The Problem with Animals

One of the biggest problems with the animals is their short life spans. It seems like we’re saying good-bye to our beloved friends far sooner than we’d expect. I have talked to people who won’t have animals because they can’t bear to say good-bye. It’s tough.

I went out to feed the barnyard critters this afternoon and found one of the original bunnies had died right beside the feed dishes. There wasn’t anything shifty about it. He just died. Copper was a very pretty brindle mini rex with a friendly and delightful personality. He and our black bunny Softy did not get along once they hit puberty and we had to separate them last spring after a fight that left Softy a little off balance.

Often in my family humor is used to cope with grief, and right after Brent and I shared hugs and cleaned up the crime scene, he looked at me with serious eyes and asked when we should “interview” the farm animals to see if we had a suspect or any witnesses. I laughed.

He started on a line of interesting questioning.

He theorized that the one who was most capable of orchestrating a crime would be Poco, given his extensive history as an ex-Navy Seal (see Poco’s story). Brent hoped that Poco had fully retired, but was he used as a consultant? As we walked into the barn Brent noticed that Oreo, the stray barn cat, looked a little shifty.

Brent was certain that in Softy’s haze of post-traumatic stress he had placed the hit on Copper. I thought that sounded a little far fetched given Softy’s gentle nature, but when it comes to love we all make bad decisions.

Softy loved Peter, and Copper had won the girl. It was a bitter love triangle. Peter looked sad today as she stretched out on her side in her condo, smoking a cigarette. She said Copper was a good bunny who always treated her right, but when we brought up Softy you could see the shock and then love radiating through her eyes. Perhaps she helped in hopes of being reunited with her true love?

The pigs were stoic, but clearly shocked and saddened by the loss of one of the original farm animals. Willow babbled on about hearing something around two in the morning, because as you know, nothing good ever happens at two am, but she seemed more interested in gossiping than providing facts. Nelly said nothing. Not a word. We wonder?

When we tried to interview Oreo he ran away. It doesn’t look good, but we can’t find a motive. Inter-species love? Was he a hired thug? Will we ever know for certain?

Softy was very interesting to interview. He was cagey and very calm. Like ice. He didn’t say anything to indite himself, but he showed no signs of sadness or grief at Copper’s demise.

At the end of the day we have no answers. No reasons why Copper died. We know he’s gone and we’ll miss his hoppy hop. Find peace Copper and your friends at Beaver Creek Farm will miss you.


The windows are wide open as I walked from the kitchen to the bathroom and I heard the katydids and bull frogs singing.

I remember sitting on the porch with my mother listening to the sounds of the night as she told me about the katydids and their songs. Katydids are insects of the grasshopper variety, native to eastern states, that only sing at night. Their song is one of courtship with the males using their wings to sing to the females and the ladies chirp in response. I remember the smell of damp vegetation and the nearly overwellming hum of all the creatures lurking in the grass and trees surrounding the farm.

Rural sounds are different than their urban or city counterparts, but no less loud. The incessant buzzing of the katydids, bullfrogs, crickets, shieldbacks, coneheads, trigs, and angle-wings can fill your head and be louder than a thousand running engines. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Watching lightening bugs dance across the backyard I breathe deep and draw in the scents that can only be created on the farm during a hot spell in the height of summer. I hate how the dog days of summer seem to go by so quickly and I try to draw these evenings out longer and longer. I stay up later than I should, but it’s worth it.

We’ve added falling water to the sounds of the night with our waterfall in the pond and it’s soothing. The insects don’t mind the competition and I can get behind this kind of noise pollution.

I suppose you have to love the country to appreciate the bugs and smell of swamp, but I’ll take these stimulants over those of the city any day. I find the noise of people far more offending with the vehicles, music, TVs and the buzz of voices.

Some people love it and I can see the excitement of being surrounded by activity. The city has so many things to offer: food choices, drinks, bars, living music, dancing, friends and the extensive opportunity for chance encounters. I lived there once and quickly learned I’m truly a country girl at heart.

