Adventures of LadyButt

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Most of you who follow my Facebook page are familiar with the story of Ladybutt. She’s a feral cat who was adopted from the Humane Society Barn Cat program by a local farm. When that farm closed we took her in. Her name was LadyBug at that time but over the last few years she’s earned her new name. LadyButt is still semi-feral, and some days she is sweet and purrs for attention, some days she attacks without provocation. Her mood depends on the way the wind is blowing, the day of the week and the flip of a coin from what we’ve been able to determine.

Lately, we’ve been having a little problem with LadyButt getting locked in the hay barn. The first time it happened I found her during morning chores and I really gave Hubs some grief about leaving the cat locked in the barn all night. Then he found her in there again that evening and gave me grief for leaving her there after my morning chores. In the marriage game point scale we were tied in a dead heat 1-1 and the pressure was on. The next day we were both super careful  about making sure she was out of the way and no where near the hay area before we closed up the barn, but we still found her inside again. Obviously, the only answer was that she had found a way to magically teleport herself into the barn but couldn’t get back out. Barns are tricky like that. Hubs decided he needed to put in a cat door so that after she did her Houdini trick disappearing into the barn she could just walk out the kitty door in style. Easy peasy, right? Except he hasn’t gotten around to it yet.

Today was the topper. Hubs wasn’t home to do evening chores so I did them when I got home. I was trying to get the horses fed and stuff the hay bags for tomorrow and I heard LadyButt yelling. I yelled back, “the barn door is open, come on out.” but she didn’t. After listening to her yowl in obvious distress I started getting worried that she had fallen in between the bales of hay and gotten wedged in place. I stopped what I was doing and went digging around the hay but couldn’t find her. She was pretty much constantly meowing for help at this time and I was more than concerned. I shut off the farm truck so that I would be able to hear what direction she yelling from. At first it sounded like she was in the woods down below the chicken yard and I started walking that way. As I crossed the driveway I heard her again, but behind me. I turned and looked up and low and behold…..she was on the roof of the barn! She had really outdone herself this time.

Grumbling to myself the whole time about how these things only happen when Hubs isn’t around, I went looking for a ladder. We have a ridiculous number of ladders on the farm but somehow I couldn’t find any of them, save for a rickety old ladder that was in the dump pile. Still grumbling, I climbed the ladder to go rescue the Houdini cat. By the time I got to the second rung from the very top of the ladder it was listing a little bit, causing me to feel like I was trying to balance on a teeter totter. I called out to her and she ran over to see me. She seemed pretty excited to be getting rescued but she was apparently a bit irritated too. As I was trying to figure out how I was going to scoop up and carry a half-wild and more than slightly annoyed cat all the while balancing on a swaying ladder and of course, not fall off, she lost all pretense of patience and took a few swipes at me for keeping her waiting. I jerked back trying to avoid getting scratched and that’s when the ladder gave up even pretending to do the job and started drunkenly swaying side to side, worse than when I try to country line dance. I figure I needed to act quickly (before I could chicken out) so I made a mad grab for the cat and scurried down the ladder before she could freak out and start dismembering me with her razor blade claws. With self preservation high on my priorities, I’m pretty sure we broke the sound barrier in our rush down the ladder. Once on the ground I set her loose…..only to have her to run back into the hay barn and burrow into the hay. So now you know a bit more about LadyButt and can probably understand how she earned her name.  *sigh* Hubs had better get that cat door in ASAP.

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The Worm Wars

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Recently, we noticed that our pigs had worms. Now if you live on a farm you will eventually encounter worms. This is a fact of farm life. However, despite knowing this it always makes me feel the way a parent does when they are told their child has lice. You know that lack of cleanliness ‘can’ be a contributing factor, but most often it isn’t. It’s just life. Even knowing this, I still get embarrassed. Obviously, I’m getting past the embarrassment since I’m admitting it for the world to read.  In fact, if anything, I have to say the worms I found in the pig poop were particularly impressive…..in a disgusting sort of way! They were the stuff of nightmares and horror movies. Truly!

So let’s talk about worms. One of the most controversial topics you can bring up to a farmer is worming.  I’ve heard farmers swear their animals have never had a worm in its life (which I don’t believe for a hot, bippy second). I’ve heard people swear the only way to keep animals healthy is to worm on a regular schedule and their animals are proof of this (that may work for your herd buddy). I’ve heard people swear the chemical wormers are a form of abuse to animals and that if you use anything other than natural wormers you are killing your animal (so is leaving your animals anemic and ill because of heavy worm loads). I’ve heard people say herbal wormers never work and are a waste of money (depends on the wormer and if you know how to use it correctly).

Basically everyone has an opinion and their opinion is usually the right one and their proof is in the health of their animals. If fact the quickest way to get a rise out of most farmers is to contradict their worming theory.  I like to think we are rebels in the farmer’s world of worming because we don’t really have any worming rules. In fact we kind of believe all of the above and none of the above. Some people just call us indecisive.

Here’s our philosophy:

*We believe in natural wormers.

*We also believe in chemical wormers.

*We don’t follow a regular schedule for worming.

*We believe each farm, each management style and each herd is different and to really take all that into account worming should be on your mind ALL the time.

Why so indecisive you ask? Well, we know from plenty of research that not all wormers work for all types of worms. Also worms can become resistant to some wormers. So what worked from you last year may not work for you this year depending on how often you’ve used it and what type of worm you are battling. We also understand that worming is stressful on an animal’s system. We chose not to put our animals through that if we don’t need to.

We are constantly assessing our animal’s overall health. We look, listen and feel. This means we look at eye lid color because these areas will be pale rather than pink. This would be caused by anemia if there are barber pole worms present. We look at coat because parasites will leave the coat dull and coarse can be a sign of worms. We listen to their breathing. Do they have a cough or wheezing? This can be a sign of worms (or other illnesses) Run your hands over the animal. How do they feel? Is their muscle condition and weight poor? This can be a sign of worms. Finally, we look at their poop. For the most part you won’t see worms in the poop. You won’t even see worm eggs in poop with your naked eye. This is why assessing your animal ALL the time is important.

Many parasites that effect livestock are species specific however there are some that are transferrable to other animals and/or humans. Knowing this, means that treating worms should be a priority on your farm. I received a microscope a while back and was hoping to take a local class that taught how to do our fecals on our animals. The class fell through and so we have been left to our own devices to learn this skill. We’re slowly learning but until we actually master fecals and parasite identification I’m going to keep referring to it as ‘playing in the poop.’

If you’re interested in testing your knowledge of parasite egg identification in ruminants here’s a fun link:

http://www.purposegames.com/game/worm-eggs-ruminant-parasites-quiz

So unlike Stella, we aren’t trying to ‘get our groove back’. In fact we want to stay as far out of that groove as possible. Our only rule about worming is to NOT have a rule. Flexibility is the key. We feel that an animal’s health is always changing, as is a parasite’s resistance, as is the type of parasite, as is the environment the animal lives in (heat, dampness, freezing, etc..) and if all these factors are changing all the time, then so should your program. If you find something that works for you that’s great, but don’t quit doing fecals and make sure you keep assessing your animals for when you’ll need to make that next change. That’s our ‘non-rule’ and we’re sticking to it….for the moment. 😉