My Tunes

Friday, November 7, 2014

Lovely Autumn weather and a brutal murder.

Here's my youngest son, William and baby Matilda.
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We're having some very mild weather in Eastern Washington State.  The last frost was early this spring and so we had a good year for fruit.  We didn't have a frost to kill the tomato plants until October 26th! and I still have tomatoes growing in my little greenhouse.  When I left for England in early September I thought I'd seen the last of my flowers, but here they are still.  These pictures were taken today!

Clematis in the fallen leaves.
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Rose - 'The Fairy'.
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Petunias on the rock wall.  I tried to include the honey bees that were flying about, but they buzzed off.
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California poppy.
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Instead of the leaves freeze drying on the trees like they have some years, they turned pretty colours and slowly fell.
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Very sad news.  Ducky Boy was murdered on Tuesday.  I was standing outside the house with Matilda when I saw a Red-Tail hawk fly up off the ground by the crab apples.  Red Tails don't come close to the house as a general rule.  I knew he was eating one of my pets and I had a feeling who it was - Ducky Boy.  My oldest son, Keegan retired from the air force last week and is home right now, happened along as I was standing horror struck at the thought of Ducky Boy being dead.  He went closer and confirmed my fears.  That bloody hawk kept circling around and screeching.  Then he had the audacity to sit on a pole right above me, look me in the eyes and screech.

Poor little Ducky Boy.  He was such a lovely little guy.  He would follow me around the garden and would have fun playing in the dripping hose puddles by my trees or in his own little pool.  Every evening he'd go in his duck house and wait to be locked in.  He was reliable as clockwork.  Every morning in the winter, I'd fill a rubber bowl with hot water for him to sit in - oh how he enjoyed that.  He never flew very far away.  A few circuits above the house seemed to be enough for him.  Watch out when the Duck Man was coming in for a landing!   Sometimes we had to duck or we would have been ducked in the head.

This spring a wild girl duck landed on the lawn and Ducky Boy was all like - "Hey, how are you doing"?  She tried to lure him off into the wild blue yonder and I thought we were going to lose our little duck, but he just stood on his tip toes and watched her fly off.  He must have really liked us.

Now Chicky Girl sleeps all alone in the duck house.   We got her three friends this past spring.  They were supposed to be pullets, girls, but one grew a big comb and started cock-a-doodling.  One hen was eaten by a pup coyote, leaving just this horrible rooster and a very unfriendly hen.  The rooster couldn't hold a candle to dear Jet Lag and Chicky Girl hates him and hides from him.

I think I have bird drama over-load.
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Sunday, October 26, 2014

Waltzing Matilda

Meet Matilda!
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I have been in England for an extended visit with my family and just got back last week.

Friday I had a doctor's appointment in Spokane and Brad/William had some things to do there as well.  While waiting for them to get done I happened to see some Aussie pups for sale in the classified ads.  'Let's have a quick look at them' I said.  'We don't have to buy one' I said.  'They are probably funny looking pups anyway' I said.  And so we drove to Northern Idaho.

The breeder knew she had a sale soon as she handed a pup over to me.  Done deal!  Bonded!  Just like that.  Wild horses (both of them) couldn't have dragged that pup away from me.

We were totally unprepared to bring a pup home that night.  Biskit was with us for a start.  She was scared to death of the pup and jumped into the back of the rig.  Just her eyeballs and ears peeking over the back seat.  Before we were even back in Washington State the puppy, who hadn't be handled very much and was scared to death, started pooping........and pooping and then pooping some more, all over my lap.  Furthermore she was salivating all over and soaking my clothes - then, to top things off, she vomiting all down my front.

After we stopped at a rest stop on Interstate 90, so I could get sort of cleaned up, we started to think of puppy names.   We ruled out baked goods and boy names.  I wanted something Australian sounding and feminine.

And so we called our new puppy Matilda.  

Matilda was 8 weeks old today and these pictures were taken the morning after her traumatic car journey home.  It was her very first 'walkies' and she followed along like she had done it many times before.  She had so much fun.  Everything was new and wonderful to her.
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Biskit is overjoyed at being a big sister.  At first she had no idea what Matilda was, so she decides the best thing to do was to keep snarling at her.  Matilda would give Biskit's nose quick licks, making Biskit jump back in terror.  Biskit didn't realize Matilda was another dog until I put them outside together and Matilda chased Biskit.  Biskit found out she cannot play too rough with her, and despite being a juvenile delinquent, is trying her hardest to be responsible.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Teddy is gone.

