Monday, November 24, 2008

Where, Oh Where, Has My Little Dog Gone?

Not to worry - they're all safe and sound in their beds tonight, but it does seem that my youngest, my boy, has taken leave of, himself.

Here's how it happened. Last weekend, I went away to visit a friend. I left on Saturday, and returned Monday evening to warm, furry welcomes from all my four-legged charges. We all went to bed content that night, but sometime in the wee hours, my boy Harvey woke us all with a horrible squeal - the sound a dog makes when you step down hard on its tail. It was followed by many more just like it. We checked him over, and he didn't seem hurt, but he was extremely anxious. He paced the house for hours, trembling and whining. He wanted to be near me but wouldn't let me touch him. He wanted no part of going back to bed. He spent the rest of the night wandering the house with his tail tucked under and ears flat, shaking like a leaf. This incident has repeated itself, with varying degrees of severity, every single night for a week.

The trip to the vet was prompt, but the results were inconclusive. The Doc was perplexed and could only think that perhaps it was a seizure (not all that uncommon, apparently). He sent us home with Phenobarbital and instructions to dispense at the onset of another "episode". We find this a bit hard to swallow, as we've witnessed nothing at all that looks like a seizure, nor any of it's side-effects. There has been no involuntary movement, no collapsing or loss of consciousness, he's never unresponsive. This happens every night, roughly between the hours of 3:00 am and 6:00 am, only when Harvey is sleeping. After Monday he abruptly changed his entire sleep habit. He gave up his normal position on our bed and began huddling in the very corner, at the post, poised to fall off the bed at a moment's notice. He eventually gave up on the bed altogether, and began sleeping on blankets on the floor. Without fail, even after the most sleepless of nights, when his feet hit the floor in the morning it is as if nothing ever happened. This is a complete and utter mystery to us.

We don't like to, but we've broken down and begun giving him the Phenobarbital. It seems to be the only hope any of us have to get some rest. He's only just over a year old, my Harvs, and is a busy, energetic boy. You'd never know it now. Between the lack of sleep and the barbiturates, he spends his waking hours in a slow daze. Oh, he still wants to play, but when I throw the ball, he gives chase in a listless and leisurely manner, and not too many times before he tires out or loses interest. His raison d'etre has always been to run circles around his sisters in the evening, barking excitedly and trying to entice them to play. Now he just can't be bothered.

It's heartbreaking to see him this way, but equally so to hear him cry out in the night. We really don't know what happened, or what to do. I just want my dog back, hyper and all. I miss that spastic little bugger.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Happy Friday

No news today, just a little chicken dance. :)

I'm out of town until Monday, so have a great weekend, all!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Egg Salad and Quackers

The barnyard is now integrated! We've started letting the ducks out of the house to explore. This is only day three, so they haven't wandered very far yet. The very first day, after some mildly traumatic wing clipping, we opened the door and walked away. It took them about an hour to finally venture out. They stayed within a few feet of the house, and shuttling them back in at night was easy. On day two, they were slightly bolder, ventured a bit farther and we circled the duck house about fifteen times before I got them all back inside. They don't much care for confinement, and aren't the types to put themselves to bed the way the chickens do, so this will likely be a nightly occurrence.

This morning they were waiting for me at the door of their house, and came right out when I opened it. They haven't yet discovered the pond, but I'm already imagining what it will be like when they do. I'm already having nightmares about herding them all the way back home from the far (and largely inaccessible) side of the pond, up the hill, past the house to their ccop. That should be big fun.

In case you were wondering, the chickens are still photogenic.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Missing Link

Even though I live in Texas, having a fire at home is important to me. It's my preferred way to relax, and it makes me feel very cozy, very nest-y. It's uncommon here for houses to be built with fireplaces (for good reason), so we generally make our fires outside, camp-out style. Some time ago I moved my backyard fire pit, brick by brick, from old house to new, and have been waiting for an opportunity to light it up ever since. It was beginning to seem ill-fated. Every time I thought I'd have my chance, it would get sidelined by other plans, or it would become unacceptably windy or suddenly way too warm. I became more and more despondent, thinking that maybe it just wasn't to be.

Finally, on Saturday night, I got my chance. I couldn't have asked for a better night for it. It was perfectly clear and perfectly calm, there were tons of stars to see, and it was just cold enough for the fire to feel great. At long last, I was really home.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Sunday, November 2, 2008


Today was worm bed maintenance day, and it occurred to me that I've never really shared any details of the worm bed here on the blog, nor did I have a single good picture. Well, let's just fix that, shall we?

Today's job was to separate out the castings and put them in fresh bedding, as well as assess their general condition. We have a very large wooden bin on legs way in the dark, back corner of the barn. Jerry built it just for this purpose, and it has holes drilled in the bottom for drainage. It gets filled about three-quarters full with shredded paper (I use newspaper and office paper) and then I spread about a shovel full of rabbit manure into that. The whole mess gets lightly moistened so it is just damp, and this makes the paper compress down so it winds up only being about half full. The worms live in here, and slowly turn the paper and kitchen scraps we give them into wonderful, garden-friendly castings (that's the stuff that looks like soil, above).

The way to separate the worms from the castings to pile everything up onto a plastic sheet or other similar surface (I used a split-open feed sack). You want to make a rather tall pile. Shine a bright light on the pile, and the worms will gravitate away from the light, down to the bottom of the pile. Every few minutes, you can take a layer of castings off the top, until finally you reach a point where you're down to mostly worms. At this point you can place the worms into their new bedding.

Mine looked good, and after about two months I appear to have roughly twice as many as I started with. I didn't see very many small worms, nor did I see any eggs, though, which leads me to believe that I'll need to supply them with more food. If there is not enough food and they're forced to compete for it, their population will not grow as quickly.

So there you have it - a fun Sunday with WURMS!