Tuesday, November 27, 2012

More Than $200 Worth Free!

I hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving.  I spent mine with a friend and her big family - lots of food, people, kids and confusion - just the way Thanksgiving is supposed to be.

Rockie lives in a nice neighborhood in town with big oak trees, pine trees and well manicured lawns - just the opposite of where I live.  When I left her house, I passed a couple of houses where the owners had raked tons and tons of leaves and pine needles (referred to as pine straw in the south) to the curb for the city to suck up in their ginormous vacuum cleaners.  Well, always keeping an eye out for something that I can use I drove back the next day and knocked on the stranger's door and asked permission to haul his pine straw away.  He looked at me like I was nuts but said "sure".  His little girls asked me if I was from the city and I told them no.  Then they asked me what I was going to do with all the pine straw and I told them I was going to put it in my yard.  Now don't you know they thought I was crazy too?  After all, I'm betting they had to help their daddy rake all that stuff to the street and why in the world would somebody want to put it in their yard?!?

It took me multiple trips Friday to stuff as much of the pine straw into my car and handy, dandy utility trailer as I could each trip. Because the trailer doesn't have a cover, I had to weave rope all across the top to keep the stuff from blowing away while driving back up the highway about 15 miles where I then had to unweave the rope, unload the pinestraw from both  things, and head back down to get more.

It took me most of the day Saturday to spread it all around this very large area I have in my front yard.  I've used old carpeting as landscape cloth (to spare the landfill) and allowed leaves to cover it, but it's never been properly mulched with anything because, frankly, I don't have enough money to buy as much as I need at one time.  Well, I am so happy to now have a properly mulched natural area.  Granted the pinestraw isn't "clean", meaning there are a lot of oak leaves mixed in with it, but for the $200+ I saved, I don't even care about that.

I could easily use twice this much but I was so tired after hauling and spreading this, that I left the rest.  If there is any left this weekend, I'll get some more.  I had a big mess in my car to clean up but took care of that Sunday.  It won't look impressive to you because you don't know what it looked like before, but here are a few pictures of just part of the area.

My poor "new" car...
It was really cold Saturday night and the fountains and waterers were icy Sunday morning.

For those of you who commented about my Princess, I want to let you know she is on the mend.  I think her head tilt is permanent and she's still a little off balance, but she is feeling much better.   She is flirting and trying to get Pete to play with her, and she's excited when I come home from work again.  I have to walk beside her going down the stairs so she can lean on me to keep her balance - thank goodness there are only five steps.  Yesterday I got an appetite stimulant from the vet to try to get her to eat more food.  I was cooking chicken for her every day and have already spent what I usually spend in a month for her on food.  Sunday it occurred to me that she might be milking the situation and I had a little chat with her.  I'm slowly weaning her off chicken and onto canned cat food (vet approved).  She's never been a good eater and is on the thin side since her thyroid surgery, so I can't let her lose any more weight or we might get into serious trouble that can't be reversed.

So my little Princess appears to be pulling through yet another malady, and we are both very happy about that.  That's just one more thing that I am so thankful for this week!  I hope you counted your blessings on Thanksgiving day too!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A Rough Week for Princess

I was so excited about starting Princess on vitamin supplements to help with her dementia.  The Melatonin definitely has helped her to sleep better at night and I'm very happy about that for my own sanity.  But when I came home from work Tuesday, something was very wrong with her.  She could barely walk and couldn't keep her balance at all.  Her head was tilted to the left and down.  I had to carry her outside and back in.  It was heart breaking to watch her stumble around and fall.  She also didn't want to eat.  I was afraid this was the beginning of the end.

I immediately stopped giving her the Ginko Biloba and Fish Oil, but did continue with the Melatonin.  I purchased her a new orthopedic bed and put a little night light above it to hopefully ease some of her confusion at night.  I bought chicken breasts and cooked dinner for her every night to get her to eat something.  I held myself together at work - few people there would understand how much I love this dog and what the big deal was anyway.  There are other big worries bearing down on me now but I tried really hard to focus on work and zoom home every evening to be with my girl.

