Welcome to our 1864 farmhouse…life is good!

Monday, October 31

merry Hallowe'en!

First, thank you to all those who expressed such kind thoughts and words on my last post as I struggled with a feeling of helplessness...paired with the mounting frustration that our vet would not reply to my calls, or at the very least, have an on-call replacement available. In my eyes, the welfare of an animal should always come before personal niceties...a letter has been sent. While I don't expect a reply, I feel as if I've done all that I can do. And just maybe, he will think twice and return a desperate call from the next client who finds herself in the same situation.

from the cutest little blog on the block!
(Susan Branch - click here)

Hallowe'en...I have to say, I just love it! No, not the gruesome movies or gory costumes, but the old-fashioned fun of carving pumpkins, seeing little ones dressed up as pirates or princesses, a dinner of mummy dogs, along with a 1940's  old-time radio show mystery starring Vincent Price, or even a funny Hallowe'en show with The Great Gildersleve. 

Here's a quick look at this year's pumpkins...the warm, rainy October days have definitely given them the perfect Hallowe'en wrinkles!

A visit to the pumpkin patch on a beautiful blue-skied day...we were welcomed by a terrific pumpkin-colored barn and a cozy spot to sit down and enjoy a little pumpkin tic-tac-toe!

Happy Hallowe'en to all...these days will go by before we know it - enjoy every day of this beautiful, autumn season.

Thursday, October 20

goodbye GB (Goat Boy)...

Over the years, we've learned that there's nothing quite as heartbreaking as having an animal in distress. Realities of farm life, regardless of all the love and laughter our animals bring us, still happen.

About 5:30 Sunday evening, as we were packing the car to take my son back to college after his 4-day fall break, we found our goat GB was down. Immediately I called our vet only to get an answering machine; what? no one on call? There has always been an on-call vet for after hours emergencies. Immediately I began calling all the other local vets...only to reach answering machines, no one noting that they were on-call. All the messages told me to call the large animal vet at our state university. I did, and they could only see GB if I brought him in...he was in no shape to make the hour-plus ride. 

At this point my son needed to leave...he had a project deadline, so he sat with GB for a few minutes, stroking his head, and then we said our goodbyes. As he rode back to college, he continually texted me with names/numbers of people that might be able to help us. We called our 4-H advisor, I called our vet's private number and left a message, then I called the university again.

The university recommended a vet in another county, and so I left a message with him. At this point, about 2 hours had passed. I gathered a blanket, light, phone charger, and sat in the barn next to GB. And yes, if you knew me, you'd know I talked to him and even hummed a tune. In the field behind the barn, I could hear the "yip, yip" of a coyote. Coyote attacks on people are rare, but I wondered if it could sense a sick animal. GB and I were outside along the fence and not tucked safely in the barn...thankfully, before long, the coyote moved on not to be heard again.

It didn't take long for the out-of-town vet to call, and while he couldn't travel the distance to see GB, he was kind enough to try and diagnose the problem over the phone...he taught me how to look for the signs of stroke and bloat, guiding me on what to do based on GB's temperature...if it was high, he listed the medications I would need and he'd walk me through administering them. He listened to GB's breathing over the phone, we used FAMACHA scoring to check the color of his eye mucous membranes, and lastly he let me know how to help GB breathe easier and be comfortable.

Sadly, the end result was I didn't get to take his temperature or roll him on his chest to breathe easier...he was looking to me for help, and my knowledge was limited. The hard truth was, no matter what I did, without an experienced vet beside him, his chances of recovery were slim, and soon I'd lost him.

I covered him up, gathered my things, and came in to call my vet. My voicemail was firm, while I don't expect him to give up his private life, not having an on-call rotation of vets is unheard of. Couldn't a vet we've had a relationship with for nearly 10 years, someone who knows our animals, have the courtesy to walk me through the steps a vet I'd never met before did?  Wouldn't that have been the humane and compassionate thing to do?

I'll be changing vets...my plan is to see if the out-of-town vet will make farm visits. Because he was kind enough to help, he seems like the sort of vet we want caring for our animals. I have a bill to mail to our current vet - he was just out recently to administer vaccines, you can bet there will be a strongly worded letter included with my check. 

Once upon a time I wanted to be a vet...I'd read all 5 of the James Herriot books over and over, and even now, I can pick one up and know exactly where in his stories I am. I dreamed of living in the Yorkshire Dales, traveling the roads he did. I think there's just something about being alone with my thoughts and the sweet animals - a simplicity to it. However, high school classes in Chemistry and Biology were not my strong points, let alone Zoology, Microbiology, and Physics that I knew would be required in college...they would not be challenges I could successfully meet, and I chose another major.

If you're looking for a good series of books to read this winter, I'd suggest James Herriot's All Creatures Great & Small series...this is a link so you can read the books in order, just click here:

We love our animals, they're a part of our family...it's a sweet joy to open our hearts to them, sharing the time together, all the while knowing there will be the pain of loss.  And still, this is my happy place...

Thursday, October 13

sweet rescue farm animals...

There are so many simple pleasures this time of year...the sight of trees filled with blazing colors, the hum of combines in the field gathering the harvest, the feeling of cool breezes making outdoor chores, well, less of a chore! There's the sweet smell of just-delivered hay or the scent of wood smoke, and the delicious aromas of pumpkin bread and pumpkin pies coming from the kitchen. 

Along with all those country pleasures, surely one of the sweetest is just being outdoors. My daughter and I love to take what we call "an adventure road" through the countryside just to see what we'll discover...along the back roads (some we've never been on before) we'll see fields of cattle, sunbathing cats, flocks of chatty ducks, and hillsides filled with sheep, donkeys, or horses. We both share a love of farm animals, often laughing about which ones might fit in our back seat and would the farmer really miss them?!

Recently she found an animal sanctuary that rescues abused, neglected, and abandoned farm animals, and soon we were off to visit during their open barn day...helpful volunteers opened gates and introduced us to the animals, telling us their stories. Some animals were very welcoming of the love we couldn't help but show them, while others were a bit more bashful.

I wanted to share some of their sweet faces with you...from retired race horse Alice to Willie the donkey, and  Moo Moo Lilly the cow, all of these animals have probably seen a lot of things, which makes having their affection so special; it needs to be earned.

Heartfelt thanks to those giving their time, attention, and funds to support these animals. From the volunteers to the farm owners to the vet...as one volunteer told me, "It's a labor of love." 

And while you may not be in the market for a Jersey cow, there are so many loving animals at shelters who need a good home. If you can, visit a shelter...you'll leave with a new best friend. 

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