Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Summer Riding Session II and Turkey Tragedies

      Dolly at Windflower                                                                    Ainslie Sheridan copyright 2011

      It has been a long time since my last post--apologies!  Summer has zoomed by at warp speed. 

 Summer Session 2

  The photos will tell you more than I ever could  about the great kids we had here:

           Sharing a laugh with Brit!                                                   Ainslie Sheridan copyright 2011

       Sister Gives Brother a Boost                                                          Ainslie Sheridan copyright 2011 

             Reciprocity                                                                   Ainslie Sheridan copyright 2011

                           Blue Eyes                                              Ainslie Sheridan copyright 2011

                            Bareback Lesson                               Ainslie Sheridan copyright 2011

                           Friends                                             Ainslie Brennan copyright 2011

     Working With Brit                                                          Ainslie Sheridan copyright 2011

                     End of Day Cuddle                                         Ainslie Sheridan copyright 2011

           In addition to riding and ground work with the horses, each child made two bars of glycerin soap with a horse figure inside it.  We also made collage note cards out of horse images and wallpaper sample books.   And, of course, there was hours of swimming and water games.     It was great fun, and I hope to be able to do more of these camp sessions next summer.

Turkey Tragedies

    Sacagawea                                                                                        Ainslie Sheridan copyright 2011

      It is with great sadness that I must report the loss of two of our three turkeys.  Clark was struck dead by one our horses when he attempted to share the horse's ground feeder.  Incredibly, it was Tica, my elegant and usually highly tolerant Andalusian mare, who was guilty of manslaughter.  Death was instantaneous, so the poor fellow did not know what hit him, and at least he went with a beak full of sweet feed.
       Louis, the other male turkey, simply disappeared the day of the tropical storm.  It is quite unusual for a fox or coyote to nick our poultry during the day, but it has happened.  When I sheltered myself from torrents of wind rain in my house (though western Massachusetts and Vermont got hit much harder),  perhaps the wily predator viewed my absence as an opportunity.   I do occasionally have the feeling that some animal predator is watching me.

     The only surviving member of our turkey expedition is Sacagawwea, but she herself has not been left untouched.  A friend's Australian cattle dog seemed to have gotten her teeth firmly attached to her wing.  I didn't see it, but I was out with this pup much of the day, and, at least, while she was in my line of sight she heeded my warning about not getting too up close and personal with the turkeys and chickens.  But perhaps while I was riding she just couldn't resist her predatory response.  That is, if she did, in fact, do it.  (Maybe not, but I did notice a few days later, while I was informing my friend regarding my suspicions about her dog, that the dog lay down under the shade of a nearby tree chewing a large turkey feather with considerable relish and gusto.)
      I found Sacagawwea peeping piteously in the dirt, her wing a dislocated mass of skin, muscle, blood and missing feathers.  An unfortunate by-product of her cries was that all the chickens--usually fearful of me--immediately set upon her.  I swatted them away, though they were like two-pound mosquitoes.   I can only believe that it is the flock's response to keeping themselves safe.  A distress call in the wild usually begets a visit from a local predator.  She needed to be silenced, albeit in a horribly barbaric way.  At least, that's the only tolerable reason I could come up with in the face of this decidedly non-altruistic behavior.

      Poor Sacagawwea:  a several hundred dollar trip to the vet was not in the cards, so I did my best to  attend to her medical needs.  I washed her wing with Betadine solution then secured it to her side with vet wrap (hot pink).  I've managed to do this successfully with a couple of robins and a woodpecker.  (The woodpecker required thick gloves as there was much frightened rat-a-tat-tatting on my hands.) When I put the poor turkey hen on the grass, she took a few steps but then managed to leverage her wing forward and out of her sling.  She then flipped over onto her back, paddling her feet madly in the air and obviously in bad pain. 

       So, I snipped off my failed "wing sling," filled a plastic tub with hay, placed her in it, then moved to the mud room.  I then drove to the local pet store and purchased a tiny dog t-shirt that said "Gold's Gym" across the back.  With the addition of a safety pin this seemed to fit.  She walked around easily but one hour later that bum wing had slipped forward again, and Saccagawea was upside down once again.  I really should have taken a picture--she was quite a sight--but she was so distressed I just had to relieve her as quickly as I could.

       So, in the end, I decided to keep her in the tub in the mudroom, treating her wing several times a day with Betadine and allowing her two half-hour "PT" sessions so she wouldn't lose a lot of muscle tone and strength in her legs and hips.  Now, almost two months later, she is still with us but her wing is quite useless.  When she runs she can flap only her good wing, resulting in a sort of unintended constant half-pass.

      I don't think I'll get any more turkeys.  Two of the three didn't even make it past the usual drop-dead turkey date of Thanksgiving.  They are just too sweet, too docile, and too slow--desirable traits for those who require easy access to animals intended for slaughter, but sadly not helpful for them to range free and have the life they deserve here at Windflower, a farm near woods with coyotes, foxes, and fisher cats.  

      I promise to catch up with another blog soon.  I will tell you about Tica at the Artur Kottas clinic as well as Dolly's chiropractic treatment.  
Until then, and thank you for reading The Windflower Weekly --