Saturday, January 30, 2010

Life Changes

So many things have changed in the past 6 days.  Some good, some not so good.  I drift between many thoughts and ideas.   Some progressive, some not so much.  
I started a new job this week.
I am excited to be part of a unique team that keeps farmers farming. Disabled and injured farmers need specialized assistance inorder to overcome unusual barriers to keep farming.  At a time when many farmers are leaving their profession because of poor milk prices, age, health or injuries it is critical to keep the majority of them farming for the longest possible time--for obvious reasons.

The non profit organization  I work for can not do anything about poor milk prices, but it can assist those farmers that are having problems working with their equipment because of their age, injuries or disabilites. We can retrofit their bathrooms, kitchens, tractors, feeding equipment or anything else to make it easier for the farmer to use, or get on, or to move it.  Better yet, if the farmer's wife or children need special assistance because of a disability, surgery or illness, we can also assist them as well. By assisting a family member, the farmer can concentrate on his job of making food and not spend time worrying about complications of those kinds of issues.   Special wheelchair ramps, lifts, doors, needed services and the such will be provided so the farmer can do his job and make food.   I already love the job. The training will be long and hard. Even harder is the 2 hour daily commute, each way, in all kinds of Vermont weather.
My 1997 truck is not doing well and I know this commute is going to finish the old gal off.  This pile of rusted metal and inner guts fell out from up inside my passenger door the other morning at the gas station. Rocker panels....  The door is going to fall off next.  I have been looking at possible vehicles, but I can't afford anything at this point.  So I worry.

Ironically, the other change, that brings me to tears, is that my favorite old, fragile farmer's wife was taken out of her home 2 days ago and brought to a hospital 3 hours away.  For the past 10 weeks I have been doing her daily morning care since she fell and broke her shoulder in three places.  It has been difficult moving an 84 year old woman with so many health issues from chair to wheelchair to bathroom and back again. Her mental health deteriorated about 2 weeks ago and has been in a steady decline, with her refusing food and care. She has been non-verbal for about 3 weeks as well and becoming less and less mobile and harder to move.  My back is always within seconds of blowing out.   Visiting nurses, afternoon care attendants, occupational therapists, family members, her doctor and neighbors with hot cassarols for lunch have been coming in a steady stream since last Novemeber to attend to my feeble good friend.   The guilt I feel for taking on this new job and finding out that she got even worse on Monday, when I was not there, has really ripped my gut to pieces.   Her husband is older, more feeble with even more health issues. I talked to him on the phone and then went to the farm to see him and check on the cows.  He was on the couch, pasty white and with a very congested cough. He told me he hadn't slept all week because of the deterrioration of his wife.  I tiddied up the place, made sure he would survive the day and went to check on the hay situation with the cows, all the while wondering what I could have done to avoid this train wreck with his wife. He, regretably, stoppped farming last year because of his own serious health issues and handed the farm to his son & grandson to continue. 
I drove home with a heavy heart.   I called him this morning and he seems better. The congestion in his chest has left and he has slept through the night.  His son will drive him north 3 hours to see his wife at the hospital tomorrow.  I pray she has improved.
The other constant worry I have is how cold it is where I live. My room has been a steady 32-38 degrees most nights, 20 degrees the night it was windy.  No heat, no relief.  This is a Old farmhouse with bad wiring and can't plug ANYTHING in for fear of a major fire.    I am looking for a warmer place to move to.  Must wait a bit until my job decides what part of the state will be my office.   There has been much joking that my office will be on my tailgate since I will be based 99% in the field, which makes me secretly happy inside. They have no idea the name of my farm is TailGait Farm.  It's fate, this job and me. Perfect match.        The plan I devised in October is progressing nicely, but with some very emotional speed bumps right now.  I know that eventually I will have to move my cows, and me, away from this wonderful area, and my favorite elderly farmer friends, to one closer to my job....and with heat.

