Monday, April 26, 2010

Merlin's progress, or we interrupt our previously promised post...

I know I promised fiberish things for my next post, but several things have happened with Merlin (who’s name may be changed – haven’t yet decided).

A couple of weeks ago, I took him into the vet to have his teeth checked – he was dribbling when he ate his grain. Since the lady that I got him from was not terribly forthcoming about things, though she said she had done teeth, shots and worming, I wasn’t sure. After working for entirely too long to get him into the trailer, we got to the vets and determined that his teeth had, in fact, been done. Since he kindly provided us with a sample, the vet ran a fecal, and there were no worm eggs. I’m reasonably confident that he has had his shots, based on those two things. Turns out he has a slight over-bite, causing the dribbles (which Lyra, the garbage gut dog, takes full advantage of!). I left him at the vet’s in a paddock and went back to work. When I came to pick him up, I asked them to tranq him, so it would be easier to get him in the trailer. He was a very drunk boy, and walked right in!

When we got home, he was surprised to be there – I think he was sure that he was going somewhere else again, now that he was just kind of getting used to me. I tried to reassure him that he was my man, and that he wasn’t going anywhere else, and hey, look, there’re your alpacas! He was happy to see them!

So he’s gotten a little more trusting. He leaves his body when you have a stick or anything that remotely resembles a whip, and he doesn’t like being trapped in a stall. He’s gaining weight, and starting to shed out – he’s really gorgeous!

Last Wednesday, I noticed that his left eye was swollen, and he was flinchy and acting like he was in pain. I finally got a look at it Thursday after work and there was a small white spot on the cornea – so not good. I called the vet to make an appointment for Friday, since I would be off work. Do you think I could get him in the trailer when it came time? No Way! So I called the vet to see if they could come to me (and I’d pay $75 for a ranch call – ouch), and they could, though it would be a couple of hours. I used the intervening time to work on getting him in the trailer. I finally did, backed him out, and repeated twice more and called it good. I let him eat grass. Realizing that I hadn’t had anything to eat (it was now 2 pm), I put him in the pasture, sucked down some Gatorade and sat down to relieve my aching knees. When I went out to catch him again, we played tag… I was not happy. I finally pulled the baling twine in the back pocket routine – he fell for it!

When the vet arrived, my dogs were out. I had one of the techs hold him while I put the dogs in “jail”. When I got back, they had tried to start without me, but the closest they could get to him was the end of the lead rope. When I took the lead rope, he buried his head in my chest, and I pulled his forelock (he likes it), and he calmed down. The vet tried to get close, but he wasn’t really thrilled, so he tranq’d him. He thought Merlin was more cranked up than he was, and he ended up almost asleep on his feet! The eye examination showed a closed over lesion on the cornea, a very contracted pupil, and some irritation in the sclera. I got antibiotic goo, atropine goo (to dilate the pupil – evidently it’s very painful when it contracts down like that), and a new bottle of Banamine for pain relief (his, not mine).

Now, I have some history giving Banamine. My last mare, who had to be put down because she had an impaction that was not resolving after 4 days (and broke my leg when I took her to the vet), was getting Banamine. I accidentally gave it in the carotid instead of the jugular, and things got really exciting. She basically seized, and crashed around in the barn, and I hid like a girl behind the barn post until she was done (not being very mobile myself). She came out of it, but it was really scary. Needless to say, I’m very nervous about giving this medication.

I tried, I really tried. Merlin stood like a trooper and let me poke his vein a couple of times, but I couldn’t be sure that I had the jugular, so I didn’t want to inject the drug. You can give it IM, but there’s an increased chance of Clostridial (gas gangrene) infections – not going there.

Fortunately, his eye is doing much better – the white spot is gone, and I can touch his eye lid without him flinching. I made a catch rope out of an alpaca lead rope, with a ring tied in, which I put around his neck, and flip a loop over his nose. I can put the goop in his eye with just that on.

He’s really got a ways to go in the trust department, but he’s come a long way. When I got him, I thought he was a dim bulb. He’s not. He was just completely shut down. His character is starting to come out, and boy does he have one! The fact that he’s testing me is a very good sign. I’ve been using the Tellington-Jones TTouch method on him, and need to do more. He’s very tight in his neck, but man does he use his hocks under him! I can’t wait to ride him and see what those gaits feel like.

I’m not a patient person. This horse is teaching me patience (about time, as my dad says). I’ve not ridden him yet. I’m in no hurry. I want us to have a good, trusting bond before I get on. I think we’ve made major strides, and look forward to more.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Newest residents of the farm...

First to be totally up front:  I raise animals to eat.  I have 32 Cornish X chicks that are growing nicely, and will soon be turned out on the grass.  I have raised lambs, and once raised a steer (won't do that again), and raise turkeys and pigs.

This year, I have 3 little pigs.  They are sisters, and are wildly cute. 

They gave me pause Wednesday, when I came home to an empty pig pen.  I've only had them a week and a half, and I wasn't sure if they would *allow* themselves to be caught.  I have been setting up a Pavlovian response when I feed them - I snort like a pig, and they come running with their tails just wagging!  Didn't know I spoke swine.  So, when they were MIA, I started walking around snorting.  Ok, so this isn't something you would want to do in the city - your neighbors would think you needed mental assistance.  Fortunately the friend that was with me understands my quirks, and went along with it!  As I passed by the "old growth" laurel behind the house, I got a response - they all came running out, but seeing that I had no feed scoop in my hand, ran back under the tree.  So, being a trainable chimp, I got the feed scoop, filled with feed, and snorted again.  They came running, and then followed me like the pied piggy piper, back into their pen.  Said pen has now been fortified, and there should be no further field trips until I move them out of the barn (when they're a little bigger) to the big outdoors in the orchard.  They will be finished on the fallen apples - pre-applesauced pork chops - yumm!

Last year I raised two, and sold all but 3/4, which I kept.  This year, I'll keep one, one is going to the family of a dear friend whose husband replaced the clutch in my truck, and the third will go to my neighbor who has a backhoe.  He's kindly come and dug great big holes when I had to put my horse down (twice - last year was not good), and will grade me a 60 x 120 riding arena so I can actually work Merlin without hauling into town (unless it's raining).  He has a smoker, which I'm hoping to get him to do some of my pork chops - I can hardly wait.

In the meantime, they are a riot, make me laugh out loud, and amuse the alpacas.

Next post - fiber pursuits.