Thursday, April 17, 2014

Baby chick coop is DONE!

Craigslist has been very good to me.  My latest project has been to find materials for a new coop/kennel area for the new baby chickens.  I found the kennel frame (above) in Hubbardston (free on Craigslist!), the stone for drainage in Brookfield (free!), and the dog house turned coop also in Brookfield (also free!).  The chain link fencing was procured on Craigslist (not free), as were all of the posts and hardware.  Now the entire perimeter of the chicken area is considerably enlarged, the babies are safe from harm, and I am feeling pleased with the final results.  :)
The kennel frame finally assembled and placed on timber base.

Foundation leveled and blocked in to hold stone and sand for drainage.

Sand added and chain link up.

The baby chicks exploring the new area.  It's too cold to leave them in it at night, but for a few sunny hours today they can go out.

Overview of the two chicken areas...the big coop is for the 17 adult birds, and then the new addition for the babies.  The baby area is additionally fortified with a chicken wire "roof'" to keep hawks from getting them.

Saturday, March 1, 2014


When I lived here 20 years ago, the shared hall had this wallpaper and carpeting, which was ALREADY ancient and gross.  So when I moved back in last year, I shuddered and then shut my eyes.  I had the whole apartment to renovate, never mind a shared hall.  Now it's the following winter...and I need projects to work on, you know.  I am so close to done I can taste it.  Check out the series.

Wallpaper down, horsehair plaster and old repairs exposed.

Layer of mud applied, carpet getting removed.  I'd love to know when this was installed.

Sanded the stairs...just enough to get ready for more paint.

Primer almost done. First coat of wall paint applied.  Trim and rails painted white.

Starting to paint every other riser.  In less than 24 hours, despite human vigilance, 2 dogs and 1 cat have had their way with the wet paint.  I'm rubbing everything down with turpentine.  Well, everything but the actual animals.  :)

As of May 2, the floor has been sanded, primed, and started to get paint.  The paint needs to be applied in strips, because this hall is the only way upstairs for all of us.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Horse Health

This photo was taken Jan of the last days I was able to ride him.  He was a raving lunatic on the ride, I thought I was going to get killed in traffic.

The horse is unwell.  I'm not sure I can adequately convey how much this distresses me.  As an animal owner/guardian, you know that there could be problems to solve.  Wounds to heal.  You want the best for your animals, and you want them to be happy and healthy.  You will do whatever it takes to make sure that they are ok.

So, about a month or so ago when my horse started acting differently, I didn't realize the slippery slope I was about to slide down.  My other horses were always amazingly resilient and healthy.  Above and beyond an occasional hoof abscess, I have no recollection of any problems in 12 years. 

It all began with irritability.  He went from being a nice, easy going horse that only spooked at normal a horse that was trying to buck me off (or was objecting to easy commands) for no reason at all.  Well, no reason that I could see.  And I was scared.  He was going to get me killed at this rate, as 95% of my riding is on the road.

You know, with the cars.  And 18 wheelers.

He also objected to being brushed (which I did nightly as he munched hay in his stall) by pinning his ears and walking away.  He loves to be brushed!  What was this?

He started to get very picky about hay.  I had bought 50 bales, and was still working off of that batch...and suddenly he wasn't interested in it.  He'd eat EVERY single piece before.  I bought more hay from a different farm without really looking at it...bad idea...BAD hay.  Back to the original batch.  He picked at it.

Then he started favoring a hind leg.  He'd hold it up when standing around, and although I inspected the hoof, everything seemed fine.  Maybe some tenderness at the back, on the middle of the frog.

We were trying to piece it all together, and Phyllis told me about a day, a few days earlier, that she went to bring the horses in for dinner and Boze wouldn't budge from the far side of the pasture.  Usually he'd be at the gate as soon as he heard the barn door open.  She had to go out (across an ice patch) to get him.  Maybe he'd fallen on the ice earlier that day and was hurt from that in some small way??

With this thought, I asked a horse massage friend to come check him out.  She came twice, he loved his massages, but he wasn't any better and now I was noticing a tenderness (bordering on pain) in his flank, on both sides.   I guess this was going on all along, and first manifested itself when he was getting brushed and would walk away, I just didn't realize it yet.

Ok, now I'm really starting to worry.  I've gone from being pissed off/scared at his change in behavior, to concerned that he's got a bruise or something, to wondering if there's more to it.

His former owner told me that he had a history of becoming impacted.  Ok.  At the time, I didn't pay much attention to this, I just figured since he was eating, drinking, and pooping...all was well. 

Now he starts being really lame.  Holding his leg up, gimping as he walked, sloppy turns.  A recheck of the hoof showed signs of thrush.  Ok.  I can deal with thrush.  But a front hoof also showed signs of thrush...and he wasn't favoring THAT one at all.  What the heck?

Time to call the vet.  A lyme test (negative).  A thorough paring down of frog and treatment of thrush.  A check of his case it was dirty and that was causing belly pain reaction. was clean.  A complete check of body, pushing and prodding all muscles, bones, joints.  Nothing except a loose patella, which may (or may not) have been there before.  $450.

Keep treating the thrush.  That's looking better.  Belly pain getting worse.  NOW I'm really worried.  Now he's rolling daily, looking back at his belly, and pawing in the stall.  NOT GOOD.  Not good at ALL.

Call the vet again.  Rectal exam, negative.  Belly sounds, normal.  Heart rate, normal.  Given history of impaction we dose him with mineral oil anyway, and discuss why that may or may not help.  At this point, I start crying in the stall.  My horse is drugged, he's been in such pain, I've got $900 in vets bills to pay, and still no answers.

Where are we now?  Treating him for stomach ulcers that he may or may not have (10 pills three times a day.  I go over to the barn at midnight for the third dose), hoping to hell the thrush clears, his lameness dissipates, and the belly is pain free in a week or two.

My god.  I took horse health for granted before.  I feel like a fool.

FEB 23rd update: His lameness was an abscess that took its sweet time reaching a soft spot (coronary band above hoof)...the abdomen pain is gastric ulcers for sure...the medication (Ranitidine) worked wonders...and the thrush, well, we're dealing with it.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Ballroom Dancing Competition

These are photos from a job...but I'm going to throw them in the personal blog. I have been photographing dance lessons and competitions lately for WPI.  Interestingly, they have 500+ students that come for lessons, and then this competition brought students from 30 colleges together.  30!!  I'm amazed.   

Most of the photos were at 200 or 250th/sec to freeze the action.  For a few minutes, I switched to about a 30th/sec just to play.  I like it.

The couples on the floor were surrounded on all sides by judges.

How old are these kids?  Maybe 8 or 9?  They were incredible!!!

I love that she wore leopard print trimmed out in blue and turquoise.

Tails!  Nice.

Not exactly sure if it was an official part of the competition, but a few of the dances were for same sex couples.  They had a ball!