Friday, April 27, 2012

Some Pig: Goodbye Morgan Sophia Beasley

And that was that.  Today we euthanized our beloved 11 year old Vietnamese Potbellied Pig....her name as many of you know was Morgan Sophia Beasley.  A pig so nice, they named her thrice.  We adopted her from the Erie County SPCA in January of 2010 shortly after we bought this house/property that became Czar of the Woods Farm.  The quick version of her story and how she came to be a member of our menagerie is that she was an old pig waiting for her forever home at the SPCA.  She ended up there when the women that previously owned her was going through a divorce and could no longer keep her.  She actually then got adopted but was brought back when those people realized that they couldn't keep a pig in their township.  We fell in love with her and gave the old girl a chance.

Morgan and Sarah became very close and you could often find the two of them in a nice sunny spot in the summer with Sarah reading, and as I would often joke using Morgan as an ottoman.  Morgan was super sweet and very smart (Sarah taught her to sit on command, she especially loved to to do this for grapes).
Last year she developed severe arthritis in one of her elbows and then the other.  We had her on an NSAID, which is the equivalent of aspirin (Rimadyl specifically) and joint supplements (Osteo Bi Flex).  It worked for a long time actually and she continued to live a happy life.  A few weeks ago we noticed a change in her as she seemed to be painful again.  I was worried that the pain meds and supplements were no longer enough.  Slowly she began to decline and could no longer get up on her own and was in pain when I tried to help her.  She would eat but only if I brought it to her.  Per our veterinarian's recommendation we even put her on Loratab which is a human narcotic couple with Tylenol.  This was after we had stopped the Rimadyl for 4 days because you can't keep a pet on 2 NSAIDs concurrently as it can cause severe stomach ulcers.
Working in veterinary medicine I always tell clients that when a pet's quality of life drops off it is time to make that difficult decision to let them go.  As hard as it is I always tell them and have now told this to myself and Sarah two times (the last being Traveler) that it is the last act of love that we can give to them.  To free them of their pain and suffering.  Humans should be so lucky.  
So yes, that was that.  We couldn't let her go on any longer.  Arthritis, although painful, seems benign enough and not something that would cause death but in all the research I have done and in speaking with our vet it is the number one reason to euthanize an otherwise healthy pig when such severe arthritis cannot be managed.  It also causes them to gain weight from lack of mobility.  Sadly she put back on the weight she had lost when she moved here.  I would't be surprised if her body began 2 shut down as she was no longer eating or drinking since yesterday.
So it is a sad day at Czar of the Woods Farm.
Morgan Sophia Beasley was SOME PIG!
We'll have to find a new way of dealing with our Dandelions.  She loved to behead them!  They were her favorite early summer treat.
RIP Morgan.  
PS-you can read her story when she, Sarah and I were all featured in the Buffalo News here in a previous blog post:

Horse Arena Improvement

In the late fall and early spring when it tends to rain the most or when the snow melts our front horse arena, and commonly at all farms big and small, mud is a big problem.  Sometimes there simply is no more room for the water to go.  I'm sure the horses were as sick of it as I was so I decided to install drain tile in the arena sending any excess water towards a culvert.
2 weeks ago my friend Dennis brought his Bobcat over and helped my Dad and I dig ~340 ft of trench with the trencher attachment on the Bobcat.  It made easy work of it and he was a life saver.  We only ended up having to dig about 50 ft by hand in the one corner where the soil has more of a clay quality to it.  This was the only area that we got the cat stuck.  Luckily with some ingenuity and luck we were able to get it out.
All in all we laid 390 ft of corrugated plastic drain tile with holes in it to allow water to get into it and down the pipe.  We also surrounded the pipe with stone to promote drainage and prevent dirt from getting into the pipe.
I have to say so far so good.  It has rained quite heavily a number of times and has drained really well.  We even got a freak late spring snowstorm earlier this week that dumped over 8 inches of really wet concrete like snow on our property.  It melted in about 24 hrs and you'd never know it from the lack of water in the arena.
Couldn't have done this without my Dad, Dennis or his trusty Bobcat.  Thank you all!

Here is what the 2 day project looked like:


The trencher was basically a large chainsaw for dirt!

A layer of stone down first, the pipe, then more stone and lastly re-covered with dirt.


The foreman (on the left)...our son Henrik, and my wife Sarah

Love this pipe POV shot!

And after...looks as if nothing happened.

The horses were so excited.  The arena has never been quite so flat.  They ran around for hours in it!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Bees Loving the Unseasonably Warm Weather

Back in mid-March we had some of the most unseasonably warm weather that I can ever remember having.  I'm talking in the mid to high 80's for an entire week straight.  It re-charged the mind, body and soul and confused the plants and wildlife alike.  While the bees may not have been expecting warmer temps, especially not that warm anyway for at least 3-4 more weeks they sure wasted no time in springing to life, turning green, even flowering and looking for love (the wildlife that is, not the plants).

Our bee hive also wasted no time and took advantage of what the warm weather brought with it, pollen!  All the blooming flowers and trees were and are rich with pollen that the bees couldn't get enough off.  Honeybees are in great part responsible for pollinating the earth's food supply and for making our plants and trees thrive.  Without them humans could not exist because our grown food supply that also affects the animals we eat would disappear.  It was so nice to see the bees leaving the hive and coming back with little beads of pollen on their back legs.  One of the earliest species of trees to bloom in our area were the Weeping Willows and the bees couldn't hide where they had been because these tiny little beads matched the color of the pale yellow pollen that the willows produce.

As March turned to April temps at night were hitting hard frost levels which I'm sure confused the bees and did damage some of the plants and flowers that popped up pre-maturely during the odd warm spell.  We'll see if the damage is permanent.  During the warm days the bees are out working hard bringing all sorts of pollen and nectar back to the hive to start making more honey.  The pollen now is a richer yellow in color and I suspect that all the Dandelions that are out now are a constant source for them.

I added another "super" box onto the hive which is where the bees make the honey.  These are more shallow than the deeper "brood" boxes that are the base of the hives where more bees are hatched.  The artwork on the second super box from the top is by my brother Todd,

In these photos you will see that the frames did well over winter and the bees have "capped" off the cells where the honey is stored.  I suspect that this year, the hive's second season, will produce some honey for us based on the looks of things.

These bees are hanging out on the inside hive cover.