was really tired and not upset by being there, so we left her with them for a projected afternoon surgery. We drove home.

My husband dug a hole out back. I wrapped Vincent up in a blanket and bag. And, we buried him.

Deirdre went into surgery as Jamie was driving into work for a partial shift.

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I drove back to Richard L. Hovis, DVM at Dickson Animal Clinic in Gastonia, NC. It’s worth the 25+ minute drive – they are reasonably priced and are as caring, professional and knowledgeable as a veterinary office could be. They let me sit with her while she came out of anesthesia.

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Our Deirdre is now home resting and recovering as well as can be expected for an old dog.

Vincent. Beautiful Vincent.

I had, a little, time, to take things in, and cry, a little, this morning. My husband did not. He’s on his way back out to work right now.

KOYAANISQATSI

 

 

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Our dogs are our pets first. We love them and they love us too. If you care about your dogs, the will know it and will protect their family at all costs. Out on the country roads, you need the protection.

Thieves are very fond of the widely-spaced homes overflowing with lawn equipment and metal-laden supplies. These items can readily be traded for quick cash.

There are also coyotes and other wild predators that will gladly relieve you of your livestock. Our dogs treat our goats as their friends and protect them too.

There is a difference between guard dogs and watch dogs. Guard dogs are bred/trained to attack intruders. Watch dogs run around, announcing the arrival of visitors.

Our watch dogs are especially proud of barking at the mail/package delivery people. Their tails normally wag away while they do this job. It is only when they feel aggression from someone that their tails stop wagging.

We keep friendly dogs here on the farmette. Once introduced, any dog or human is welcome in their pack. This is why we are able to foster dogs so easily via OneBlackDog.

This is also why our guests are the not-so-eager recipients of sloppy dog kisses. The happier a person is, the more enthusiastically our dogs greet them. Children are favorites of our dogs.

Our two black Collie/Retriever Hybrids, are inside/outside dogs. The latter have access to our mud/laundry room at all times by the use of a dog door (sometimes they are inside along with our full time house dog “Penny”).

They lay out on the deck when it is cool and/or dry. Lounging inside is something they prefer in the warmer or wetter weather. When a vehicle comes down the gravel drive, you can usually hear the flap swishing. The sound comes from their scurrying outside to trumpet their presence.

Penny, Deirdre & Cecilia looking down into the fenced goat/dog yard.

We keep an auto-fill trough of water attached to the yard faucet. A few drops of bleach are added periodically to keep the well water bacteria free.

Our dogs are also provided with Iams lamb and rice dog food. Corn based food works for many dogs, just not ours. All three of them are prone to the skin/food allergies that come with Retrievers/Retriever crosses.

Sometimes farm dogs need cleaning too. They do not like baths much.

We used Dr. Bronner’s Liquid Mint Soap this time. Later tonight we will apply some “dog oil” to ward off fleas, ticks and other external parasites.

Cecelia is our son’s dog, so he was happy to help bathe her. He was actually glad to assist on scrubbing all three of our dogs.

They did enjoy the biscuits they get as a thank you for their cooperation during bath time. They have been taught to sit and patiently wait for treats.

No matter what the priorities of your home are, residential, country, city, farm, mobile, etc., dogs can add quite a bit to your life. You take care of them and they will take care of you – not only physically but emotionally too. They have the ability to put a smile on your face, no matter what your mood, as your enthusiastic, delightful companions.

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It is almost one year since my major surgery. We have been able to get a lot done to reorganize the farmette since then. The work has helped me to build up muscles (including the ones supporting my fused neck) and to retrain all the crushed nerves. Things in that medical arena are far from perfect, but my ability to move is vastly improved in comparison to the two years prior.

We built a new pony run-in just in the nick of time before the cold Winter weather really struck:

Old Run-in

New Construction


New Run-in


Decor added September 2012

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To bring the livestock count up to date:

Dogs (Pets, Watch, Retrieving, Service, Herding)
1 Female AKC Golden Retriever, 2 Female ACHC Gollies
(Golden Retriever x Rough Coated Collie)
Ongoing but not currently: One Black DOG project
pulling a pound dog from local shelter to re-home.

Goats (Brush clearing, Lawn mowing,
Milk – hopefully this Spring, Kid sales)
1 ADGA Young Nubian Buck, 1 ADGA Nubian Nanny,
1 Pygmy Nanny, 1 Pygmy Doe, 1 Pygmy “It” (female-ish)

Ponies (Transport pull cart/ride, Pasture ornaments)
1 (14 Hands) Blind, Quarter Pony Stallion /
1 (10 Hands) Grumpy 21 yo Shetland Gelding

Poultry (Eggs!!!, Insect control, Chick sales)
1 Chinese, Female Goose /
1 Shy, Free Range, Ameraucana/Wyandotte, Standard Sized Roo /
1 Angry, B&W, Polish, Top Hat, Bantam Roo / 1 Blue, Sizzle, Bantam Roo /
2  (Red, Birchen) Cochin, Bantam Roos / 1 Mille Fleur, Cochin, Bantam Hen /
1 Pair B&W, Ugly, Project Bantams / 1 Silkie x Cochin, Bantam Hen.
17 Young, Bantam Chickens for grow out (new breeders needed,
heat wave drove raccoons out of woods for giant raid on our main coop).

