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Monday, November 24, 2014



Red Betty is free at last.  Her death was an assisted suicide.  A friend shot her for me.  The nice little hen briefly showed hints of rallying when I brought her into the kitchen and began force feedings.  Sometimes her comb even looked reddish, but it would soon resume the sickly blue tinge typical in sick chickens.  She even opened her eyes a couple of times, but her position in her straw-lined box never changed.  When I picked her up to reposition her I was astounded to find she was nothing but bones and feathers.  Worse still, all of the gruel I'd fed her had not passed through her digestive system, but had accumulated in her crop and become a rock-hard lump.  Her condition was indeed terminal.  My friend carried the box outside and shot her twice in the head.  It was the right thing to do and probably should have been done days earlier.  RIP Betty.  I'll remember her in happier days such as this one where she and Poppy shared a warm day on the deck.

One more day of this awkward cast on my foot and leg and I too hope to be free!  The prospect of being rid of this cumbersome thing is thrilling!  The mere thought of going to the grocery store and the bank and the post office is as exciting as going on vacation.  I've learned that I am not a good invalid, but unlike Red Betty I'm pretty sure I'll make a full recovery and no one will be forced to shoot me in the head.



10:33 am est          Comments

Tuesday, November 18, 2014



            "A sick bird is a dead bird," a vet once told me and I have found his prophecy to be right on target despite any valiant avian rescue efforts.  In the chicken world this is especially true.  It usually takes just a few days from hints of unwellness to death.

            The terminally ill bird will seem fine one day, but will linger apart from it's feathered friends, still pecking about as if nothing were amiss albeit without enthusiasm.  Then it won't get onto a perch at night.  The next day it won't leave the coop, but sit hunched in a corner with eyes at half mast.  The comb and wattles take on a blue tinge and in most cases it will be a goner within 24 hours. Then I toss the carcass into the field and a coyote or an opossum has chicken for dinner that night.

            And so it was with Red Betty.  Her sister Black Betty's demise occurred just about six weeks ago.  Red and Black Betty came here in early springtime when I responded to a Craigslist ad.  The former owner said she had gotten the chicks from a famous hatchery and that the girls were about two years old when I took them.  It has been my experience that hatchery birds are never as hardy as hen-hatched and reared birds.  My hen-hatched birds have lived ten years or more, but all of those I've acquired from hatcheries have been short-lived, so Black  Betty's premature departure should not have been unexpected.

            I was certain Red Betty was going to die three days ago, but somehow she has clung to life, so today what will probably be futile efforts to rehab this nice little hen began in earnest.  All I can say is that I'm happy there was no traffic to witness Betty's transport from the frigid barn down to the house.

            My broken ankle makes even the simplest task challenging and frustrating and just downright difficult, so transporting an almost-dead hen in a straw-lined box with a rope attached sharply illustrated this.

            My right foot was clad in a billowing blue plastic grocery bag since the ‘boot' that covers the cast does not cover my toes and I can't risk getting the boot or the cast wet.  Plastic on snow is very slippery, hence my dependence upon the aluminum walker.  Because the thermometer only registered 10 F. I bundled myself in a red parka, white hat, brown gloves and was accompanied by dogs all clad in their own colorful winter wear.  Getting to the barn wasn't easy, but pulling the chicken ambulance along behind me on the way back was really not easy!  Betty's cardboard transport tipped a couple of times dumping her in the snow, but the comatose patient didn't seem to notice.

            Back at the house the laundry room became a temporary ICU.  Hydration was the first order of business, so when warm water was dribbled down her gullet from a makeshift syringe her eyes flew open.  This was a good sign, right?  She certainly needed sustenance if she were going to recover, but what to feed an almost-dead chicken?

            Yogurt is always a good starting point for any critically-ill creature.  This, mixed with pulverized dry cat food and water resulted in a warm gruel which she is now receiving at fairly regular forced feedings.  At this point her condition remains unchanged.  She does however, open her eyes when I pry open her beak for these meals, but again, I interpret this is as a good sign. Her towel-covered, straw-stuffed box is now sitting next to the register in the kitchen much to the feline family's curiosity.  

            Condition reports will be posted should there be any change good or bad.

4:39 pm est          Comments

Friday, November 14, 2014



            Events since Wednesday have made me very aware of how much I have for which I am grateful.  I'll begin with the accident.

