Sunday, April 29, 2018

Answering Some Questions

I missed the Weekend Roundup cutoff, so I'll do Q and R next week.  This week, I thought I'd answer some questions.

Sometimes readers ask questions in their comments on my blog, and I'm not always very good at responding to those. This is a post that responds to a whole lot of previous questions.

Regional Questions:

"Do you travel to Halifax very often?" asked Jim.
Yes, I travel to Halifax numerous times throughout the year.  It's about a 2-hour drive.  Since my parents live there, I try to visit on a somewhat regular basis when my work schedule allows.  Next time you and Mrs. Jim are visiting, let me know and I'll come and have a coffee with you!

"Because your place is so wooded, I thought you lived in more forested country." said Michelle.
This isn't exactly a question, but I thought I would add more to this point.  We do have a home that is surrounded by woods.  Our home is on the edge of an agricultural area though, so there is a mix of wooded areas and open pasture areas.  Here's a satellite view of our general area.  As you can see, the left side is largely wooded (the darker green) and the right side is largely agricultural, and there is a lake in the upper middle area that kind of separates the areas.  When I go for my walk, I transition between those two zones.  The agricultural area is actually a floodplain, and it's where I get the hay that I feed to the sheep and goat!

Critter Questions:

"Does Pippin like to be groomed?" asked Michelle.
I think that he doesn't mind short periods of grooming.  He stays quite still on my lap for a while, but he has a time limit.  He doesn't like more than about 5 minutes.  When he's shedding heavily, I may hold him firmly for a bit longer to get more of the fur off.  This is in his best interest because GI stasis and intestinal blockages caused by hair are very serious in rabbits.  I try to limit the time while also avoiding these potential problems.  He always gets treats post-grooming!  

"Can you spin rabbit fur into yarn as you can other fibers?" asked Porkpal.
You can spin rabbit fur from angora rabbits, which typically have 2.5 to 3 inch (or more) fibre length.  Spinning rabbit fur from our domesticated short-haired mini-rex rabbits would not be easy, because the length of each fibre is only about 1 inch.  You could blend it in with other longer fibres, but it would have a tendency to work its way out of the yarn because it's so short.  

"When Pippin misbehaves, do you call him Pippin or Sir Pippin of Dazzlewood Hill?" asked Tom.
Pippin....misbehave?  Now when would that ever happen?!  Actually, he sometimes chases Epinette, which he should not do, and that usually results in me clapping my hands loudly and saying "Pippin!" in a fierce voice, which stops the chasing and makes him think twice.  

"Since you never mention the dog, I assume it is Marc's?" asked Michelle.
Yes, Timber is Marc's dog and she is mostly an outdoor dog.  She is a part Newfoundland dog we think, and maybe part lab.  She is about 13 years old, which is surprising given her age.  She is a long-haired, heavily shedding dog.  I am more of a short-haired dog fan, or a very small dog fan, so I guess she just isn't quite my kind of dog, but she's very sweet.

"I didn't know you had so many hens!" said Michelle.
Not exactly a question, but yes, we currently have 22 chickens.  Our 3 roosters are Willoughby, Fancy Pants, and Wellington.  Our hens are Cream, Jellybelly, Whisp, Licorice, Dazzle, Marigold, Poppy, Paprika, Juniper Moon, Sienna, Marble, Onyx, Little Grey Hen, Amelia Henheart, Dove, Shadow, Star, Maple, and Buttercream.

"I didn't know you had rats - more photos please!" said Lin.
Unfortunately, as you know, Ivy died earlier this year, but we still have Violet.

"Do you just fry up those little eggs?" asked Lin
This is in reference to the small sized (1 to 1.5 oz) eggs from the silkies and seramas.  I tend to use those little eggs for egg custard.  My recipe calls for 4 large eggs, so I use 8 little eggs and it turns out perfectly!

"I notice some sheeply artifacts in the background..." said Porkpal.  "Even though they don't begin with D, I'm curious about them."
This was on my letter D post back in March.  I had posted a picture of my new mug warmer on my desk.  In the background was this adorable sheep hooked mat, which Marc gave me for Christmas.  It was locally made and sold at the craft shop located at the waterfowl park.  I use the mat on my desk for hot plates (I often eat lunch and supper at my desk).  I also just like to look at it and smile at the cute design!  

You might also catch a glimpse of these sheep coasters on my desk, a gift from my mom, who always has her eye open for sheepy-themed gifts!

The other artifact in the background of that D-post was my sheepy pajama leg.  

I have a bit of a thing for sheep pajamas...

....and sheep sheets.

Don't tell the sheep, but I also have alpaca pajamas.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

The Weekend Roundup: P

The prompts for The Weekend Roundup from Tom the Backroads Traveller are: Starts with P, Purple, and Favourite.

