Thursday, May 5, 2016

Experiments with water, and dances with porcupines.

Well, I had a plan for the post I was going to do for today so I may as well go with it for at least part of the post. I was going to talk about the brilliant idea I had for the seedlings. For the Lady of the House's birthday/Christmas present I got her a 55 gallon fish tank. One of the things that fish tanks need is water changes, even with a vibrant live plant community in the tank. The reason that fish tanks need water changes of course is that waste builds up in the water. Nitrates and other similar wastes that kill fish happen to be really good for plants. Right now using fish water to nourish plants is actually something of a fad that may end up being a good long term plan called Aquaponics. Given that we don't have the money, or space to do a big set up, using a couple glasses of water per day out of the fish tank to water the plants can't hurt. Well, it could, but I suspect it will be nothing but good for the plants so we'll see. We are doing this in the least scientific way possible, that is, without a control group. Either way, I expect it to work well.

Before we get on to the not so good news, I figured I'd share the one terrible quality photo I've gotten of Boris up and about. When the Lady of the House feels well enough to go out with her camera, and it isn't raining buckets, we'll get a better photo of him. He's mostly up and around at this point. He still falls over sometimes and gets tired easily, but he's walking himself up the hill to the drainage ditch, and scratching around with the hens. He's just much slower than they are at this point. This weekend I'm intending to get the electric fence up to better contain the wandering fowl to keep him and his hens safer in his convalescence. 
On to the not so good news, one of the down sides of living in the woods is the wildlife. Predators are in theory relatively easy to build a relationship with. Teach them that it isn't worth the calories they are going to get, and they'll stay away and keep other predators away. Things like porcupines? Good luck setting up a pattern of expectations to keep them away. Now, I knew there are porcupines in the area since the fisher cat was killed. A couple nights ago just before bed I went to let the dog outside before bed, and before I see anything he's off. I bring up my flashlight, and see as he hits a porcupine right paw, left paw, bounce on. Now, he was trying to play with the porcupine, and came away as soon as I called him off. By that point though he had a lot of quills in him. At the point I got the photo Right at the emergency vet, he'd stripped a lot of the quills out of him. Most of the ones that had been in his legs and face were out by this point. The chest though is the big deal. He got hit hard and deep in the chest. 3 hours of surgery later by the incredibly dedicated and helpful South Deerfield Emergency Vet all of the quills are out, and we start the recovery process/waiting to see if there were any quills they couldn't find. The big concern is that some might be inside his joints, or that some might have been so deep in the chest they couldn't be gotten out. Porcupine quills migrate around if they stay in, so we're going to be keeping a close eye on the dog. Right now he's in a lot of pain, and more than a bit out of it. We're lucky that he's such a good dog, even in a lot of pain he is very good with us and the kid. We're very much limiting time that he can interact with the Critter because even good animals in pain are unpredictable. Critter is trying to share food with the confused and drugged out of his mind dog. For now, we just keep him warm with some lambs wool, give him pillows, and keep him on his meds and hope he recovers soon.


  1. My mother had fish tanks when I was growing up, and we had the healthiest house plants in the neighborhood. There's a lot of nutritive value in fish tank water! She didn't take it out in cups but when she cleaned the tank, all that thick, gooey, nasty ick went into the plants and they thrived. I suspect equally good results with food crops!

    1. We keep our water quality pretty good, so it will probably be less helpful than some might be, but I look forward to seeing some happy seedlings! I'll remember to use the rest of what I pull out weekly on the garden instead of just dumping it as I have been over the winter.