Lily’s Prognosis

A dog’s hind leg has a joint much like our knee. It’s held together with a cruciate ligament. Lily tore hers. This causes pain and lameness. When this happens to little dogs, all it takes is rest to heal it. Big dogs require surgery, which has become a rather standard procedure. The difficulty comes in the rehab. That requires total rest for months.

As with so many things that our animals go through, it’s up to us to make the decisions. It’s rarely any longer a question of Can I fix it? but Should I?

Cruciate repair is major surgery and in order for it to work, the dog must stay off that leg – almost no movement – for a couple of months. This means being confined to a crate and hand-walking outside to do her business. Lily doesn’t understand rest. She believes in work and rules. Her job is to make sure that the UPS truck drives away (she is always successful), to watch for predators, and to chase things that should not be on the property, like vermin and great blue herons. Most importantly, according to Lily, her main task is to always, always know where I am. I work at home. My office is on the second floor. Lily’s job is to be where I am. That entails stairs, multiple times a day. I tried confining her to an x-pen, and providing bones to keep her occupied. She ignored them. I tried keeping her in the office when I left. Not a happy dog. I tried carrying her up and down the stairs. She weighs 50 pounds. My back ached and she was miserable.

I gave up.

Lily says that she is fine on three legs. She can do the stairs. She can go outside to pee, on her own, thank you very much. Lily has figured out how to conserve her energy and to rest. On her own terms. On the porch.

Lily on porch



And under my desk.

Lily under desk


We’ve reached a compromise. If I’m going down the stairs for only a few minutes, I close her in the office. She knows I’ll be right back. She’s no longer allowed to jump on the bed because that’s too hard on her hind legs. She has adjusted to sleeping on her pad on the floor. She uses a ramp instead of the steps outside. On my part, I accept that she needs to walk around the yard, sniffing at scent trails, and that she would prefer to do her business on her own and not on a leash.

Lily is twelve. I can’t see putting her through surgery and months of rehab. My vet, Dr. Craig, understands Lily. He says that the only way she could have success with the surgery is if he sedated her for three months. That’s dangerous to do to a dog, and besides, is that the life we want for her? Dr. Craig and I agree that it is not.

Lily was slowing down before this injury. She figured out how to be Lily despite old-age aches and pains. Now she’s figured out how to be Lily despite one damaged leg.

What do you need Lily? I’m listening.

DNA update: The swab test didn’t get enough material for the lab to work with, so I had Dr. Craig pull a blood sample. We’ll have results in a couple of weeks.

Traffic Jams

I live in a town so small and quiet that we don’t even have a traffic light. Recently, though, I’ve been stuck in a few traffic jams.

I stopped to let this fox cross the road. By the time that I got my iPhone out, it moved into the woods and continued on her way – she’s heading up the road towards my backyard. So far, though, I haven’t seen this fox on my lawn.

fox by road



This mother mallard and her six ducklings stopped both lanes of traffic. See them heading under the guard rail? There’s wetlands on the other side of it. I should learn by now to have my camera at the ready! Sorry for the poor quality of the photo.

mother mallard



I had more time to take this photograph of the wild turkeys. They saunter. They do look like extras from Jurassic World, don’t they?

wild turkeys


The mallards and the turkeys are mostly ground dwelling birds. They travel in groups. As much as I like seeing them go from here to there, what I don’t want is for them to stay put on my property. Their droppings can contain parasites, and because of the size and habits of these wild birds, when they visit they leave a lot of fecal matter. I work diligently to keep my hens’ pens clean of manure. Manure management is the primary way to prevent internal worms in your flock. If the hens free-range where these wild birds have foraged, they can easily pick up worm eggs. This has been the case for a friend not too far from here who have had a large flock of turkeys take up residence in the woods behind their house. My friend’s coop is immaculately clean, but they still get roundworms. Another reader, in Florida, has a similar problem with feral peacocks.

It’s not easy to treat on-going infestations of worms with poultry. There are no approved drugs for laying hens. (Beware of “Rooster Booster” – it’s marketed as a drug that can control parasites, which it does, but it’s an antibiotic.) People do use OTC drugs (in the USA, unlike in European countries, you can purchase these at feed stores without a veterinarian’s prescription.) However, not all drugs work on all worms. If you’re going to go the route of chemical treatment, have a vet do a fecal exam and recommend the right drug for the species.

Phoebe Nest

We put the bunting up for Flag Day.



We were careful not to disturb the resident in the corner. The bird was still laying her daily egg, and so not sitting on the nest keeping them warm. Photos could be taken.

It’s a phoebe’s nest.


The goat boys ARE useful! She lined the nest with their soft fur. I think that this is the prettiest nest that I’ve ever seen.



The eggs are so tiny. I set a penny in for you to have an idea of their size. This didn’t bother the phoebe. Later in the day, she came back and laid another egg. There are now six eggs and she’s setting.

Phoebe nest

I don’t let wild birds nest in the coops (or my deck!) but high on the front porch is fine with me, and it’s a safe place for her. Phoebes eat insects. I’m happy to have her in residence. I’ve read that the phoebe reuses her nest year after year. I’m sure she’ll be refreshing it with goat hair each season. The boys have plenty to offer!

Goat Minerals

Pip and Caper are wethers – which means they’re neutered boys, and that means that I have to be careful what I feed them. Unlike pregnant and lactating does (female goats), the boys don’t have high energy needs. If fed too rich a diet, they are prone to urinary calculi. If they got into a bag of chicken feed, they could die. The bulk of my goats’ diet comes from second cutting grass hay (not first, not timothy, not alfalfa.) What looks coarse and unpalatable to us is good for them. They also eat fresh forage, from grass to leaves, to briars to herbs (and my roses if they could get to them.)

To make use of this forage, their digestive system is complex, and much of its success relies on good bacteria that digest the roughage for them. When that goes off-kilter, they can bloat from excess gas. It’s painful. It can be fatal. To function properly, this system needs a periodic table worth of micronutrients, from copper to iodine. Far-ranging wild goats might be able to find this in the soil, but my goats cannot. I supply them with two supplements: goat minerals and kelp.

hay rack


These are offered free-choice, and that is a challenge. Goats, being goats, climb on and take apart everything. They are also fussy eaters who will turn up their noses at a minerals with a small damp clump in them. I ended up purchasing these dispensers. There’s room for two goats to eat at one time.

kelp feeder


Although, of course, the goat boys are sure that the side that the other brother has is the best!



Once in awhile, the goats do get a treat. This jar contains peanuts, goat treats and black licorice. It is tantalizingly out of their reach.

goat treats



Two treats each (that’s all, boys!) for standing on the stumps.

goats getting treats