By Friday, Princess seemed to be doing a little better.  Her balance was better but her head was still tilted to the left and down, and it didn't take much to lose her balance.  But it wasn't as bad as it was earlier in the week.  Saturday morning I took Princess to the vet.  I thought maybe she had something neurological wrong.

It didn't take long for the vet to make a diagnosis - vestibular disease, aka, vertigo.  She said it comes on suddenly and they don't know the cause.  It can last up to three weeks per episode and Princess may have more episodes in the future.  She prescribed an anti-nauseous medication to help improve Princess' appetite.  She told me to continue the Melatonin and Fish Oil, and to also give her Vitamin D.  Her appetite still isn't that great but as long as she's eating something, it's a good sign.

So...it's one day at a time with my girl.  I was so relieved that she still has time left to spend with me on this earth.  This dog of mine looks like a frail wimp of a dog, but she has survived skin cancer surgery, thyroid cancer surgery and multiple wounds that needed to be stitched up - not to mention a severe case of doggie flu last March that I was sure would do her in, and after that a poisonous spider bite.  No, not this little girl.  She keeps getting right back up each day and greets me with a happy face and a wagging tail.

My girl two winters ago.


Update - my vet called me to see how Princess is doing.  She's still quite tipsy and isn't eating well, so in addition to the anti-nausea medicine, she is now taking Dramamine to help with her dizziness.  We will both be glad when this passes!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Canine Dementia Disorder

My precious Princess is more than 14 years old now.  For the past few months there have been some changes in her behavior.  She can't sleep through the night and I'm used to getting up once or twice to let her go outside.  I take a break myself because if I don't, I know I'll just wake up later on my own.  So we two old gals have that in common and I'm quite understanding of that.

A few months ago, she started waking up during the night more frequently - like two to four times between 11:30 p.m. and 4:30 a.m.  I've been letting her out and assume she's been taking care of business.  Once back in the bedroom, she will pace and go from dog bed, to dog bed and just stand there.  If I make her lay down, she will get up a couple of minutes later and pace again.  Poor Blair is such a good dog that if Princess paces over to the bed that she is sleeping in, Blair will just get up and move to another bed.  Bless her heart.

After Princess finally settles down and I fall back to sleep, I am woken up again by the smell of dog poo.  What the heck - I just let you out, girl!  This doesn't happen every night but is becoming more and more frequent.  My vet knows about this and said as long as I can tolerate it, nothing needs to be done.

My vet didn't mention Canine Dimentia Disorder to me at that time.  Maybe she thought I was fully aware of it.  I told her that I certainly wouldn't think of having Princess killed just because she can't hold her poo, for goodness sake!  But the nightly pacing is really draining to deal with.  I should get up every morning for work at about 5:40 a.m. and am not getting any solid sleep.  

I work with a woman who is a dog lover and recently had her senior Pug euthanized.  She told me that her little dog had the night wanders too and mentioned "doggie dementia".   (Her little dog was very ill and wasn't euthanized because of the night wanders.)   Hmmm...made sense.  They are living so much longer, just like us and that brings new problems to deal with.

After getting up several times with my girl last night, I decided to do a little on-line research and came across some helpful information.  I found the same information in several places.  One site said that so many people euthanize their dogs too soon because they didn't want to deal with the issues.

I found this website - A Path With Paws - that had some helpful information and several others but didn't bookmark them all so can't provide the link.  There are several symptoms of doggie dementia and of them, night pacing, "forgetting their housebreaking" and getting confused and stuck behind furniture applies to my Princess.

I've decided to go the homeopathic route with my girl since I can't afford the prescription drug for doggie dementia.  My friend, Gail, has her dog on it and it works wonders.  Midnight (Gail's dog) gets up and night and barks and doesn't exhibit the other symptoms Princess shows.

