Monday, August 04, 2008

Charlie's Garage

Have I mentioned how much I love, love, LOVE my new garage? Driving up the driveway, I touch a button on my visor and the garage opens it's welcoming door, turns on the light and I drive basically right into the house! I step out on the clean dry cement floor and walk a few steps through the new garden room to the hallway into the kitchen. If I leave my briefcase in the car, it's only a few steps away when I need it. When I come out in the morning the car is a lovely 68 degrees 'cause there's no sun beating down on it.


The garage has become an equine sick bay.

Friday night I realized Charlie had a serious infection in his left rear foot. Belinda called a colleague who advised that Charlie would probably need antibiotics and Epsom Salts soaking.

By Saturday morning when I called the vet, it was clearly a terrible abscess. The vet, who could definitely use a lesson in bedside manner, kept repeating "This is really bad" before and after every other sentence.

By the time we got past the part about how we're not going to send Charlie to Cornell for an $8,000 treatment that may not help at all, Belinda's friend arrived to help us. With his quiet, serious reassurance, we agreed to an injection of antibiotic and a sedative (for Charlie) while the vet cleaned up the wound.

That done, the vet recommended a radiograph - like a digital x-ray - to assess to what extent the infection was affecting the fragile foot joints. Isn't it amazing the equipment is small enough to carry around to farm fields - or in this case at least to the lawn. So, the radiograph shows that there's little or no damage to the joint at this point. And we're back to the antibiotic and Epsom Salts treatment we were expecting.

The problem is that the area around Charlie's barn is really, really muddy. Belinda, who, since the garage was finished, has been dreading the possibility of the cats doing something smelly in it, promptly suggests keeping Charlie in the garage. It's really the only way we're going to be able to keep the foot clean. And it's a whole lot more convenient for us, too.

So here he is in the nicest stall he's had since we kept him at a stable where Maggy trained and showed him. Belinda's doing a great job of keeping it clean. But it does, of course, smell of straw and hay and - well - horse.

The cats have been very curious about all this. Here's Murphy watching from atop the firewood - tho' he wasn't at all prepared to meet Charlie close up.

I'm happy to say that the swelling in his foot is down, he's putting weight on it and walking well. We're cautiously optimistic and Charlie seems to be having the time of his life.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Native Neighbors

I've talked about how much I enjoy the isolation of my house. From here I can't see the road or any neighbor's house. Well, at least not any human neighbor's house. But I spend a lot of time on the deck and the critters that wander by are amazing.

Here's a caterpillar who raises his head to present this caricature of a monster.

You can see, in profile, that what looks like eyes and mouth and are just spots and stripes.

I could spend some time online trying to identifying him. But I think he's looking for a place to pupate. So, I gave him a maple twig in a canning jar.

And sure enough. By the next day he had attached himself to the inside of the jar and shed his skin. I bet he'll emerge as a butterfly before I have a chance to research online and find who he is.

Among our other wild neighbors are lots and lots of birds. It seems early for the "confusing fall warblers." But I admit all warblers are confusing to me - as are most insect eating birds. If they don't sit on the seed feeder long enough for me to study them, I have trouble remembering them.

Anyway, it's a great hazard to our warbler neighbors and tourists that we have windows - and cats. I don't know what happens when we're not here watching, but last weekend, like last year around this time, we were there to protect a warbler who flew into a closed window.