April 23rd 2011 - August 7th 2014

Wednesday morning we awoke to a sick Teddy.  She was lethargic and had lost her appetite.  Brad took her to the vets right away.  She had a temp of 105+ and a high white cell count.  Our vet put her on antibiotics and said if she didn't improve he'd send her off for a ultrasound.  All her other blood tests came back normal. 

She seemed to rally that evening and even ate a little bit of sour cream and other tasty things.  By the next morning she was very ill.  She couldn't walk and was very weak.  Once again, Brad and William took her to the vets.  Our vets is 35 miles away and she died just before they got there.

Our vet was very surprised and asked to take a 'look' at her.  He was even more surprised to discover she had cancer.  Poor Teddy had a huge tumor between the top of her lungs and her heart.  He suspects it had spread to her brain. 

Two years ago Teddy was coughing, hacking like she had something caught in her throat.  We took her to WSU animal hospital and she was diagnosed with asthma.  We have been giving her prednisone ever since.  We gave her the lowest dose we could get away with and if she got had trouble we'd give her Benadryl (Diphenhydramine).

Our vet told us there was nothing anyone could have done to save her.

Teddy was a wonderful cattle dog.  While working cattle she would glance back often for instruction and was very obedient.  She loved riding in the front seat of the pick and was one of the crew.  She was a very sweet gentle dog.  She was also very affectionate with us and she loved to snuggle.  She didn't care for other people much and she'd give them a little growl to keep them moving....kind of like she would to cattle.  

Her last evening was spent watching Biskit race around the lawn with a plastic flower pot on her head.  (She was peeking through the holes in the bottom).  Now Biskit is our senior dog.  Gawd help us.  (We don't consider Blondie a real dog).  Biskit does happen to be a very good cattle dog but with a much different style than Teddy.  Teddy was been acting like she was tired sometimes this year and would sit by Brad's feet and let Biskit work the cattle.  We thought her tiredness was due to the massive amount of weight she put on due to the prednisone.

Teddy's last picture taken last month.
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She went everywhere with us, as long as the weather wasn't hot.  Here she is in Seattle.
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and in Spokane.
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Herding cows as a pup of about 6 or 7 months old.
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Last month with her friends.  Left to right, Biskit, Teddy and Blondie.
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We really miss her.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Cats and Cows.

Knowing adventures are hard to come by while lounging in my La-Z-Boy chair, I set off to look for one.  Stuffing my pockets with survival gear such as mints, mobile phone, and my unloaded  .38 (I don't know why) I set off up the north face of the bluff behind our house.  I sang the 'going walkies song' I made up to get the dogs excited.  Teddy herded me by barking at my feet.  Biskit jumped and barked all over Blondie and Blondie pretended to bite Biskit.  It was an awful racket.  Firmly gripping my hiking poles, I started off.

I didn't even make it out of base camp when I realized it was impossible for me to walk up hill.  My muscles were burning, cramping and locking up.  Even my hands and forearms hurt from holding the poles.  To think I would walk/run up that bluff almost every day!  When I turned around the dogs were so busy herding me or jumping and barking they didn't even notice there was to be no bluff adventure.

Later that day William was kind enough to help me take Maxwell, our cat, to the vets.  Five years ago he had a nasty tumor removed and now he has another tumor.  Max was in fine form as he sang all the way to vets.  Biskit went back to his cage and told him to shut up a few times.  Max is 17 years old now and enjoys a good cat life.  He lay on his back like a good boy and let the vet look at the big growth on his chest.  The vet said this one didn't look malignant, but we decided to have him operated on because the thing was open and ugly looking.  He stayed overnight and boy was he glad to see us the next day.  He sang all the way home.

While I was talking to our vet I told him about something that was worrying me.  I said to him, "Do you remember that old cow you came out to put to sleep?  She had a prolapsed uterus and her hip was displaced.....well her calf is 23 years old now and not doing too good".   He actually chuckled a bit then got professional.  Afterwards thinking about it - 23 - not doing too good, lol.

I told him she has stopped chewing her cud and has lost a lot of weight.  He explained that her front teeth have been gone for years and now she has lost her back teeth that she chews her cud with.  Then he worried me by saying if she has one tooth in there, with nothing to grind and wear it down on, it might keep growing until she won't be able close her mouth!   I questioned him about floating her tooth, if that happens, and it seems there are issues with floating a cows tooth.  Let's hope all her teeth are gone.