Finally, the situation in Haiti isn't improving fast enough for the Haitians or myself.  I read every bit of news.  The animal rescue teams have said pretty much what we already knew.  Not many domestic animals in the cities and the livestock in the rural areas all need Long Term help.  Food is scarce and people will need more livestock for transportaion, food, selling of produce and other life survival things.   Heifer International  ( ) will be recieving a donation from me, to help in that effort, as soon as I get financially stable.  I have gone without a paycheck since November 2008.
Those are just a few of my constant worries.  If you have any ideas how to resolve some of them, other than chocolate, let me know.
Meanwhile, please support your local farmers and buy local farm produce and products.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Boots On The Ground ~ Haiti

It has been an impossible week for me. I can't seem to concentrate on anything else but the horrors of Haiti.
My mind is full of all the conversations I have had with other disaster responders about all the obstacles that must be overcome inorder to get the veterinarians, supplies and rescue volunteers into the country to start their critical mission. Hearing about the large after shock yesterday morning was unbearable. How many more ?     I'm hoping because animals have a sense of impending disaster, any who were inside structures were able to get out earlier and their human owners followed them to a safer place.

Today, it became official.

WSPA, IFAW, HSUS & all the co-partners in the newly formed ARCH group arrived in Haiti.

All the links to their very informative websites with updates, are listed on previous posts, below.

Helping the animals of Haiti will also help the people of Haiti recover from the devastating earthquake.

Veterinary needs are innumerable in a country where animals are greatly needed and prized for transportation and food.

As a poor 3rd world country, most Haitians depend on their livestock, poultry and small stock to survive.    Meat, milk, cheese and eggs nourish their families as well as bring in some income from the sale of their surplus products. Just one goat can make a big difference in the lives of one family. As in the USA, Haitian farmers depend on their animals for their entire livelihood. Farm animals are this countries lifeblood and in great part a means of survival. Providing care for the people's livestock is a great service to them. Some of these people may only have a goat or a pig that they will sell at market. These animals become extremely valuable.
Injured livestock must be attended to, rounded up, vaccinated and treated so they may continue to support their owners financially and nutritionally.  Domestic pets must also be vaccinated, as a major outbreak of rabies is predicted, which would further hinder the progress that any responders and emergency workers will be able to make and further endanger any disaster teams presently in Haiti.     Rabies is deadly.  There is already a laundry list of horrible contagious diseases in Haiti, with many expected to increase because of the present situation.  A mostly homeless dog population, struggling to survive before the earthquake, need comforting hands now.

Aiding the animals in Haiti will also aid the health and well-being of the people of Haiti. The two are interwoven, as they are in any disaster of this magnitude.

Replacing all the livestock killed and injured, will be a huge task.

Fortunately, Heifer International has had ongoing projects in Haiti for many years.

"Give a man a fish and he eats for a day.
Show a man how to fish and he can feed himself and others."

This is the philosophy of Heifer International, an organization that provides livestock, seeds, plants, bees and other food bearing gifts to Haitian families so they can feed themselves and support their families with income from the surplus products.

This is a practical way to help. Read more at:

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Haiti ~ Sunday ~ Full Update

Much of the information coming out of the major animal rescue groups is the same now:  Until the
humanitarian aid to the human population is established, animal rescue will wait probably until next week to go in to assist.

Best Friends of Utah has posted a good summary of what is now happening:

"We received the following email from WSPA today regarding disaster relief for animals in Haiti and wish to share it with you all:

The world is responding to the disaster in Haiti, and people around the world are coming together to help in any way they can. The animal victims of this disaster will desperately need help too, and animal welfare groups are joining forces to come to their aid.

Our international partner, the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), together with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), will be working on the ground to help the animals in Haiti. They have developed the Animal Relief Coalition for Haiti (ARCH) to assist in the response efforts, and all animal welfare organizations are invited to join the ARCH and direct their financial support to the coalition.

The relief teams will be working out of a mobile clinic, which has been donated by the Antigua and Barbuda Humane Society.
WSPA and IFAW have pledged funds to fully outfit this mobile clinic, and it will be shipped from Antigua to WSPA member society, Sociedad Dominicana Para la Protección de Animales (SODOPRECA), in the Dominican Republic for them to drive across the border into Haiti.

WSPA will continue to provide up-to-the-minute reports from the field through their
Animals in Disaster Blog.

