Monday, 28 August 2017

Cerebellar Hypoplasia & the importance of vaccinating your cats

I have been quiet for a while and this is the reason why.  As you probably know we rescue abandoned kittens, feed, sterilise and re-home them.  We are asked by many people during the year if we can take on many sets of kittens, with and without a mother.

A few months ago we were brought a set of kittens with a mummy that had been taken from an old man.  The plan, I was told, was to let mummy feed the kittens and then when old enough, find homes for them, get mummy sterilised and return her to her owner. We then had another set of kittens from the same place brought to us with another mummy.  The kittens started changing mums to feed and they all seemed to get on very well.  Then suddenly one of the kittens became really sick, very high temperature and died within a day.  The other kittens started getting sick but by this time we had taken them all to the vets and they were caring for them.  The person who brought the kittens had said it sounded like a virus that she had had and it is terrible, very resistant and hard to get rid of.  I asked the vet if this was the same virus as she said yes its the Typhus virus which is the cat version of the Parvo virus in puppies.

After reading up about it we knew we had a nasty virus arrived on the farm.  We spent the night neat bleaching everything, every wall, floor, crack and crevice.  We burnt all the bedding we threw away every item we could find that was in the vicinity of the kittens at the time of their illness.  We isolated every cat we had, 30 adults and 13 kittens.  We bought boxes of rubber gloves, disinfectant spray, anti ban hand gel, we boil washed all our clothes, we bleached every crate and bed, every cat toilet.  We bought new mops and buckets, new bedding, new cat toilets, new brushes and pans, new cat climbing trees ( we burnt the old ones).  We bleaches shoes and kept a different pair in each room with kittens and cats in them. We wore one set of clothes per visit to the kittens then showered and boil washed the clothes.  We burnt all the used cat litter, we bleached again, we bought special anti virus sprays and special typhus virus spray from the vets, we sprayed ourselves every time we entered or left a room with a cat in it.

Any sign of anything wrong with a kitten we rushed it to the vets and had it checked or left it there for observation.  We had two more babies that contracted the virus but we managed to contain it and stop the spread very quickly due to our rigorous cleaning and barrier methods , our meticulous routines and instant burning.  I even bought an incinerator just for this purpose.  We have had all our cats on lockdown for two months.  Wherever the cat was at the time of the outbreak they had to stay there and not leave the room so they can be vaccinated and the virus will not spread.

Although we had all our cats vaccinated when they were young (advice from the vets).  As we have ended up with loads of rescued cats who we couldn't find homes for, the vets said it was best to vaccinate when young and they would gain immunity as they get older.  This has worked for 10 years until this virus turned up on our farm.

So we have had to get every cat vaccinated again plus all the kittens which we have here at the moment, I have had to shut my business down for a while until we have the all clear from the vets and the stress of it all is unimaginable.

We have one little pussy cat who has survived this terrible virus.  Dora was very sick and her little brother Monkey didn't make it.  They were beautiful healthy little babies until we had these sick kittens arrive and unfortunately they were casualties. I am writing this blog on this subject because I wanted to make people aware of this terrible virus and also show you what can happen to a little cat if it survives this ordeal.  We have Dora back from the vets and she was contagious for another three weeks so she was in isolation and we had to keep a strict cleaning anti contamination routine so as not to spread it.  This said she is left with Cerebellar Hypoplasia.  This is a condition from the high temperature.  The virus starts with a high temperature and it then plummets to such a low temperature that the pussy cat dies of hyperthermia, its bone marrow is attacked and it becomes dehydrated and so weak before death.  Anyway Dora has a neurological problem now and cannot walk properly, she has no balance and will need help now forever.  She cannot be sterilised because the anaesthetic could kill her, so we have to be very careful that she stays healthy so she doesn't need any operations.  She will have to be an inside cat and will need lots of special care to keep her safe.

This is one of the terrible side effects from this horrendous virus and I urge everyone who sees this or has the time to read it to spread the word and make sure your cat is vaccinated.  I cannot express how bad this virus is and how sad it is to see the little bundles you have rescued being taken so quickly in such a horrible way.  All the sleepless nights bottle feeding these babies only to have them taken within days.

