Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Cat and Bug

When a cat is not a cat and a bug is not a bug.

Here on the Nebraska Prairie things may not always be what they seem.

Let me introduce you to cat.  Cat came into our house in the fall and decided to take up residence.   I told my family if he was smart enough to come in before winter he deserved to stay in the house.  The kids even took to feeding him once a week.
Yes, you are right a spider, a cat faced spider in fact.   Hence the name cat!

Now for Bug.   Bug was born here on the farm about eight month ago,  he was born an only child.   Because he did not have any sibling to harass,  he decided to harass his human family.   Well he was always bugging us to play,  hence the name Bug.     
Meet Bug the cat!

As you see, looks can be deceiving here on the Nebraska Prairie.

Nebraska Prairie Girl

Lifes Little Emergencies

Do you have  First Aide supplies for your critters?    Whether you have small animals or large animals it is always a good idea to have emergency supplies available.     Over the years my animal first aid kit has become fairly extensive.   I used to think if I had vet wrap on hand I was doing good.   Now I have a cabinet dedicated to animal first aide in my barn.   Unfortunately,  we live an hour away from the veterinary hospital.     In some emergencies minutes can mean life or death for your animal.   It is nice to  know you did what you could for your critter until veterinary help is available  Or, in many of my little emergencies, take care of the problem myself with veterinary consult.  

Medical Cabinet
drawer with syringes, gloves, etc.
Syringe needle drawer

Here is a list of  some of the items that I have in my First Aid supply cabinet.   Some of these, if not most, are kept on hand  for goats.  However,  a lot of the supplies can be used on many different animal species. (In this photo my cabinet is empty,  I take everything out that is effected by cold temperature in the winter)

 Emergency Supplies
Old Towels- great for drying off new born animals, cleaning up messes, using for a compress.
Paper towels
Rubber gloves
Syringes - a variety of sizes
needles- a variety of gauges
vet wrap- never be with out (never wrap anything without cotton underneath it)
rolled or sheet cotton
4x4 surgical sponges- great for wound care, (cleaning wounds and dressing wounds)  
Small tarp-great to put on the ground when a clean surface is needed
plastic grocery bags-for clean up
first at tape-dressing wounds
long exam gloves-great for picking up gooey things like placenta.  I just pick it up turn the bag inside out and tie it shut.  
bandage scissors
band aides- for you
Tincture Iodine- dipping umbilical cords
Iodine scrub-to clean wounds
antibiotics- I have several kind on hand, ask your vet what you should have in stock
Banamine--for pain control
CMPK-to treat milk fever in goats and cattle
antibiotic ointment- wound care
triple antibiotic eye ointment
probiotic paste- to treat a tummy ache
peroxide- wound cleaning (only use once to clean a wound otherwise it causes damage to cell regrowth)
corn syrup-I give it to weak baby critters to give them energy

Thank you to Amanda Milton at Countryside Large Animal Hospital for editing my list.

I am fortunate enough to have a Large Animal Anesthesiologist in my family,  who I can contact with animal questions and emergencies.  Remember, every state is different with rules and regulations on drugs and their use.   What one state will allow you to purchase many not hold true in another state.   Having a good rapport  with your local vet can make dealing with  life's little emergencies a little easier.  (Always ask your vet how and when it is appropriate  to use certain drugs.)

Please use caution when storing drugs and medical supplies if children and animals are present.   My medical cabinet has locks on it, which is important since I have young children. 

Buck kid with broken leg
Here is an example of the use of some of the items in my emergency cabinet.   I went out into the barn a couple of weeks ago and noticed one of my three day old kid goats had a compound fracture.    I used 4x4 surgical sponges for padding (after I applied triple antibiotic ointment),  tongue depressors on each side of the fracture (from my kids craft supplies),  more 4x4 over the depressors for more padding,  first aide tape to hold in place, I put his leg in the thumb and used part of the hand of a glove to keep everything dry and clean,  then once again wrapped with first aide tape.    I had to administer antibiotics that were suggested by the vet.    An animal with this type of injury should be taken to the vet to have ex-rays, and have the bone set which usually requires surgery.  Most often when there is a compound fracture, the vet will suggest putting the goat down.  Compound fractures in animals often cause severe infection which may result in death.  

