Friday, August 4, 2017

Some Weeks Are Just....

Bad News

Personal choices can have a far reaching effect on people that we just cannot comprehend.

While the following information would be best discussed in a different forum, this very personal news is shared here only to point out that my past few weeks
started on a less than stellar note.  Two weeks ago, I got a call from a family member that my sister was in the hospital and would most likely not go home. Turns out that though she has been getting treatment for multiple myeloma, a specific form of leukemia, for 3 years she has known about the disease for 6.  I and my siblings found out this info only last Tuesday. Of course I got on a plane the next day on the first flight out of Hilo and stayed the next week. She stabilized and seemed to be doing well enough that she went home. Most of my other siblings including me (we are 5 strong), started to head home one by one. That was bad news #1

JoAnn met me at the airport and on the way home she mentioned that the turkeys all had sores on their heads. The sores were just on their heads and neck areas that weren't covered with feathers. Once home a quick check on the internet confirmed the diagnosis of Fowl Pox. Both the turkeys and the new hatchlings had it. The adult chickens had varying degrees of involvement but not nearly as bad as the turkeys. Bad news #2

The following day, my sister relapsed and needed to be re-admitted to the hospital. This time it was total organ failure secondary to the leukemia. 2 weeks after I got the first phone call, I got the second, informing me that my sister passed away. Bad news #3

Not having any thing I could do to help my sister, I instead plowed into finding out more about how I can care for the birds I thought I can do something about.
Bad news #4- Fowl Pox is viral and there is nothing but palliative care that I can do for the birds.
We haven't dealt with this before so we called on a friend from 
Turkey Talker Farm to come over and tell us what we need to do. Batina was quick to say yes, and set to work. She showed us how to remove the scabs that needed to be removed, clean out the ears that needed to be and showed us how to identify which ones that could be left alone. A dab of triple antibiotic and the turkeys were marked with a zip tie and let go. 

We marked them for a couple of reasons, first, we'd know which ones were done and which needed to be checked, and second, any birds unmarked were free of visible pox so we would be able to tell if there was another outbreak.  There have been cases of a flock getting the fowl pox, but skipping a few birds. It could be that they actually got the virus, but didn't show outward symptoms.
Thankfully, once these birds get the pox, they are going to be immune to the next exposure. Not so for their offspring, so we know now that we need to immunize any future chicks. Its a two part medication, adding half of the blue liquid into dry powder, mixing until powder is incorporated, then adding the remaining liquid into the medication to complete the mixing. Using the scratcher supplied, you dip into the liquid and poke the bird through the web portion of one of the wings to inoculate. Check a week later for signs of a small blister or scab and that's it. 

It's been a few days and the birds are already showing fewer signs that they had the pox. 8 of the 10 turkeys are clear, two are lumpy, none of the chickens are showing signs except the babies. This pox can turn 'wet', meaning it can turn inward, in the respiratory tract and cause a pseudo pneumonia.
One of the chicks was suffering unduly and we culled it out of the mini flock both to prevent other chicks from getting this and to ease its pain. We dispatched it as humanely as possible, we wanted no more suffering for the little one. Each bird at our farm is a valuable asset, whether for eggs, meat or company so even the little ones are a big loss.  

Everyone gets bad news, and occasionally we can tend to get it in great lumps. The adage, "Time heals all things" is woefully inadequate, but pretty much the only thing we can cling to in these times. 

Next Post : Expansion and updates

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