Monthly Archives: September 2011

  • Wild Bill, Rudolph Valentino and Mr. Fugley

    Written By Barbara O'Brien

    This fellow's name is Wild Bill. He gets that name as he has quite the way with the ladies. He is a white Leghorn Rooster. He would like to think that he is top dog, but he is not. 

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    That honor goes to his fellow. Mr. Fugley. We don't know what he is. His mother hatched him out and his dad could have been any number of roosters we had at the time. Poor Mr, Fugly, He may not be much to look at, but the ladies love him and he is ruler of the roost. Even the dogs leave him alone.

    A few more of Wild Bill. He spends a lot of time talking the big talk but is nowhere to be seen when Mr. Fugley comes around.

    This is Rudolph Valentino, he is named after the famous Latin

    lover from Hollywood’s early years. Quite the handsome fellow don’t you think?

     He is even brave enough to take on the cats.

     

     

     

     

     

    But this is what happens when he sees Mr. Fugley.

    Now this is what the roosters spend so much time fussing over.

    Girls.  Girls.  Girls.
     

    This is one of the ladies they spend so much time fighting over. Her name is Grace. All of the speckled hens like her are named Grace.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    All of the red ones are named Ruth.

     

     All the white ones are named Gladys.
     
     And all the ducks are named Richard. Don't laugh, It just makes thing easier.

     

     

     

    And here is why we keep Mr. Bill, Rudolph Valentino and Mr. Fugley around at all. They keep the hens happy. Happy hens make more eggs and more eggs make a happy me!

     