I hope this has been of interest to you all and that you take action and keep your fur babies up to date with their vaccinations, you never know when this virus will come knocking on your door!

Picture above is of a healthy Dora and her brother Monkey who passed away.  The video above shows how Dora has been left after this horrible virus (click watch and it will redirect you to YouTube).

Sunday, 2 April 2017

The Weird and Wonderful Funny Farm

If I was to tell you some of the things that happen on the Funny Farm you would look at me with raised eyebrows and say 'you're joking'.  I sometimes have to remind myself that these things actually do happen and the sad part is we don't bat an eyelid now as it is all so normal.

A day on the Funny Farm is a unique experience and one that,  with only the people who live the life, would understand.

The last week has seen the following scenarios.  Waking up at 6am with my father standing over me telling me its raining.  This being because a week ago I had given him the task of letting me know if it starts to rain because I had washing on the line.  

Getting a phone call in the middle of dressing, from the vets and running round the house and farm in my underwear and one sock shouting for Holly.

Sitting on the toilet when Holly comes marching in with a goat to tell me that it has an injury to its face. Also on many occasions having the dog and one of our cats keep me company while on the toilet.

As we speak I have just been interrupted  with my father in his pants because he has lost his trousers.  They are probably in the fridge or somewhere similar!

Having a shower with the water going cold every two seconds for three seconds then hot again.  

Letting out 19 cats, keeping in five, feeding five outside cats, one kitchen cat and two wild cats in the cattery.

I am also not forgetting the night time fun and games, when my father gets up and makes breakfast at 3am thinkings its morning.  

Then there is the cockerels who think its morning during the night and keep everyone awake.  The staying dogs who bark all night and the cats who haven't been sterilised yet who howl in the boiler room in search of a non existent male.  

The rubbish collection lorry then turns up every two weeks at around 2.30am and wakes the dogs who bark and growl waking the whole house up. 

This morning a baby duck was found dead, strangled by feathers of the chicken who is mothering it.  Strange but true, you learn something every day.

Then there is the duck having its first swim in a baby bath in the bathroom, a chicken being powdered in the garden, a dog having his nails filed, a goat with his head stuck through the fence, a mouse who keeps popping his head out at breakfast time (even though we have 28 cats) and the guinea pig who has just had a haircut.

There is also the midnight runs around the farm with a torch because you have heard running water and have to find out where its coming from.  Last time it was a tap in the goat house which they had cleverly turned on and run the hot water tank dry!

This is just a small glimpse of the fun and games we have and  life is never boring.  After living a normal life of office work with a semi detached house with everything at a touch of a button, this life is somewhat different. It's a raw basic life with tears and laughter along the way, one we have had to get used to and learn to love.  We appreciate the small things like running hot water and a fire in the winter. We don't fret when the electric is cut off for days as we have learnt, by experience, to have every possible means available to be able to boiling a kettle and make a brew.  

All in all Life on the Funny Farm is ok xx

Monday, 1 August 2016

Morning thoughts from the funny farm

This morning started with a trip to the toilet.  While I sat there being watched by two chickens and a bunny plus my dog leaning against my knees waiting for a rump pat, I got to thinking about the past. I transferred myself into the shower, with the new shower curtain which isn't quite long enough so tries but fails to keep the water in., I thought about my mother and her telling me one day that she had spent the morning working out how many dinners she had cooked in her lifetime.  This to me was proposterous and why would anyone want to know that.  Back in the day when I was optimistic, motivated and young, I neither had the time or the inclination to be pondering on pointless facts which didn't enhance my working life.  Now however, I have reached the age when I do wonder how many showers I have taken, how many times have I done the routine of soaping my face, ears and neck, then scrubbing my body with shower gel.

I then got to thinking about how many mornings I had got up at 5.30am, showered, had breakfast, got the children up, driven them to their drop of place, then driven to work. How many times had I answered the phone saying "Good morning Bishop's Heather speaking"?  Our lives are full of repartition, there are only a handful of people who can say their days are never the same with no repartition at all from one day to the next.

