Monday, November 10, 2008

The ice has hit the fan.

I've been kind of quiet here - when that happens, you can pretty much count on it being due to some kind of distraction or other, generating new and improved emergencies for us.

It's an old emergency this time- called "Winter".  After living in a fool's paradise for weeks, with balmy 70°F days, and 50° nights, and record high temps last week; November has now started clearing its throat.

We were at 18°F last night.  Finding us short on firewood, short on housing for the poultry, and short on personal energy to cope.

Not really looking for sympathy here; all of this is pretty much "life", as usual.  No biggie, we'll muddle through.  Just explaining the quietness here.  I have energy to react- but it's harder to find the energy for initiative.

The reality of water- for poultry, in wintertime- without electric heaters- has arrived overnight.  Thirsty birds, water founts that could freeze and burst now (waste of permanent tools we can't afford), and a new chore- making sure the birds have water, morning and night.

We've had more than our share of illness recently, too.  Spice has been coping with a recurrence of her "walking pneumonia".  And we've all caught a cold that's gone to the sinuses; lots of fun having the little one blow gobs of green and brown gunk...  ew.

The decision to put time, money, and sweat into the guinea fowl has been confirmed as the right way to go.  In a pretty bad way.  The night before I took off for my trip, we found a tick in Smidgen's hair.  A deer tick.  Embedded, but not engorged.

Right after dropping me at the airport, Spice took the tick to the clinic for testing - and - it came back positive.  So Smidgen had to go on heavy antibiotics for Lyme disease.  She was infected, had a fever and lethargy for several days.

She's done with it now; and tested clear after the antibiotics.  But that was scary.

Lyme has been very uncommon here until recently; now it's exploding.

We've got 20 guineas left.  Owls took a few, Bruce took a few.  Haven't lost any for weeks now, and Delilah is doing well with them so far.  20 is too few to think they'll really control all the ticks here in Deer Heaven, but it's a good start, and quite likely we'd have more to cope with without them.  We've only had to pull 2 ticks total off Delilah so far, as opposed to 20/day for Bruce last summer.  Not really comparable, but still.

Busy busy.  My chores today- clean out the ash and creosote from the wood stove; it's starting to clog up the combustion.  Get some dry wood in.  That will be mostly American or rock elm, dried out on the stump; I know where it is.

Oh, yeah, and I was forgetting.  There's a deer hanging in the walnut tree out front.  Young doe, gift from the hunters we let hunt our farm.  Couldn't be more "Little House In The Big Woods".  Smidgen looked at it; "Why is that deer in the tree, Daddy?"  "It's for us to eat, Smidgen."  "Oh, goody!  Yum!  I love deer!"  

:-)  Just straight enthusiasm for everything there; I don't think she's actually had venison before.  Hadn't really planned on the work of butchering a deer; but can't pass it up, either.

Winter is a reality that you just can't ignore.  I kind of prefer my realities that way- it does make your decisions easier.


Nancy M. said...

I'm glad y'all caught that tick early! Very cool finding food in your tree like that! My husband would love that!

Farmer's Daughter said...

Thank goodness you found the tick when you did! The ones in the hair are the worst to catch. It's so common here, being that it's named after Lyme, CT, that we all have dealt with it. My dad had it so bad, thinking he was just getting old and getting arthritis, but when he finally realized what it was (by talking to a vet!) and went on the antibiotics he had a full recovery.

Unfortunately, a student of mine is dealing with this right now. She's so far along that she can't walk without a walker. With the rapid spread, you all can expect to see it quite a bit more often there.

knutty knitter said...

Man..I'm so glad we don't have ticks!

We've got a mouse invasion at present. Skilly (cat) is going nuts because she can't get at them behind the washing machine, cupboards etc. She's only caught one so far.

The next lot of finance (due tomorrow) will be spent replacing the floor and lining the lower walls and, with a bit of luck, I might get an actual kitchen sink!

Forward the mouse eviction programme

viv in nz

EJ said...

I came across this book:

Natural Healing and Prevention of Lyme Borreliosis and Its Coinfections
by Stephen Harrod Buhner

Healing Lyme examines the leading, scientific research on Lyme infection, its tests and treatments, and outlines the most potent herbal medicines and supplements that offer help-either alone or in combination with antibiotics-for preventing and healing the disease. It is the essential guide to Lyme infection and its treatment.

Thought you might be interested.

Hank Roberts said...

Do you know about putting permethrin spray on toilet paper/paper towels, and after it dries stuffing the paper into the cardboard tubes and stashing those in places the mice will take the paper for making wintertime nests? I read about it as a way of intercepting ticks over the winter; once dried the permethrin persists and bonds to the fiber. Gives a shot at killing off ticks that are overwintering with the field mice.

Permethrin is typically now for sale for hunters, etc.; it's definitely "spray the cloth, let it dry, don't get the wet on your skin" (and don't repeat spraying permethrin until after several washings, it hangs on that well).

In rural Long Island they use some kind of collar dosed with permethrin in front of buckets of deer bait -- the deer come, stick their heads through the opening, get wiped with permethrin. Same notion. Learned that from an organic farmer a few weeks ago, who was out here in the SF Bay Area for "Slow Food" conference.

PS, watch for some flashlights, should have showed up in US mail.

jewishfarmer said...

I know just what you mean about sudden-onset winter! I always think I have more time, and I never do. We're over our little invasion of illness and only Eric needed antibiotics, but Eli being out of school due to water main explosion isn't helping things. We have wood, but it isn't stacked, I'm picking ticks off the critters (so far, none on the kids, but that's fortunate) and grateful for the hard freeze. Figgy the 1st (my fig in a wine barrel) may be dead, since I didn't get him in before the temps plunged (can't move him myself even with a dolly and Eric was away). And yes, the water stuff - carrying warm water from the house to the critters is a constant.

My sympathies! Today I've got to get the curtains up as well, and the storms down...

I hope everyone feels better, and enjoy your deer.


Susan Och said...

Lucky you to get a deer without sacrificing a car!

We only see ticks when we go to Minnesota, but then we see plenty. I thought that they peaked in the summer and were pretty much gone by this time of year. I always check for them but always found them before they got attached. I did not know that an attached tick should be tested -- thanks for the education.

If your experience is anything like my neighbors' you will have about 60 guineas by late July next year, but thereafter lose about half to predators. Do pheasants eat ticks?

Connie said...

Wow, I've never heard of anyone so aggressively finding lyme disease - good for you.

In very cold weather we bring the bird water in the house at dark and take it out again in the morning - having put some hottish water in it to keep the temps up for a while. They just hunker down at night anyway.

This year we've got bird in a coop with walls and roof insulated to R22. Of course we also have electricity we can turn on it it gets too cold.

Our ticks carry RM spotted feaver, but we don't have many.

Doyu Shonin said...

Back in the seventies, we hung a buck by the back door, and Tallest Son (who was very short and all of 18 months old) took a looong look at it; that evening we grownups were having a bit of roast venison and he reached out and grabbed some out of Beloved's hand and downed it before we knew what was up, eyes shining.

Good luck with yer ticks and yer ice! May you have a Mr. Badger's Kitchen all winter! (I'm thinking of the Mercer Mayer version)

risa b

EJ said...

More on lyme disease in BC, Canada: