Saturday, September 30, 2017

Upside Down

Well it certainly has been a tumultuous week.  Morris got ill a week ago and on Monday was diagnosed with Kidney Disease. It was an up and down week with moments of sheer sadness and joy.

Joy on the mornings that Morris decided to play after taking his medicine. Sadness during those moments that he stared at me and trembled.
We had two visits with the veterinarian and I discovered that even though I was being pragmatic about Morris and his disease I was having trouble facing it.
Truth is. I don't ever want this funny annoying little dog to ever leave my life. I can't picture it.

On another note. Due to the small drought we've had some trees made a rapid partial change. Colors blossomed last week and then it seemed that after 3 inches of rain...fall was put on hold.

Most of the soy beans are ready for harvest this fall before the corn is. That is backwards.

Mr. Morris perks up after having a 'bad' morning. He literally is full of energy and bouncy.
So we grab a leash and head out with the neighbor to take a long walk to the bus stop.

Allison leaps off the bus and asks if she can hold Morris's leash.
Off the kids run with Morris in tow.

And I am pleased.
A bit later Morris slows down and I carry him. He simply doesn't have the energy to keep up the pace.
But he is happy.

We are finally having some typical fall weather. Warm during the day and cool at night.
The harvesting has begun in earnest on the ridge and we are preparing things for winter.

It seems my life is in an upside down mode right now.
But that is okay.

We need to take just one day at a time.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

The End Game

I took Morris in for his follow up appointment and a SubQ hydration treatment. Dr. Grimm declared him stable as of this time.

We discussed Morris's medical future. He has Kidney Disease/Failure along with a very bad tooth. He isn't stable enough to have surgery on the mouth nor will he likely ever be. Plus, that surgery is very expensive and not recommended for dogs his age and in his condition.

As long as Morris is stable we won't be poking and prodding him a lot. As long as he maintains weight with his new Kidney Diet food and continues to drink water and not begin to vomit and have diarrhea, we are doing well.
There is a BUT in this.
But Kidney Disease is Kidney Failure and it will take his life. We don't know when or how quickly. It can be weeks or months, but Morris will succumb to the disease.

There won't be any heroics when Morris succumbs to the next crisis. That may sound cruel but I don't want to promote suffering.

So yesterday after the visit with the Doctor we went for a drive. We then walked a new trail in Jersey Valley County Park and just enjoyed the autumn afternoon.

I'd like to say that I had a philosophical discussion with Morris as we sat on a rock overlooking the lake. But we didn't. He smelled, sniffed, and was basically a dog enjoying the walk. As long as we can, we will continue with these walks, they won't be hard or demanding as we used to do, but just nice simple walks at his pace.

Morris napped comfortably in the car on the half hour drive home. He was alert and perky when he hopped out of the Subaru to oversee his farm. After he checked things out, he asked to go in and get fed.

Life is simple for him. When he feels good, he wants to be on the go. When he is hungry he lets you know. When he'd like to get up at 4am to survey his "Kingdom" he also lets you know.
Nap time is preferable if he has a lap to do it on. Otherwise his couch will suffice.

May the rest of his days be pain free.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Quick update

Morris is back on his paws, ignoring me when I call him to come in and ...
overseeing the farm from the porch.
Tail wagging has returned as well as a prance in his step.

It is good for now and we also know more about his condition. Hopefully we can keep him healthy for a while now.

Good ol' Morris.
We do love you.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Vet Visit

I thought after the last post that I'd best update how Mr. Morris is doing. First, thank you for the concerned comments and yes it is hard to have aging pets. I've had dogs as pets since I was a kid. The fact that our pets age faster than us has always been tough for me.
I have loved each dog that I've had so fiercely and totally...

Anway I called the vet's office and got a message that he was closed until Tuesday. I decided I wouldn't wait another day for Morris to see someone. So I called another office. At first the secretary said that she couldn't fit Morris in, then she asked what was going on and then after I told her she said she'd call me right back.

I paced the living room after hanging up. Morris was on his blanket on the floor and stared painfully at nothing.
The phone rang again. Can you come right now?

