Friday, June 13, 2008

Hazy Days

The past three days have been quite hazy, but not for the typical summer weather reason. No, instead the wind is apparently blowing from the east and so we're getting the smoke from wildfires in the eastern part of the state. If anyone doubts the cause, they need only step outside and try to breathe--the smell is pretty bad. I haven't worked dogs the past three mornings because I can't imagine the smoke is healthy for any living thing to breathe, and while the outdoor animals don't have much choice in the matter, I don't think it makes sense to stress them just now and make them breathe in even more of the "tainted" air as they'd do when being exercised. The National Weather Service says that the "code red" air quality (meaning everyone should avoid prolonged outdoor activity) conditions should abate by tomorrow when winds come in to blow the smoke away. It's kind of like the days when I used to work in Washington, DC. I was a jogger then, and I used to jog in the mornings before work sometimes. Some of my co-workers (and many other folks) would jog on their lunch hours. I couldn't help but wonder how much the health benefits to be gained from exercising were offset by the fact that those folks were jogging in the summer (tourist season, with the attendant traffic increase) heat in downtown DC. Imagine all the exhaust fumes they breathed in as they ran. How could filling your lungs with that poison (and at a greater rate than normal) be healthy? That's why I kept my runs to early morning or at the indoor track--I couldn't see choking myself on exhaust fumes in the name of better health....

Tomorrow will be Raven's first trip off the place to try working sheep somewhere else. Fortunately the sheep where we're going are well dog broke, so I hope we'll be able to set her up for success. I'll be bringing some of those sheep home as well, so we'll be able to continue making progress here with sheep that are more appropriate than those of my main flock.

In preparation, I pushed the last seven ewes and their lambs (the youngest are four weeks old now) out into the big pasture with the rest of the flock this morning. That ought to make for a sorting nightmare whenever I want to work part of the main flock, but it will make all other management issues easier (like not having to feed hay to anything but the rams). And with the entire flock in one location, I can set up the foot bath and get them all treated. They've had plenty of practice going through the chute, so the new challenge will be getting them to step into the foot bath (it's too long for them to jump, so it'll require some serious pushing from the dogs)....

We're supposed to be getting some guinea hens, but I need to move the spare 10 x 10 dog kennel down into the alley paddock to be their temporary 24/7 home and future night time roosting area. Our neighbor is giving us some young adult birds. I joke with him that he can just keep giving them to us every time they go home! The plan is to keep them penned for a while and then let out one at a time, so that the others will be the "lure" to keep the outside bird(s) from heading back to the home farm. I know a few people who have made this work (common wisdom is that guineas won't stay if you don't raise them from keets). If the project fails, then I'll just get keets from my neighbor instead, but it would be nice to be able to make the young adults work because they are less management-intensive than the keets and can start on tick and fly control right away. By penning them in the bottom paddock, I'm hoping they'll go back to that pen to perch at night. The distance between that pen and where my bantams stay ought to help cut down on the guineas picking on the bantams (while they're all roaming, they bantams can get out of the way, but I don't want to house them all together to avoid bullying of the smaller birds by the bigger birds). I also would like to find some Rhode Island Reds to keep for their eggs. The OEG bantam eggs are great, but you do have to compensate for thier much smaller size.

Crate rest seems to be working for Twist. I haven't noticed any lame steps lately, and she doesn't get up three-legged like she had been. I'm taking her along tomorrow so I can swim her in the pond. I'll be interested to see if she comes up lame again after that non-weight-bearing exercise. She's had something like three weeks of modified crate rest (basically no work, but allowed on leash walks) followed by two and a half weeks of full crate rest. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the rest has done the trick. Otherwise, the mystery lameness will remain a mystery and she's in for an even longer crate rest "sentence."

1 comment:

Becca Shouse said...

Interesting idea about the guineas. I don't dare bring any here because of the wandering issue - not a problem in a couple directions, but I have two neighbors who would be less than pleased to have visitors, and one of those has roaming dogs. My ducks have started following the sheep, though, so that's a start on the bug problem. But they eat so many bugs they have stopped eating their feed at night, and I'm not sure they are making a dent!