Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Getting Vetted

I don't have kids, but I'm told a large proportion of a mother's (or father's) day is spent driving them places. For small people without jobs, kids need to be a lot of places: school, piano lessons, swim club, doctor's appointments for jabs and check-ups. I guess they're kind of like animals in that last respect.

I was up early yesterday morning driving a couple of our fur kids to their vet appointment. Dakota needed her boosters, and Dulcie needed the vet's OK to get back to work, post-ligament repair. It was all fine until I returned home. I pulled into our drive to find Mike standing there, with Spud on a leash. Mike took her for a walk and Spud managed to eat a rat, which may or may not have been poisoned. I dumped the two dogs off, and stuck Spud in the truck and drove back to the vets. The vet nurses took Spud in the back room to purge her of her prize.

Spud coughed up a huge rat, completely intact, which she must have swallowed whole. The nurses called me and the rest of the staff in to have a look (it was a slow day). Spud got a jab of vitamin K, two boxes of pills to take home, and a dose of antibiotics for the now angry looking bites, possibly rat-related, on her snout. I got a bill and some teasing from the vets. So much for my 'No Vets this Month' plan.

And do you think I managed to keep away from the vets today? If you said Yes, then you're forgetting about these -

No, it's not Eudora this time. That's her on the left and she's back to normal.

Alright, nearly normal. If you don't count the bucket on her head.

This time the poorly sick sheep is Eunice, the little ewe lamb born in October. I noticed her ears were hanging a bit heavy.Weird thing to notice, I know.

Eunice (middle row, right)

I assigned fault to myself, thinking I must have put her ear tags in wrong. I got a closer look last night at feeding time, and noticed her ears and nose were crusty. Really scabby and exuding something undesirable. In fact the only desirable crust on a lamb is when it's coming out of the oven, and she's not destined for that. She needs to remain crust-free at all times. The vet came this morning to administer more jabs.

You're probably thinking surely all the other animals are well. Think again. One of the meat chickens died from pulmonary infection, there's been an outbreak of scaly leg in the big hen house, and my old barbu d'uccle is decidedly peaky. It's Crittergeddon. I'm expecting a plague of locusts to descend. That's fine - as long as they don't want me to take them to the vets.

I almost forgot about Tom/Tomasina, our transsexual Silkie chicken -

Perhaps I should have named her Victor/Victoria

I'm not sure if she's a hen with male characteristics, or a hermaphrodite. I'm not even sure I need to know. S/he's spunky and I like her. And we're an accepting household. If Tom is a hermaphrodite, genetics may condemn him/her to a shorter than normal life. Hermaphrodite pheasants die upon reaching sexual maturity.

It's not just a pox on our animals. It's our major appliances too. The oven died Monday night. Of course, we had invited guests for dinner the following night and defrosted a roast already. I worked out a way to cook it under the grill which was still working, and everyone got fed. The new oven won't arrive for 7-10 days, but there's plenty of gin and coconut macaroons. That's like two of the four food groups, right? Our friendly local pub will feed us too. The worst part is the expense. It's going to cost me ten deer to the game dealers to pay for it. Or two lambs and two deer. Or 500 half dozen eggs. It's a good thing the hens have started laying again.

In fact, I used that lot of eggs to barter a soil test from our agronomist. It's time to spread farmyard manure and I need to know if Milkweed is short of nutrients. I also need to find a farmer wanting to get rid of it, and a contractor to spread it. Contractors don't work for eggs unfortunately.

Otherwise, this time of year I'm enjoying the first snowdrops flowering in the woods - 

The dogs are with me. Their job is to clean up any wounded pheasants resulting from the last week of shooting -

We only found a few. I dispatched them and put the breasts in the freezer, ready for when we have a working oven again.

The few hours a day when I'm not at the vets, I'm trying to finish painting the kennels. I can enjoy a gin while slapping on the wood treatment so it's not the worst job. I got news from the estate office that we're expecting a visiting dignitary next month. That means security checks, and a rush to tidy up the garden in case of a drive-by viewing. At least the kennels will look nice.

I hope Spud won't do her party trick with the rat.


Maria said...

Never a dull day huh?? I hope all the critters make it through alright. Your impending visit from dignitaries intrigues me - you've got me wondering who it could be??
Gin & kennel painting - sounds like a good combination :o)

Jennifer Montero said...

Maria - Never a dull day, and never any discretionary spending money either. But I'm not complaining.

I apologise for sounding cryptic. I'll give you all the details after the visit. As a "good servant", I'm bound by protocol, and security issues.

Kate said...

I hope your vet visits are done. The visiting dignitary thing, and you being a good servant... Does this mean it's happening where you work as opposed to where you live? Maybe I'm confused. I thought M&T was your own place now and you were done with the big house thing. Yes? No? I'm trying to work out whether a visiting dignitary (if it were my own place) would be sort of exciting, or purely a pain in the ass. Pimping an employer's place for a VD (isn't the acronym evocative?) would probably be the latter, I'm guessing.

KD said...

I think Eudora makes a good role model. Think I'll go stick my head in a bucket and see if things look brighter in there. Courage!

megan said...

crust-free at all times, and crittergeddon. Snork.
I would say "hopefully that's all over with," but we know better....!

Paula said...

Okay then! Makes me think I know who it is; I'll be curious to see if I'm right.