I was out the door with Morris's crate, leash and Morris. Off we went.
I met Chip a beautiful young and mild mannered German Shepard when I entered the office. He nosed Morris and stood politely back giving us space.
Dr. Grimm examined Morris quietly and with very gentle hands.
Blood work was in order.
She whisked Morris off to the back room for blood work and to subQ him with some fluids.
The blood work told us a lot. Morris had an infection and he had an issue with his kidneys. Kidney failure. Well, kidney issues, kidney problems, and dehydration along with a high white cell count.
Morris was indeed pretty sick.

Dr. Grimm went through the test results with me and then we went through some things that might help. He received an antibiotic and a medication to help with nausea and stomach cramps. We talked about his diet and she recommended some special Kidney Diet dog food.

I've always poo pooed this sort of thing, but holding Morris in my arms and listening to this doctor quietly explain what we may be able to do to help Morris feel better, I decided that indeed if I had to buy special prescription dog food I would.

So Morris and I left with medications and a case of Kidney Diet dog food. Dr. Grimm was careful to point out that the prognosis could go either way with kidney disease. I was painfully aware that Morris may not get better. However we live with hope. Right?
Dr. Grimm expressed that many dogs don't 'tell' you what is wrong until it is a serious issue. She calmed my feelings of guilt a bit. However as I drove home with Morris silent in his crate [he who usually protests loudly about not being able to ride shotgun], I still felt bad.

Rich, the ever tough hearted fellow has been extra attentive to Morris. He helps Morris onto the couch and pets him gently and speaks softly to him.

Morris has always affected our lives in a positive manner. He has made us laugh, made us angry, made us frustrated...and in general has done his job as a pet.
Now we care for him.

This morning he is has more life in his eyes. He has taken his meds and had plenty of water. He has so far ignored the new delicious food I put in his bowl. But it is early yet.

We have to leave for a day of appointments for Rich at the VA. My wonderful neighbor will come down and take Morris out and check on him. Her 3 year old son loves to take him out to go potty. She said she'll visit a couple of times to check on him.
I am amazed by the outpouring of love both on the internet and from those around my small farming community for Morris.
Indeed, I am so lucky to have had this amazing little fellow in my life for so long.

His prognosis is guarded. He will more than likely show improvement. The Dr. did say that some dogs do well for quite a while and some go down hill very fast. We don't know where Mr. Morris falls in that scenario.
But we continue to hope for some more time with this funny little guy.

Adventures still await us.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Tough weekend

Morris has had some odd behaviors these past few weeks. He has walked into the door before I opened it. He seems lost if I get out of his view and then can't always seem to find me. He seems as though he is quite lost some days. However most of the time if I got out a leash he seemed bright and attentive.
This past week we had record heat and humidity. Morris and I chose to opt out of walking to the bus stop.
We've dealt with all of his funny little mishaps of missing a stair, or growling at plants that he thought shouldn't be there...with a bit of humor. After all. He is aging.

Saturday was one of those normal days except it was supposed to be unbearably hot and humid in our neck of the woods.

I scurried around in the morning before things go too hot and picked cherry tomatoes for our summer salad I planned on making later.

I found a clean one and munched on it while in the garden. They were warm and delicious.
Morris the ever curious old dog came up and tried to eat one. I was sure he wouldn't like it so I bit a small one in pieces and let him smell in on my fingers. He snatched it and gobbled it down.

He then grabbed another split one from the ground and ate it. I shooed him out of the garden and walked back to the house. I wondered if tomatoes bothered dogs.

Well I went inside the house and commenced to making our pasta salad for eating later.

My brother and his son are coming to visit on Tuesday so my mind was on salads, meals, schedules, ...OT on Monday, the VA on Tuesday, ...changing the sheets from my last round of visitors, tidying up the porch, ...
I peered at the yard and told Rich that it was too hot to mow. Just leave the yard alone. It didn't need to be picture perfect for my brother.
I think the last time my brother came here, it was 2002. Yes. It was. My brother brought my father for one of the last WI visits.
My dog Xena had just died from either eating coco bean mulch or poison. We never did figure out if she got into a rat that was poisoned or ate the mulch.
Rich had been admitted to the hospital and I'd picked him up just before their arrival.

