Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Everyone walked away

Saturday morning started with a call from one of Sarah's friends looking for a ride in to town.  Now, this friend lives out of town on the other side of Pilot Rock, but her parents were gone and she had no way to get to town to meet her commitments for the day, so Sarah took the pickup and headed out to pick up the friend and her brother.  All good.  I fed the horses, and got into the shower.  Sometime in that process, Sprout decided to go adventuring.  He didn't return when I called, so I decided to go ahead and shower.  He comes home eventually.  So, when I was getting dressed and heard his bark, I didn't think too much of dashing out in a very immodest state to let him in.  Until I saw Mom on the front porch.  I dashed back in to get something on other than undies, and she informed me that it was going to take more than my robe.  Sarah had called her.  She had crashed the pickup.

I dashed upstairs to get clothes, asking the pertintent questions - was she hurt?  how bad?  was anyone else hurt?  how bad?  The information I got was the Sarah had a bleeding lip and a small cut on her lip, and Ina had a hurt and bleeding finger.  That doesn't sound too bad, now does it?  I got the location from Mom and headed out.  I was pretty sure they were beyond cell phone service, so I didn't try to call (Sarah had called from a nearby house).  What I found when I got there were two very hysterical girls and one rather worried brother.  I hugged the girls and got everyone calmed down.  Noone was hurt badly enough to require an ambulance, but Ina (the friend) was clearly in pain, and has an underlying medical condition that required her to be checked out, so I loaded all of them into the car, and drove up to see the pickup.  This is what I found.  Needless to say, they all got to get checked out at the hospital.

Sarah had been driving down the gravel road at a decent clip, when a deer wandered into the road.  She had not completely internalized the advice to, "hit the deer" and swerved.  The deep gravel at the side of the road grabbed her and she over-corrected, ran up the bank, and rolled / cartwheeled the pickup back down the bank.  If you look closely, you can see where the side-beam of the room is sitting on her headrest.  I've had more than one person tell me that they've seen vehicles with less damage in which people had died.  I am eternally grateful that all three people in this vehicle were able to walk away from this crash.  Needless to say, we will be purchasing a new pickup.

Sarah has a mild concussion as well as various muscle-aches and a wide variety of bruises, but again, there is nothing that won't heal.  The policeman was wise enough to see that she was taking the whole thing quite seriously and did not write the citations he rightfully could have issued.  Two of the occupants were seat-belted.  The third was not.  Again, I say that I am eternally grateful that no one was seriously injured or killed.  I can almost guarantee that none of the them will ever again ride in a vehicle without a seat belt.

Day 21

I'm a couple of days late with this update, but Mahogany is doing very well.  She's even using the foot a little bit.  The tissue wound is healing fantastically, and is completely closed up.  The final layer is even beginning to form across the center of the wound.  She's out in the pasture at will now, and is enjoying activity as she can tolerate it.  Of course, as these things go, there is a new concern.  Now that the tissue wound is healing and is no longer distracting me, I can see that there is damage to the top of the hoof.  I'll give things a bit of time to heal and then call my farrier.  I think she'll be able to grow it out in much the same way that we can grow out damage to a fingernail.  The difference, of course, is that we don't put several hundred pounds of pressure on our fingernails with every step.  So, the farrier may have to help.  We'll see what he says.  In the meantime, things are still looking good.  Let's keep our fingers crossed that the positive progress continues.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Day 14

With the pear tree down, and Mahogany's love of pears, I thought I could turn her out into the pasture yesterday and she would be a little happier, but the pears would keep her from moving around too much.  I was sort of right.  She was happier, and did just fine, but she did not just hang around the pear tree like I had hoped.  When I got home, she was up on the back hillside, near the back gate.  Now getting around up there takes a bit of coordination, so I was slightly terrified that she would fall trying to make her way back down, but she did fine.  The injured leg was not swollen at all, so she tolerated the activity just fine.  I brought her in for a dressing change and some feed (she's getting rather thin.  I think healing this up is taking a lot of energy) , and kept her in overnight, but she got to go out again today.  I think that will be our routine for a while.  The wound itself is looking great.  The drainage is decreasing almost daily, and the depth of the gash is visually decreasing to where it's nearly closed on the outside (deep end) and the inside end is completely closed.  The center still has a little depth to it but not nearly as much as even last week.  There is still no sign of infection and I'm slowly moving from hopeful to downright optimistic.  If she keeps healing at this pace, we could be down to a surface wound in just another week or too.  It may be a while longer before she walks easily, but she already takes short little steps on it when she doesn't know I'm watching.  Just like a kid, I swear.

