The year in review, a journey of learning how to care for animals in sickness and in health.
In early spring, one of my goslings had to be dispatched as it had a deformity that made it impossible to eat and keep itself clean. I researched humane ways to dispatch a gosling. Then I made up my own method. I wrapped it in a blanket and a pillowcase, said a prayer for its little life, and, stop reading now if you are squeamish, dropped an extremely large brick on it.
On Easter Sunday, Natalie accidentally drove over the gander, Louis. He did not survive. We had a discussion about whether or not he should be Easter dinner, but Natalie and I were not in favour. I said a little blessing for his life, and EJ buried him in the half frozen ground.
In early summer, I found an almost completely denuded Welsummer pullet in the sheep shed with a happy looking Tisza, who had been playing with it. I thought it was going to require another large brick, but then decided after I picked it up that it was worth trying to save. I dressed the wounds and kept her in a dog kennel with the geese. She looked really awful and could barely walk. I gave her special food and treats and kept the wounds clean. The feathers gradually came back and over a couple of months she fully recovered, started laying eggs again, and reintegrated herself with the main flock of hens.
My favourite old hen, a Buff Orpington, began to spend more time in the coop. Then one day, she did not come out, but sat hunched in a corner. I made her comfortable and closed the coop to keep the others out. Within a few hours, she had died. She received a special burial.
In late summer, one of my ewes was clearly unwell. She was not eating and was inactive. I consulted my sheep books and thought the probable cause was eating too many apples. The antidote for that was a syringe of water, cooking oil and baking soda down her throat followed. by inserting a stick in her mouth to help her to chew. After a few large belches, she recovered and was back to normal in a couple of hours. I breathed a huge sigh of relief
Sidney, the ram, got his hind leg caught in a hay net at the beginning of December. The leg subsequently developed an infection, and after many injections of penicillin and anti inflammatories, Sidney has just begun to put weight on it again. He is a gentle, good tempered ram, but he quickly connected the sight of me with syringes in hand with some unpleasantness to come. As soon as he recovered, he resumed efforts to escape and find his way into the ewe paddock.
Pippa, the sometime herder, was poisoned with ethylene glycol one week ago. Something she apparently ingested on a hike near a construction site. Fortunately, I took her to the emergency vet as soon as I noticed her depression and lack of coordination. They were able to administer the antidote and she has recovered.
I appreciate the work that all the animals do to keep bugs at bay, soil fertilized, beds weeded and grass mowed. I am thankful for their gifts of eggs, wool and meat. I will always ensure that they are treated with respect for their natural inclinations and behaviours and that they receive the most humane treatment for any ailments or accidents.
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