To contribute to the disaster relief effort, please visit WSPA's Animal Disaster Fund page."

There is a great concern about the zoos and wildlife in Haiti. is also assisting in the relief effort by raising funds and gathering volunteers:

"We are happy to announce that Kinship Circle is part of a unified response effort called the Animal Relief Coalition Of Haiti (ARCH). Under the leadership of the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), we will keep you informed about endeavors to save Haiti's animal earthquake victims.
We've joined forces with professional animal protection organizations to help stricken animals. As a coalition member, we are seeking donations to fund "feet on the ground," as well as the overhead involved for
communications and coverage in photos and notes from the field."
Type FOR ARCH, after your name.

Even more interesting:

Christian Veterinary Mission has served in Haiti since the early 1980s and has set up a dedicated fund for earthquake relief. They currently have three long-term fieldworkers on site, all of whom have checked in as safe. They have also trained more than 1,000 village-level animal health workers.

The fieldworkers are "working with the Haitian people to assess the damage, respond to the immediate needs, and understand how to help once again," CVM Executive Director Dr. Kit Flowers said in a statement.

Heifer International, which has worked in Haiti for 10 years, and currently has 16 projects under way with more than 16,000 families and several farmer associations, has issued an emergency appeal for funds to help families in Haiti recover.

"Heifer is by no means a traditional first responder, but we have projects and partner families in Haiti who likely have lost everything, and now, with this devastation, the need is even greater than before," said Steve Denne, chief operating officer of the global hunger and poverty organization, in a statement. "This appeal will help us help our current families begin to rebuild their lives, and provide the chance to help even more families recover from this devastating blow."

Heifer International has seven employees in Haiti. Their projects, which are scattered around the country, range from training in sustainable farming and crop diversity to gifts of livestock, seeds, trees, and grains to training in nutrition, aquaculture, and fish production.

American Veterinary Medical Foundation has an ongoing Animal Disaster Relief and Reimbursement Fund. All appeals and donor designations around animal disaster and emergency efforts support this fund.

"As the human issues are being addressed by those organizations that support this work, it is also time for those of us concerned with animal welfare to get ready to provide our assistance," the AVMF noted on their Web site.

Support from this fund is granted and distributed for efforts involving animal disaster and emergency efforts that meet AVMF approved criteria and initiatives (including the AVMA's Veterinary Medical Assistance Teams-VMAT and their efforts in support of animals in disaster situations).

One of the AVMA VMAT Commanders is en route to Haiti in his role as a member of a National Disaster Medical System Incident Response Team, providing a key link between both human and animal welfare.

Contributions received from specific appeals and donor designations are tracked and every effort is made to align the level of contribution received with support distributed for timely efforts and initiatives. It is important to remember that disaster and emergency programs, planning, and support are ongoing, without the high visibility of specific events.

"Our thoughts are with both the people and animals of this terrible disaster in Haiti," said AVMF Executive Director Michael Cathey. Further information specific to the Haiti Earthquake will be posted later today on

The Animal Relief Coalition for Haiti (ARCH), an international group of professional animal welfare organizations committed to aiding animals in the earthquake-stricken region. The American Humane Association committed significant resources to ARCH, which was created by the World Society for the Protection of Animals and the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

The international coalition is currently preparing a mobile animal clinic and staff to perform outreach work in Haiti. The coalition also will be assessing and assisting with the needs of animals belonging to people displaced by the disaster, as they move into temporary camps. Their plans include providing food and clean water, as well as vaccinating companion animals against rabies.

Due to restricted access, coalition personnel are not yet on the ground in Haiti, but they expect to arrive in Haiti in the coming days to begin assessments of animal needs and provide initial assistance. Naturally, the situation might change quickly, and the coalition will adapt its plans and efforts to best meet the needs of the animals.

