Rick and Rachel

Rick and Rachel

We lost a couple more dogs here at Alba Ranch as well.  This has been a difficult time for us.  I thought I had better get caught up a bit with what has been going on…but for a while I just wanted to take a moment.

 

 

Rick

Rick

(Feb 2016-March 21, 2018)

 

Rick we had to let go just two days after Cinnamon and Nutmeg passed over.  He came to use at about 10-11 months old and where he had been before was not good for him.  He had been abused so much by a family and returned to the breeder after extreme damage had been done to him….both mentally and physically.

He was the sweetest boy and had such a sweet loving heart but he could not trust humans and had anxiety that was off the charts.  We worked with him for almost 1.5 years but he was having so many physical issues as well as mental issues that it was just better for him and for all the dogs in the house that we let him go.  His pain had to be ended.

Whatcha sayin?

 

on the move

It was one of the hardest ones I have ever had to let go…and trust me none are easy ….but this one was super hard.  85% of the time he was our loving boy Rick and would sit for hours letting you pet him or just lie near you.  The other 15% he was unpredictable, dangerous and in so much mental anguish and pain.  That anguish and pain was coming out against the other dogs, against me and against any person that might be here.  Rick did not want to be that way but he could not control it.

I truly hope that those people that had him will never have another dog or animal in their entire life as what was done to him was unthinkable and certainly unforgivable.

He is free now and no longer in pain of any kind, nor can he harm any other person or dog which was one of his fears as well.

 

Rachel

(October 2014-June 4, 2018)

Rachel guarding

 

Rachel came to us from Ohio with two of her brothers, Ike and Toobies.  She has been one of our Livestock Guardian Dogs  (LGD) ever since.  I really did like Rachel and she loved to be petted.  She also tried to lick me to death and would dig some pretty intensive holes everywhere.  She was also the one that told us about any coyotes, or any other predators about and would not stop telling us until they left…which could be all night. ha!

She was with Willow when we had the predator attack last year.  The attack that killed Willow and really injured Rachel but no goats were harmed or lost.  They both did their jobs protecting.  Rachel has been struggling every since that time.  She was in pain, and seemed to be having some mobility issues….she was very grumpy with her goaties which I don’t recall being normal for her before this time.  Baby goaties jumping on her was very painful when normally the LGD would lie still and let the kids climb on them.

Rachel and the kid

 

She also was much more anxious and fearful than before the attack.  I think that attack forever changed Rachel and she was just not up to things anymore.  It was with a heavy heart that we said good bye to her a few weeks ago….it was hard but I know that she is no longer in pain, either physically or mentally.

 

Willow the Akbash, A Livestock Guardian Dog

Willow the Akbash, A Livestock Guardian Dog

Willow the Akbash, a Livestock Guardian Dog

(March 2013 – August 17, 2017)

 

It is with heavy heart that I tell you that my darling Willow, my Willowmina, has passed away.  She was 4 years old and a stunning Akbash.  Akbash are a breed of Livestock Guardian Dogs (LGD) from Turkey.  Willow guarded her goats and was always in the middle of a pile of them.

Willow, the Akbash Dog

I said good night to her and told her to guard mama’s goaties around 11 pm on August 16th.  By the time I went back out about 14 hours later, she was dead.  We appeared to have had a predator attack during the night.  Willow was fluffy and lovely clean white when I last saw her but when I found her in the barn she was covered in dirt and filthy.  She had been in a hell of a fight thrashing around in the dirt.  We had about 1 inch of rain in the wee hours of that morning and she was completely dry so I know that it happened between 11 pm and about 2 am before the rain started.

Her guarding partner, Rachel, was injured.  Rachel is a 2.5 year old Anatolian female.  Anatolian is another breed of Livestock Guardian dog from Turkey as well.  Ike was in the pen next to the girls with about 5 goats and the girls were guarding my milkers and a few kids, about 14 does in total in the other pen.  We did not have a scratch on any of the goats.  All were accounted for and on all four legs still.  Willow died protecting her goats.

Charlie and Willow in the Barnyard for Morning Coffee

That is a Livestock Guardian dogs job but to be honest I didn’t ever think we would have it happen.  I always thought their presence and barking would be enough to deter predators.  We had 9 LGD that we had combined in with the goats and retired into the house.  However the giant breeds have a shorter lifespan and we lost 6 of them last year.  I did not replace any of those dogs, so we were down to 3 Livestock Guardian dogs out in the pens with the goats and none in the house with us.  That lower number has made their collective “voice” quieter and smaller.  We had noticed that the coyotes and other predators have been coming much closer in the woods this last year since the passing of our main guard and his brother, both of which were 10.5 year old.