An ideal night for me is missing evening TV any warm night to sit outside with a glass of wine and my best friend to hear the katydids sing.

Ear Infections

Ear infections. Yuck.

It was in 1996 that Misiu entered and immediately enriched my life.  He was a golden retriever with the temperment of a God. He brought years of love, kindness, devotion and compassion to my life. Misiu died in 2008 and left me floating in a great abyss. He left an emptiness in my heart that took years to heal. I still get misty-eyed thinking of his great brown eyes staring at me with love while he rested his large square head on my thigh. He would sit quietly with me while I cried and would snore gently while I suffered with insomnia.

Misiu taught me so much and this next bit of information is something that might help save a few trips to the vet and many battles with ear infections.

Floppy eared dogs tend to have ear problems due to air flow constrictions, add a warm environment and you have the perfect breeding ground for bacterial growth. The golden’s love of water and pre-disposition to allergies and you have a recipe for chronic ear infections. Allergies in dogs present with ear infections, paw chewing and hot spots.

Misiu was four and we’d been battling ear infections his whole life. We’d just returned from the vet and they’d done a swab to determine what type of bacterial was growing in his ears. We’d been fighting this particular ear infection for two months with different solutions and nothing was working, so the did a swab and create a special formula to battle the specific bacteria growing in Misiu’s ears.

The swab came back over three plus (three is the worst infection) for three different bacteria, one was ecoli. For two hundred dollars the vet mixed up a special solution that caused Misiu to cringe as I massaged his raw infected ears. Three weeks later there was no improvement and I was reading information on the internet about ear infections invading the brain causing meningitis and how dogs shook their heads so hard they caused aneurysms from ear infections.

Misiu was only four years old.

One day I got an email from a friend who breeds water loving springer spaniels in England and he gave me a recipe for an ear treatment. There were only three affordable ingredients, but the first one made me cringe: seventy percent isopropyl alcohol. I was suppose to pour alcohol into his red, raw ears? Really?

Boric acid and gentian violet make up the other two ingredients. Boric acid is an astringent and it soothes the pain, while gentian violet battles the yeast and bacteria that has made the ear it’s warm damp home. The alcohol dries it all out creating an uninhabitable environment for the bacteria.

I was able to purchase the necessary materials from Shopper’s Drug Mart for less than $10 and headed home with my squeeze bottle to try out the new ear treatment. I mixed up 750 ml of 70% isopropyl alcohol + 4 tablepoons of boric acid + 10 drops of gentian violet = Blue Powder Ear Treatment

Since Misiu’s ears where so horribly infected I was told to flood the ears with solution (don’t massage) and leave the dog alone. DO THIS OUTSIDE. The gentian violet dyes everything purple. Your dog’s ears will be purple as well as anything else that the solution touches. Your skin, furniture, concrete, floor and I mean everything.

After only three days of flooding his ears twice a day I noticed they looked less angry. Less red and much less stinky. On the fourth day I flooded his ears and then used a paper towel to gently wipe out some of the gook.

After a week his ears looked a healthy pink (and purple!). I used Q-tips dipped in solution to clean out the bottom of his ears. I continued the treatment for another week to make sure the infection was gone. For the first time in months my boy was finally comfortable.

I used the Blue Powder Ear Treatment once a month as preventative therapy and would give him a squirt whenever he spent a day in the water or if I smelled a hint of infection.

After the first few days Misiu didn’t seem to mind the solution. He cried with the vet solution, but the blue solution was soothing.

Misiu doesn’t realize it, but he has helped so many dogs with this experience. Thanks to Misiu (his mini-me) Gizmo gets quick treatment for his chronic ear infections. Misiu and Gizmo share many traits: the love of food, napping, cuddling, allergies and chronic ear infections.

I’m sure Gizmo would give Misiu a big cuddle of thanks for finding the cure to any ear infection.