Friday, June 29, 2007

Third Annual Fourth of July Celebration...

Meet Greta and Sally, two of our three canine friends. Sally is the shepherd mix, Greta is the muppet-chow mix. If our family was on TV, these dearies would be the stars of the show. We make up poems about them..."Greta's in and Sally's out. Greta's thin but Sally's stout." We write stories about them...currently we are editing "Mutts on the Rug."

And we clean up the mess after they celebrate the Fourth of July weekend.

We know our dogs well. If they are ever outside together, unleashed and unattended, they run. So we rotate them in and out of confinement all day long. If Sally is in the house, Grettie Grub can be outside. If Grettie's in the kennel, Sally can run where ever she pleases.

However, this is the third July 4th holiday in a row that these two naughty girls have broken the door right off of the kennel and gone out to party with a porcupine. This year it appears as though Sally manuevered through the lower third of the door and leveraged it right off the hinge with her big hind end. (Last year Greta broke into the kennel while Sally was in there. Then they ran off to find that porcupine. Greta is the only dog I know of that occasionally breaks into a kennel for a nap in her dog house.)

Any other day of the year and these two are content with their routine. But apparently one should live it up for the best holiday of summer. Or beat the humans to the party. We will be forgoing certain plans to stay home and pull quills. Again.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Farewell, Dickie...

Around noon yesterday I drove Dickie to the licensed bird rehabilitator that lives near my town. I liked this lady immediately, and I know Dickie is going to thrive at her place until he flies away on his own. And that is the good news...apparently Dickie is only a couple of days away from being able to do that.
Since this was the first time I've ever rescued a wild animal, I asked the rehabilitator (I'll call her "J") what one should do when they come across a wild creature that is lost or hurt. Here is J's advice:

1. Leave it alone and do not touch it.-this sounds harsh, but 99.9% of the time there is a parent animal nearby that will return to the baby. If we interfere, we cause more harm than good. Even when birds fall out of the nest, the parents continue to care and feed for them on the ground. In Dickie's case, he was probably still getting attention from his parents and would have flown away on his own in a day or two.
2. Only intervene if you know the animal is in real danger. (I was relieved to hear that J considered being stepped on by rams a true threat) Or if you witnessed the parents being killed, or found them dead.
3. Think twice before taking an animal from the wild even if #2 applies. Animal rehabilitators are extremely overwhelmed with wildlife being brought in. They do have to give certain species and certain circumstances priority over others. So even if one plucks the doomed creature out of it's natural home, there is no certainty that a licenced rehabilitator will be able to continue it's care. (And it is against the law to have any wildlife in your own care if you are not licensed) This may seem harsh too...but if one thinks of how balanced nature is, it makes sense. The circle of life WILL take care of the problem if we stay out of the picture. As J said, the only thing that makes the situation different from normal life in the wild is that a human witnessed the weakness of a certain creature.
4. When in doubt, call your local wildlife rehabilitator FIRST. Tell that person the circumstances. Let that person guide you. These helpful folks can be found by calling your local office of wildlife management. In Minnesota-that would be the Department of Natural Resources.
Dickie...I hope you fly soon and live a long and happy life. I will never forget your sassy little personality or your exquisitely delicate form. May God go with you...

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


Yesterday the boys spotted this tiny baby just inside the ram fence. The rams were milling around it and I feared at any moment they would step on him. I call him "Dickie." He's a baby black-capped Chickadee.

He woke us up bright and early this morning demanding food. We've been feeding him mosquitos, knats, peanut butter, and crushed sunflower nuts from the tip of a bamboo skewer. He's quite voracious.

At first I was so worried he'd die of shock. I added a few drops of Rescue Remedy to his water and dip his mosquitos in that before I present them to him. He hates to be left in his rubbermaid tub. He loves to be snuggled in my palm, or perch on my shoulder while I move around. I've been doing my best to mimic the types of touch he would experience in the nest and he's been quite active and busy.
Still, I am holding my breath for his safety. I have a call in to the local bird rehabilitator...I'm hoping she gets back to me soon.
In the meantime, say a little prayer for Dickie, that he may return to his natural habitat very soon.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Kavan's Horn(s)

This is my beautiful two year-old ram, Kimberwood Kavan. (photo taken last spring) He is everything I could want in a flock sire: soft, dense, crimpy fleece, perfect conformation, tiny tail, quiet gentle personality, and he stamps his lambs with his traits consistently. Plus he seems to throw ewe lambs. 6 ewes, 2 rams in the two lambing seasons we've had here. He's my pride and joy.

Which is why my husband and I spend about 20 minutes a day changing the dressing on the wound in his head where his right horn used to be. He lost it in late May when I put him in a pen with another ram. Long story-all my fault-would go back in time in a heartbeat if I could-have kicked myself in the pants for a good solid month now. Moving on............

Unfortunately Kavan's horn not so much broke off, but was ripped out at the root level. There was quite literally a crater in his scull. And because I had never seen fly strike before and didn't know what to look for-he got that problem too in very short order.

Enter Gail, an amazing neighbor that saved Kavan's life. She came over almost every day for more than a week to help clean his wound and show me what to do. She lent me tools, salves, ointments, reading material, and her precious time to get this boy back from the brink.

And now we have a little routine going...wipe out wound...use syringe to flush with water...flush with hydrogen peroxide or tea tree oil to remove any remaining fly eggs if strike has been bad that day...cover very lightly with zinc oxide...repeat. We also give him a shot of LA200 every couple of days to help with infection we can't reach. I am not mentioning the incredible yuckiness this wound has presented us with each day-I don't want you to gag.
Slowly, ever so slowly, the drainage is clearing, the infection subsiding, and the wound itself is closing up. I estimate we have another full month of this routine left, possibly more. It's nowhere near closed yet, nor can we let it close until there is only good fresh flesh below the surface.
Here's the amazing thing-Kavan's personality hasn't changed a bit. After all the pain we cause him on a daily basis by rubbing, prodding, and dousing his open wound, he still just lets us walk right up to him and take hold to do our work. Never once has he bobbed his head at us. He rarely fights the process, sometimes he gives a jump if I am careless. But otherwise...we are talking perfect gentleman. And when our vet work is over, he just walks to the other side of his pen and looks at us like, "Ok, I've been very cooperative, I'm ready for you to put a treat in my tub." Which we do, of course.

Monday, June 25, 2007

I guess that's just who I am

The other day the answering machine picked up before I did and recorded my conversation for about five minutes. Just happened to play it back in my attempt to delete that really how I sound?!?!? Whoa!
So I called my sister immediately...."I sound like a 10 year old version of the Swedish Chef from the Muppet Show!"
"Yep." No hesitation whatsoever on her part. But I could see her brow furrow over the phone as she wondered how in the world I had missed this fact for the better part of 3 decades.
I do remember my first weeks in college out in Portland, OR. My dormies asked me to say where I was from over and over again. Then they would laugh way too hard for my comfort level. Apparently they had never heard anyone say "Minnesota" before.
Funny thing about growing up right next to both sets of grandparents, and living in the same house for thirty-some years before you move a whole half mile end up sounding just like the place.