Friday, January 30, 2009

RIP Storm

I only really wanted to breed two foals. Along the way I got a couple more and they are a pleasure to have around, but a bonus rather than the aim of the whole enerprise.

I wanted a baby out of Brandy the mini. That appears to be a non happening event. Minis are too small to investigate too thoroughly for fertility problems so not a great deal to do except wait and hope. We've been waiting and hoping three years now.

The other foal I wanted was a riding horse to take me through to old age from Ears. Ears is a special girl - a Silent Hunter mare so she has relations that compete at high levels and is a lovely ride herself. Not a mare to win any beauty contests but she basically has a leg on each corner and is sound.

So we tried with Ears. The first year she was scanned three times, once with twins and twice with a probable single after a twin was pinched and she still ended up not in foal. The second year she held and in due course delivered exactly what I wanted - a grey filly. As she arrived in the middle of a torrential downpour of the type that reduces the ground to inches of mud in minutes she was named Storm. Ears struggled with the delivery and was a devoted mother but also struggled to keep condition on while feeding (though she certainly did her baby well) I promised her this was her last foal (and at 20 she probably figured enough anyway).

Storm looked a lot like her mother really - large ears, a leg on each corner, not likely to win any beauty contests. It really didn't matter she made up for it in personality, she was a bright and independent foal from the start, trying to follow you out the gate when you left, running up to meet you.

She figured out things fast - picking up feet took a single lesson, leading took two, when first tied up she backed to the end of the rope, walked forward a step and stood. Float training was as easy, one sniff of the ramp and she walked straight on and stood up against the bar.

I was forever secretly congratulating myself on getting exactly what I wanted in a homebred horse.

Fate has a way of coming and biting you when you think you have it all.

After almost three weeks of struggling to find out what was wrong and to save her they put Storm down this morning. It feels very very unfair.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


It's been an emotional rollercoaster ride and it isn't over yet.

First the more minor things. Ali loaded like a pro and went to her new home where she has another broodmare for company and a riding horse in the next paddock to add variety to her friends. Last seen showing off her trot with her new friends. Fingers crossed for this time being the right place for her.

The two cattle left home in pieces on schedule and we cleaned the last of the old meat out of the freezer (donating it to a neighbour for their dogs) to make room for the new - I can taste that eye fillet now! What amused me and the homekill guys was our bull Jack watched the entire process throught the gate about two metres from the bodies. He seemed very interested but completely unperturbed by the blood and gore. Possibly laughing at the illfated steers and congratulating himself on having a pedigree and some testicles to keep him from a similar fate.

The homekill man always expresses surprise that I watch the process (and I tell him it's to ensure he's doing it properly and I am not having any amateur butchers on my place) he says I am one of few women that do watch. Once dead (and having ensured they died without realising what was happening) I find the insides of cattle quite interesting, that is the point where you find how your pasture management paid off and how different calves turned out. But then I have quite early memories of my father slaughtering sheep (and Christmas turkey) so I suppose it was not something that was ever out of the ordinary in my childhood.

Betsy the cow is due to leave tonight too - she's going in a single self mobile piece though - to a home who will probably be far more caring about her than we ever were. Looking at her today she may be closer to calving than I thought - which will cut the anticipation for her new owners who are very excited about the idea of a calf.

And then the more serious stuff:
Our little Storm has been the emotional roller coaster throughout. After much angst she went to surgery on Thursday afternoon and they found a large blockage in the bottom of her stomach - too large in fact to remove without opening the stomach up (apparently they usually break up masses through the stomach wall and tube it out but in this case it didn't work) So she came through that and was up and okay later that evening though they said the next 48 hours would be critical. On Friday she was eating small amounts and demanding more. Saturday when we saw her she was most indignant that she had a grazing muzzle on but was otherwise cheerful though at that point there was no indication of the success or failure of the surgery. Then on Sunday evening she colicked. They took her off food and put her on painkillers and antispasmodics but she was still showing signs of colic on Monday morning when we saw her. She was miserable. Later Monday night I said to the vet that I thought she should be put down today (Tuesday). I think we were all sobbing but we just couldn't see any good outcome for her at that point. Then this morning the colic is over. She's cheerful, in no obvious pain and starving again. They tubed her and found her stomach empty which is exactly what it should have been and suggests she might be moving what she has eaten further along the digestive tract. I still don't hold out much hope but it appears she's determined to hang in there.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Touch Wood...

Today we have a glimmer of an indication that things might be starting to improve.

First yesterday it looks like we found Ali a proper home. Fingers crossed.

Then this morning the vets reported that Storm appeared to be improved. Cross the other fingers.

After that the farrier came and made a lovely job of corrective trimming little Annies teeny tiny feet. He also made a great job of three other trims, didn't even charge an excessive amount and was a nice guy. Cross toes that Annie improves.