What a hellish week! I'm sorry that it's all hitting the fan at the same time. I'm glad that you have plenty of gin. That would be my choice right after scotch, which I'm more prone to drink with ice. Gin likes to be mixed into martinis, of which I'm very fond...smack, smack....that's sounds really good- I haven't had a martini in awhile. What time is it? 4:23? Close enough.

I would FREAK if I had a dog swallow a rat, whole or otherwise. Unfortunately, dogs swallow a lot of things of questionable provenance and age, and I have picked up my share of dog vomit to know it.

I'm very sorry to hear about Eunice, and hope you get her well again soon. I had to read that paragraph out loud to Steve.

And now for that martini....

Jennifer Montero said...

Kate - I think we're going to adopt the VD term around here. Brilliant observation.

A "good servant" would say that it's not for me to comment on the pleasures or difficulties of preparing for visitors (ahem). But of course, it's part of our job, and most people go to work to earn money, not for entertainment.

Apologies for the confusion. Yes M&T are ours, but our home is a tied cottage, a house built to house staff (it's about 100 yrs old). It's on the estate and therefore under the jurisdiction of Lord & Lady. All the houses in the village, and even the farms, belong to the estate. So we live where we work, but M&T are a few miles outside the village and we can do what we like there.

VD is visiting the big house, and we're at the entrance to their formal drive. We need to look "pleasantly quaint", not "struggling rural poor".

Jennifer Montero said...

KD - Make sure it's a rose-colored bucket to get the full effect

Megan - I'm hopeful too. Very hopeful. Almost 'in denial' hopeful. It's probably from the gin and paint fumes.

Paula - I'm so relieved that you mentioned 4.23 as being close enough. That's about when I started.

I don't suppose the talk of dog vomit phased you in the least. You can't own a dog and be squeamish.

Our pack lives to eat stuff of 'questionable provenance' as you eloquently put it, and they have nearly 3000 acres to scavange over. The bonus with retrieving breeds is they bring it back to SHOW you first, before wolfing it down.

Kate said...

Jennifer, thanks for the clarification. I suppose we're dating ourselves by seeing the humor in "VD." The younger crowd would only know the newer acronym for the same thing, I suspect.

Maria said...

I'm loving VD as an acronym...don't apologise about being cryptic, I totally get that you can't tell us. Hey, it makes it more interesting for now - we might be disappointed when you actually tell us.. (or not. but after the 'Mike fished Kate Moss out of the river on shoot day' we may be harder to surprise! ).

and LOL about retrieving dogs showing you stuff before they eat it at least...

Bumbling Bushman said...

I can't even imagine what it must be like to have all those needy souls relying on you for health and services. I sometimes get worn down just taking care of my two dogs and one cat!

Jennifer Montero said...

Kate - I understand it's not longer a D for disease but an I for infection. Either way, some days your comparison is still pretty valid.

Maria - I'm sure you will be disappointed. If it helps I can tell you that I picked up birds behind Eric Clapton this season, who was a gentleman and a great shot.

BB - 2 dogs or 9 dogs, the potential is still there for vet visits. It doesn't seem like it from my recent posts, but our dogs are relatively healthy. Sheep are sheep, always in the throes of trying to escape or die, and I can't make any excuses for them.

Sara said...

I see they've announced my upcoming visit. Good. I do so dislike an untidy garden.

I wish I were going over for a visit! I miss you! If the world were a barter economy like where you seem to be maybe I could afford a trip over my useless cats? No, I guess I have nothing of value to offer. But I think it's totally cool that you can offer several options to cover the cost of an oven.

Hoping that the descending locusts won't need to go to the vet to extract the whole rats they've each somehow swallowed. I admit, a dog swallowing a whole rat kind of grossed me out. Whole! It'll give me something interesting to mention to Rob over dinner tonight...

Jennifer Montero said...

Sara - If you were visiting I would proudly display my bucket and plastic tarp collection currently doing the tour of our front yard.

I miss you too and take solace in the fact that you're moving slightly closer to me this time.

I can't believe that you're so stuck for dinner conversation that you're going to tell Rob the rat story. Now I wish I'd taken pictures.

Tell him I've also stopped kissing Eudora since I found out I can contract orf that way. It's like sheep herpes. (We're back to the VD conversation...)

Karen Thomason/Gordon Setter Crossing said...

I always knew you were a very buys person, but WOW. You have a lot on your plate. Hope you get that new oven soon......or not.....depending on how much you enjoy not being able to cook!
And I hope Spud won't "present" her kill at an awkward moment. (giggle giggle)

Heidianne said...

I will quit whining to my husband about how hard it is to maintain our house and business now. Iam in awe of your ability to keep a sense of humor about all those sick animals, your hard work, and running a small farm.
Loved your comment "We need to look "pleasantly quaint", not "struggling rural poor".
We just got rid of the blue tarp carport,and the old refrigerator languishing in the driveway. It looks slightly better than struggling rural poor(which is our reality) around here, but miles away from quaint.

Tamar@StarvingofftheLand said...

"Struggling rural poor" is so much more dignified that "trailer trash," which is how we describe our tarp-covered, debris-strewn, vehicle-littered, down-at-heels property. I've often been glad that our house can't be seen from the road. If I had to keep us looking "pleasantly quaint" I'd be in deep trouble.

I'll be sending in my soil samples, too, and I'd be tempted to offer a swap of sea salt for topsoil if postage weren't prohibitive -- I imagine that having animals graze all over M&T is doing wonders for its dirt.

I hope Eunice gets well soon, and that your vet remembers his best customers at Christmas.