I am happy to report that three weeks out from his fracture my little buck kid is doing very well.  He is putting pressure on his leg, running and playing like his siblings.  I think we might have gotten lucky  this time.  

Nebraska Prairie Girl

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Nebraska Prairie Girls Stay at the Hospital

A couple weeks ago my youngest daughter Kayleigh was hospitalized for eight days.   Not one to leave her 7 month old in the hospital for one minute alone, I, the Nebraska Prairie Girl, became a resident of the Pediatric wing of the hospital.  Now, I have never stayed in a hospital for more than two days and that was after the delivery of my children.

When we were getting ready to take her to the doctors I had a feeling that they might end up admitting her to the hospital.   I had gathered extra clothes and baby items for her just in case.   I thought to myself, "you should really pack some things for yourself," but then I thought, "Nah, that is just silly.  Well hind sight is 20/20..................

The first couple days of Kayleigh's  hospital stay was stressful with surgery and mega IV antibiotics.  There were nurses in and out and doctor's visiting us several times a day.    I did not have much time to think about much except for her getting better.

Our oldest daughter, Jenna, came home from college as soon as we told her  that her baby sister was in the hospital.   She came to help out where needed and decided to stay at the hospital and help.    I was very thankful that she was there for support along with my husband Dave.  It  was nice to have her run some errands for me.   So this is where I began to  find humor in our little hospital stay.

I sent Jenna the first night to pick me up something to sleep in (remember the hind sight thing).  I told her just to go buy me something to sleep in cheap and appropriate to wear in the hospital.   Well, bless her heart she came back with black work out pants with white stripes down the side and a shirt to match.  Wondering what's wrong with that?   Really, nothing if you are in your twenties, fit, like to wear work out pants and have much longer legs. (I could have used the extra length to make another set of pants.)    However,   I was thankful for something to change into.

 Other things I learned while staying in the hospital.....

Never send your 22 year old daughter to the store to buy unmentionables (underwear).   Even if you are specific about size, brand and cut.  She will bring you underwear that are big enough for two people to wear.   I told her they would work really well for me to parachute off  the hospital roof.  Does anyone has some suspenders I can borrow?

Never ask your farmer husband to bring you clothes and unmentionables.  Being he is a farmer not a fashion designer, you never know what he will bring for you.  He will bring them to you in a small cardboard box.  When you ask him why not a bag he will  say, " I don't know that is just what I found."

Farm girl dresses and aprons are not practical attire in the hospital.    Though I did not wear aprons  my husband did pack me farm girl dresses (not the best of them) so I wore them. My other children came to the hospital and visit and told me I looked poor.  I said, "well this is what I wear at home."  Their reply was, "Well you do not look poor at home."  (Good to know)

Never rely on you husband to bring you clean clothes everyday as things like chores are on his mind.   He may show up at the hospital empty handed and you will have to send to 22 year old daughter to the store for you once again.  And we all know how that will turn out.

Not shaving your legs in the winter might work well for living on the farm.  But when you are staying at the hospital it is important to have a razor.

The nicest thing about being in the hospital is room service and house keeping.   After several days in the hospital the worst thing is room service.

Nebraska town water is terrible.  It is nice to have Nebraska Prairie water brought to you so you can make a good cup of tea.

No matter what you do to you hair the night before to keep from looking ridiculous  in the morning when doctors  do their rounds, it will not work.  Every morning they will wake you  up and every morning you will look in the mirror and have to laugh at yourself.  Of course I never have this problem at home. 

I learned the nursing staff, doctors, and surgeons become part of your family after eight days in the hospital.  You are very thankful they do what they do and do it well.