My days are now full of a different kind of reparation.  I get up let the cats out, put rabbit out, let the goats out, let the chickens out, let the geese out, let the dog out, feed one chicken oregano oil, clean another with disinfectant, wash kittens eyes, feed and clean out kitten nursery ,  feed quails, feed various birds in various places, fill up many water buckets, sweep floor, make bread, clean kitchen, vacuum , spray cupboard for ants, spray door with fly repelant  put washing on, search for missing kitten who escaped and finally have a coffee and get dressed.

I am adding to my list of 'to do's' , sorting donations for my imminent sale.  This sale is to raise money for the kittens I have taken on. Abandoned kittens who every year struggle and often die if it wasn't for kind people taking them in and getting them sterilised so the population doesn't explode any more than it already does.

Anyway my rough calculation of how many showers/baths I've had in my life time comes to around 20,000. I am starting to appreciate the pondering of pointless facts and the shock of the enormity of the figures arrived at.  I leave my pondering there as I totally refuse to calculate how many poos I have collected on the farm, or how many feeds I have given, or how many kittens I have bottle fed and going back to the past, how many clients I have cared for, how many job sheets I have created, how many lines of washing I've hung up or even how many shoes I've put on.  These facts and figures can wait until I am a bit older.

I think we all have a inbuilt optimism and motivation, some more than others.  This enables us to do the same things day in day out for years and years without even questioning it.

So next time you are sitting on the toilet patting a dogs bottom with a chicken staring at you, give a thought to how many times you have done just that (if ever) and do you want to change things a bit, make life a bit more random and interesting. Take yourself on an adventure of the unknown with no routine, nothing expected and anything goes.  Wear odd socks, go without a bra, change your morning routine, make time to see the world, have unforgettable experiences and most of all don't count how many times you've done something.

Go mix it up a bit
Peace and love from the funny farm X

Friday, 15 July 2016

The dying planet

Bio/organic are labels to make a product sound special so you have to pay more for it. The sickening part about this is, this bio food is what we used to eat many years ago before the food you eat got covered in a variety of chemicals to guarantee large yields and vast profits. It is reported that 90% of the population if tested has chemicals in their blood stream due to the food they eat. We wonder where all these diseases come from well here is your answer.

It's mans greed for on demand food and manufacturers need for vast profits. In the past everything had seasons, out of season fruit and vegetables didn't exist. We are now horrified if we cannot find a blueberry in winter. The animals are fed on unnatural products and hormones to produce the best weight and price. Any correlation between the farmer and it actually being a living animal have long since gone.

There is an almond farm in California which produces most of the worlds almonds. It ships in millions of bees every year to pollinate the trees. Many of these bees die due to ingesting the poisons sprayed on the trees. They are considered and a cog in the wheel of their production nothing more.

By 2050 half the flowers we love and know around the world will be gone forever if we do not stop and take a step back. We already know about global warming but too little is being done and possibly too late. The world of food is mainly carried out over the phone, by big businesses, with no thought to the production just the profit and quantity

 The label Bio/organic should really be labelled 'natural as it was before poisons' food. Many people do. To have the resources to purchase natural foods and are forced to by cheap items, these being the lowest grade of productions and containing all the additives and fillers to it.

If we go back in time you can see that food was very localised and people got what was produced in their area at the time.  Mass production and demand for everything across the world has exploded, creating a vast export import business, including live export of animals, many of which has been recently banned. We are not content with our trip to the supermarket having a few empty shelves. When there is even a hint of something not being available everyone panic buys and the shelves become empty in seconds. This greed and selfishness has played a part in this mass produced chemically laden industry which we consume everyday.

Wouldn't it be lovely to get back to the 'natural food and meat' with not chemicals or hormones.  Wouldn't it be good if the food with chemicals and hormones or not genetically modified where labelled unnatural production and sold at a higher cost.

One day we will wake up and realise all we did was mess about with Mother Nature and it's too late.

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Voting time

Well I am sure you have all been cranked up into voting mode, that is if you are in the UK.  People around the world are watching on in anticipation of the outcome.  The lies, hogwash and desperation are flowing from every corner.