Around 3pm Morris fell off the couch. I saw it and then saw the stress in his eyes and in his body language. Something was horribly wrong. His back was hunched, his eyes were dull, and he walked with a wobble.

He tried to walk to the door and I let him out. He wobbled off the porch and squatted...squirting me with diarrhea. Oh sh-t. Oh sh-t. No. No!
He finished and wobbled back towards the door. I cleaned up the porch with a little bucket of water and washed my bare feet.

Inside Morris shadowed me as well as he could, he lifted one paw onto my pant leg and stared dull eyed at me while he shuddered.
I picked him up and let him snuggle in my lap.
I started to research his 'symptoms' and wasn't find too much in results. Not until much later did I happen on a site that sort of sounded like what Morris was going through. However this wasn't until after midnight.

Years ago, I bought a veterinarian's stethoscope and learned how to use it. It helped when Badger was so sick and when anything happens to an animal on the farm and the vet comes, I can save them some time with giving them vitals.

Morris's vitals were as follows. Heart rate: Rapid but strong. Within the high normal for him.
Respiration was in the high range when he seemed to have a cramp, but otherwise withing normal range.
Lungs clear. Rectal temperature within the his normal range.

It seemed he had a gastric upset of sorts. He confirmed this by throwing up. I could see chunks of the small tomato in it and then wiped it up. Tomatoes didn't seem to be a huge issue for dogs unless they ate green ones or others in large volumes. He had done neither of those.

Rich was concerned too. Until we went to bed Rich took turns taking Morris out to the bathroom. When it got dark, I put his pet-lite [a small medallion that lights up with an LED light] so I could watch him closer. I followed him around as he peed and did his business.

At 4am, after one of our outtings, Morris drank water. He drank and drank and drank. I made him some chicken broth [thank you upstairs neighbor] with white rice and sprinkled some small pieces of chicken breast on it. Morris smelled it and then picked out the small pieces of chicken.

By 10 am, he had settled in for a long nap on the couch. He slept and slept.

I'd called a few vet offices and being a Sunday I got an answering machine. "Hello, you have reached - name of office - our hours of operation are...."

One office was open and would take emergencies. To walk in the door it would cost $150 and they were 90 minutes away.
Morris was showing improvement so we decided to wait and let him rest.

He did exactly that for the rest of the day. He would get up and walk quietly to the door and stare at you with those soulful eyes.
I fed him the rest of the chicken breast which he skillfully picked out of the rice and took him out.
Afterwards he climbed up on the couch and laid down.

I figured to try and sleep in bed.
About 4am I heard the sound of Morris walking into the bedroom. I cleared my bleary eyes and grabbed my glasses and a flashlight.
I followed Morris around the yard as he seemed to try very hard to defecate. He strained and strained.
I gave him the last of the small bits of the chicken I had and he seemed to want more. He ate some left over cooked burger crumbles and stared at me when I didn't give him any more. I figured until we were able to see our veterinarian, I would err on the side of caution.

After a few more trips outside with nothing but effort, he ambled in slowly and drank some more water. He fell asleep on the floor next to the couch. This morning he won't jump onto the couch.

I have a 12:45 Occupational Therapy appointment and am trying to figure out how to take him to town. Today will be another hot and humid day. No way to leave him in a crate while I do therapy. I'll check with the vet's office and see if we can't work something out.

I feel like I jinxed myself by going through Morris's bucket list. Or perhaps I was neglectful in some way by allowing him to taste the tiny cherry tomato. All I know is that I am sick at heart.
I am not ashamed to admit that I spent most of Saturday night with tears in my eyes.

I rarely cry about anything. I don't cry at funerals. I don't get over emotional when something awful happens. And I didn't get teary eyed during any of Rich's medical emergencies. I've always been known for my steely resolve.
Except when it come to animals. I have no way of keeping my emotions in check.

Updates later.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Mr. Morris has a Bucket List

My long time pal Morris is showing more decline as the days go on. He can't see well any more. He isn't sure how far down in his bowl the water is, so he starts to drink in the air and carefully lowers his face down into the bowl.

If I move my buckets of flowers around he will either growl at them or walk into them at night.