  • Reiki and the Zen of Motor Vehicle Maintenance

    Written By Jenny Pavlovic

    In mid-July I was on my way to a meeting in the city. It was the first meeting since the interview for my part-time summer job and I didn’t want to be late. I was driving on a country road, on my way to the interstate. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a light flash, and then disappear. It flashed again, insisting that I “Check Gages”! Now! Uh oh. The oil pressure gage read “0”, like a flat-lined heart monitor. This couldn’t be good. Briefly I thought about driving home, and considered going back. But my engineer brain told me that, like a body without blood, a truck without oil won’t live long.
    I pulled over right away, realizing that I wouldn’t get far without oil pressure. Plus, if my truck needed to be towed, I was already closer than home to the repair place. As I pulled over to the side of the frontage road, smoke rose up in front of the windshield. I turned off the key, grabbed my laptop and notes, and jumped out. I wondered if the truck would catch fire, but the smoke seemed to come from the hot oil dripping on the parts below. I bent over to discover a growing puddle of oil leaking onto the pavement between the front tires. I looked back to see a trail of oil drops behind the truck. I prepared to issue last rites.
    My cell phone had one battery bar left and the charger was at home. I called the Car Guy. With almost 233,000 miles on the truck, I knew his number by heart. He arranged for a tow truck to meet me. I didn’t have cell phone numbers for the people who I was to meet at a restaurant, but I was able to reach the department administrator. She connected me to one of the people from the meeting, who offered to pick me up at the car repair place and give me a ride.
    I had to wait about 45 minutes for the tow truck. The chi appeared to be draining from my truck and I didn’t have a specific back up plan. Normally I would sit and stew. But I thought about the almost 233,000 miles we’d driven together, all the wonderful memories, and felt grateful. I was going to miss my old GMC Sonoma. I decided to lay my hands on the hood and administer Reiki (pronounced “Ray-key”, a Japanese form of energy healing), to channel positive energy and encourage healing. I know this sounds funny, but it couldn’t hurt, might even help, and it was better for me than stomping and cursing.
    In the Reiki frame of mind, I noticed that it wasn’t a bad day to be stuck on the side of the road. It wasn’t too hot, it wasn’t raining, the birds were singing, and it was a rather pleasant day. I suddenly had the time to notice.
    While I had my hands on the hood, a handsome man on a Harley pulled over. He asked if I had help on the way, and I nodded. He noticed the growing puddle of oil under my truck and mentioned possible solutions. He told me he’d replaced the engine in his Blazer and about how much it had cost. He got me thinking about possible solutions other than junking the truck. I told him that the truck had already given me almost 233,000 miles and that it wasn’t a bad day to be stuck on the side of the road. He pointed out the vegetable garden beyond the trees and noted that I could watch the gardeners. Knowing that I was ok, he said goodbye and rode off. Then I wondered, “Who was that handsome man on the Harley?” Perhaps he was a guardian angel.
    The tow truck arrived. The driver let me charge my phone while we rode to the repair place. I met the Car Guy’s new Australian Shepherd puppy, left the truck there and caught my ride to the meeting. I hoped for the best, but prepared for the worst. I figured I would have to arrange new transportation ASAP and my mind began working to solve the problem.
    The restaurant where we were scheduled to meet was closed (for good), so we ended up meeting in a restaurant back by the car repair place. We decided to make it our new meeting place!
    When I called the Car Guy to check on my truck, he told me that, amazingly enough, the tube that routed the oil to the oil cooler had corroded through and he thought he could fix the truck by replacing the part that same afternoon! After the meeting, I learned that when he installed the new part, he discovered that a second part, the oil cooler, was also cracked and leaking. He was able to find the second part at a place about 45 minutes away, and it was rush hour. His wife, who usually makes the part runs, was busy, so he sent his son, who also works in the shop. When his son got to the parts place, he realized they were about to sell him the wrong part. Luckily, they had the right part in stock and he returned with that.
    While I waited, I got out my laptop and worked for a couple more hours. Then I played with the puppy again. They replaced both parts for less than $500, a blessing considering that a few hours earlier I’d thought I’d need a new vehicle, or at least a new engine.
    At the repair shop, they were amazed that I was able to pull over and turn the truck off before it lost all of its oil. In fact, it still contained a quart of oil when it arrived at the shop. They had never seen anything like it. But then, they had probably never seen anyone lay hands on a truck either!
    The day included so many near misses that could have gone one way or the other, but went my way. There was the flashing oil pressure light, that I was able to read the second time. I was just a mile or two short of being on the interstate, where I wouldn’t have been able to pull over and shut off the truck right away. My cell phone had just enough juice for me to call for help and call people about the meeting. I was able to reach people about the meeting and get a ride. The man on the Harley stopped and gave me positive things to think about and possible solutions for the truck, and showed me the gardeners. The truck still had oil when it arrived at the shop. They were able to fix it by replacing two parts the very same day. The son went to get the second part, not the wife, who would have returned with the wrong part.
    We found a new restaurant for our meetings. When I was delayed, my neighbor was able to let my dogs out. She said I was lucky to catch her at home because she was leaving for a trip the next morning. I finished some work and even got to play with a puppy while I waited for the second part to be replaced. I drove home that evening in my own truck, for under $500. This had seemed highly unlikely earlier in the day.
    The day was full of near misses, with a good outcome, considering. So tell me… Does Reiki help machines, and who was that handsome man on the Harley anyway? Some have said he was my guardian angel, and I won’t argue with that!
    You may be thinking, what does any of this have to do with dogs? My dogs have taught me that all we really have is this present moment, and we’d best enjoy it. Enjoy the day and try not to worry about money. My dogs led me to learn Reiki, which may not have helped the truck, but it certainly helped the way I handled the situation. All these things that I’ve learned from my dogs helped me to be positive in a stressful situation. And when I thought of all the amazing places my truck has taken me and the wonderful times I’ve had, most of them involved my dogs. I was overwhelmed with gratefulness!

    That’s how a day that started out fine, veered toward disaster, but then seemed to be a miracle a few hours and $500 later. I ended the day as usual, safely back home, on a walk with my dogs. It was a pleasant evening. We took the time to notice, and we enjoyed every moment.