Then the homekill man rang to say he was coming on Thursday to dispatch some animals that need to stop taking up paddock space and fill the freezer instead. Cross the other toes that nothing leads that plan astray.

Appears we are moving forward

Thursday, January 15, 2009

And on it goes

So we get up bright and early and take Storm on a float ride. Poor girl has only been up the drive in the float and then she gets an hour long trip when she isn't feeling well. However she coped with it and even remembered her manners about backing off.

The vets didn't have the paperwork which was a bit odd but they said they would chase it up. She's in good hands and they will have a long hard look at her - it looks as though it could be an impaction of the gut from the symptoms and they hope a fairly mild one as she appears in no pain. So we get home to three messages on the answerphone - apparently that wasn't the vet she was referred to... (odd as it was the vet I intended her to be referred to) and the vet she had been referred to was going to pick her up.

FFS - three phone calls later I sort it out - the referral gets through to the vet that currently has her, the vet that thinks they were going to pick her up cancels Majestic Transporters (what was that going to cost me!) and the vet where she is is happy that she stays there and they treat her. Hopefully things will now go according to plan.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Time for a change in luck please

It's the time of year when newly qualified vets start at our local vets practice.

I guess they have a very steep learning curve.

Last year we lost a foal as the young duty vet didn't think he was THAT sick. On that day I learned that my gut instinct is more reliable than the vets thermometer, stethescope and other instruments. We still don't have a reason for his death but I should have trusted my feelings and insisted we do more for him at the time.

A while later we had the "oh it IS colic" visit. Not much point in saying I told you so though the surprise he expressed irked me a little.

Fast forward to this week and something wrong with Storm. Not eating and lacklustre but mobile and no sign of a temperature, breathing problems or anything else. Young newly qualified vet is sure she just needs hay and that the whole issue is worms. She goes over the worming schedule to the point of taking the batch number of the wormer I am using. She takes bloods and fecal samples. All negative. So she tells me there is nothing much wrong. I start getting pretty annoyed and a little irrational at this point. I know there is something wrong and it is something that is not looking like it will resolve itself whatever it is.

So we have to take Storm to Matamata tomorrow for further investigation. I'm annoyed with myself as I think I went with the vet rather than my gut a day too long again - I should have started kicking up a fuss yesterday.

Eventually they turn into great vets - they just test my sanity in the meantime.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Overnight arrival

With the utmost efficiency at 1.30am - the foaling alarm went off and in the time it took to put my dressing gown and boots on and get to the foaling paddock (about two minutes) Gemma had delivered a bay filly.

This little girl takes after her Mum for not wasting any time, in that she was on her feet ten minutes after birth, cantering at half an hour old and bucking by the time she got to an hour old. She did take a bit longer to get the hang of feeding despite her mothers efforts to show her where to look. However she got that sorted out by 3am and we went back to bed.

That is (hopefully) the end of the night watches for the season. Not before time, Gemma has kept us guessing for weeks and the other night got me up seven times between midnight and 6am with her moonbathing antics setting off the foaling alarm. (Had I known she was going to have so little problem I'd have left her to it!)

Tuesday, January 06, 2009


Poor little Tee. He got the stonebruise sorted (burst out his coronet on New Years Eve) so decided to take on a fence on New Years Day. He decided not to go for a plain wire fence but for the one that also has a length of chicken wire attached to it to keep the freeranging hens from wandering through to the garden. It actually never occured to me that it would do a fair bit of damage if a horse decided to go through (it never occured to me that a horse would decide to go through - then again the skid marks indicate that Tee didn't decide as such, just didn't stop in time and while he got his front legs over he obviously couldn't lift the hind ones up out of the way).

The photos are of the damage when he did it - while we were waiting for the vet. Will get some more when I rebandage him tonight. The duty vet decided not to stitch so he was bandaged, given a tetnus shot and left with antibiotics. John our usual horse vet came out yesterday (with student as he so often does at this time of year) and rebandaged. I was a bit afraid to see what was under it but it is looking good (well as good as large missing bits of skin can look). John confirmed no tendon damage and suggested active manuka honey and nappies (cheap padding for those who don't know - the old type thick sanitary pads are useful too) daily for a couple of weeks.

Tee has been such a good boy about it. He would rather we didn't touch his sore legs but if we have to that's okay as long as we are gentle. He's been stoic about being jabbed daily and generally abused.

Was interested with the jar of active manuka honey that neither yearling likes the taste of it (I offered them both a fingerful and they both had a taste and declined any more) I had images of being unable to keep honey on the wounds with horses licking it off as soon as it was applied.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Lazy Sunday Afternoons

Husband got up at 6am this morning and opened the french doors from the bedroom to the verandah. The cool breeze was wonderful.

It has been a scorcher of a day - really too hot to do anything except stay in the shade. The view is good from the shade so it is a pleasant pastime.