Saturday, January 21, 2012

Snowpocalypse Now!

1:43 AM
Horses in the snow
Living in rural Montana means having the ability to hole up for several days due to the weather and still be able to survive.  We got our first big snowstorm of the season, and boy was it a doozy.  The forecasters were warning us how big it was going to be.  I picked up extra food for the beasts and prepared to be snowbound.

Snow pile with Kira next to it
The snow that came dumped more than 2 feet on us.  I'm thinking it was close to 2 1/2 feet when it finally stopped, but the snow compressed over time, so it ended up looking like less.  All I know was when I was plowing, I was plowing over the same area with 4-6 inches of new snow two or three times a day.  Over three days, that made it really tiring.

The main concern was getting to the woodpile to get wood for the woodstove, getting to the barn to care for critters, and maintaining a path I could walk.  What I discovered was all the work I did required me to walk through lots of snow that was above my knee, thus soaking my clothes.  I rotated between three pairs of gloves and two pairs of boots because they were constantly getting soaked.

I'd like to say that I was good at plowing, but the truth be known, the snow kicked my butt.  I dug through a two foot path more than once and then dug through the backyard to get to the woodshed.  I then had to dig out the barn because my neighbor plowed it in with a 5 foot berm.  I, too, plowed, though it took nearly two hours to clear what little I could from the driveway and road.  I was running out of room to push the snow, which can be very disconcerting.

You may be looking at the pictures and saying, "well, it doesn't look bad."  The picture of Thor is level, not looking down.  Thor is a huge dog -- 31 inches at the shoulder and his head comes up to my chest.  He looks dwarfed by this snow.

The other photo above with the jumble of snow is with Kira, who is about 25 inches at the shoulder.  The snow pile next to her is at least 5 feet tall.  If you take a good look at the first picture of the barn, you'll note that the fence around the horses was 5 feet tall.  The pile of snow next to the horses from the roof is taller than the horses!

Mishka getting wood
I brought Mishka along while I got firewood and snapped these photos as well.  She's my smallest Malamute at some 22 inches tall.  She wasn't in the mood to bound into the snow in this photo. The last photo is the roof of my woodshed.  Yep, we got a lot.

The forecasters say that this is the 7th snowiest dump ever recorded in the area since 1893.  While I'm used to snow, seeing this much in one dump is still pretty amazing.

Update: it's now 45F and raining.  Lovely.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Things You Never Thought You'd Do (warning: graphic)

12:20 AM
Last night, I found the bird with pneumonia dying, so I had to put her down.  I'm not great at breaking a chicken's neck, so it took a bit for me to put her out of her misery.  I then noticed another bird not eating.  So, I put her in the bunny prison.

At this point, I really didn't know what was going on.  So, when I checked her today, I examined why she wouldn't stand.  Her toes were blackened and shriveled from frostbite!  None of my other birds have suffered frostbite, so this was completely weird.  The only thing I can think of is that it is wetter than usual and the weather has been pogoing between very cold and warm.  So, when I looked at her foot, I noticed half of it had broken away.

So, today I performed surgery on the bird with a pocket knife.  I cut four toes off where the frostbite met the living tissue.  And yeah, it was nasty.  I then cleaned her feet and applied antiseptic and bluekote, which is basically alcohol combined with blue dye to keep the birds from pecking at it.

What was odd was the obvious relief the bird felt.   She got back on her feet and started eating and drinking immediately.  I added antibiotic to the water tonight and both birds are eating and moving around.  One bird who was acting iffy, whose name is Java, flew out of the bunny prison and sat on my arm for a while.  I've been treating her with coccida meds, dewormer, and antibiotics, and thus keeping her out of the laying group (don't want to eat eggs from a chicken dosed with that!) for at least seven days after treatment. 

I'm not sure what to call my amputee.  She's quite trusting, given that she let me lay her on her back and chop off her toes.  She needs at least one more toe removed and possibly two more amputated at the knuckle.  After watching her move around with her less painful foot, I decided this was one of those things that I just never thought I'd do.  I mean, would you ever think of field amputations on a bird becoming part of your CV?

She's eating extra food, which is good.  She's very thin from not eating because of the pain.  Now, if she heals up okay, she'll be fine, with or without the ends of those toes.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Bunny Prisons, Banana Nut Bread, and Quail

1:52 AM
Today I spent the afternoon in the barn trying to keep up with various things that need to be done there.  One, was cleaning out the "bunny prison," so called by the folks at the Home ReSource who sold it to me for $10.  Basically, it's a 6 ft bird cage that can be moved around.   Unfortunately, after housing several chicks, it had an accrual of hay, feed and bird poop that needed to go into the compost pile.  Two trips with the muck cart and I laid a fresh layer of shavings down and put my two sick birds there.  One isn't so sick, but she isn't eating; the other isn't standing up and obviously had some sort of respiratory ailment because she was gasping for breath a few days ago.  This is where I can give antibiotics and various treatments without the other birds drinking medicated water and passing it to their eggs.

Cleaned the horses' pens and gave them scratches before moving the quail to their new home.  Only, the male bird got out.  I quickly closed the barn and chased after him.  Luckily, he didn't figure out how to get away from me entirely and ended up in the chickens' pens.  This is a dreadful mistake as the chickens will eat darn near anything that is smaller than they are.  Luckily, I was able to catch the quail and bring him to his mate in their new cage.  It's an open cage, which enables me to enjoy seeing them.  It'll be easier to see when the female lays eggs.

Speaking of eggs, I put 114 Coturnix quail eggs in the incubator.   Coturnix are a type of Japanese quail.  I put so many eggs in as it is unlikely I will see more than 1/3 hatch out.  Even if I did, they mature quickly and lay eggs.  The extra males can go into freezer camp.

Lastly, tonight I made banana bread.  I had a lot of the ingredients that made sense for me to make banana bread like very ripe bananas, walnuts, and yogurt.  No sense letting that go to waste.