Today I gave her a bath...and Zoe.  I washed all the dog bedding again and gave Princess a partial pedicure.  As of this evening, my old girl is sharing some of my Fish Oil and we are now both on Ginko Biloba.  Plus, I will be giving Princess some Melatonin tablets tonight, which is supposed to help with sleeping.  I know the effects won't be felt by her immediately, but I'm hoping that she starts sleeping a little soon.  I'm also going to purchase her a heated orthopedic bed tomorrow.  Nothing is too much or too good for my special old girl who I love so much.  And I know she loves me more than any person on this planet could.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Residing the Barn

Hi and happy Monday to you all.  I hope you had a nice weekend.

My little barn is 12 years old now and was built with exterior chip wood.  Even though it's been painted several times with oil based paint, it continues to chip away.  The fact that the chickens and goats like to chew at it doesn't help.

Last year I covered the entire barn with roofing paper as a temporary fix to the problem.  My intention is to cover the entire barn with exterior siding and it wouldn't hurt to have an added layer to block drafts through the cracks anyway.  Well, the little goat family immediately took that as a challenge and started tearing the paper off.  It was a big job to measure, cut and staple all the roofing paper on by myself so I didn't appreciate that it only took minutes for them to ruin some of my hard work.

Last year's project beginnings...

The next step I took to buy more time was to attach chicken wire all across the barn.  I can always use chicken wire around here so when I was at a point where I could put up proper siding, it wouldn't be a waste of money.  As you can see, the little goat family still found a way to tear the paper on the front of the barn.

What it looks like now...

Because I can't afford to pay somebody to help me with work around here, my options for siding are limited.  What I really need to cover the barn with is hardy plank.  This stuff is incredibly heavy and requires a special saw blade to cut it with.  I knew I couldn't man-handle those planks by myself so continued looking for another material.

I would love to use cedar shakes - not only would it make the barn look very cute but they are affordable and easy to install.  The problem with using that material is that they are tacked individually and that would make the interior walls look like a torture chamber with all those nails poking through and would hurt the goat family. I thought about vinyl siding but passed on that.  I don't think it would hold up to the goats (darned little critters).

Pressure treated plywood would have been perfect but it too is very heavy and I don't think I could have managed it by myself.  That left me with exterior grade paneling.  I love the look of it and it isn't heavy.  No wonder.  I discovered when I unloaded it that it is particle board.  Great...the mice will chew through this in no time.

So, I purchased all the material on the way home from work Friday afternoon and headed up Saturday morning bright and early to pick it up with my handy, dandy utility trailer that my son-in-law bought for me a couple of months ago.  (I still can't back up with that thing and have to drive in very large circles to maneuver it.)

My goal for the weekend was to get the north side of the barn covered with the new siding.  The entire bottom edge of that side has rotted or has large holes chewed by a gazillion little field mice who call the barn home.  I've patched as much as I can and with winter coming, this job had to be tackeled now.

The first panel went up without too much trouble.  The second one didn't line up exactly as it should have because it was difficult to hold it into position and nail it in place.  These panels are 4 x 8 feet each.  The third panel has a big gap at the bottom of it, which I will patch today.  I am not a carpenter and didn't think to take into account there is a slight slope in the pasture, which meant I shouldn't have cut as much off the last two panels.  Darn it!  And it didn't help that I was tired after installing the first two and was beginning to feel like I had bitten off more than I could chew.

The first panel without the trim board attached.

 All four panels in place and trim boards attached, before I cut the pop door - a good stopping point.

 After the panels were up, I needed to cut a new "pop" door for the chickens and finished that just before dark last night.  I've taken most of today off to secure the pen and tack hardware cloth all along the bottom of the panels to try to deter the mice.  And I think it will help if I attach flashing all along the exterior bottom edge to slow down rot from rain but won't be able to do that till this coming weekend.

Before winter actually sets in, I need to stuff some insulation under the eaves.  Nothing will make the barn warm but it will cut down on some of the cold air coming in.

What a job!!  I want to make the pen look a little tidier and will take care of that today.  Having animals is fun most of the time but they sure do create a ton of work and cost money.  I wish I had the means to have everything built professionally and look nice like I see out in blog land, but don't so I do the best I can with what I have.

Tomorrow will be cold and rainy but please make sure you vote (unless you're voting for "the other guy")!!