Monday, September 16, 2013

It's one way to thin the orchard.

Yesterday we had a wild storm pass through.  The winds topped 70mph!  No buildings were damaged but one of the two pears trees in the orchard broke.  The tree snapped its trunk in half about five feet off the ground.  So we put the sheep in the orchard this morning to clean up the mess.  There were hundreds of pears all over the ground.  The sheep will eat all the leaves and hopefully strip the bark off also.  Once the tree is bare I can go out and cut it up and throw it on the burn pile.  We have already talked about replacing the tree and planting 6-10 more fruit trees out in the orchard.  There are only a few trees left from the original orchard that was in place when the Annmarie's relatives purchased the place.  The three black walnut trees I planted this summer are hanging in there and we will be planting a few more next month.  

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Winter is coming.

Due to my hectic work schedule we have decided to get ready for winter a little earlier than usual.  I tend to wait until the first hard freeze and then scramble to get every thing done.  I had to just call it quits on the barn roof.  I will hit it hard early next summer and see what I can do.   Jason came over and we got to work.  Annmarie had three requests, put the tools away in the barn for the roof, pull the irrigation pump out of the front creek and fix the electric fence on the back hillside and put it away.  I just wanted to get all the little things done so we could go fix some fence.  

There was a lot of stuff done.  The back yard maple tree got trimmed so it no longer touches the house.  The shrub by the back gate got trimmed so it doesn't attack you on your way to the wood shed.  The front creek water pump got pulled out and the dam removed from the creek.  I sawed down two volunteer trees that had sprouted over the summer and were growing where they should not.  We finished the stainless steel cutting table, shortened the legs and put in cross braces so it would not fall down again.  We did go up on the back hillside and repair four places in the electric fence and folded it all up and put it away in the woodshed.  I was going to put the solar charger unit in the wood shed also, but the instructions say to turn it off and place it in the sun so it can keep charging through the winter.  It ended up on the back porch of the old house so it can get some sun, who knew.  We cut a piece of 1 inch plywood to go under the plastic box on the trailer.  The bottom of the box was sagging due to the tie downs and chains inside.  I crawled up onto the barn roof and finished screwing down the temporary cover over the other cupola hole, then removed the safety ropes for the winter.   I snagged a couple of pieces of tin that we forgot about last week.  We drug the old grain cracker over to the chicken coop with the tractor.  We tried to sit it up, as the wind had blown it over, but it is too heavy so the tractor had to be used for it every time.  We made a ramp out of some old lumber and I pushed it into the old chicken coop with the tractor.  It is out of the weather now.  I am still not sure what we are going to do with it.   

We loaded all the tools up onto the trailer and drove around to the old house.  I put every tool back in its spot while Jason unloaded it.  We then threw all the scrap tin and wood onto the trailer.  We even threw the old wood pile next to the chicken coop, been there for 6 years onto the trailer.  On our way back to the barn we picked up three more scrap metal piles out of the barn lot and scrap wood.  We unloaded the good wood into the barn and the rest went onto another burn pile in the barn lot.  I really need to burn this winter, so here's to some snow or a really wet week.  We unloaded the scrap metal onto our scrap pile.  The scrap pile is getting big, Jason will be working on that in the next few months to make it go away.  I will have to plan a day to take the tires and plastic pipe and fence to the dump also. 

 We drug over three metal cow feeding panels to the other side of the barn lot fence with the tractor and set up a feeding area for the cows.  I think that they can turn their heads sideways and get through the slots with their horns.  Time will tell, and they won't be able to get away fast so I anticipate some cow nose scratching going on.  We emptied the spray out of the mule and parked it in the lamb shed.  We cleaned out the tack room, hung two different hangers inside, we repositioned the counters and got rid of one piece.  They are all lined up and ready for countertop.  We sprayed some more weeds before putting the mule away.  We parked the tractor inside the old lamb shed.  I even remembered to move the large cable from the front of the barn to the side so Annmarie can groom the horses at the front of the barn using the tie outs we installed.  It was a pretty productive day.  We never did get to that fencing. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

I really want to just take a nap.

There are days on the farm when you realize why farmers are on farm time.  Farm time has its own dictations and sometimes it passes quickly but usually it drags out and sucks you in until the task is done.  Farm time does not care for a schedule or deadline.   I had plans to go out first thing in the morning and load up some hay in the pickup and move it around to the wood shed.  Annmarie and I had talked about feeding Hogs (horse) in the yard daily and how much time it would take.  School is starting and we don't have as much time in the morning.  It was decided that moving the hay next to the house would make all things easier.  I didn't get to do it first thing as I had to run into town for an errand.