Starts with P:
Our rabbit, Pippin, starts with P.  His full name is Sir Pippin of Dazzlewood Hill, but we just call him Pippin and he doesn't mind.  

As you can see, it is moulting time of year for Pippin.  Notice how the fur on his side, at the bottom, is puffier and longer than on his back. Rabbits all moult, but they don't moult as heavily every time.  Sometimes they just shed some of their fur, and sometimes they have a full moult when all of their fur is replaced.  That is the kind of moult that Pippin is currently having.  Here's a picture from a couple of weeks ago.  You can really see the patchy nature of his coat as the long old fur is coming out and being replaced by new fur.

When domestic rabbits moult, it is important to keep an eye on them to ensure they don't have digestive problems.  They can quite easily ingest a lot of hair due to self cleaning (licking) and end up with hairballs.  Rabbits can't throw up like cats, so the hairball has to come out the other way.  I give our rabbits some papaya, which helps prevent hairballs.  I also spend time grooming Pippin to get as much of the loose fur out as I can, preventing him from ingesting it.  Here is the result of a recent grooming session.  That's a lot of fur!
A few months ago, well....maybe a year ago...I don't really remember....I spun this bobbin of purple and pink merino fibre.  I loved the colours, but couldn't decide whether to ply it back on itself to make a 2 or even 3 ply yarn, or to ply it with something else.  

Recently, I acquired this new-to-me fibre from another spinner's destash of items she was selling, and realized it will be the perfect match.  It is East Friesland wool, which is a breed of dairy sheep from northern Germany.  They do not have a very long fleece length but it is still very easy to spin and I think that it will be a lovely match for this merino fibre.  So, I will be taking the time to spin this new fibre, and then I will ply the two bobbins together to make a 2-ply yarn.

A favourite picture from the past week - this one of Pippin and Epinette.  Very comfortable rabbits who feel safe in their environment will sometimes lay on their sides like this.  It is sort of "dead rabbit pose" but don't worry, she is very much alive!  She is still battling pneumonia though, and has another vet appointment this coming Thursday.  

 A bonus favourite for this week - I now have two young hens who are laying green eggs!  This is because they have Isbar genetics.  Isbar are a Swedish breed of chicken.  I love the gentle green and blue eggs that appear in my nest boxes now, along with the lovely browns and creams.  I took this picture on a lovely wooden platter made with bird's eye maple, which my Dad polished for me on their recent visit, which really brings out the grain.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Weekend Roundup: N and O

I missed the Weekend Roundup blog last weekend because I did an extensive post on Epinette's battle with pneumonia last week.  She is still sneezing but we hope continuing to recover.

I'll catch up now with letters N and O.

I don't usually take pictures at night, and I kept forgetting to take one these past couple of weeks.  I remembered that back when I was learning how to use the camera, I took some pictures of the moon.  I don't remember the settings - I would need to study that again.  Here is a picture of the moon from September 16, 2016.  One of my relatively few night shots.

There is still snow on much of my yard.

I have one garden bed that is now uncovered, because it receives more sun than the others.  That garden bed has two patches of crocus that have come up, which make me very happy.  Spring is coming!  One of the crocus patches only has one flower.
I'm still happy to see it!

Starts with N
My parents visited this past week, which was a lovely treat.  My mother pointed out that I had what looked like a nest on my roof.  I thought it was just some old twigs that got stuck on the ice blocker strips.

On closer inspection, it turned out to be two nests!  I am sure that they are from last year and they just need to be removed, otherwise they will block the gutters.

I took this picture from the upstairs window looking down on them.

Starts with O
This is my black copper maran hen - her name is Onyx.  She lays the darkest egg of my flock.

During my parents' visit, we went to the waterfowl park - a favourite walking spot.  I took this picture of a male American Robin on the walk.  I think his mate was collecting nest materials so he was keeping an eye out while she was busy.  He followed along beside us for a while.  This shot has shadow on his wing but I still really like the picture.

Keeping with the bird theme, I was also really pleased with this recent shot of a purple finch who was visiting my feeders.  They are such vividly coloured birds.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Bunday Blog Business: Epinette's Battle with Pneumonia

It's been a long time since we did a Bunday Blog Business.  Most of the time, Epinette and I (Pippin) are just so busy with relaxing on the couch and eating hay that we really just can't get motivated to write a blog post.  The rest of the time I am busy doing audits, like garbage can audits and closet audits and hay feeder audits and audits under the couch.  It's exhausting.  The female hoomin bean (FHB) said we should do one anyway.  So, we are going to blog about a difficult subject today, and that is the subject of Epinette's health.