Inside
1 Parakeet that throws seed as far as outer space.
No particular use. But, he is very cute.
1 (55 gallon) fish tank w about a dozen fish.
Calming living room centerpiece.

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New coops are being built or re-built. The truly scrappy ones made from reclaimed everything were burned along with their hornets/wasps nests. Making solid, super sheltered, predator-proofed pens for our poultry was long past due.

One of the new coops:
1) Frame, 2) Digital Plans, 3) Final in use


We barter/traded our one man auger for a working nuc box of bees
(we lost our queen last year in our top bar hive and inevitably
lost that colony).


– The back pasture needs fencing, but has been cleared of coops.
– We need to move the two fruit trees to the front and plant the third
(still in pot from purchase months back).
– The farmette needs to buy a few pure bred hens for laying and
Spring chick sales.
– More coops will be necessary. Bobwhite quail, diamond doves and/or call ducks may be in the mix soon.
– A tree-house style goat house or two (with easy cleaning bases) need to be built, so that we can leave the well shed for storage alone.
– The pony run-in will have additions as time goes on.

The projects never end. Thank goodness we enjoy them!

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We recently started a VERY small canine rescue. The idea is to adopt one black dog out of Gaston County Animal Shelter and re-home. They charge $90.00 which includes vetting and spay/neuter. Our adoption fee of $95.00 will fund the pull for the next dog and so on.

The Gaston Shelter has a Facebook group (run by a very dedicated volunteer). I browse and re-post/share dogs sometimes to help spread the word for possible adopters. There was a very pregnant dog at the shelter.

We already have one black dog available for adoption. But, I could not stand the idea of putting down a dog that was so full of pups that far along.

That dog is here now. And here is a good story from May 20, 2012.

After checking in on Penelope, I worked outside for an hour. I headed straight in to get a freelance client pitch finished. I had switched the video camera back from the mudroom to the driveway for the day. That was a mistake. Our son Dorian heard pups squeaking. I am so grateful that he did. One half hour more of me being focused on something else would have guaranteed failure in Pup #1’s outcome.

In the mudroom was Penelope and 3 puppies. One was cold, not breathing and not moving. I don’t want to get graphic about what this looked like, but she was dead.

Don’t stop reading yet!

I had just been talking to one of my chick buyers (we hatch and sell chicks for $ to buy food for our livestock) about waking up a dead, cold chick. I have done it once and her mother had done it when she was a kid. Coldness preserves the brain.

Our son grabbed the hand towel I had left on the piano for when the pups arrived. Glad that was handy! I started rubbing her to get her warmed up. This resulted in a few movements. They seemed to be electrical responses only. Again, I won’t get too graphic since it was not a pretty sight.

The project that I had been working on outside was a chick hatcher. I wanted something where the chicks could hatch and not get the incubator dirty. It was now in the living room for testing and adjustments – being homemade. I grabbed the fan and thermostat out and turned the heat lamp on. The top went on with Pup #1 in it. Our son watched through the viewing window while I went to check on the other two pups.

This is where we start to see light.

After they were cleared of goo, I went back to evaluate the situation. She was making some gasping movements like someone just pulled up from near drowning.

Gasping was still her main movement, but the rib cage had a very subtle rising and falling. She was starting to breath. After a while, she started to move. And then to squeak.

What a strong puppy!

She was brought back in to her mom. I kept an eye on her while helpig momma dog get pup sacs open and clear noses/mouths. I slept like a rock last night.

Pup #1 is FAT and full term. She also has her mother’s life saving colostrum to boost up her immune system. This pup is acting no differently than the other pups.

Here she is one day later: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3AANlSR_nA0

I grabbed the first safe thing I saw to tag her with. It is a pink silly band – shaped like a dinosaur. We’ll check her a bit more often than the other pups, but she is eating and squirming like champ!

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In the Charlotte Region of North Carolina, we have had the first White Christmas in 63 years. The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow, did not give the luster of mid-day to the open country at that time. Even if the snow had stopped and the clouds cleared, at most, there was merely a sliver of the moon visible on December 25, 1947.

The snow started here in the evening on December 25, 2010. We were full from a lovely holiday meal, as we gazed out at the gently falling flakes. It was peaceful and beautiful. Since it started at the end of the day, we had little left to do but enjoy the calm that belongs to natural winter blankets. The livestock were nestled all snug in their straw, while visions of sweet feed danced in their heads – and their jaws.