And from the New Hampshire American Red Cross, this very informative e mail:

"Dear all:

The Haiti Relief Effort continues to grow, and our chapter has been very busy with fundraising-related activities this week. We still need your help in contacting schools and other organizations, preparing materials for mailing, and helping with specific events. Many thanks to those of you who have already helped – and if you haven’t yet, don’t worry! There’s still plenty to do.
Attached is some updated information regarding how to help through donations, tracing family members, and the like. Please share this information with anyone interested. To date the American Red Cross has pledged $60,000,000 (that’s 60 million, folks!) in aid to this effort.
Because of the very challenging conditions on the ground, highlighted in all the media, cash is what’s most needed in order to search, rescue and care for individuals and meet emergency needs. Long-term recovery also will require much financial support. This weekend there are a number of special Red Cross fundraising events: a donation drive in town today, the Common Man dining event in Claremont NH tomorrow, a special appeal at the Golden Globes tomorrow (NBC, 8 P.M.), possibly a Larry King special on Monday night, an MTV telethon on January 22, and more local events. Stay tuned for more updates this week ! "

Also joining in the animal rescue efforts, thru the new Animal RescueCoalition Haiti, is United Animal Nations, a disaster animal sheltering group. for their updates.

This is all new info as of 1 pm Sunday.  Hope this has helped keep many of you up to date with the animal rescue issue.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The First 72 Hours ~ and Haiti Update

The e mails have been flying back and forth about which disaster teams are needed in Haiti and which organizations are going in and doing what.  Lots of discussions on FaceBook about all the arguing amongst the National Animal Rescue organizations.  Most interesting are the insights from fellow rescuers who have been to Haiti in the past:    "It's a very different culture in 3rd world countries. Any livestock or animals that survived, will be eaten by the starving population. There won't be anything to rescue."  Haiti is Haiti, but there is a team on the ground now doing an assessment.  The humanitarian aid for the human population is having a difficult time getting in and there is a problem with just basic security.   Another e mail I recieved was asking for first responders with law enforcement training to volunteer to do security details with the humanitarian cargo that is being shipped to Haiti.  
A few facts that you need to know and pay attention to:
As in most disasters, as a VICTIM it is imperitive to be able to survive on your own for the first 72 hours. That's about how long it takes for the very first group of rescuers to land on the scene.    Takes THEM that long to get there.  Takes that long to organize a good strike force that can equip itselves that fast, with food, water and basic equipment to be able to be the very first responders on the scene.      Every disaster is different, but all are the same in the amount of time it will take to get to any victims in any disasters. 72 hours is the minimum.   Make sure that YOU have enough food, water and basic necessities to always be able to make it 72 hours until someone could come to your aid.  With all the natural and man made disasters in the USA, it is imperitaive that we all have a working disaster plan for our own families, animals and livestock.

In addition to the organizations I listed yesterday, another trust worthy animal organization is going to Haiti:
In Defense of Animals.
Please take a look at their home page to get all the info:

ALSO, WSPA and IFAW made this announcement today:

The American Humane Association ( AHA )  just issued this statement:
"American Humane has joined the Animal Relief Coalition for Haiti (ARCH), a group of professional animal welfare organizations working together to achieve the best possible outcome for animals in the region. The coalition is led by the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA ) and the International Fund for Animal Welfare ( IFAW ).
Currently, our team members are not on the ground in Haiti, due to restricted access in the country, but we are providing significant funding support to the coalition. The coalition’s plans include saving the goats, chickens and cattle crucial to people’s health and livelihoods, providing food and clean water, and vaccinating companion animals against rabies."

If any of you have other updates, I would be glad to post them here.
To you who are donating or volunteering,    Thank you.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Animals In Disasters

There’s not a first responder in the USA who doesn’t have Haiti on their mind this week.  Most of us have recieved e mails the past few days putting us on alert, asking for equipment and requesting volunteers to do fundraising, communications and schedualing.  As the disaster animal rescue community holds its breath until word is recieved for larger amounts of specialized assistance, we are organizing friends, family and neighbors to care for our own farms, livestock and families should we be called apon to deploy in a moments notice.
Teams closest to the disaster will be deployed first. As those teams rotate out, more teams will be needed. Specialized responders with livestock experience will be called from all parts of the USA to assist.  My bags are packed and I have been updating our Animal Rescue Training Outpost (ARTO) website with updates and dispatches. The Humane Society of the United States ( , International Fund for Animal Welfare (, World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) and Humane Society International (HSI) have sent the first disaster animal rescue teams ( DART ) to assess what is needed and where their emergency animal and livestock sheltering facilites will be located.  I assume we will know within the next 24-36 hours what "The Plan" will be.    

