Early last summer, Sir Scruffy, the scruffy terrier who has a most delightful personality, had an infected foot. Apparently, a very sharp grass seed had become lodged in his foot. A wound then formed on Sir Scruffy foot and he spent about the next week or so licking and opening the wound so that he could remove the grass seed.
If you have ever felt a grass seed, you’ll know that they have tiny barbs along the spines of the seeds which are a cunning adaption for the plant because the seeds become easily lodged in an animals fur. The animals then become the unwitting transport facility for the grass seed which can travel quite a distance from the parent plant.
I tend to allow the animals here enough time to sort out any health related problems themselves. After that period of time I may inflict upon them a visit to the local veterinarian. For simple matters such as a grass seed stuck in a dogs foot, I sort of figure that both the Sir Scruffy breed of terrier, and the grass plants, have been on the planet long enough that they know their own business well enough to remove the grass seed without me needing to intervene.
However, after a period of about a week or so, Sir Scruffy was still licking the open sore on his foot and so I decided that a visit to the veterinarian was possibly the next best option.
The veterinarian examined Sir Scruffy and explained that the dog possibly had a grass seed lodged in his foot. Then the veterinarian explained that surgery was the best option. Because I’m me and I'm not shy about such things, I asked the veterinarian for a quote for the surgery. The veterinarian went away and came back with a quote for $800 for this surgery. The veterinarian then went onto to explain that the surgery came with no guarantees and that on one notable occasion three separate surgeries (at $800 each) had to be undertaken to remove a grass seed from a particular dog. The veterinarian then went onto explain that it was very unlikely that Sir Scruffy would recover without the surgery. The editor and I asked the veterinarian for a few quiet minutes to discuss our options.
Now Sir Scruffy and I share a bond and we are able to communicate and so we had a brief conversation which went something like this:
Chris: Mate, this dude wants $800 to perform surgery on your foot. Now you’re an old dog and that invasive surgery with general anaesthetic is a real risk for you.
Sir Scruffy: Sure, my foot hurts and I’m an old dog, but far out, I don’t want to die over a grass seed. You do realise there are still plenty more bones in the world yet to chew upon, don’t you?
Chris: I hear you bro and it would be an ignoble end to die over complications relating to surgery which is a possibility for an old dog like you.
Sir Scruffy: Yeah, not cool man. Have you asked the veterinarian dude whether there are any other cheaper and less invasive options?
Chris: I never would have thought about asking him about other cheaper and less invasive options. That’s why you are the smartest dog in the household.
Sir Scruffy: What can I say, I’m the dog!
Chris: You are the dog! I’ll ask the veterinarian.
When the veterinarian came back into the room, I asked them about other alternative cheaper and less invasive options than surgery on Sir Scruffy’s foot. Sure enough, the veterinarian suggested that a course of broad spectrum antibiotics and an anti-inflammatory would help the situation, but that it was very unlikely to correct the problem of the grass seed being lodged in Sir Scruffy’s foot. At that point, I suggested that we would go with that option and wait and see what happens.
Sir Scruffy was put on a course of antibiotics for two weeks and the open wound on his foot completely healed in that time and there is no sign of inflammation or internal swelling from a foreign body (i.e. the grass seed). This is Sir Scruffy today in the rainy orchard happily munching upon a choice bone (he looks like a wet sheep, does he not?):
|Sir Scruffy in the rainy orchard today happily munching upon a choice bone|
Years ago, I’d allowed Old Fluffy the very formidable Pomeranian and previous boss dog here to undergo surgery when she was about sixteen years of age. The surgery was optional for a health issue that was not bothering her, and Old Fluffy died within two months of that surgery. Old Fluffy never really fully recovered from that surgery and I felt that I had done her a disservice. And so I vowed not to repeat that mistake on an old dog.
|Scritchy the boss dog and her side kick Toothy supervise the production of sake on the wood heater|
Scritchy the fox terrier is the current boss dog and she is getting on in years too. Lewis, who is a regular commenter at the blog here suggested that she may benefit from a regular dose of something called baby aspirin (an excellent suggestion!). However, there is no such thing as baby aspirin as far as I am aware in Australia, instead we call such an medicine by the fancy name of “low dose aspirin”. I only discovered the different name for what is ostensibly the same product after mentioning to the chemist that I intended to use the medication on my old dog. To the pharmacists absolute credit, he didn’t flinch for even one single moment and simply pointed to the low dose aspirin and made no further comment on the subject.
For the past few weeks, I have been administering one third of a low dose aspirin to Scritchy, with the other two thirds going to the much larger Sir Scruffy. The yearly cost of this treatment for both dogs is about $10 for over 350 tablets. And I have been amazed at the difference in both of the older dogs as they are now much more limber than previously. I have never received that advice from a veterinarian and I’m not disputing their skills, which are considerable, but I do wonder at what point in time they collectively chose to put profits ahead of basic care?