 

There was no broken fences, no holes in the fences, no holes dug under the fences in or out, none of the gates disturbed, no chains or locks moved, no fur on the fencing anywhere.  No evidence of anything wrong except my dead Willow and the corner of the tarp that had been attached to the top corner of the barn had been torn down.  There was no blood.  No fur except Willows everywhere but I didn’t think that odd at first as she was blowing her coat.  There had been so much rain there was also no tracks.

 

I took Willow to the vet and had a simple autopsy performed.  The left side of her body was covered in canine puncture wounds like she had been in a fight with another canine which I think was one or two coyotes or wolves.  The Right side of her body seemed OK except for a hole tear in her hip.  Well it seemed small but once the vet moved all the hair aside, she was able to see it was much worse.  And there was a tear in her shoulder on that side as well that I missed entirely with all her fur.  Both locations had the muscles torn to shreds and the vet used words like “hamburger” and “eviscerated” and a “vicious attack”.  All of that was not visible to the eye on the outside as all that damage was under the fur and skin and inside.  This attack had fractured her shoulder but it had not broken her hip.  The vet said that this trauma of those injuries on the Right side was what killed her.

Willow saying Hello to a newly born kid goat

The injuries on one side of her body did not match what I saw on the other side of her body which is why I think it was two different types of predators. I think a coyote or two got in and got into a fight with her and Rachel.  (Rachel’s injuries were all puncture wounds on her face and head and all swollen up and got infected.  She did not have any wounds visible anywhere else but walked as if she has been battered and had sore muscles everywhere on her body.)  They were scared away by a cougar.  I think the cougar was drawn in by the smell of the blood and it could hot foot jump up onto the roof of the barn as the ground is high behind the barn and there were a few stumps there that gave a leg up.  It was a simple walk across the roofs of the barns to the one in the pen, and in the dark the blue tarp might have seemed like another roof which is why the corner was torn down if the cougar tried to jump on it.  I think the cougar either hit her and slammed her on the barn or bit down on her, either way it would have taken more force to fracture a shoulder of a 90 lb Akbash fighting for her life than a 30-50 coyote or 20-30 bobcat could have managed.  I know that bears can do damage but they are inherently lazy when it comes to livestock attacks and attacking a pen with two livestock guards in it as well as having to swat down 5 foot fences would have been more work than it would have cared to exert.  Never mind the fact that bears are NOT graceful and would have done some damage to the fence as they would have torn it down and not bothered to enter the pen any other way.  That doesn’t really leave much else.

I know that a Livestock Guardian Dog’s job is to protect their stock with their lives if necessary.  But if you want my honest opinion, I would have given half the goat herd for Willow to be back with me.  Willow is family.  The goats are stock.  I begrudged every day she was in the barn yard guarding goats and not in the house guarding me.  She was my baby and I miss her terribly.  I am devastated to think her final time was so filled with pain and terror and that we have lost her so violently and so young.

Willow on Patrol in the Orchard

I did call the DNR, which told me that there are no cougars in the state of MI.  ~BULL!!~  Our neighbors have been watching a pair with two kits all summer.  Others have photos of them.  Our woods and his woods back up on each other.  Cougars have a 100 mile range of territory.  He isn’t even half a mile from me.  The cougar has been spotted south of Shelby, MI which is about 5 miles from us.  I told the DNR he didn’t know what was under his nose.  He tells me they are protected.  Hmmmmm…why is something that does not exist protected?  Like I said before ~BULL~.  If I ever see the cougar, it or I will not survive the encounter.  I follow the rule that the old Colorado mountain man told me….if you SEE a cougar, it is TOO LATE!!  They only show themselves when they are going to attack you.

 

I have seen two cougars in the wild in my entire life.  One in the mountains of Colorado at 10 am bright and sunshine day when I almost ran it over at the end of my driveway.  I think we were both stunned to see each other that morning.  And my other encounter was when one darted across the road and I almost ran over it one dark stormy night when I was out driving the back roads in Scotland.  I have heard cougars late at night when I was outside with the stock on my Colorado Ranch in the mountains…..it had a fresh kill and the screams were some of the most horrifying sounds I have ever heard in my life.  I have no desire to repeat any of that.

Rest in Peace, my Willow.

Willow, ever watchful
A Return to the Ashford Country Spinner 2

A Return to the Ashford Country Spinner 2

I have recently returned to my Ashford Country Spinner 2 wheel and decided to spin some rather fine singles on it.  I know that “they” say you can’t do that but I decided “they” were wrong.  It is a bobbin led wheel and as long as I take my time, I can put in enough twist and make a rather fine single.  I find when spinning on a slower bobbin led wheel as this, that the method of spinning is more important if you wish for a single that is thinner and not of bulky weight.