*Please  research the very best charities and aid organizations—those whose funds will go directly to help the people and animals who need it—and give as your situation allows.
The American Red Cross will expend the most on the humanitarian effort to assist the people. 
The organizations mentioned above will be assisting the animal rescue effort.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


This time of year the herd is feeling a little grouchy and many of them don't want to be hugged or petted. I chalk it all up to hormones. January is "cranky" month. The cows are only 3 months away from calving. Some are starting to really bulge from the calf within. They are eating much more and laying down more as well.   Their consumption of water and mineral salt has increased.  The cows that are due to calve later in the spring, like May or June, still allow me to pat them, hug them and check them for pidgeon poop on their backs.  From this photo it is obvious who will calve first in this group of three, and who will calve later.

I check and interact with the entire herd every day. Today they were a little dissapointed that I did not bring snacks. I have since gone to the store and got their preferred treat, so tomorrow they will be "Happy Cows" once again.   This photo also shows that cow familys tend to stick together.  All 3 of these girls are closely related.  Mother and daughters.   Excellant cows, having lunch.  Can't wait to see their calves.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Frigid Friday

Every day when I check on the cows I notice two things:

1.  It is still snowing
2. The black heifer JulieBob is in with the big cows instead of her weanling friends.

Today she saw me and hid behind a big hay bale near the barn.  It's impossible for a black cow to hide when its snowing.  Especially her.  All the rest of the herd were pointing their hooves at her and shaking their heads.

I do hope her escape skills end when the weather gets better.  I give her credit for figuring out how to get in with the main herd and hang out with her aunts and older sisters.  It was 19 degrees here this morning and the cows were calm and content eating their hay and walking down to the spring fed stream to get a drink. 
As I headed back to my truck, JulieBob followed me to the gate to bid me a fond farewell and then returned to the greenest bale of hay to continue her meal.

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Loss of Friends

It's hard to believe that so many years have gone by, so fast.  In the blink of an eye, a young dog becomes old and even faster they leave our side.   Life becomes lonely without them.  The pain stays for a long time before leaving to be replaced with good memories.  A fond farwell to 2 of my devoted companions.  Melba & Mr Murray.  Both rescued & loved.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Chicken Chatter

Today is the fourth, and hopefully the last, day of the big New England Nor'Easter snowstorm.  Some areas of this state have recieved 32 inches of snow, so far. The sand trucks and snow plows have been going by constantly and some of the neighbors roadside mail boxes have dissapeared from sight, either buried by snow or distroyed by plows.   Back in the chicken coop the hens have been recieving increased amounts of snacks and attention, since we are all snow bound together.  They have been gracious in providing large, fresh eggs for breckfast each day during this beautiful winter weather weekend. 

Many of the hens meet me at the door when I come to visit them.  Some want to be patted, the others want the snacks I usually bring.  The coop is warm and full of hens chattering and pecking at the squash, bread, noodles, oatmeal and corn I give them.

There is nothing like a bunch of friendly, happy hens to bring a smile to my face. Especially when they give me 12 eggs as a gift from them on a very snowy winters day.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Snowy Saturday

It's still snowing and the wind is starting to blow.  Most of the herd are munching hay outside in the field by their big barn and a few are inside the barn taking a nap.   It's not freezing and its not raining so the cows are very very content.  Maine is getting the brunt of this big storm with large amounts of wind and snow while the seacoast of NH and Massachusetts are getting some flooding.     Here are Doris and Violet enjoying the nicer temperatures and hay.

The weanlings are getting a bit braver about going over or under the electric fence that separates the main herd from the weanlings.  The hay is always greener on the other side, I suppose.  Ms JulieBob is the worse offender.   Some days she travels between both herds sampling all the hay several times per day.  An ambitious heifer she certainly is.