I put DandLyons on long grass and she couldn't handle it and went to the shorter stuff.
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The dogs were on stand-by in-case Dandylyons needed to be sorted out.
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Here's Max after his operation.  A few days later he went outside and murdered and ate a large gopher.  Just as the gophers thought it was safe...
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Max is a Manx.
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Biskit is jealous of all other pets and likes to be in the spotlight.
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When DandyLyons was a youngster, we would walk for miles.  For old times sake I took her for a walk.  We both walked very slowly.  She had some long grass in her mouth she didn't know what to do with.
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The horses were going crazy calling her.
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She uses her tongue to pull the grass up.
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I have been picking alfalfa by hand and cutting it small with scissors takes hours.  William is feeding her lots of rolled corn and I'm happy to report she's putting on weight.  Picking huge buckets of alfalfa is killing me and we have to find a better way of chopping it.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

More than you ever wanted to know about my health.

I have put off blogging for many months because I didn't want to write about my health, but I think I need to in order to explain why I haven't been writing about farm adventures or my mustangs.   The autoimmune disease I have, sarcoidosis, is getting the better of me and I have experienced debilitating pain and muscle weakness for many months.   My back is rapidly deteriorating and hurts like the dickens most of the time.  Sarc causes a complicated mineral imbalance, involving the dis-regulation of vitamin D.  The bone from my back is being reabsorbed and jettisoned.   Last year I had two operations on my lumbar region.  The second of which helped relieve a lot of the pain and sciatica.

My tailbone was extremely painful and after a year of asking for an MRI of that region, I finally had one done in November.  This led to a gamma bone scan of my pelvic region.   The tech was very chatty and explained the procedure to me.  She was also reading my prior three MRI reports to me, which I found rather disturbing.  My doctor hadn't been so open with me and spared me all the horrid bits.  The tech explained to me that bones light up (hot spots) if there something growing on them or damage due to an old break or surgery.  Well my bones lite up all over my pelvic region, looking rather festive and she wasn't so chatty anymore.  She told me she couldn't tell me anything and she had to clean up the images.  I requested the radiologists report be send to me, which they did a few days later.  It took me a few days to pluck up the courage to read the report and I wasn't surprised that he diagnosed me with metastases - of the bones and marrow.   I was pretty sure I knew what meant and googled it to make sure.  It means the spread of cancer from one body part to another.

Nobody called me for 5 weeks!  Then the doctor who ordered the test called me and mumbled something about the report being misplaced something or other and he just got the report.  He wanted me to see my GP and said he was going to call him.  Someone from my GP's office called me soon after and told me the doctor wanted to see me as soon as possible.  He broke it to me gently.  He wanted me to either see an oncologist, or he could send off to have all kinds of tests to look for the cancer source.  I told him I wasn't going to do either.

In the five + weeks since receiving the report, I had been reading as much as I could about bone sarcoidosis and also talking online to people who had it.  Like me, they had been told they had cancer and not knowing they actually had sarc, they were really run through the mill and had been very terrified.  Lucky for me I already knew I had sarcoidosis.  I'm surprised nobody didn't recommend a needle biopsy of the "metastases".   My doctor told me that he had to suggest the oncologist and all that in case it was cancer; he then added the other doctor thought it might be sarcoidosis as well.  

Bad news is the sarcoidosis is in my bones/marrow and there's less of a chance it will spontaneously go away.  Some people say they have no or little pain with it, while others say the pain is debilitating.  Some of my lesions give me no pain while others hurt only a little....but the pain in my tailbone has been unbearable, so much so that I went to a pain doctor and an injection into it guided with a c-arm x-ray.  That helped a lot.   It seems I have also have neurosarcoidosis and that would explain many of weird symptoms I have been experiencing for the last 20+ years.  My right side is weaker than the left and my right leg is noticeably smaller, especially the calf.  The latest thing is being unable to sleep on my side because within a minute of rolling on my side I start to get a very bad headache.  I haven't slept well for many months and I'm very tired and useless all day long.  I have a rare form of a uncommon disease and sometimes I feel, as far as medical helps goes, I'm pretty much on my own.  

I hope by blogging again it will get me out-and-about looking for adventure and whatever comes my way.  :)

Meanwhile back at the ranch...  

I took this picture from behind our house a few days ago.
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It's a Great Horned owl chick.  I think he's an only child.  His mum keeps an eye on him from the apple tree.  I didn't go close to him to get this shot.  I walked to the east a bit and then zoomed in.
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The top of the hill above the owl in the first picture is where our family has been scattering or placing departed loved one's ashes for almost 70 years.  Being a non-conformist, I told Brad and William I wanted to be buried under the apple tree next to my horse and DandyLyons, when her time comes that is.  William made me laugh by saying there was a betting pool on which one of us will go first, my cow or me.  lol