  I went out to the barn and started loading 8 bales into the back of the truck.  They were heavy!  I drove around to the back hillside and figured I would just drive in next to the fence and directly behind the wood shed.  My handy dandy rock wall is making a fairly level area.  It was tight but I made it.  I drug all eight bales into the wood shed and started to back up.  I tried to back out but the dirt is super light and kinda steep.  I kept spinning the back tires.  By the time I tried to put it in four wheel drive I was stuck up against the rock wall and couldn't get enough travel to engage the hubs.  After 20 minutes I called uncle and got Annmarie to come out and help while I went for the tractor.  I chained the tractor to the pickup and had Annmarie drive the tractor.  No go, it could not pull it out.  I dug a path three more times by hand, threw rocks under the back tires repeatedly and even went and dug up a whole bucketful of dirt to weigh down the front of the tractor!  In true guy fashion I just kept trying different things.  Two hours later we finally got the pickup out.  I then filled the area with a little more dirt and leveled it with the tractor.  I really need to work on the wall and raise it another three feet.  

Annmarie woke me up from my prework nap so we could change Hog's dressing.  She was not very cooperative and threw a little fit.  We did get the dressing changed but she is not happy about having to stay in the yard.  
After dinner, Donna called to say that the sheep were out front around the houses.  Yesterday, we saw them out and just figured it was because our nephew was mowing the lawn and left the gate open.  Zeke loved it as he got to go chase the sheep.  So today when we told him he could go do some more "work" he was a happy camper.  I grabbed two horseshoe gate chains and we went down to chase the sheep back into the correct field.  I was able to tell Zeke to go around our in-law's house, he just ran around the house to meet Annmarie on the other side.  It is amazing how smart he is and how easy it is to move the sheep.  We installed the new gate latches as we think the sheep were pushing on the gates and squeezing through the gap.  I sure hope that is the problem.  

All these things needed to be done and none of them cared that they were cutting into my chore and sleep time.  I do love the farm and our life.  Somedays are just easier than others.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Day 7

It has been 7 days since Mahogany cut herself.  She is still housed in the yard and is starting to get a little grumpy about it.  But, she needs to not use that foot too much, so the yard it is.  So far, there is no sign of infection.  The wound is big and deep, and is draining as it heals.  It is healing, but the word from those with experience with these types of wounds is that it will take months.  We are changing the dressing daily.  She tolerates this pretty well as long as we don't have wash the wound out.  I did more research tonight and the recommendation is to just wipe the discharge off with saline-moistened gauze.  I'll try that tomorrow.  For now, she's healing well and we will continue to do what we can.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Horse woes

Steve alluded to Mahogany's injury in an earlier post, but I have avoided talking about it because I wasn't sure what I was going to say.  We are a few days out from the injury now, and Mahogany is doing well, and I'm optimistic for a positive outcome, so I can describe what happened.

Monday morning, Steve and I went out to take pictures of something (neither one of us can remember what at the moment) and noticed my brother's girlfriend's horses were on the hill behind the creek, outside of their pasture are.  We walked down to check out the fence Steve had just tightened earlier this spring that was supposed to keep the sheep out of the horse pasture and on the farm.  Physics being what it is, if a horse can get through the fence, then so can a much smaller sheep.  Before we headed out, we noticed blood on Mahogany's back foot.  The blood, however, was coming from her front foot.  She had a very deep cut across the back of her front foot, just above the hoof.  That's bad, for the non-horse people among us.  It was important, however, to confine the sheep, because they were headed for the hole, so I put the horses in the yard, registering that it was bad, and went to see what was up with the fence,  it turned out the horses had just rubbed the gate open, so we closed it up and went back the house.  On the way, I called Mom to get a hold of Matt to catch the wandering horses.  

We got back to the house, and looked for the source of Mahogany's injury.  She had apparently been striking at the other horses, whom she has previously gotten along with just fine, and caught the second-from-the-top strand of wire and broken it.  Yes, she snapped the wire with her foot.  About that time, my brother showed up and helped me evaluate the severity of the injury.  We determined that she had not cut the tendon, and he called someone he knew with more horse experience than both of us put together.  We just honestly did not know whether there was any hope of a horse recovering from this type of injury.  It turns out that if the tendon is not cut, and if you can keep the flies out and if an infection does not set in, the wound will probably heal.  If you have ever tried to bandage a horses ankle, you will realize this is not necessarily an easy set of conditions to achieve.

