The Good, The Bad, and the down right UGLY

Posted by Kitty Sharkey , Thursday, May 19, 2011 1:20 PM

First the Good News – After several days in the infirmary (cage in the living room), Lily is back amongst her flock. I noticed her limping a few days back, so I quickly took action. Flipping her over and checking her feet I saw it - the dreaded Bumble foot. This is the first time I’ve ever had to deal with it. I remembered reading Heidi’s post over on her blog, The Itty Bitty Farm in the City. So I pulled it up and re-read it. Then it was off to my wonderful reference guide The Chicken Health Handbook by Gail Damerow. Treatment plan in hand, I took a quick trip to the pharmacy for supplies.

 Lily was not happy about me digging around in the pad of her foot. Luckily her infection wasn’t very bad. I finished with a big dollop of triple antibiotic cream, a thick square of gauze, and a good wrap with self adhesive flexible gauze bandage (the most wonderful invention ever for animal wound care ever). This morning I re-dressed the wounds. Everything looked good. I let her back out in the barnyard this morning sporting her slick flexible casts. By going all the way up to her knee joint, she is less likely to pick at it and the other birds are less likely to notice. It’s wrapped between one of her front toes and in front of her rear toe, so she is perfectly capable of scratching and perching without getting any muck into or under the bandage. I was worried about taking my top hen out of action for a few days, but everything seems peaceful in the barnyard this morning.

Next the Bad News – My friggin cats aren’t using their new litter barn like they are supposed to. Gabriel is about 50/50, but Max is being a big stubborn jerk. So I still have to scoop poop off the flagstones near the gate. What is up with my cats? I have a super fancy Cat Genie in the house that cost me a friggin fortune, and a custom made outdoor litter barn for them. URGH! Those boys are going to drive me to drink!

And now for the down right Ugly News – I wasn’t sure if I wanted to blog about this or not. But I’ve decided that I need to get it out of my system, and this is the best way to do it. Special thanks go to Rachel at Dog Island Farm for listening to me vent about this for the past few days. And for those who were included on my original e-mail concerning this issue, I apologize for the cross-post.

Last Sunday, I was exhausted after the Bay-Friendly Garden Tour. The fact that I had spent the past two weeks dealing with a major stressful issue at work didn’t help matters. I spent most of Monday asleep. Tuesday morning I felt chilled and realized that I was running a fever as well. I’ve been over stressed, having back spasms, experiencing blood pressure spikes/crashes, and now a fever. A few days off should have helped

Because of these factors, Monday & Tuesday I did the bare minimum of chores out in the barnyard. Unfortunately I didn't do the one thing that I always ALWAYS do. I didn't stick a finger onto the nipples in the rabbit cages to make sure there was no issue with the water. Tuesday evening when I went out the barnyard, I couldn't figure out why my rabbits were going ape shit, or why they hadn't eaten all their food. Then I checked the water lines. Bone dry. WTF??? Someone had turned off the watering system at all 3 junctions that lead to the rabbitry - on top of the garage roof, at the end of the barn near the orchard, and at the spigot from the house. They were without water since sometime on Sunday. I was very upset.

It probably took me about half an hour to get everything up and running again. I made damn sure each and every one of them drank their fill. Then I went inside and researched dehydration in rabbits. It can cause Gastrointestinal Stasis – basically a shut down of the intestinal track – and kill a rabbit. Home remedies to try first were water (obvious), free access to nonstop orchard grass (not alfalfa), and plenty of wet leafy greens such as kale. Luckily I had put of harvesting my chard until after the tour so I had plenty. I stuffed lots of it in each rabbit cage. They ate it all happily. Wednesday morning there was obvious evidence of fresh perfect poop under each and every cage. I tented the skin of each rabbit and it popped back to the body nicely. Whew! Disaster averted.

I am a person that believes there is goodness in people's hearts. But with all the activity surrounding livestock in Oakland as we work towards a more comprehensive municipal code, I can only suspect that someone with an agenda was on the tour. If an Animal Control officer were to show up at my door for a surprise inspection and find my rabbits without water I would be shut down in an instant. I have been proud to be on very good terms with Animal Control, Vector Control, and now the Planning Department. This discovery makes me ill.

I am kicking myself for skipping this very crucial step in my twice daily routine. I can't believe I didn't check. I am super upset that my animals had to suffer without water for two days. Everyone that knows me knows that I take the utmost care and spare no expense when it comes to my animals. That rabbitry cost me close to $2000.00 when it was all said and done. I didn't just go to the pet store and buy a cage for $49.95. I set up housing for them that was way beyond adequate. And I drove all the way to Oroville in order to get this very very special and rare breed. I would be heartbroken if I lost them due to some activists’ twisted actions.

This is NOT going to stop me from opening my homestead to those interested in learning more about urban homesteading or seeking advice. I will still be participating in the Urban Farm Tour in June that has been generously organized by Ruby at the Institute of Urban Homesteading. And if asked again, I would proudly participate in the Bay-Friendly Garden Tour again. But I will definitely be much more careful about it in the future.  And I will NOT forget to check the water lines no matter how sick or exhausted I am.

4 Response to "The Good, The Bad, and the down right UGLY"

Anonymous Says:

All three spigots !!!...What a sneaky thing to do!I'm happy you caught it in time.
I wish I had only half your energy and knowledge about urban farming. Oh yeah, I think those "chicken stockings" look hot. ~Cuz in NH.

Kate Says:

That's some shitty way for an animal rights activist to show their solidarity with rabbits: deprive them of drinking water. Sadly, I find this all too typical of that ilk. Glad to hear your rabbits are okay and you are undaunted.

sara Says:

I am completely gobsmacked that someone would do something destructive and risk injuring if not killing your rabbits, to make a point.

(And yes, Lily looks very demure in her stockings. They remind me of old-fashioned spats that would go over lace-up shoes. All she needs is her pince nez and parasol and she's ready for a walk in the park.)

Shelby Says:

That sucks! I can't believe someone would do that. I hate having to feel like you have to watch your back all the time, but the reality is that you kinda do...

Good Luck and Keep up the Great work. It is already changing lives and the world we live in :)