Thursday, December 22, 2011

Winter Solstice

One of my favorite times of year. Imperceptibly ~ the days will now start to lengthen.

The dark of Winter makes people celebrate light in other ways--candles, fires, lights. Somehow, someway we need our spirits lifted from the vespers of Midwinter's Eve.

Today most people maybe don't realize the importance of the Winter Solstice. We, for the most part, don't really have to worry about not having enough food, or warmth to make it through the next few months. But, for some reason this day still resonates with me.. maybe it's the gardener inside. ;) I get to look out at the sleeping garden, planning it's design for next year. Seed catalogs will start coming in any day ~ perfect for thumbing through, picking out new varieties to try. My garden clothes are clean for days at a time. It's a period of rest and reflection. Solstice actually means 'Sun stands still'. So what better time of year to do just that.

Amid the hustle and bustle of these last few days before Christmas ~ I hope you can take a moment and pause to catch your breath.

Merry Christmas
Happy New Year

Sunday, December 11, 2011

On Farming...

I saw a man,
An old Cilician, who occupied
An acre or two of land that no one wanted,
A patch not worth the ploughing, unrewarding
For flocks, unfit for vineyards; he however
By planting here and there among the scrub
Cabbages and white lilies and verbena
And flimsy poppies, fancied himself a king
In wealth, and coming home late in the evening
Loaded his board with unbought delicacies.
- Virgil, The Georgics (29 B.C.)

Thursday, December 1, 2011


Voltron II gave up the good fight today. :(

He had been sick for the past 2 months. I think he had continued living only through my shear force of will ;) well, and his too. He did not give up easily.

Anytime one of my chickens is sick and dies I take them to WADDL for diagnostics. I actually took Voltron in this morning before he died, because I was afraid that he was beginning to suffer. Dr. Crespo is absolutely wonderful and extremely patient. I was lucky enough to be able to actually be present for his necropsy. I know this is not the norm for most folks. But--because of my back ground in animal medicine, I think she was gracious enough to let me in ;)

Soo.. what we found out is interesting. Remember he was at the State Fair back in September and it was shortly afterwards that he started showing signs of illness. Naturally I had been assuming the worst and kept waiting for more of the flock to come down with Something. They never did thankfully and Voltron was kept isolated during his entire sickness. At the necrospy he showed no signs of The Biggies (Mareks, etc).. but he DID have a weird looking crop. Upon closer examination it was apparent the oddness was caused by a yeast infection (candidiasis) .. which is very treatable. I immediately felt guilty for missing such an easy fix. Dr. Crespo said "Now wait, it's usually secondary to something else, let's keep looking..." ;) In examining his heart, she found a hole in it, between the right and left ventricles. Very interesting. She is going to send me pictures. :) The stress of being at the fair coupled with a bad heart was enough to let a yeast infection settle in and make him very very sick.

Soo, unfortunately, the candidiasis is treatable but the hole in the heart would have gotten him eventually anyway. Dr. Crespo told me how to check for a yeast infection in the crop by several ways--one is a method anyone can do, the other you would need access to a microscope. If you have a young sick chicken, palpate the crop. You will be able to feel the thickness in it that is the yeast infection. Use your pointer finger and your thumb and run them along the crop. So, first practice on your healthy chickens so you know what a normal healthy crop would feel like ;) I have to say, his crop was very thick and it would have been easy to palpate the abnormality if I had known to look for it. Unfortunately I was just looking for fullness in it. To treat for the yeast infection you would use copper sulfate. The dosing is extremely important so it is something that must be researched before using. As with most anything poultry related, it is all off- label and at your own risk.
mmmph! Chickens! :P