It is nice to look back and be thankful to God that everything turned out well.   And thankful for being able to find humor in even the worst of times.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Critter Warmer

Tall critter warmer

Three years ago we kidded goats out in January and February.   Since that is the coldest part of the year here on the Nebraska Prairie,  we were struggling to keep baby goats warm.   Extreme cold is very hard on new born goats.   If they get too chilled they become unresponsive and eventually will die if not warmed up quickly.    In a effort to keep all the kids warm my husband and I came up with a little safer solution than just hanging a heat lamp.  

I have used heat lamps for years to provide warmth for a large variety of baby critters.   However,  hanging a heat lamp in a wooden barn,  with straw or wood shavings as bedding is an extreme fire hazard.   We got our idea from a lamb warmer we had purchased that was a triangular welded metal hut with a heat lamp in the top.    Without time to weld a bunch of critter warmers we came up with our own solution.

Here is what you will need:

55 gallon metal drum
heat lamp
heat bulb
a laser cutter or another way to cut the metal drum

With the opened end of the drum on the ground we cut out little door ways.   Some are nice architectural curved door ways and some are just plain old rectangular door ways.    Really, the shape of the door way does not matter as much as size.   We have figured out that if the door way is too big you will  end up with momma goats putting their heads inside.  We even had a smaller momma get into the heater with the babies.   Not a good situation for the babies.  

On the top of the drum you will need to cut a circular opening to put the heat lamp through.  We have discovered smaller holes are better.   If the hole is to big it is easy to place the heat lamp through but it is also easy for the heat lamp to be knocked out.     Essentially, a hole big enough for the screw end of the heat light to fit through is enough.  The will keep the heat lamp and bulb in place. 

Once you are done cutting the door way and the hole in the top you are ready to put the heat bulb through the hole in the top and screw it into the heat lamp.   Voila, you are done.   

Shorter heater
The amount of heat in the drum is determined by the height of the drum.   We have cut drums shorter, to allow more heat to reach the critter.   We have taller drums when not as much heat is needed.     

We have used these critter heaters for baby goats, pigs,  and chicks.   With each and every use we are so thankful to have them.

Things we have learned using the critter heaters.  
  1. Make doorway only big enough for baby goats to get in and out.
  2. Allow no more than 4 baby goats access to the heater (otherwise you risk suffocation)
  3. Shorter drums for really cold temps
  4. Taller drums for milder weather
  5. Wean your critters from the heaters (do not make them go cold turkey, literally)
  6. Secure all electrical wire (we staple ours up and out of the way from critters)
Here is my warning statement.   As with any heat lamp there is always a risk of fire.    The use of  critter heaters seems to be a safer alternative to free hanging heat lamps.   However,  there is always a possibility of fire with the use of a heat lamp, no matter the fashion in which it is used.   Always use extreme caution!

Here is to warm critters!

Nebraska Prairie Girl

PS.  As I write this the temp. outside is 68 degrees and there is not much use for a warmer.   However,  I know that we will get cold temps. and snow for a couple months yet. 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Good Bye Christine

She came home after school with my oldest children Chance and Jenna one day after a bike ride 15 years ago.      Though she had a home she was just not happy living there.     So she moved in and became part of the family.

She was a very quiet individual who did not require nor want much attention.   She was happy just to be part of a family.    Her favorite time of the day was doing chores and spending time outside.   She loved spending much of the summer swimming in the irrigation ditch.

Christine had epilepsy and had seizures a couple times a month.   The doctors said that eventually the seizures would probably shorten her life.   Well as she aged the seizures became less and less, and never really caused her much problem.

 But with all things that age she began to have some problems with her health arthritis set in, she lost her hearing and sight,  and was haunted by dementia on and off.   It was hard to watch her go down hill more and more until her body and mind could no longer keep up with her heart.   With many things it is the heart that goes first,  for Christine this just was not the case.   Her heart was big enough and strong enough to go on forever,  her body just could not keep pace.

So with a saddened heart we had to say good bye to Christine.   Forever thankful that she left our lives as peacefully as she came.

In loving memory
Nebraska Prairie Girl