            I had an 11:15 vet appointment for three of the cats and while I keep one carrier at the house, the others are stored in the barn which is what necessitated the fateful trip.  Armed with two sky kennels I stepped from the barn, twisted my ankle and down I went.  The carriers went flying and in the blink of an eye I found myself flat out in the mud and donkey poo. Enter the Bad Ass EMT's.  Lying there prone in the mud with the two long-ears in attendance, I wished with all my being that someone/anyone would come down the road and spot me, but the road was deserted.

            Andy leaned down and laid his big head on my shoulder as if to ask if there might be something he could do to help (he is such a sweetheart...), while Corky pawed at my arm with his sharp little hoof (he needs to work on his bedside manners). The pain in my leg was excruciating, but since it was my ‘weak' ankle I thought it was just bad sprain and if I could make it to the house and wrap it with an Ace bandage it would be tolerable.  After what seemed an eternity I collected the muddy cat carriers, hobbled down to the house and loaded three complaining caged cats into the truck.  The fall had put me behind schedule, so 'no time for the Ace bandage.  The ankle was throbbing, but we made it to the 11:15 appointment.  Unfortunately by then it was impossible to stand, but a kind fellow carrying a little dog saw my predicament and alerted the vet staff who rushed to my aid.

            "You need to get to STAT care," said the vet. "We can reschedule your appointment."   I knew he was right, but a three-cat visit was nothing to postpone, so Rattycat had his eye problem treated.  Sissy the serial killer had her injured leg re-checked and Mimi the kitten got her second round of innoculations.  The staff loaded them all back into the carriers and then the truck and I and my feline friends set off to what has to be the most inconveniently-designed STAT care ever. 

            There was no drive-up/drop-off place and the door was at least 300' from the parking lot.  I parked illegally in the Handicapped Only zone, but hey I was handicapped!  There was no way I could get myself to the building.  That's when another nice stranger intervened and fetched someone to collect me with a wheelchair.  The cats had to wait in their cages. Ex-rays confirmed the worst.  The ankle was broken.

            Now jump (okay, limp...) to the insurance fiasco.  The STAT care was not equipped to put a cast on the injury, but informed me I had to see an orthopedic surgeon and provided references.  Oddly enough the only one that could see me the following day (operative word here being ‘see'... as the doctor spent about 60 seconds with me while a technician spent an hour building the cast) was the one that did not accept my insurance plan.  Those that did accept it could not see me until the end of next week.  Addressing this mishap is what the insurance companies call an 'out of pocket' expense, but I'm now outfitted with this pretty red fiberglass cast all the way to the knee.  'Wish I'd done a pedicure before the wreck!

            Friends have gone out of their way to help, starting with Rose who picked me up at STAT care since I couldn't drive.  She loaded the caged cats and then hoisted me into her truck and brought us all home.  Later she and T. went to retrieve my truck.  Friend Lynn brought me a walker and her husband Paul made delicious comfort food so I wouldn't go hungry.  T. hauled in firewood and rigged up phone and computer next to the sofa.  Early the next morning Lynn was at my door to take me to the orthopedic surgeon.  Friend John brought another cane.  Neighbor Sandy (a saint if ever there was one) brought crutches and a second walker, not to mention taking over the total care of all the animals here and bringing more food.  Friends from my swim group have offered support and the best banana cake I've ever tasted.  The phone rings frequently with offers of help. If this injury were not so uncomfortable and inconvenient I could get used to all this pampering!  What wonderful friends!!!  I'm simply overwhelmed.

            The cast has helped a lot and Vicodin takes care of the pain.  Tonight I look forward to sleeping in my bed rather than on the sofa which has been base camp.  Lugging this leg around, swaddling it in a garbage bag duct taped to my skin just to shower, the slow tedious trips from one room to another and discovering that the only clothes I'll be wearing for the next two weeks are wide-legged, stretchy exercise pants; these have all been awkward and bothersome, but through it all it has made me very thankful for everything I used to take for granted.

2:40 pm est          Comments

Sunday, November 9, 2014



           "Is that a cow at the mailbox," asked my friend Rose as we drove towards old Kenny's place.  It was just about dusk and sure enough, there was Cow #2 and her offspring standing in the road.  Cow was looking into the mailbox as if expecting a check and the young one was acting as novice traffic cop.

            I pulled up to the pair cursing myself for not having a camera with me. Just how often does one encounter a pair of cows inspecting a bright yellow mailbox? I ordered the bovine to "Get home!"  Big beautiful brown cow, so photogenic with her perfectly curved horns, looked at me defiantly as if to say, ‘Make Me!  The youngster (sex to be determined...) lifted it's tail and scuttled across the road into the field as if we were about to engage in some kind of fun game.  A blast from the truck horn encouraged Cow to follow. 