We smile and assist him in most things because that is what we do. Treat the elderly with kindness and love.
Yesterday I was working on a an old milk can. I spray painted it white and left it near a stump in the yard to dry.
Morris came out and growled. He walked towards it with stiff legs and all his hair raised on his back.
I was amused but realized that it was probably not funny in his world.

He is losing weight gradually but still is eager to walk the neighbor kids home from school. He asked to be carried our last time out on the last leg of the walk. I obliged. He is enthusiastic with the children and conks out on the couch when he gets home.
More and more he starts out a hike with me and turns around and goes back to the house and to sit on the back step or the porch. Our outings will involve a bit of assistance from now on.
His mobility is just fine.
He likes cuddling or sitting in my lap more often. In fact every morning he asks to sit on my lap while I browse the news and have some coffee.
In the past he always entertained himself by dumping all of his toys out and spreading them throughout the house.

So the other day he laid out his plan for his own personal Bucket List.

Morris ~~~

Car rides. More car rides. I like car rides. 

Mule Rides. I want to take some more rides on mules.

Hikes. I like hikes. But I get tired like when I was a pup. So I want a doggie back pack.

Tractor Rides. I like them too. 

A good book to read. Or someone can read it to me...

Another sleep over with my best life time friend...

NO more puppy training! Please!

A ride in the new skid steer with the Grumpy Guy.

Cookies. I like cookies. Lots of dog cookies.

A nice quiet place to sleep. Oh wait. I have that.

Another cool trip with Her.

Lots and lots of love.

When I think of more...
I will add some.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Tree Stand~ The Sequel

Once upon a time about 7 years ago, on November 19th, 2010 to be exact my husband decided to put up one of those neat fancy cool tree stand thingies.

It is called a Tree Stand.
I wrote about how I thought a hateful woman had invented the Tree Stand to simply get rid of her husband easily in a hunting misfortune. Misfortune my ass.
They are built to kill you while putting them up.

This new fangled Tree Stand was brought by our good friends from K-town. It is a 2 person Tree Stand.
I am sorry but I have a hard time dealing with a one person stand yet alone trusting my weight and one other person's to a TWO person Tree Stand. Add deer rifles and you get another level of excitement.

First you unpack the thing and put most of it together on the ground. Haul it out with a skid steer and a 4 wheeler. Oh, and don't forget an audience.

Poke around with the pieces for a bit and see where in the heck they do fit. Scratch your head and swat at the mosquitoes that have decided to come and watch - no doubt they were texting their other bug friends to come and watch the free show.

After one failed attempt to get it up into the tree. Threaten to shoot it.

Okay the guy in camo is not going to shoot anything. It just looked like it when I took the shot with my cell phone.
Here we are all pondering the next step.

Next step. Climb the tree with a tree climbing thingy and pull it up with a rope.

Sounds great! I was astounded. Sort of. I never saw tree climbing thing like this.

Even Scout was amazed or like me, confused.

As the light kept fading and it kept getting darker, things kept on track. There was a lot of sweating but no cursing as the kids had come up from the creek to join in the adventure too.

I stayed out of the way as I'd be absolutely no help what-so-ever.

After some tense moments the tree stand was hauled upright and sort of held in place as my husband held the stand while the other guy climbed up to secure it.

Now there were two wives biting their nails and getting a bit worked up. Both of us were pleading with the hard headed men folk to wait until daylight to finish the job!
My husband was pretty quiet during most of this as he was the guy on the ground holding the extremely flimsy ladder that was not attached to anything while the other male climbed up and strapped the seat to the tree.

I kept checking to see if I had any 'bars' on my cell phone. Nope. In order to call 911 I'd have to sprint to the top of the ridge. I took a few deep breaths and hoped the Tree Stand Gods would allow this to be erected.
I even thought of what sort of sacrifices I could make to said Tree Stand Gods to make sure the job finished safely ... in the twilight.

No sacrifices were made and surprisingly the guys decided it was too dark to continue, but the Two Person Tree Stand was now anchored.

And we headed back towards the house with the lights of the skid steer to guide us.
Yes indeed. The Sequel to putting up the second tree stand was almost as tense as the first one many years ago. But with the kids there the cussing was held to a minimum. And we no longer had the donkey contingency to watch us. However I'm sure the Dexter Cattle would have loved to give their opinion on the matter.