I carded up some art batts full of merino, silk, milk protein, Angelica, hand painted rovings, Cheviot and other various wools.  I blended these batts years ago with the thought to weave 3 different sweater coats.  I spun some of them at that time on the old Ashford Country Spinner and plied them up into a 2 ply.  Those yarns are waiting to be added to this yarn I am making.  Here is a photo of some of the art batts.  I thought they were just yummy.

Carded Art Batts

I have been using a modified backwards long draft.  By modified, I don’t take it up and way back with my shoulder and arm….that is way to painful.  I keep my elbow snug in to my waist, and instead bring the yarn out straight from the orifice, loop it 90 degrees around an index finger on my left hand and let the twist build up between that position and my right hand drafting backwards out to the side.

It is the best that I can ever hope to do for a backward long draft with the mechanics of my shoulder and neck.  It works and I can get going lickety split as well as I get such fine singles that if I am not careful they draft down to thread and break.  I have been seeing finer spinning out of me using this method in the last few months that I have ever produced in the last 12 years put together.  I know that I said I would NEVER spin fine…but I changed my mind…get over it.! bwhhaaaaa….

Ashford Country Spinner 2 full of yarn

“They” also said that you can put 2-2.2 pounds of fiber on that huge bobbin but again…..”they” were wrong.  I weighed my bobbin and it was 2.4 pds of fiber on it and it was NOT full.  I would need to buy a third bobbin if I plan to spin with the CS2 frequently, as winding that yarn of onto other bobbins to be able to ply it, is rather tedious.  I spiral plied some of the yarn with a mill spun fine 3 ply that I hand dyed…..about 1200 yards of that.  The rest of the yarn, I plied back with more of the same single to make a lovely 2 ply.  I didn’t necessarily ply that in a spiral like the other yarns and did end up with well over 450 yds of that as well.

 

I believe that I preferred the 2 ply to the 4 ply spiral.  I have a lot of this yarn that I spun up and plied into a 2 ply years ago on the regular Country Spinner.  That yarn is much thicker yarn but can still be combined with these yarns.  They were all meant for 1-3 woven jackets that I had planned.  I think I will still make a sweater coat jacket of some variety with these but I do not know if I will be weaving it.  To get the movement that I want and the feel that I want, I think I may use Tunisian Crochet instead.

 

Plied Yarns Hanging to Dry

Altogether, I did enjoy spinning on the Country Spinner 2 again as a regular wheel versus using it for a plying wheel or for art yarns.  I did lament that it was so slow at the top speed of 5:1 and wished it had a few speeds higher, but during this spinning marathon of several weeks I did realize that I truly do prefer a bobbin led wheel.  And I prefer a wheel with a large bobbin that I don’t have to stop and change out all the time.  I prefer not having to fiddle with Scotch tensioning and all sorts of other adjustments that just slow me down.

Dogs of Alba

Dogs of Alba

It is the one year anniversary today of my Darling Abbey Gail passing away.  I miss her dreadfully and it still feels like it was last week.  I saw her yesterday during an energy treatment…she visited with BJ.  She is still as beautiful as every.

Abbey

All my border collies and a couple of my LGD are sick  right now.   So right now I am thinking all about the dogs.  I think I have figured out what it is but don’t know if the damage is too extensive in a few to the point that they may die.

I have been feeding Taste of the Wild Dog Food and every time I get their digestion calmed down and start to re introduce the food, they get violently sick again. I have tried to re introduce their food twice and will not try again. I didn’t go from feeding raw or a bland diet to just their kibble, I did a small bit first for two days and that was all it took last time. This time I did small bit two days and they seemed OK but on the third day I gave them only their TOTW dog food but in a smaller amount than normal and the hell started again. Mucous and bleeding from their bums. Throwing up and total loss of control. I am at a loss.

I have sick dogs for 3 weeks and they have been to the vet and I have called numerous times. I decided to try some holistic things and started with pumpkin which cleared the diarrhea up so fast it made my head spin.  I gave them that with yogurt and kefir to fix the bacteria in their gut. I can’t feed raw with 3 giant breed dogs AND the border collies as I don’t have enough freezers or money to fill them.

Last night about midnight, I did a search on the internet for Taste of the Wild Dog Food + sick dogs.  OMG.  The reviews that have popped up all over about how sick dogs that have been eating this food have been in March, April and May of 2017 is staggering.  Taste of the Wild Dog Food is made my Diamond Food Company.  They also make Kirkland dog food in Costco and Nature’s Domain, which is the grain free formulas also available at Costco.