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;*

Our pack of canines had not dared venture out the dog door into the cold, wet world of wintry splendor. They truly enjoy easy access to the warmth of the mud/laundry room. Luckily, the weather keeps any mischievous souls away from the country roads, and so, no need for the watch dogs outside.

When I had gone out to check on our flock for the night, our homing pigeon was out collecting snow on her wings. I had put up a shelter for her the day before, after the coops had been re-arranged. Apparently, she did not approve. I grabbed, luckily caught her and placed her in the main coop for the night. We’ll have to keep putting her food at the door of her new house to help entice her in.

Our small goat herd came out briefly to wolf down their grain. Then they scurried back into the well shed. They like to be out in the freezing weather, but do not normally stay out in precipitation.

We lost a nanny to the cold/wet about this time last year. She and her billy had access to two small shelters on pallets (the male goat had just broken the third; the one on stilts). The pen had gotten too muddy.  The day had started out wet and warm. It had ended icy and cold.

The high strung billy that had a knack for breaking everything, was replaced with a tiny, mild-mannered billy. Ever since then, our goats have stayed in the fenced area with the shed where we can keep a close eye on them, instead of in the small pen on the far side of the house.

I find it amazing how the equine will stand out in the cold and rain to munch on a round bale of hay or just stand in the field. “Rocky”, the Shetland pony, presently looks like a woolly mammoth, so I do not worry about him. The “Big Man” Dakota has a good winter coat for a small cob size horse, but not the stout body. He has a water-proof blanket on the way from ChickSaddlery.com.

In the dark, they were lured into the run-in using a grain incentive. Grain is like a drug to them. If you ever have trouble catching a horse, just shake a bucket full of pelleted feed and they will come.

View from the road*

We enjoy the changes of the seasons here on the Farmette and the snowy wonderland. The New Year is nearly here, but winter is just getting going. The temperature will remain low for the next few months.

The magic of the winter holiday season bestows upon us many gifts. It also a reminds us to contribute to peace on earth and goodwill to men (and beast). Our life here would not be whole without having both storms and clear skies. But, Spring will be very welcome when it arrives.

* Pics were taken the next evening, December 26, 2010.

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We have almost five acres. It is a nice sized piece of land. Getting the right combination of animals for the space has been a mix and match challenge. It is not enough space to have cows or a lot of other large animals, but it can accommodate a good number of small to medium sized livestock.

On one side of our house, we keep our fowl pens. There is a 10′ x 10′ pen with 2 ducks, a 5′ x 10′ pen with 2 turkeys, a cage with 2 Japanese (coturnix) quail and a homing pigeon, 3 bantam chicken cages, a chick grow out cage and the main standard chicken coop.

Our horse and pony have a double pasture out front. That set of large animals works well. The recent rain storms keep passing over our area, so we have a round bale scheduled for pickup today, but normally during the warm weather, the grass grows at about the same pace as their grazing.

The three dogs all stay inside now. And they have a fenced area in the back to run around in. That is also where our herd is. We have four mini goats. And now there is Charlie.

Charlie

This is our new lamb. He is very quiet and shy. I think that Charlie is an Oxford sheep. They are used for both meat and wool. We won’t be eating Charlie, but a scarf would be nice. Actually, I have a friend that weaves, so she will most likely be getting a surprise package when we shave him.

The goats have been ignoring him, except for Luna. Luna is our little black goat that loves to play all day. She taunts the dogs. She jabs me lightly in the calves with her little horns if I’m not quick enough at feed time. Luna has been torturing Charlie. But Charlie barely feels her pushing him around. His fleece serves as a bouncy, thick layer of protection.

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Dogs

Let’s have another introduction from the pack. Grace is dog #1. She is the oldest at six years and affectionately described as “Dumb as a box of rocks”. She is all about goofing around with toys, playing fetch and reaching a goal.

If the goal is on the other side of a fence, she will chew, dig, scrape, ram or anything that it takes to get to the other side. She could set her sites on a soda can and there would be no stopping her once it was the target of her fancy. So, unluckily, unless supervised, she has to be tied even though her area is fenced.

Grace - Golden Retriever

If you need a kid friendly dog, a Golden Retriever is a great breed. Pure breeding is focused on certain traits and can be used as a guide for temperament. Hybrids and mutts can be good choices too.

A calm puppy is the best choice any way you go as they will be the easiest to train. Training Tip: All dogs need meal time to be quiet and non-competitive. Making sure that your dog is used to hands touching them, while they are eating, is crucial for safety.

Supervised Meal Time

If you plan to bring an adult dog into the family, have it tested for aggression. Although fixable, it is not advisable to start with this type of problem if you have little humans in the house. People without vulnerable family members (having faces level with sharp teeth) are better suited to attempt repair on aggressive behavior.

When you get the right match and care for them properly, a dog will be your loyal companion, protector of your flock and source of unconditional love.

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