Sometime in early February, the FHB noticed that Epinette was sneezing a bit.  She thought it was because there was dust in the hay bale.  She took a close look at Epinette and there was nothing coming out of her nose, so the FHB didn't think it was too serious.  There was more sneezing.  The FHB thought maybe she had an allergy to a plant in the hay.  She looked at Epinette's nose again.  There was still nothing, but the FHB decided that Epinette was maybe starting to have a little trouble with breathing, so the FHB decided that it was time to go to the vet.

Epinette went to the vet on February 22, and she came home with some medication called Enrofloxacin, which is also called Baytril.  The FHB was putting it on fresh kale and snow peas, and feeding it to Epinette.  I wasn't getting any.  I didn't think this was fair.  Why wasn't I getting this treat on my snow peas?  The FHB said I didn't "need" it because I wasn't sick.  The vet had said that Epinette had a respiratory infection.  The Baytril was an antibiotic to make her get better.

She didn't get better.

The FHB took Epinette back to the vet after 2 weeks of Baytril.  By this time, Ivy the rat was also sick with pneumonia, but the vet said it was a different kind of pneumonia.  Ivy had a different medicine.  Epinette came back with Sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim.  The FHB put it on Epinette's snow peas and kale.  Epinette did not like it, and she stopped eating the snow peas and kale.  I wanted to eat them, but the FHB said I wasn't allowed.  So, the FHB had to start putting the medicine in a syringe and putting it into Epinette's mouth.  I can tell you, Epinette was not pleased by this turn of events.

By this time, Epinette was having a lot of trouble with her breathing, and she was sneezing and coughing a lot.  She had started to tilt her head upwards, to make it easier for her to breathe, and her nostrils were really flaring.  You can see her head is not in the normal position (like mine) in this picture.

The FHB noticed that Epinette's sides were really moving a lot when she was breathing, whereas my sides were just making small movements, like a normal rabbit.  The FHB gave her the new medicine for a week.

She didn't get better.  She was tipping her head more, and breathing through her mouth.

The FHB shook her head and said this wasn't good, so she took Epinette back to the vet again.

This time, they got serious and did some x-rays.  I bet most of you have not seen an x-ray of a rabbit before.  Here is your chance.  You can see in this x-ray, at the top of the area where her ribs start, there is a sort of a round-ish blob, and on the left side there is a sort of darker triangle-ish area.  That is her good lung.  The one on the other side, the right of the picture, is not dark and open looking, so it's collapsed, and overlaying the heart.  Also, you can see that the whole lung area is kind of speckled or mottled.  That's the pneumonia making fluid or mucus in the lungs.  You can also see that at the base of her ears, she has fairly bright loop structures in her head.  That is the ear infection.  It looks like two letter Vs at the bottom of her head. 

The vet in Moncton sees a lot of rabbits, and she looked at the x-rays and she noticed that Epinette's heart appeared to be extremely large.  I could have said this was because she has a lot of love in her, but the vet said this was because she likely had a heart condition.  The FHB was not pleased with this news because it meant that Epinette had maybe weeks or months to live.  The vet also said this was the reason why there wasn't any yucky stuff coming out of Epinette's nose.  Usually with rabbits, like humans, stuff comes out their nose, and you can see it on their front paws too, where they try to clean their nose.  Epinette had none of that.

The vet said that because it was an unusual case, she was submitting the x-rays to an international panel of consulting vets, to get another opinion.  The FHB liked this idea.

The very next day, a vet in Germany sent information to the vet in Moncton.  The amazing news was that Epinette did not have a heart condition.  What looked like an enlarged heart was actually a normal heart (still full of love) that was overlaid by a collapsed lung.  The lung and the heart together made it look like an enlarged heart.  So, the new diagnosis was that Epinette had pneumonia, and a collapsed lung.  This is quite serious, and in the meantime, Ivy the rat had died of pneumonia, so the FHB was really worried about Epinette.  We still don't know why she doesn't have any stuff coming out of her nose.

The vet in Germany also pointed out that Epinette had a very serious ear infection.  The treatment of rabbit ear infections is quite complicated because in some cases (like Epinette's), the infection is behind the ear drum, so it is hard to access.  The other problem is that the infection is in the ear canal, which is an air-filled space, so the blood vessels carrying any antibiotics do not reach into this space.

So, Epinette got a new medicine that the FHB has to give her using a big scary needle that she pokes into Epinette's back muscle, right next to her spine.  Fortunately, the FHB has had many years of administering sub-cuteaneous and intra-muscular injections to sheep and goats, so she was totally up for the job.  Epinette is less than impressed.

So the FHB gave Epinette an injection, once per week, for 3 weeks, of Duplocillin, which for the scientists out there is a combination of procaine benzylpenicillin and benzathine benzylpenicillin.  It is a strong antibiotic that isn't used in rabbits except in quite serious cases, but Epinette needed the "big guns" for this health problem, so that's what she has.  I am quite worried about her, but Epinette pats me on the head and says she'll be alright.

