Saturday, August 29, 2009

Just passing through

A handful of Wilson's Warblers visited Beyond Ester last weekend. They were only here for a day, apparently just passing through on their way south. We read in one of our bird books that they often flock by the dozens with other migrating birds. We first noticed that we had new visitors when one by one, the raspberries in the yard waved furiously. Then we saw the brilliant flash of yellow and realized that we had never seen these birds before! The WWs were busy snatching bites of the raspberries, which have dried on the stalks. The bird book says they also enjoy insects, so perhaps our strikingly yellow visitors were grabbing some protein along with their fruit. We spotted both males and females--the males with their perky black cap, and the females more subtle with their streaked olive feathers.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Foxtail warning

Dog lovers, beware!! It's foxtail season. A beautiful grass, foxtails are extremely dangerous to dogs and other animals. Our beloved elder dog, Ursa, occasionally has a bad habit of eating grass. While Kayt was in Madison, WI, for the Rural Sociological Society, Ursa started coughing and gagging. She drank bowl after bowl of water, seemingly trying to dislodge something from her throat. After watching her struggle, I took her to the emergency vet in town. I was so relieved to see Dr. Pinto, one of our most trusted docs, was on duty that night. The emergency vet often seems like rolling chaos to me, and this night was no different. Dr. Pinto, though, like the other vets and techs who work at the clinic, is always calm and steadfast in the face of the revolving crises, deaths, and high emotion. After she examined Ursa, Dr. Pinto suspected foxtails. She sedated Ursa and removed about a dozen pieces of foxtails that had lodged in her tonsils. About two hours later, the tech helped me load a heavily sedated and woozy Ursa into the car and I drove home. Somewhere along the way home, I passed a porcupine and the feeling of panic and disorientation overwhelmed me. How was I going to manage Ursa alone?? She weighs 76 pounds, and I felt every ounce as I picked her up from the car seat and set her on the ground at home. Her legs immediately went limp and she fell to the ground. But she's very brave, and with me holding her up, she peed and let me carry her into the house. She slept through the night, but I don't think I slept a wink. The next morning she was woozy and exhausted, but hungry for her breakfast. A week later, most of the inflammation appeared to be gone and she was back to normal. But please--let our horrible experience prevent your own dog from exposure to foxtails! Cut them down in the spring as soon as you recognize them. Ruthlessly exterminate them from your yard. Pull them, mow them, dig them up. Whatever you have to do to eliminate them from your environment, do it.