Just Grazing

Triage in the barn! What next?

Dr. Dolittle I’m not, but it did feel like animal triage in the barn Sunday night.

There was “Mr. Big,” our miniature Appaloosa, being confined to a stall while his front feet healed.  He was suffering from a mild case of laminitis, a painful inflammatory condition of the tissues that bond the hoof wall to the coffin bone. Although it can affect any horse, ponies are more susceptible than most.  Long story short, he probably ate pasture grass that had been frozen, and thus the sugar content was higher than normal.

"Mr. Big"

“Mr. Big”

Ponies, or small horses, are gluttons. They can literally eat themselves to death if their intake isn’t controlled.

In another stall was one of our laying hens who had been attacked, most likely by one of our large turkeys.  Her comb was bloodied, and she had taken to hunkering down and not moving. Left in that state, she would soon have died.

So we brought her into the barn, putting her first in the tack room, where there is heat and hot water, and later moving her to a stall. After she began  eating and drinking again, we bathed her in the tack room sink.



That’s one of the treatments for a hen who has become egg-bound, which she probably was because of the trauma of the attack. Egg-bound is pretty much what it sounds like.

Also in the toasty warm tack room Sunday night was one of our guinea fowl. She had been struck by a vehicle on the main road in front of our neighbor’s house, and was in recovery suffering from leg, wing and, most likely, internal injuries and concussion–not to mention trauma. Guineas are terrible pedestrians. They never look before crossing, and they actually seem to slow down to investigate when a vehicle is near them. It would never occur to them to take flight in the face of imminent danger.

Guinea in recoveryWe are blessed with world-class neighbors. Among them is Tippy Brown, the spunkiest octogenarian you will ever meet. Only a few years back did she give up riding horses, but you get the feeling she could still do it if she were of a mind to.  So we weren’t the least bit surprised to learn that when she realized the motionless white mass in the road was an injured bird and not one of those ubiquitous plastic bags, she immediately set out on a rescue mission. After the guinea flipped and flopped its way into a drainage culvert still holding frozen water, Tippy scampered over the ditch’s nearly 90-degree edge after her, crawling through the saw briers – at great risk to life and limb – until she reached the bird.

Enter Tippy’s daughter, Becky, who climbed the fence to come to the aid of both Mother and guinea hen; after all, it’s not easy to climb out of a culvert holding onto a big, injured bird.

Alas, the guinea died during the night, but that didn’t dampen our admiration for friends and neighbors who went above and beyond, with Tippy having suffered only a scratched knuckle in the endeavor. Her late husband and Becky’s father, Dr. Harry Brown, was Polk County’s first veterinarian, and Tippy has lots of experience rescuing animals.

I wonder if she knows how to treat an egg-bound hen.






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Our honeybees forage on a variety of crops planted on the farm, as well as native species of trees, plants and weeds.

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