On Thursday of this past week, Epinette went to the vet for follow-up x-rays to see how things were going.  The FHB felt that her breathing was improving and that she was in less discomfort, although she is still sneezing a lot.  The x-rays showed the good news that Epinette's lung was now re-inflated and not collapsed.  In addition, much of the mottling in the lungs caused by the pneumonia was cleared, but there was still some at the upper portion of the lung, which is why Epinette is still sneezing and having some breathing trouble.  In the x-ray below, you can see that the lung on the right side of the picture is now more open, and there is much less speckling and mottling.  You can also see there is still an issue with her ears.

Epinette is now getting the Duplocillin injections for another 3 weeks.

The not-so-good news was that the antibiotic had essentially no effect on the ear infection.  This is very unfortunate.  At this time, Epinette is not showing any sign of vestibular distress (no head tilt, no excessive ear scratching) so the FHB thinks that she is not experiencing any pain or distress from the ear infection.  However, this could change, and the FHB is going to have to figure out what to do.  The vet said that the pneumonia is the first priority, and we are confident that is getting better and that after another 3 weeks with this antibiotic, she will probably be all better in her lungs.

Here is another picture of the ear infection from March 15...

...and April 5.

Those areas at the base of her ears should not be bright like they are on the x-rays. 

Sometimes dogs have inner ear infections like Epinette's.  Sometimes these dogs have surgery to remove part of the ear canal and they scrape out the infection and pack antibiotic into the space and then sew them up.  This has been done in some rabbits with mixed success.  The FHB will discuss the options with the vet in 3 weeks and will determine the best course of action.  The most important things are Epinette's quality of life and her comfort level.  The FHB does not want her to suffer.

The vet said that Epinette is "sassy" and that she was very grabby with the treats following the x-rays.  This is a positive thing because it shows she is in good spirits and has good energy levels.  I could have told the vet that she is sassy but nobody listens to me except when I am giving audit results.

So, the important thing is that we love Epinette very much and we are doing everything we can to help her get better and we hope that in time, her pneumonia will be all gone and also that her ear infection will subside.  We will keep you posted.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Weekend Roundup: L and M

I didn't do my usual blog last week and I'm pretty late doing it this weekend, too.  Just very busy and I haven't been taking many pictures at all.  I feel like there isn't much of interest to photograph - just more ice, snow, ice, snow, rinse and repeat...

I'll do the prompts for last week and this week together.

Starts with L
My goat is named Lucky Nickel. I've told the story before, but for newer readers, I'll tell it again.  Her mom was having a lot of trouble during the birth and I had to call the vet.  The first baby was too big to come out, and the vet was unable to save it - in fact, it had to be decapitated to remove it from the mother, which was very distressing.  It took a long time, and the vet, Dr. Nicholson, had said that any other babies would likely be dead because of the difficulties.  He then pulled out the second baby - a doe who lay on the straw looking dead, but then suddenly coughed and we realized she was alive.  So, she was lucky to be alive, and also lucky that Dr. Nicholson was there, so she became Lucky Nickel (also a bit of a play on lucky penny).  Lucky Nickel's mom died shortly after the birth, which was really sad, so LN was raised in the house on bottles, and was spoiled to bits, which is probably why she remains a spoiled, bratty goat to this day!  On April 19th, she will be 8 years old.

Starts with M
This is a picture of my chicken, Maple.  She is a cross between a Swedish Flower and an Isbar, both fairly uncommon breeds of chicken.  She's just about reaching laying age. 

Maple is often found with her friend, Star, who is an Isbar-Icelandic cross hen.

And here's Marble, who is a Maran crossbred hen, having some melon for a snack.

I've been trying to get out for some walks lately, since the weather is slightly less frigid and the snow and ice on the road is not as dangerous for walking.  This is a view back down the road having walked up the long hill that is part of my 1-hour walk circuit, and I'm about to head down the other side.  I do this part at the beginning of the walk because it is the harder part and I don't want to do the climb at the end.

You can see there is still a fair amount of snow here, and our house is surrounded by woods (and thus shade) so the snow in our yard is still over a foot deep throughout.  The fields in this picture get full sun all day on sunny days but they have a way to go before they will be clear of snow.  It is always a LONG winter here.

Back to Lucky Nickel for a moment - you can see that her horns have grown long enough that they now meet in the middle - just at the tips.  This can be troublesome in a young animal if the horns rub against each other too much, but since Lucky Nickel is older, her horns only grow a tiny bit each year, so this won't be a problem for her.

Favourites (2 of them, one for each week)
Our rabbits spend a lot of time in mutual grooming sessions.  Here's Epinette patting Pippin on the head, which she sometimes does during grooming. 

Here's my second favourite photo for this week - our cat, Mitten (bonus M) on the middle shelf of my cookbook shelf unit.  He seems to like this spot!