            Once the pair was off the road I breathed a big sigh of relief and turned into Kenny's drive, laying on the horn again.  Mother and child took off across the just-harvested bean field as if their tails were on fire.  Periodically they'd stop to see if they were still being pursued and finding me hot on their tails (so to speak...) they continued toward the house.  Cow showed signs of lameness.

            At the house the pair tried to hide behind one of Kenny's vehicles, but when you weigh about 900 pounds, it's hard to be inconspicuous.  Rose was reluctant to get out of the truck, but I insisted.  We needed to find their escape route, but that wasn't difficult.  The hot wire intended to keep them within the pasture lay in the mud.  The barnyard was a quagmire of mud and manure, slippery and malodorous and it sucked at my unfortunate choice of footwear-sandals.

            Was there another calf tethered inside that monument to trash, I wondered. All entries into the barn that's filled with rubbish of every sort were barricaded with makeshift contraptions.  I made my way through the loafing shed to the siding that closed off the lower part of the 19th century bank barn, but this was locked.  The big doors should have slid on the top rollers, but the doors were immovable.  I pulled it toward me and it opened not more than 2", but that was enough to get the immediate and desperate attention of the cow imprisoned within.  She raced to the door where I stood slowly sinking into the poopy bog, helpless.  She probably needed to be milked, fed, watered. 

            The place is an accident waiting to happen and as winter approaches I sincerely fear for old Kenny's safety, not to mention the welfare of the cattle that depend upon him.  I shall offer to clear a walkway into the barn for him, but it's not likely he'll consent.  What to do?

             To be continued

3:54 pm est          Comments

Tuesday, November 4, 2014



            I've just returned from  Saratoga Springs, New York;  a wonderful town, full of friendly people, intriguing shops and book stores of the vanishing variety.  But, as with most trips, I was happy to return to the relative tranquility of home.

            The drive to NY was lovely, but the gold and russet colors of autumn were peppered with the brown/gray corpses of white tail deer, some mutilated almost beyond recognition, but most looking as if they had just laid down for a nap on the side of the road or in the median strip.  Ohio (and I suspect the other states I passed through) has an abundance of white tail deer due to few predators (other than man), so it's not surprising so many lay dead on the roadsides. 

            The Ohio Insurance Institute reports: 21,178 vehicles were involved in the 20,996 deer-vehicle crashes in 2012. OII estimates Ohio auto damages approached $72.3 million in 2012 based on the average cost per claim and number of vehicles involved in crashes.

            These facts lead to head-scratching wonder when operations like the following get media accolades, not to mention tons of money for factory-farming animals that already overpopulate the state.  The following excerpts are from a newspaper article.  Underlined highlights are mine.

At Redoy Acres (which is "Yoder" in reverse), Roy Yoder and his wife, Emma, operate one of the first whitetail deer farms in the state of Ohio. The couple's 17-acre family-run farm has a deer herd of roughly 150 animals.

Started in 1989, Yoder was one of the first to raise the deer for hunting preserves and meat.  ..."Twenty years ago, it was unheard of to do artificial breeding,"  ...The primary revenue stream, Yoder explained, is selling them to hunting preserves where their deer can fetch anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000 for a single animal. Whitetail deer are also processed for meat but are not a major income stream, Yoder said. The farm also operates its own 150-acre hunting preserve... which sees steady business year-round. "When I started, there were 80-90 propagators in the state of Ohio," Yoder said. "Now there are probably 600 in the state ... supply and demand has caught up with us."

Hunting preserve = high-fence canned hunts.  In my opinion, all facets of this sort of enterprise are disgusting.  Breeding deer is neither necessary, nor is the 'market' fair chase sport.  Canned hunts are not for authentic ‘sportsmen,' but rather for moneyed, effete buffoons.  150 deer on a mere 17 acres?  Like the notorious puppy mills abundant in Amish country, this "farm" suggests to me that deer mills are even more profitable.  Such "farms" are often petri dishes for chronic wasting disease.  Excerpts from a recent article confirmed this. 

The disease has now been found in deer farms in 14 states, according to the Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance. Critics of deer farms have said they are a perfect breeding ground for disease. Officials from the farm where the disease was found and the Whitetail Deer Farmers of Ohio could not be reached for comment Thursday afternoon.

Gee, I wonder why.... 


9:34 pm est          Comments

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