  • Minimizing the Stress of Weaning

    Written By Dr. Kris Hiney

    The fall season is here and with it often comes the time for weaning our foals. Many successful weaning strategies exist but it is important for the manager to choose the optimal one for their facilities and management style. These decisions are important and can affect the growth, well being and even the future behavior of your foal.
    When is it appropriate to wean?
    Foals can be weaned at any age provided their proper nutrition and socialization skills are ensured. Foals whose dam’s may die at birth are obviously “weaned” from their dam at an extremely young age. While it is preferable to find a willing nurse mare, and it is even possible to induce lactation in a non-pregnant mare, many owners choose to put the foal on a liquid diet of formula designed to match the mare’s own milk.  Specialized milk replacer, goat’s milk and supplemented cow’s milk can all be used successfully.  Prior to doing so, it is important to ensure that the foal has received adequate amounts of high quality colostrum, as the proteins found in the milk replacer may block the later absorption of immunoglobins from colostrum. Colostrum content quickly decreases in post-partum mares and should have been harvested within the first three hours post parturition of the donor mare.
    Orphaned foals must be fed frequently , initially from a bottle, but can then be taught to drink from a pail, similar to calves. Initially the foal should be fed at 5-10% of its body weight in the first day, and then increase to 20-25% of its body weight by day 10. Solid feeds can be introduced early, as the foal would typically begin to ingest feed in imitation of its dam after only one week of being born. Milk replacer pellets are available, and can help supplement the foals’ initial liquid diet.   Foals can be weaned from this liquid diet by 10-12 weeks of age. Most importantly, some sort of companion should be found for the foal. Often orphan foals develop undesirable behaviors as they have no guidance from a mature horse as to what constitutes appropriate social behavior. Typically, orphaned foals view humans as their peers, which may result in some rather inappropriate rough play!
    With the exception of extremely early loss of the dam for a variety of reasons (death, injury, sales, etc.) most managers choose to wean foals between three and six months of age. In the feral state, foals typically are self weaned by 35 weeks of age or between eight and nine months. At five months all foals spend 50-70% of their day consuming solid feed, compared to about 2% of the day suckling. Mare’s milk production also begins to drop off by three months of age, at which time foals are consuming a high percentage of natural feeds through grazing, hay or concentrates.  It is advantageous to introduce the foal to the feeds it will be consuming post-weaning to ensure an easier and more stress-free transition. This will also help prevent fluctuations in growth rates that may place the foal at risk for developing developmental disorders.
    After insuring that the proper diet is being fed (see previously related articles concerning protein, energy and minerals for growth), the management system used is important to consider. Foals weaned in isolation (such as confined in a box stall) show more incidences of stereotypies (such as weaving, cribbing and wood chewing) and are more vigilant (less time standing relaxed) than foals weaned in pairs. Foals weaned in stalls also show more abnormal behaviors such as stall licking, kicking, rearing and pawing than weanlings weaned in a paddock. Even horses stabled for the first time as two year olds exhibited much less aberrant behavior and were more relaxed when stalled in pairs versus singularly.
    Therefore the ideal management system would wean the foals with a counter-part, rather than in isolation. For example, at our facility we wean the foals by removing the dams, with foals remaining in the same pasture and with the same herd mates with which they have been raised. This results in very little stress (at least as exhibited by vocalizations and seeking of their dam) which is frequently resolved within two days post weaning.   Even in this system we wean in pairs, whether or not this actually relieves stress for the weanling. If raising only one foal, it is advisable to seek out an older quiet pasture mate, or even to find another youngster to raise with it. Many horse owners find themselves in a similar situation and may be willing to board another weanling or send theirs as a companion.
    Alternative strategies include gradual weaning, in which the mare and foal are separated, but are allowed all behaviors except nursing. Typically this is done over a fence that the foal simply cannot nurse through. After one week, the mare is removed completely. Foals weaned in this manner, exhibit less stress and have lower levels of cortisol (a stress hormone) than foals which are weaned abruptly. However, these foals are no different than abruptly-weaned foals after two weeks. The advantages to this system may simply be a lessened possibility for injury or disease.
    Weaning stress may also make the foal more susceptible to diseases. Because of this, be sure that the foal is in good health prior to weaning (we typically have vaccinated the foal and ensured a high immune status prior to weaning) and there are no undo stressors. For instance, plan the time of weaning for when the climate is not too adverse (either too hot or too cold/wet).   Because the mare and foal may show high stress and try to re-unite, check that the facilities used for weaning are extremely safe. Expect that maiden or younger mares may exhibit a longer period of time in which they still call for or seek out their foals. Halter breaking is not advisable right at the time of weaning either, as the foal is already stressed and more reactive. Ideally foals are handled from birth, which can lessen the stress of procedures often introduced at this time (vaccinations, deworming, farrier care, etc).
    Care of the mare is simple, with usually a decrease in ration quality or quantity from that received as a lactating mare. Although her udder will fill initially, it is important to not milk the mare, as this will only further stimulate lactation. The udder should become soft within a week of weaning.   She can then be returned to her pre-foal life, whether that is as a riding horse, a gestating mare, or simply a mare of leisure.

    By thinking through the weaning system and the safety and nutritional needs of both mare and foal, the stress of “growing up” for the foal can be greatly minimized.

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