Sunday, January 31, 2010

News from the Unfarm

Minna is under the weather. I noticed her limping when she came in for dinner this evening and - although concerned - I wasn't overly worried. It is not the first time I have seen one or the other of the ducks limping and while I keep an eye on them, it has always gone away after a bit. Ducks are a fairly hardy animal, not too prone, for the most part, to getting sick. And although I am a bit of a worrier as mothers go, I was not letting my fears get the best of me when the ducks came in this evening. They ate dinner as usual: Maggie has a few bites and Minna finishes off the rest of the bowl, and came in to play in the water bowl as they always do, then headed off to bed.

But it is now, what?, 12:01, and I am in the midst of a full blown panic. Since settling down for bed this evening Minna has now deteriorated into laying a bit on her side and not moving. She is alert and awake, but she isn't moving. Not even to get water, and Minna rarely passes up a chance to play in the water bowl in the evening. I am praying that it is only a very sore leg that has her so low, and that she will be better in the morning. If, by then, she hasn't laid an egg yet I might set her up in the bathroom with a heater to see if perhaps she's become egg bound. (Egg binding is a relatively common affliction in the bird world and it has the potential to become serious - if they can't pass the egg it will need to be massaged out, if possible, and if it breaks while still inside it can lead to dangerous infections.) Being somewhere warm is supposed to help them pass the egg. If she is not egg bound, and continues to deteriorate, I may have to get her in to see the vet. We have three different vets: one for the dogs and cats, one for the rabbits, and another one for the chickens and ducks. All told, I'm sure that over the years we have shelled out enough to each clinic to pay for a new addition to be named after us.

For the moment, because it is midnight, there is not much I can do - the emergency vet has very little experience working with ducks and/or chickens, as we have discovered over the years - so I am hoping that keeping her calm and quiet and letting her rest on a soft towel will help her to feel better. I am trying my best to be a decent nursemaid to Minna but I have discovered that Maggie, while very attached to Minna, is never destined to join the medical profession. At the moment she is sleeping on the majority of the towel I put in for Minna but I don't dare move her off of it - Maggie sitting is a vast improvement over Maggie standing. Before she settled down she was walking around near the gate, hoping I would let her out again, and the fact that Minna was in the way did not bother her in the least. She stepped all over Minna as she walked back and forth, and Minna looked decidedly uncomfortable - understandable considering she is only half the size of Maggie. Maggie did not look remorseful in the slightest. But then, I don't think ducks are all that familiar with remorse, as a rule.

In other Unfarm news, Aspen has been turning his nose up at his usual favorite for the last three nights. Evaporated milk has always been his drink of choice, so when he walked away from the bowl of milk again tonight - and it was the regular stuff, not the skim milk that he has never liked - I finally figured out what it was he was after. The whipped cream. Ever since I made the mistake of giving him some one night, he has decided that when we have it in the fridge he is entitled to that in place of his milk. Or on top of his milk. Whichever we choose - he is, after all, a very accommodating cat.

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