Anyway, as I speak canine, I asked the other dogs for their opinions about the older and recently improved Scritchy boss dog:
Toothy: Scritchy is so much more fun. We run around and around all day long and she bites me. Fun!
Sir Scruffy: Scritchy is OK, I just wish she stopped taking my bones.
Poopy: Scritchy. She one mean kitty.
Before administering the regular low dose asprin, I was of the opinion that Scritchy had mellowed into a lovely older dog who just like to plop around the place, whilst occasionally exerting her authority, but no, Scritchy was just old and crunchy. Scritchy is now back and she means business!
Observant readers will note in the photo above that we have recently constructed two custom cut stainless steel cooling trays to sit on top of the wood heater. On those trays we are cooking all sorts of interesting food stuffs such as: Sake (rice wine); Yoghurt; and raising bread dough. There seems little in point not using the energy that you do have, and more importantly who doesn’t like homemade Sake?
Over the past four days a huge storm rolled up from the Southern Ocean and it has dumped huge quantities of rain. It has rained and then it has rained some more. The water tanks are holding as much water as they can hold.
|Water pours into the house water tanks during this most recent storm|
The swale below the tomato enclosure was full of water at various times over the past few days. That swale captures any overflow from the house water tanks, as well as capturing any water that collects in front of the house.
|The swale below the tomato enclosure was full of water at various times over the past few days|
I have been considering adding a bushfire sprinkler down the hill and not far at all from that swale in the above photo . The problem that I have had with that arrangement was that in the event of a bushfire, I would not want to venture that far away from the house, and so I have been wondering how to turn a bushfire sprinkler on or off again at that distant location. The answer was obvious in hindsight and today I added a ¾ inch valve that can turn off the water supply at that distant location. A valve is simply a fancy name for a tap that can switch water flow on or off again using a handle at the top of the valve.
|A valve was installed so as to be able to turn water on and off again at a distant location down the hill in the event of a bushfire|
I recently installed a few treated pine posts so as to be able to attach garden taps, bushfire sprinklers and hang 30m / 100ft garden hoses upon. In another example of product crapification, two of the hose hangars failed and bent under the weight of the garden hoses. I have used this brand before and have never had any problems with them. The photo speaks for itself though:
|A garden hose hangar which was installed recently failed as the steel bent|
So as not to waste the steel used in the manufacturing of this garden hose holder, I added a strong bracket underneath so as to support the weight of the hose upon the steel hangar. Problem fixed:
|A strong steel bracket was placed underneath the garden hose hangar so as to support the weight of the garden hose|
The wallabies have been up to their old tricks of destroying fruit trees and I spotted this classic example of wallaby vandalism on a young plum tree in the orchard:
|A wallaby broke this large leading branch on a young plum tree|
The deer who are very occasional visitors to the farm have also been up to fruit tree destroying tricks and I spotted some deer damage to this loquat tree:
|Deer have stripped this loquat tree of much of its leaves|
Both trees will probably be set back a year or two in their growth, but they should eventually recover. Before removing any steel cages which protect the many fruit trees here, I have to take a guess as to whether the fruit trees will survive the damage that the wallabies and deer may inflict upon them. Basically the fruit tree has to be pretty large before the steel cages can be removed.
This week, I removed several fruit trees from their cages and released them into the world! Be free.
|A large apricot tree had its cage removed this week|
|A large European pear tree had its cage removed this week|
In the photo above for the European pear tree, the wallabies should prune all of the lower growth which is most likely rootstock anyway, so not all of the wallabies actions are negative on the trees.
There is a mystery nectarine tree next to the chicken enclosure. The tree is a mystery because it never goes fully deciduous. A mystery!
|This mystery nectarine tree never goes fully deciduous. You can even see new buds forming on the branches|
The chickens have mostly ignored the stormy and rainy weather of the past few days. This is because they enjoy an all-weather run which is protected from the worst of the summer and winter weather.
|The chickens enjoy an all-weather run which protects them from the worst of the summer and winter weather|
At night the chickens are toasty warm and out of the wind in the hen house which is attached to that all-weather run.
|The chickens sleep toasty warm in their hen house which is attached to the all-weather run|
Spring is almost upon us and I see signs of it everywhere. The Manchurian Pear is just about to produce leaves:
|The Manchurian Pear is just about to produce leaves|
The second deciduous trees to produce leaves are the almonds and they are always the first to bloom in spring.
|The second deciduous trees to produce leaves are the almonds|
And I would like to finish the blog with some flower photos from about the farm:
|The tree lucerne near the chook enclosure are producing even more flowers this week|
|Snow drops are the very first flowering bulbs|
|The alkanet plants are producing lots of flowers|
|This rosemary produced pink flowers rather than the usual blue flowers|