Saturday, November 6, 2010

Life, Death and a Little of Everything in Between!

I have not posted since the end of August...really? I'm shocked at how time flies when you are living life, and unlike most people, dreading Fridays. The last few months of Fridays have proven to be very unlucky, even though not one of them was on the 13th.

The first Friday in question began as a very joyous occasion. Our Sicilian donkey had given birth to a beautiful, although tiny baby Jack. I came home from the museum and found him in the pasture. I knew he was a few hours old because he was dry and perfectly clean. Dusty (the momma) was nearby but was not acting as maternal as she had with Pearl (her Jenny that she had the previous year).

I ran back to the house and got my cowboy to come and take a look. There seemed to be something wrong with this beautiful little bundle of fur. He had extra soft hoofs, a problem with his tiny jaw and he could not stand on his own. We debated what to do, in the end, we scooped him up and took him to the barn, Dusty in tow.

We made him a fresh bed of hay and placed him in the middle. I decided to grab a chair and sit on the other side of the gate and observe momma and baby for awhile. The scenario that I envisioned never played out. The baby never stood up, never attempted to nurse and I knew in my heart that it did not look good. I knew after a few hours that this little boy needed colostrum or else he would die, he also needed a vet but it was 11:00 PM on a Friday night.

We worked throughout the night giving him powdered colostrum with a special bottle (he just would not suckle) and some electrolyte gel. Thank goodness we have a vet 30 miles away who has office visits on Saturday. Dr. Bennett did what he could, taught us how to intubate and feed him goat's milk (second best thing when equine milk is not available) but said he felt like chances were slim. Upon examination he noticed that the baby's mouth was very swollen and felt like he had been injured during delivery (fallen on his head).

Dr. Bennett was right, our little donkey left this earth behind 24 hours after his arrival. Even though he was with us for such a short period of time, it was very hard to say goodbye. To make matters worse, our little Banty Polish rooster, Bad Ass (named for his personality) met a mysterious death inside the open coop in the middle of the day. My tears flowed freely for both, one innocent and one "bad ass" both gone in a blink of an eye.

At sundown, we buried the donkey near my beloved dog P.I.B with all of our donkeys in attendance. We fed all the donkey relatives some treats and included a few in his little resting spot. Goodbye boys, may you both have sunsets in other skies.

The next Friday arrives without a thought. Again, I arrived home from the museum and my ritual is to whistle for all the animals. On a normal evening, they all come running for treats. Our horses are usually in the corral yard and the bottle fed cows in the pasture next to the barn. On this day they were all intermingled (a gate had blown open a while earlier).

this is after the 2nd day
 I noticed immediately that Skully, our 6 month old colt was standing out in the pasture with an odd stance. At first, I chalked it up to him being in an unfamiliar pasture but as I observed a few minutes, I just knew something was really wrong. I thought he might have his hoof caught in a hole or maybe a snake had bitten him. We decided to investigate. What we found was horrific.

You have to remember, I'm a city girl and farm and ranch emergencies can sometimes involve mass amounts of blood. This one was no exception. My beautiful handsome colt was in shock and precariously close to passing out, I have to say, so was I. Skully's left upper leg and shoulder were ripped apart. I really thought he had been attacked by a bobcat but later, we learned he had been gored by our miniature bull.

Again, a Friday night, again, no vet. This is when experienced neighbors come in real handy and this night was no exception. Tonya Anderson, a high school friend of my cowboy lives a few miles away and she is an experienced horse after care specialist. She rushed over with her son and took charge of the situation.

She was able to lead Skully to the barn, his injured leg dragging but functional. Skully had never been harnessed, so this was a hurdle for all of us. Tonya instructed us to begin hydrotherapy as soon as possible. She also wanted to apply a product called Pink Lady, a wound dressing that would help stop the bleeding and help to heal the injury.

wound after 2 months
 I believe Tonya saved Skully's life that Friday night with those two very important instructions. Again, thank goodness for Dr. Bennett and his Saturday morning appointments. Even though we could not take Skully into him because of the gravity of his injury (it would have been impossible to load him on a trailer), he was able to treat him through technology. I took pictures of the wound and rushed over to his office. He gave me a tetanus/penicillin injection to administer and some puffer antibiotics along with wound spray to keep insects away.

We also had another vet who does barn calls come out to look at Skully as soon as he could (which turned out to be two days later). He added edible antibiotic powder to his feed for 10 days and painkiller paste. He said that Skully was one very lucky horse, if he had been gored one inch over towards his artery, he would have bled to death. As it was, Dr. Bonner was very worried about permanent nerve damage. The swelling was so bad in the beginning that it was affecting Skully's ability to walk and all he could do was drag his foot. As soon as the swelling went down (about two weeks, he was walking and cantering without even a minor limp).

So, for the last two months we have been caring for our horse's wound twice daily with the following regime:

1) Administer a tetanus/penicillin shot as soon as you can. Secure the horse to a post near a high pressured water hose. Give the horse a bucket of tasty oats to distract him, add antibiotic powder and painkiller paste if vet recommended. Begin spraying the wound on low and gradually increase the pressure to as much as the horse will tolerate. The goal is to make the wound bleed profusely. This actually helps regenerate the tissue. It's important to hydrotherapy for at least 12 to 15 minutes per session twice a day for the first month. Eventually, it will be harder and harder to make the wound bleed.

2) Apply Pink Lady for the first couple of days after each hydrotherapy session. Once the bottle of Pink Lady has ended begin applying the puffer antibiotics (just squeeze the fine powder all over the wound). Use the wound spray lightly, it is primarily to keep insects from contaminating the open wound.

3) The wound will begin to fill in, although this process can take a lot of time so be very patient. Watch for fever (around the wound or checking the horses ears), infection is the worst thing that can happen. It's normal for some discharge but if the wound looks infected, contact a vet as soon as possible.

We are so thankful for his full recovery!

So that brings us to the final unlucky Friday. No deaths, no injuries, not even a cut or scrape. Nope, this time it was a skunking...yep, a real skunking by a REAL skunk. Let's just say it involved two dogs and one very potent skunk. Bleu and Walter have hopefully learned their lesson, two hydrogen peroxide and baking soda baths later....the white dog is more white and the black dog is....well...a bit more GRAY...and our living room going to have to be burned!

happy hour @ FMF

happy hour @ FMF
party till the cows come home