Friday, November 21, 2008

A Week of Chaos

Things have been out of control here in our little corner of the world over the past couple weeks. I’ve been mired in photo shoot preparation while The Farmer has been dealing with animal crisis after crisis. I try not to put on too romantic a front to this farming thing because most days, it is anything but. We’ve been in the process of moving trailer loads of sheep down to their winter housing. Most of the adult ewes are pregnant – at least we are hoping. It’s time to start getting them settled into the dilapidated -- but still functional -- greenhouse barn (sheep don't care what a shelter looks like as long as there is a roof over their heads!). The grass up here on the summer pastures we use is still green but there isn’t much left to eat.

A couple Sundays ago, the day after I returned from Stitches in Maryland, we were loading the trailer with sheep. It’s a slow process because they don’t want to go onto it, no matter how much grain you coerce them with. The Farmer, the two dogs, and I were slowly having a bit of success. With a few sheep on the trailer, we were trying for more. And then I looked down to see Phoebe, our older Border Collie limping – her back right leg definitely hurt. On Monday we took her to the vet only to find out that it wasn’t broken but the ligaments were badly torn. We have no idea what she did to herself. The vet didn’t give us much hope saying that it was the worst injury he had ever seen of that kind.

For the past couple weeks, Phoebe has been on pain pills and anti-inflammatory meds. She is totally happy, eating, answering and trying to get outside as much as possible. We’re trying to keep her quiet and confined to one floor. We decided not to partake in the option of a $5000 plus operation with no guarantee of a successful outcome. Our human physical therapist friend Alice told us it takes about a year for a human to get over this kind of ligament damage – so we are waiting and seeing what happens with Phoebe.

The following day, the coyotes penetrated the electric fence at the winter sheep headquarters. A dead lamb was the result. Jeremy, our guard llama was there. He seems to have no effect on the coyotes anymore – since he got hit by a speeding car two summers ago. The Farmer worked on the fences – trying to discover where the coyotes got in.

The next day, he arrived to find the coyotes eating another lamb they had freshly killed. More fence fixing and hoping. A few days later, The Farmer arrived to find two young bald eagles feeding on the lamb carcass. Wow – that is a first and something I would love to see one day.

This Monday, after trying to get Eeyore to participate in the photo shoot (and failing), it was time for the new donkey’s trip to the greenhouse pasture to try to keep the coyotes at bay.

This morning there were no dead lambs and Eeyore, Jeremy the ex-guard llama, and their flock of sheep were happily picking at hay and what’s left of the grass. We’re not out of the woods yet – still more fence fixing and hoping those coyotes will leave the sheep alone.

It was 15 degrees last night – I’ve got to get the peonies my mom sent me into the ground before it’s too frozen to dig. We’re not quite ready for winter yet but it is coming whether we like it or not.

P.S. Attention Fans of Children's Books - On Saturday, the 22nd of November, the real Holly Hobbie will be signing book her new "Fanny" book and her classic "Toot and Puddle" series at our local book store - World Eye Books on Main Street in Greenfield, Mass. In addition - her kids Nathaniel and Jocelyn will be signing their "Priscilla" books at the same location. Come if you can!


Lynn said...

Yikes! Good luck with the coyotes!

Biscuit, with computer help from Emily said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your coyote woes. Ugh. I lost a hen to a bald eagle about a month ago. Startling to say the least. They're beautiful big birds, but all I can think of is "predator" vs. my good egg laying "prey" birds.

If Phoebe can get as much circulation as possible the ligaments will heal better (less stiff scar tissue, more flexible). I had a horse completely recover from an 80% ligament tear; it is possible on critters that want to run around even when so injured. Best of luck.

Penny said...

good luck with the coyotes. i picked up some "no farms no food" stickers from farmland trust... and other than the tofu, everything else on my table is as local as I can get it. {hugs} (and it's never one thing is it?)

Kate G. said...

Thanks for the real world post, Kirstin. I'm second Penny on 'No farms, no food".

Coyotes are magnificent animals, but they are also unrelenting opportunists. Happy to hear Eeyore is on the case.

melissaknits said...

The eagle thing is pretty cool. Was kayaking once above the Vernon dam, early morning, and an eagle came down and took a fish about 20' off the bow of my boat. She just grabbed it and headed off for a big tree where her spouse was waiting. Since the, uh, thing at the fish farm we have not seen any. I am glad they're around.

vtnitter said...

So sorry about your pup. Don't give up, though, the same thing happened to our cat a couple of years ago. He completely tore ligaments in his knee (likely from a block of wood falling on it) and we opted for the surgery, which only cost us $1200...I say only, because that sounds cheap compared to $5000. He had a cast for a couple of months, but is fine now. We live in northern VT, so it might be worth a second opinion on the price of the surgery. There's not much more difficult than having a pet in pain! Good luck.

Deborah (aka Mt. Mom) said...

Hope Eeyore does the trick!

Heather said...

I had a golden retriever cross who blew her ACL and I went for the surgery. The sutures popped (vet said he'd never seen that before on such a placid dog), she eventually healed on her own, then blew the other knee. This time I didn't go for the surgery and she healed enough to hobble around happily enough for the next two years. She was a pretty big dog, too. Glucosamine, pain killers and Omega 3's became part of her diet.
I wish you the best for your doggie, there is a knee brace for dogs that's available that might help keep her on her feet while she heals.