Matt was willing to help, and I really do care for my horses, so we gathered supplies and proceeded to treat the wound with Vetricin, then cover it with gauze and vet wrap, followed by a fancy duct tape booty for her.  The goal was to keep dirt and insects out of the wound so it could heal, while preventing her from re-opening the wound with every step.  Mahogany was not impressed, but we (mostly Matt) prevailed, and she ended up with a pretty silver toe.  We left that for two days, and yesterday, we reversed the process to see what we had.  It didn't look good at first.  There was a strong odor coming from the wrappings, and there was evidence of fly penetration into the tape layer.  I was getting a very bad feeling.  But, we got everything off, and amazingly, the wound itself looked very good.  Everything was the right color, and there was minimal swelling, and no evidence of infection.  So, we applied more Vetricin, wrapped it all back up, and tonight Mahogany got a shot of antibiotic.  Tomorrow we will change the dressing again.  We're on a two-day schedule for a while.

Right now it looks hopeful that she will recover.  Only time will tell if she has long term lameness or weakness.  Keep your fingers crossed for us.  I'll keep you updated.  In the meantime, she's confined to the yard.  I bring her in some hay once a day, but she's still eating the grass down very short, and Sarah has a new chore that involves a shovel and the removal of the applied horse "fertilizer" on a daily basis.  Meeka comes and goes, but really, Mahogany is much calmer with her in the yard, so she spends about half her time in the yard too.  It's a good thing I hadn't put a lot of time and effort into our landscaping, because its going to take a beating.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Cupola number one completed.

Today was the day we finished the first cupola!  It was a dreary over cast day.  A very good day to be on the barn roof.  It was very tolerable.  I snapped a picture while waiting for Jason to cut the next piece of wood and tie it to the blue rope so I could pull it up and attach it to the cupola.  Since our progress is measured in inches this year I decided I had better go cover the other cupola holes with plastic and a couple of pieces of tin to get us through until next year.  I had just crawled up the hole when a very large storm rolled in.  Jason was out watching for lighting while I tried to finish screwing the tin in place over the plastic.  I got the far side down before the rain started.  Oh boy does a cedar shake roof get slick with a little bit of rain on it.  I managed to get the second piece in place before the torrential downfall started.  I have hopes of doing another couple of days on the roof but I want to get things cleaned up and ready for winter now so I have to take it into account also.  

We ran to town and when we came back we did some more fencing down by the far end of the orchard.  The bull and sheep will no longer be able to sneak through the creek crossing.  We also used the tractor and shovels to clean out the front creek from the far end of the orchard to the creek pipe crossing.  The concrete chute where the old irrigation pump used to pump is full of dirt and grass, we just dug a path and removed most of the weeds.  I want the creek bed to dry up where the water is not running so it can be worked with the tractor.  There was a six foot wide path of mud, now there is a one foot wide channel with all the water running down it.  I am hoping that other five feet of mud dries out.  Here is a picture of the finished cupola.  

Monday, September 2, 2013

Always something different

Day 5, one piece left on each side then other 2 sides!
It has been a long holiday weekend.  Jason and I worked on the cupola both Saturday and Sunday.  It was hot!  A nice overcast day would be nice.  On Sunday at lunch time Annmarie wanted us to start sprinklers.  So I changed out broken sprinkler heads on two sprinklers and tried to pump from the front creek.  With three sprinklers running we started to run out of water, so I shut one outlet valve, water level still dropping, so I shut another outlet valve, level still dropping so I throttled the last one down 50% and the creek level still dropped.  We cannot pump out of the front creek at this time.  There is only a small amount running.  So after Jason cut the same board three times and I threw it off the roof three times we called it quits on the roof for the day.  Instead we went to go look at the spring head up by the old chicken coop.  It does indeed have a cavern and it was all clogged up with grass and weeds.  We raked and shoveled the grass out till we got down to the area I could dredge with the tractor.  I dredged it and scooped out a few yards of foul smelling mud and dead weeds.  This is not pleasant work by any stretch of the imagination.  

I went out before dinner to get eggs and noticed that it was very dark due to a sudden storm having moved in.  My automatic chicken door had closed early locking several chickens outside the coop.  I had to chase the chickens around the coop three times before they would go inside the human door into the coop.  I have only been getting 3-4 eggs/day recently.  It finally dawned on me that the chicken light is out!  They are not getting enough light.  I will fix that very soon.  One of the horses got into the barb wire fence fighting with some other horses yesterday.  She tore up her front foot dorsal side pretty bad down near the hoof.  So I went and fixed the fence while Annmarie and her brother Mathew bandaged up Mahogony (horse).  She is now living in the front yard for the duration to limit her movement and keep her foot clean.  Annmarie is very worried that she will heal.  Time will tell, but the waiting is hard.