My friends went back early the next morning before they left and finished up securing the Tree Stand.

On Monday I went back to scout the area out. Hmmm.

Well bust my britches.
The view from the top of the stand was incredible.

And I didn't feel like I'd fall down either. I mulled things over and then took another photo down the ridge road in the other direction.
Well, hot diggity dog!

The powers that be completely misnamed this Hunting Tree Stand Thing. It should be more mobile and called "The Photography Tree Stand Thingy."

Okay. Well maybe it wouldn't be such a bad thing after all.

Dang it All to ...

Well dang it all to heck and back.

I'm not going to really whine about this too much. Hmmm. Maybe I will. It seems that osteoarthritis has crept into my life. Well at least into my hands.
I of course figured that it wouldn't happen to me.

Stupid me. I sort of knew it would. My Grandmother Pearl had twisted gnarly hands and she barely whispered a word about it. I'd see her gardening, crocheting, sewing, and doing all those normal things with her beat up hands. At the time I admired those well worn hands and said something to her about it.
In all her infinite wisdom that I never learned...she replied, "Oh I don't think you want these hands. Some days they don't do so well."
She said this as she was artfully cleaning a fish with quick skilled movements.

My mom began to suffer the same fate as did her sisters. Arthritis crept up on their hands deforming them and sometimes twisting the joints.

Over the past year or so, my hands began to ache a lot. Certain movements hurt. Grasping things was painful. My left thumb continued to hurt making grasping door knobs a real chore. In fact when we remodeled, I had handles put on the door that I could just push down on.

Opening a jar can be tricky. Using an old fashioned can opener can be a trying feat. Over the winter my hands became worse. I developed Herberden's Nodes on the ends of my fingers. As those nodes develop, the pain is quite intense. I recall my father showing me the tips of his fingers and telling me that once the bump was formed, it stopped hurting, so it wasn't so terribly bad.
Oh, he was not kidding!

So this summer those wonderful little nodes pretty much quit hurting and I was able to get along except for the thumb issue. Sometimes at night, I'd fall asleep with a cold pack wrapped around the left hand. It numbed things enough so I could sleep.
Peeling apples for apple crisp last month made the pain nearly unbearable. So I decided to see how I could process apples without causing myself a lot of pain. Easier to make jelly, juice, and apple sauce than to peel apples.
Plus I got a food mill which helped tremendously.

Brushing the mules out for riding was even a bit difficult, but I decided worth the pain.

I sort of knew what may be going on with the hands. Goodness knows I've seen it in my grandmother, my mom, and my dad. However my fingers are not being deformed much.

So when my doctor and I looked over the hand X-ray results, I was sort of surprised. There it was osteoarthritis in both hands. No fingers were left unscathed.
The left thumb showed degenerative joint 'disease'. Oh. Ick.
Mostly it means that the hands will slowly get a bit worse as I get older.

Now dammit, how did I get older? In my mind I am about 30! I look in the mirror and see that older person looking back at me. She disappears when I take my glasses off. She looks much younger after I take a shower and peer at her in a fogged up mirror.

My doctor recommended that I see Occupational Therapy for exercises to strengthen my left hand and to see how they could suggest non drug like therapies to lessen the aches and pains. I am all for that. Our local clinic has an excellent PT/OT department and they have helped me quite a bit in the past.

How am I going to 'deal' with this? Well, now that I have a name and a cause for the pain, I will not quit doing things or baby my hands. The pain is not indicative of something that will harm me.
It is simply wear and tear. I need to work out how to do some things smarter and need to be aware of the "Use it or Lose it" theory. If I stop doing things with my hands, or I stop being active ... I will be in more pain and more health problems will arise.
If the body stops moving, it will destroy itself.

My doctor said that if the thumb issue got too bad she would send me to a hand specialist to explore injections [eeks!] and perhaps surgery [eek gads! NO!]. She said she had a patient who went through the surgical procedure and the recovery and PT time took about 6 months. No thank you!

This is not earth shattering but it will include some minor changes for me.

Yes, I think my father was correct. Aging is not for sissies.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Apples. Simply delicious!

A friend of mine visited this weekend and they enjoyed some of our apple jelly and applesauce.