I just hope the big boss doesn't witness her stealth skills at escape or she will be in a world of trouble. Good thing she is cute~!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Day 1 ~ Cows with Hangovers

As I drove the 12 miles to the farm early this morning, it was very apparent that I was the only living soul on the roads.    I am probably the only farmer who commutes the greatest distance, as all the other farmers in this county live right at their farms.  I wish I did too.    As I drove I hoped the roads were not icier at the higher elevation I had to go to.  Black ice has caused a lot of vehicles to go off the road the last 2 weeks, a friend of mine being the latest whiplash victim.     On my long cautious drive I thought about a few changes I am going to make in my life and how I am going to survive another freezing cold winter in the ancient house I am renting. It's impossible to stay warm here as the wind blows the paintings off the walls.    Most likely I will have to move and my cows will have to come with me.  Now I just have to find a farmer willing to lease me a barn and some land.   Hard to find decent housing for good cattle at an affordable price.  Another Mission Impossible task, but it gives me something to think about as the worse of the storm heads this way in a few hours.  All the New Hampshire Red Cross Disaster Teams ( DATs) are ready to go, if needed.

I did my chores at the farm and kissed my cows, fixed some fences, threatened a few fence jumping heifers and made sure there was sufficient hay for another 2 days of cow contentment. 

This is what greeted me this morning;

This is Greta, the apple addict, munching on a 800 lb roll of hay.  Greta always checks ALL my pockets when she sees me..just incase I might have one of those delicious red orbs that she sooooo loves to eat. Keep in mind there are no 12 step programs for apple eating cows. I know this because I actually looked for a 12 step program because of Greta.       This is "the apple look."

Dear Greta, had an almost fatal incident last year when she parked herself under a wild apple tree behind one of the large fields last September and ate her self drunk with apples for 12 hours straight.  Luckily, I was checking the herd and noticed she was missing and went looking for her. My throat was in my chest as I painfully imagined why she was missing from the herd. I always worry about poachers and unemployed hunters who are now seriously looking for ways to feed their families in this economy.  Other livestock farmers are having serious problems with missing animals, because of this horrible recession, all over the nation.  I didn't want my cow to be yet another economic victim.   I drove all over the 3 vast fields the cows were in.  I looked in the woods and called her name ( my cows come when called ).    I saw a flock of turkeys running in the opposite direction and drove down a steep hill towards that area...just as I saw Greta coming out of the woods--walking and falling down...and then trying to get up. I got sick to my stomach instantly as I thought she had been shot.  I made my truck drive over a small ledge of rock to get to her. I jumped out and ran to my 4 year old big red cow. I didn't see any blood as she lay there. I helped her get up and she took 4 steps and fell down again.  She then struggled to stand up and was wobbling, but still up.    No sign of blood anywhere on her and now I am thinking Listeriosis--the circling disease.  Oh God, No.   Just as I start phoning my vet, Greta belches and almost knocks me down with her alcohol smelling breath.     I looked at her in disbelief.    There are no apple trees all the way out here near the woods.  Or is there one that I don't know about ?     I followed her cow tracks backwards to find she had been stumbling around in the woods for a long time--hours.  Sure enough, after 20 minutes of tracking I found "the tree" and it was too obvious that Greta had even climbed on a big rock to get apples that were higher up as well.  Cows can die from eating too many apples, it has happened before at other nearby farms.  I rushed back to Greta who was again sprawled out in the field.  I got her head heading in the right direction so she could breathe and I moved my truck near her to provide some cool shade.  My vet gave me a few tips to help her "dry out."   I took a nap right next to her as she continued to belch every 20 minutes.   After 6 hours of laying down she was able to stand and walk a little. I called the herd and they came to her and her mom gave her a bath. It was getting dark and I needed to go home. I was confident that Greta would be fine the next day.  She was,  with blood shot eyes and just a little wobbly and with diarehea, but much better than the near paralysis she had shown when I found her.  I came back with a roll of barbed wire and fenced her butt out of that part of the woods and that tree that made her so drunk.  And so dear friends you now know the real story behind that constantly happy face of Greta's.    Thank goodness she can't drive.   
Happy Moo Year.