 However, I decided to add a different more vibrant, exciting and far more important vote into the mix.

Now I am sure you are thinking that this doesn't look much like Europe. You would be right.  It is a wonderful book called Swallows and Robins, written by the even more wonderful Susie Kelly and what makes it even better is that it had made it to the final.

Now I hear you thinking, what has that got to do with you, well we need your vote to make it win.  The finalist will be on the TV and it would make this lovely lady's day if she won.

Anyway it takes all of a couple of minutes to click and vote and I would be so grateful if you could all take the time to make someones day and get this wonderful book to the top.

Here is the link to vote and hope you all get a chance to read it too, you will not be disappointed.

Thank you everyone, one little act of kindness can change the world xx

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Bob Marley Portrait

Here is my latest commissioned portrait, another one of the great Bob Marley

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Fosse Septique and Poo Rings

Well after a couple of years with a blocked toilet, I finally found myself with enough money to have the fosse emptied.  This is an antiquated concrete hole behind the house, that drains out into the fields.  After the dreaded phone call using my best french and trying to use the correct terminology, I was confronted by a lovely french man who spoke perfect English. Appointment arranged, it was time to clear a path for the tank to get round the back of the house.  This was no mean feat, the pathway was an overgrown mess of bramble and ivy with various items blown in by the wind that were now wedged firmly in the tangled forest of the unknown.  We hacked and raked and finally found a way through to the little concrete slab where the excrement lurked.  We uncovered the back door by removing the duct taped insulation and spending half a day searching for the key then we sat back in the satisfaction that we were all set and ready for the Fosse man.

The day arrived and the biggest tanker you can imagine turned up on our court yard.  A lovely man jumped out all enthusiastically and proffered a hand to shake.  I was a bit reluctant knowing what sort of job he did but shook his hand anyway hoping that I might be his first appointment. Taking a look round the back of the house, following the little path we had uncovered, he announced that he would not be able to get his lorry through and could he put a long large pipe through a window.  The only possible option was through my daughters bedroom and out through the now freely opening back door.  Well the look of disgust and utter outrage that came from my daughters mouth at even the idea that a poo pipe would be dangling through her bedroom window and across her bed was beyond words.  'What if the connections burst open I do not want poo all over my bedroom thank you very much', this being the cleanest bits of her deluge of objections.

The Fosse man then said not to worry I shall go around the house.  This meant 10 pieces of pipe linked together to reach the dreaded hole. After he had squeezed himself into an all in one green plastic suit tied the hood tightly around his head, slipped his feet into long green wellies and place thick plastic gloves on, that covered most of his arms, he was ready to start.

When the concrete slab was removed the aroma of raw sewage was so strong it made your eyes water.  The pipe was reluctant to enter the thick unyielding mass with a thick crust, the now green man looked up at me with a big smile and said 'I think it is blocked'.  In the words of my daughter I was tempted to say 'no shit Sherlock' but resisted and just smiled through running eyes and nose.  After some breaking of the crust he eventually managed to insert the grey pipe and smiled at me as he said the suction will begin.  It was at this point I began to wonder if I should have put my waterproof coat and wellies on, but instead I stood there with the wind whipping the smell directly at me while hoping the pipe stayed in the hole and didn't escape.

I heard the large tanker crank up a notch and the pipe wobbled and shook.  Eventually the thick mass began to make it way slowly up the grey pipe and travelling along the 100 metre pipe to the body of the tank.  This process took a long time and after much jetting with water and more sucking the hole became visible, a deep concrete well ready to accept another 5 years of waste.

I was and still am amazed by the happy smiley cheerful man who has such a terrible job to do everyday.  The smell alone would render me useless but there he was happy and cheerful, climbing out of his green moon suit and accepting a coffee.

We are now left with a toilet that flushes and you can even hear wherever you do dropping into the cavernous hole behind the house. The massive plunger that was used on a daily basis is now redundant and all that remains is for me to scrape the welded poo rings that remain under it.  The water level goes down and does not rise to the top and all is well on the funny farm.