I explained to him that I'd picked apples and made apple juice and canned it. I also use the juice to make jelly. The pulp gets run through a mill and I use that to make applesauce.

He asked me to send him a recipe. So here is my method that is really quite simple.

Picking the apples.
I know~basic~ but I took some photos while up in the tree. I enjoyed the view in the tree!

The only thing I will do different next time is get a bag to sling over my shoulder so I won't have to climb up and down the ladder as much.

I wash the apples then cut them in half and dump them in a large pan. I add a little bit of water to the pan. It is an experiment. Sources on the 'internet' say to cover the apples. I find that makes the juice a bit watery. I found a happy medium of just adding enough water to get the apples to steam up.

I take an apple smusher aka a potato masher and mash the apples. I let them simmer on low for about 15 minutes.

I ladle the mushy stuff into a strainer and let it drain. I don't push on the mush too hard as I want some nice clear juice. Another method is to use is straining it through some material. I like to use an old cotton pillow case cut up. It gives the clearest juice.

Once you have your juice you can decide if you want to make jelly or simply can the juice. I use Sure-Jell to make the jelly. If I feel like making jelly this winter, I simply can the juice in a hot water bath for the recommended time.
I just canned a gallon of apple juice so I will have plenty to either drink or use to make jelly.

I believe the Sure-Jell recipe calls for 7 cups of apple juice.

I decided to run the leftover pulp through my food mill. It did a nice job of getting rid of the seeds and skins.

Since I had a ton of other things to do during this day, I added the pulp to my crockpot, added some sugar and some cinnamon to taste and set the crockpot on low.

That evening the applesauce was hot enough and had cooked enough to can.

From the tree to the shelf in about one day.

Oh and let's not forget that apples do very well in the dehydrator!

Monday, September 18, 2017

The Sunrise Club

Thank goodness the sun rises later in September. It makes it slightly easier to get up and out to certain places for a 'sunrise' adventure.

Our friends arrived late Friday night from the east side of the state. I love their visits. It means there will be a crazy fast and furious weekend of trying to do a million things.
I think they have fallen in love with this portion of Wisconsin. I must admit when I did the very same thing about 20 some years ago. I did the crazy thing of driving to visit Rich on Friday nights after work and spent until late Sunday afternoon enjoying his company and this area.
Until I realized that I would just move here and it would solve a lot of my traveling and driving issues.

I never looked back. And I am happy I did.

Anyway we were up early. Daryl came quietly down the stairs. The coffee was brewing and I was thumbing through my Smarty Pants Phone checking the Nautical Dawn, Civilian Dawn times and the actual sunrise times for one of the county parks I like to visit through an app called Sun Locator Lite.
Amanda came down the stairs, then Evelyn was next and finally Grace came down the stairs.

Ready? Ready.
We piled into the Subaru and headed out.

When we came down the steep road into the valley and made the bend everyone in the car said, "Wow!" in some sort of form. There is a curve that allows you to peak at the man made lake just before it reveals itself.
Yeah, it is breath taking every time I see it. And I have not become immune to it.

We parked and everyone stepped out at once, scattering quickly to get the 'best' view. The Sunrise Club had arrived. Only this time we weren't in PJ's!

I wanted to be everywhere at once but couldn't. I stood next to the car and admired the colors as the daylight began to make the area glow with light.

Having the place essentially to yourself is another bonus.
No parking issues!

We eventually migrated to the floating fishing dock and watched the skies change.

Time for a bit of goofing around.

Even the girls found interesting things to do.

And I discovered my 'best' shot of the weekend because of that. Nope, it wasn't the spectacular scenery or the incredible colors. No, it wasn't something like that at all.
It was one of Daryl's daughters playing with some wild flowers she picked.

This shot made the morning for me. I photographed it in color, but the but in my mind saw it as black and white.

Once I took a series of her picking up the flowers and setting them back on the lake's calm surface, I sat back.

My morning couldn't have been any better. I got the shot of the day. I was satisfied. This image struck me as a powerful one.

I wanted to jump up and down and shout out, "I got it!"
But I didn't. Although my friends would have totally understood it if I had.

The clouds moved in and the sun disappeared.

Time to end our morning adventure and head back to the farm.