I found one site Consumers Affairs that had a lot of details and information  about the reaction of the dogs to the Taste of the Wild Dog food.  The symptoms were scary as they were exact to what my dogs are going through.  Unfortunately the reviews that had the best details and information, were also the people that lost their dogs.  The dogs went from being healthy to in kidney and liver failure in 3-4 weeks and having to be either put down or dying in their owners arms.  My dogs have been sick for three weeks.  I have two in particular that have been bleeding and worse than others.  That is my Nutmeg and my Chloe.  I don’t know if they will survive.  I have called my vet office and they are checking to see if they want to repeat the blood work tests and compare them to the ones already done for Nutmeg and Chloe.  I don’t know if there is any course of action as the damage is already done.

I have been researching and found some companies that do HUMAN GRADE food in a human grade facility made in the USA and it is dehydrated food. You add warm water and stir and give them it 3 minutes later. They have both regular formulas and grain free. The regular ones that have grain are cheaper so I might be able to afford it if I stop eating myself!! The grains they use are barley and oats. There is NEVER wheat, soy, corn or any GMO in it. I am going to try it.   The Honest Kitchen is the food.  Take a look at it yourself and see if you like it.

 

Update on the dogs as of May 19:

I have been talking to the vet at Diamond and she has had no issues with the batches of dog food I have had. If it is the dog food, I am the only one with those issues with those production batches. I gave her codes on like 11 bags. She recommended Metronidazole for them before I even told her that one had a confirmed positive test for Giardia. but we did 5 days in a row of heavy Panacur/safeguard granules for that per my vets instructions. After just one does of that panacur/safeguard I went from 1 dog with bloody diarrhea to 6 dogs with diarrhea although not all had blood in their poo. I called vet immediately and they insisted I keep on it. Five days of hell went on and still no slowing of the the poo. I was also advised to start cooking rice and boiled hamburger for them and did that from after that first dose. I have been doing that interspersed with chicken and sometimes a bit of oatmeal instead of rice right now….been doing that for 3.5 weeks. They are still sick.

Every time I get them mostly firm when I use a bit of pumpkin, I slowly start to reintroduce TOTW and they get sick all over again after either 2 or 3 doses of the food. I have tried this two times. The first time they were still having the bland diet along with a sprinkle of the TOTW and by two days into trying to blend in the TOTW they were right back into explosive poo. The second time we did sprinkle of TOTW for two days and by the third day were at only TOTW but in a much smaller dose. Still same thing, huge mucous and diarrhea and blood with some vomiting but not as much of the vomit. When there was vomiting it was full of mucous as well. I have given them yogurt and kefir most days to help them out with the good bacteria their gut. So now I am not sure if it is the food or not. I won’t be running out to get any new bags if you are wondering. 

Vet at Diamond said that the bland diet with the rice gives a false sense of them being firmed up because the rice absorbs the excess water in the poo. That is logical.  Perhaps??  Pumpkin does as well and so does the oatmeal to an extent. Vet at Diamond thinks that they still have Giardia as the med prescribed for it does not work for that. Checked with a vet up in Ludington that I have used occasionally and they also said same med as the vet from Diamond. The other vet up in Ludington also said that Panacur/safeguard does NOT fix Giardia. I researched what meds to use for this and panacur/safeguard is NOT one for Giardia. My dogs have been through hell for nothing as well as are still contagious to me.  I have used a small forest of paper towel and so many vinyl exam gloves.  My hands are raw and cracked from washing them so much.  The house stinks like bleach from bleach power washing the floors and the food dishes and dog toys.  I have almost no dog beds or blankets left as have had to throw so many away.  I don’t know how much more any of us can take.

The vet from Diamond plans on paying for the vet visit for Chloe and Morag.  Those are the two she wanted seen today as they were both up all night with diarrhea.  She also said she would cover their meds.  She is considering covering the meds for the other 4 as well.  However, I feel that our vet should do the exam for these two and give us the meds for all of them no matter as the original med prescribed was incorrect.  I am going armed with receipts to show that I did buy the med for all the dogs as I got it for five form the feed store and 1 from the vet.  and that she should cover these vet visits as well.  Either way, I am not paying as I don’t have anything to pay with.  I am also going armed with receipts for over $200 alone for chicken, rice, oatmeal, hamburger, paper towel and trash bags to show her what this has cost us.  Unfortunately I don’t ahve receipts for the $45+ of laundry where i had to bleach wash all the rugs including 3 large sheep skins that are supposed to be dry cleaned only.  I am sure that bleach wash and dry shortened the life of those skin rugs considerably.  So we are off to the vet for now.  will have to see if this will work or not.