Thursday, 20 February 2014

In Sickness and in Health

Brian 'Sparks' on this week's visit
We seem to be 'enjoying' a succession of minor ailments moving through the 'farm' recently. You'll know about the limping Guinea Fowl (now fixed) but tonight's post is a bit of an animal health round up. I am going to start with the humans - me in fact. Monday into Tuesday saw us playing host to Sparks, Mrs Sparks and their lad, Brian all down for a meal and an overnight. They came equipped with B's new telescope, a present from Santa, which I wanted to try out too, so we were hoping that our pollution-free and light-pollution-free skies would be clear. No such luck on that bit - 10/10 cloud and for B, none of the usual baby animals to look at and cuddle, plus sloppy mud preventing him from charging about like usual, but it all went OK.

Buff Orpington rooster needs the sick bay.
For me though, almost on the last mouthful of Liz's delicious roast chicken dinner, a resounding crack as I accidentally bit down on a bone, told me a tale of a broken tooth or filling and a trip to the dentist. As I type this I am just back from there with one tooth fewer and a jaw as numb as numb can be, miserably waiting for the numbness to wear off and the pain to kick in. The tooth proved to be cracked neatly in half along the jaw line and the dentist, (a very nice bloke despite his trade!) is involved in writing exam questions for trainee dentists. He asked if I'd mind him photo-ing my tooth for use in one which he thought would really make the trainees sweat. So I may have a famous tooth. He is emailing me the pic, but I will put it up here as an optional link - not everybody wants to see a manky, much-filled, 56 year old tooth, no matter how clean and impressive the crack.

The offending picture is now on

but don't go there unless you are strong of constitution!

Lieutenant-Colonel, Sir Bufton Tufton 
Next up in our tale of woe came our Buff Orpington rooster who announced his sickness first thing Tuesday morning with a rather odd gurgling version of Cock-a-doodle-doo and then spent that day mooping around in the hedge banks, standing still with his head sagged down looking decidedly miserable. First port of call on any chicken problems is Mentor Anne, of course and she was quickly able to put me on to a couple of very experienced experts (Thanks Anne, Thanks Ray, Thanks Steve). The current thinking is that this came on too fast to be worms (everyone's first suspicion) and is probably just a chill infection due to the cold wet long horrible winter. The treatment is therefore isolation but in the warm and dry, tempting food, water plus dribbling sugar-water into his beak, or a few mill of cod liver oil. Anne also gave me a fun suggestion which they have used successfully while living in Spain, and that is to smear a little Marmite onto the beak which gets the bird licking its 'lips' and can stimulate the appetite. The first part worked - he was slurping away at the Marmite like a good 'un with evident pleasure, but just not willing to translate this into pecking up the food. Well, he made it through the night and looks no worse. He has now had some broad-spectrum antibiotics (Tylosin) and is settled down to roost in the spare room / sick bay.

Goldie pinned down by all four feet!
So, we move on to rabbits. If Anne is our go-to adviser for the chooks, then Charlotte of the mini horses, down the road, is our rabbit expert. Our male meat-breed only-remaining-son-of-Goldie is currently down with Charlotte, doing his duty as stud. Charlotte had noticed that he had some grot in his ears, possibly as a result of fighting with his other young male chum, or maybe ear mites. Rabbits are terrible for ear problems deep down in the ear, because the skin, once broken or damaged comes back as a soft, orange-peel type layer which itches the rabbit, who then scratches some more to try to relieve the itch.

Caught early it can be treated. Left, it covers the whole ear and starts to move down to the neck etc and you have a sorry situation especially if your bunny is a 'spare' living-larder rather than a belov├ęd pet. If it's mites, it is also highly contagious and you need to race round all your rabbits checking deep inside both ears of every one. Luckily for us, we have Charlotte now in full-on Vet-Nurse training mode doing her work experience fortnight with Aoife-rhymes-with-Deefer (our vet) and passing by our gate each evening already clothed in wet+cold weather gear and wellies. It was like 'Animal Hospital' that day as we grabbed up each rabbit in turn and shone torches down their ears. Ginny and Padfoot were clear but poor Goldie, our big female had some signs.

Ear mites and/or general 'mank' in Goldie's ears
We brought Goldie indoors - she's a big docile softy, so she doesn't mind being wrangled in and laid on the 'operating table' but no rabbit likes it when you wrap a finger in a cotton wool pad and poke it right in to the ear canal down deep, so I hung onto all four legs while Charlotte cleaned her out. We also now have, from Aoife, some anti-mite, anti-infection, anti-itch, anti-inflammatory jollop called 'Surolan' so Goldie has a 5 day programme of being jolloped and cleaned out to look forward to. Poor Golds.

Probable double yolker from one of the Hubbard hens
Continuing on our rove around the other animals, it's all a bit healthier and less of a worry. Cody is awaiting his gelding operation which we have to squeeze into the narrow window between the risk of frost (which interferes with blood clotting in the open wound) and the re-awakening of the horrible flies which might 'blow' the wound with their maggots. Goocie is now showing signs of having been mated by George (feathers missing from the back of her head) so we are letting her now start to build up a clutch of eggs and maybe go broody. She lays one every other day but we have been stealing them for cooking. On pigs, Paul-the-Fencing showed up today out of nowhere, with no warning, keen to do a bit of fencing for Vendor Anna and I asked him to come and have a look at my pig-fencing plans. He was happy to do this and is now going to give me a price for a day of helping (or leading) me. He has all the proper gear for making holes, straining the wires and so on, plus the know-how and experience. I could probably have done a passable job but I'd rather have a Paul-job done.

So, there you go. We live in interesting times. I will update you on all these patients in the next post.


Mr Silverwood said...

It must be the time of year, I think animals and humans are coming down with all sorts.

Matt Care said...

I'm sure you are right, Mr Silverwood. Charlotte is working with Aoife at the moment on work experience and they are getting called to no end of pneumonia cases in all sorts of animals.