Friday, March 16, 2012

An "Interesting" Week

"May you have an interesting year" is, I've been told, a Chinese curse. I've had an "interesting" week. It started last Sunday morning when Polly, my 33-year-old mare, stopped eating and became lethargic... with diarrhea. Polly has never been sick in the 15 years we've had her. At first I thought it was gas colic but all her vital signs were normal: temperature, respiration and heart rates. I tried to tempt her appetite with all sorts of goodies. She wouldn't even eat an apple.

Sunday night as I put the horses in, they spooked at something out in the dark. Even Polly spooked, which is very unusual for her. I took my flashlight and walked all over the pasture but could see no eye shine. The horses settled down after I'd been out so maybe I chased whatever-it-was away. I wondered if we might have a cougar visiting and that was what upset Polly's system. She is the one the others depend on to lead them to safety whenever something scary is around.

Monday Polly was no better so I called the vet. He couldn't come out until after 5. When he did he gave her an exam, took blood and fecal samples, and found all her vital signs normal, as had I, with just somewhat quieter than normal gut sounds. He said "Well, there are no clear indications..." to which I said, "I know. That's why I called you." He gave her banamine (an anti-inflammatory and pain reliever) and probios. He thought perhaps, "at her vintage" (I made him stop talking about her "age"), she might have a liver problem. If so, the blood work would show that but he couldn't send it out until the next day.

Alas, the next day was a wind/snow/rain storm that shut down the vet clinic and most of the rest of the coast (the clinic is on the coast). Power was out, trees were across highways, accidents everywhere. The vet clinic had 8 inches of snow... an all time record for snow on the coast. We had snow here, too, but not that much. This was the scene on our farm early morning Tuesday, March 13. In December, that would have been pretty. But not in March... with a sick horse.

Meanwhile, I created a smorgasbord of food choices for Polly and gave her more probios. I also hiked down to the trail camera to see if it might have captured a cougar. It had not. But it *had* captured a bobcat. Although a bobcat is no threat to horses, I'm not sure horses realize that. It is, after all, a predator and they are prey animals. (Segment of video with bobcat visible is very short... at the beginning.) Addendum: the bobcat is still around. Trail camera captured it again on Thursday, March 15. Better video this second time.

Two other predators appeared in our pond Tuesday: river otters. They provided a bit of a welcome diversion as they popped up to look at and scold me. I don't suppose they were welcome for the poor frogs and other pond denizens they hunted. The last time the otters visited, they must have eaten all our tree frogs because they sang no more for the rest of the season. The frogs have just started singing (when it's not snowing) this spring but I suspect are now all in otter tummies. When you live with wildlife, as we do, you don't always like what it does, even though you enjoy having it around.

That night, just to keep life "interesting", the stray cat that seems to have adopted us greeted me in the horse barn when I went out to bring the horses in for the night. This cat is very, very noisy. Although it is a very small cat, the horses were not interested in coming anywhere near the barn with that yowling creature within. So I had to carry the cat to the goat barn and lock it into a cage, then go back to get the horses in. It was dark by now and the horses were no way going to be caught. No one will go into the barn until Mr. Smith is in as he is the boss, but Mr. Smith wanted nothing to do with a barn that had snow cascading off the roof all afternoon and a yowling cat that night. Finally, he came in and the others followed.

The vet called on Wednesday to tell me the blood was not going out until that day thanks to the snow storm and road closures and the results might or might not be back Thursday afternoon. I told him there was little change in Polly. Since the vet could not initiate treatment until he knew what was wrong, all he could suggest was to keep giving her probios, which I did. ...I also asked for help from my Pranic Healing friends. I have no idea if the energy healing started Polly on the road to recovery but I don't know what else did. A friend in California did long-distance Reiki on her while two friends in Oregon did long-distance Pranic Healing, as did I.

Thursday morning Polly was a bit better, with less watery manure and a bit of an appetite. She was having trouble chewing up the grass hay I'd given her since she still wasn't eating her usual hay pellets, so Johnny and I tried to get the antique hay chopper we've had forever to work... but we could not. Polly spent the day grazing with the other horses instead of just standing around watching them eat. That night, Polly ate her hay pellets along with several other parts of her smorgasbord previously ignored. I began to have hope.

Friday morning, Polly was considerably better with firmer manure and a good appetite. She demanded to be let out into the orchard and marched immediately to the front of the goat barn and chowed down on grass. Later in the morning, the vet called to say the blood work was back but first he asked how Polly was. I told him much better, eating well and had better manure. He sounded very relieved. It turned out the blood work showed nothing abnormal except slightly elevated bilirubin, which he said was to be expected because she had not eaten for two days when he drew the blood. He had not known what to tell me to do because from the blood work, she looked like a healthy horse. He guessed she must be healing herself. I didn't tell him about the energy healing work. My vet is not ready for that yet.

Here's a photo of Polly with Johnny taken three years ago, when Polly was a mere 30. She looks much the same now, just hairier in her winter coat. As the vet said when he looked at her Monday, "I hope I look that good when I'm 102."

I still don't know what caused Polly's upset but I've very relieved it seems to be resolving. And I'm hoping for much less "interesting" weeks from now on.

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