Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Now it's my turn to limp

I was quite a hit today at the dog park. All the dogs kept coming up to me to sniff and then try to lick my knees. Unfortunately it was not because I had smeared myself with peanut butter but because I had smeared myself with Neosporin after having a run in with the sidewalk last night. In case you are wondering, the sidewalk won. We were walking the dogs in the evening and two things joined forces against me: the uneven sidewalk and gravity, assisted by the hill we were walking down. I tripped and before I could do anything my knees were taking most of the force of the fall. 

After hobbling home with blood dripping down my legs I got to spend the next half hour cleaning the scrapes. A shower didn't do the job sufficiently so I had to endure betadine and hyrogen peroxide washes and then cotton swab scrubbing and poking with tweezers to get all the little bits of gravel out. I can't think of a more enjoyable way to spend an evening. Oh wait, yes I can. 

While yesterday hurt I am sure it is only the beginning because as the wounds heal and scab over it will hurt every time I bend my knees. And knees, as we all know, bend often. It's pretty much all they do. Lucky me.

On a more positive note, Scout finally saw a bone specialist and he said that Scout's limp is nothing to be concerned about. Possibly some elbow dysplasia but it shouldn't stop Scout from going on walks or playing at the dog park, much to Scout's delight. At least one of us is on the mend.

Monday, August 22, 2016

On the migration of stress

I have decided that stress never actually goes away, it simply migrates from one issue to another. Case in point: I used to be stressed that the neighbors were going to eventually complain about Gretchen and his morning "singing." And afternoon singing. And evening singing. Whoever said roosters only crow in the morning to announce the rising sun was either lying or a rooster salesman, trying to saddle some poor sap with a rooster. In fact, roosters crow all day long, whenever and wherever the mood strikes them. Not that we don't love Gretchen - we do - we just don't love the volume with which he announces himself. Enter the crow collar. 

The crow collar is an simple Velcro and fabric device that wraps around the rooster's neck and can be tightened or loosened as needed, to help control the volume of the crowing. I made one and we put it on Gretchen several months ago but over the course of the summer he has gotten progressively louder so we determined it was time to tighten the collar a bit. We did that a couple days ago and it has worked like a charm - his volume is down by at least half and the frequency with which he's crowing is much reduced as well. I can only assume that he is so disheartened with the sad state of his once proud crow that he no longer feels the urge to announce himself so often.

The problem is this: now that the collar is tighter and the stress of the neighbors getting mad is alleviated, I am stressed that the collar is tight enough to prevent Gretchen from eating normally and may be irritating his skin. We have tested his ability to eat and he seems to be doing okay but I may try to get him on a scale somehow and track his weight over the course of several weeks to make sure that he actually is eating acceptably. We will monitor his skin at the same time. If Gretchen maintains his weight and his skin stays normal I can stop worrying about him and get on to worrying about the next issue, which will undoubtedly come up sooner than I would like - such is life on the Unfarm.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Making duckins

We have long known that we attract "special" pets. A chicken that needed a hysterectomy, a cat AND a dog on anti-anxiety medicine, a duck that didn't produce the oil to condition his feathers, a dog with seizures, and so on and so on. So it would only make sense that our rooster would be special, too.

On the plus side, I finally figured out why Gretchen and Maggie were fighting. It happened the other day when I heard the usual frantic flapping of wings that generally means trouble. I ran to the window and looked outside in time to see Minna, pinned down underneath Gretchen who was trying his very best to produce what I can only assume would be called "duckins," a sort of duck-chicken hybrid creature. Maggie generally takes it upon himself to protect Minna and this attack on her was more than he could tolerate. To add insult to injury, Gretchen apparently tried to mate with Maggie as well and you can imagine how well that went over with Maggie. Hint: it ended with much flapping of wings, pulling of feathers, and jabbing of beaks.

When I was at the vet's office with Maggie the other day (yet again - I should probably just set up camp in the parking lot or else buy a horse trailer and just live on the road, hauling all the pets from one vet clinic to the next) I asked the vet if that was a common occurrence, roosters mating with ducks, and she said that she had never heard of it happening so I guess that makes us special. Lucky us.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Nothing but the best

Whipped cream has become a staple in our house, because you never know when the mood might strike to bake a batch of brownies and nothing completes a brownie like a dollop of whipped cream, except for maybe a scoop of ice cream. But let's be honest, ice cream just doesn't last around here so whipped cream is a good back up plan. We usually buy our whipped cream in a three pack from Costco, which carries Land O'Lakes in their distinctive red and yellow spray cans. 

They are so distinctive, in fact, that Maximus can recognize them when he sees them sitting on the shelf in the fridge and he demands his nightly squirt of whipped cream before we go to bed. He does this by waiting until the dogs are in bed (and thus not around to chase him back downstairs) and then coming upstairs and weaving in and out of my legs until I get fed up and give him a tiny squirt of whipped cream on the kitchen counter. And before you say it: yes, I know that cats are lactose intolerant and should not be eating dairy but Max is extremely demanding and it's easier to just give in than to risk breaking a leg tripping over him.

Last month we ran out of our Land O'Lakes whipped cream and had to get some generic brand from Winco in a pinch. It tasted the same to us but apparently was far inferior to the Land O'Lakes brand as Max refused to eat it. That is not to say that he stopped demanding whipped cream - he continued demanding it nightly but each morning we would find a small puddle of de-whipped cream on the counter where he left it the night before after turning up his nose at it. 

And in case you might be thinking that perhaps Max had simply decided that he no longer liked whipped cream - cats are notorious for changing their minds, after all, liking something one day and hating it the next - we discovered that this was not the case as soon as we switched back to the Land O'Lakes whipped cream. He would dive into his little pile of cream with gusto and we no longer found puddles of cream on the counter in the morning. He simply has expensive taste in whipped cream. And treats. And toys, as well, come to think of it. 

Monday, August 1, 2016

Limping back to the vet

As always tends to happen here on the Unfarm, no sooner has one pet gotten back from the vet than another one heads in. This time it is Scout, who is limping. Again. Last time it was his right leg and this time it is his left and in both cases the blood work came back with a high eosinophil level while the x-rays came back clean and the anti-inflammatory medication has no effect which means we need to see a specialist. Which means more money. Our vet's office recently remodeled and added another exam room, a project I am sure was funded mostly by the Unfarm; they really should have just named the new wing after us.

In this case there is no end in sight yet to the vet visits for Scout. First up is an expensive test (surprise, surprise) to rule out Addison's disease. Should that come back negative we have to schedule a visit with an orthopedic specialist who may recommend injections for a month that we would have to learn how to give. So in addition to being able to pill a duck and collar a chicken I would be able to add "inject a dog" to my list of accomplishments. The fun never stops around here. I'll keep you posted.