25 August 2007

Cysts or tumours in goats, sheep, dogs and horses

Our goats get cysts sometimes from thorns or on injection sites. I normally lance the cyst just before it's ready to burst, clean it up and a spray of Duphacyline and it's fine. We've never had them on a regular basis.

I've been keeping my eye on one goat who had what looked like a cyst under her chin. Today, she had blood all over her chest and front legs and when I had a closer look and squeezed the site of the wound this came out.

The blood was clean, there was no smell, the grizzly bit of matter was complete. I've never seen anything like it before so I posted the photograph in a few forums.

Susie, in the Total France Forum mentioned that one of her goats had died recently and had contracted CS caseous lymphadenitis I don't think it was CS, because we have the goats blood tested regularly - in fact the results came back clear just a fortnight ago and although you can never be too sure, the cysts are normally around the lymph nodes and this was under the jaw and not on the neck. Also CS cysts usually contain a thick yellowy green pus. So we established that it wasn't CS - thank goodness!

Then Jo, one of my best internet friends said that it might be a benign histiocytoma. (Jo's one of those people who knows everything !)

At least now I had something to go on, and I Googled for photographs to see if I could find anything similar. (Did you know that there is a tumour library on the net ?) I came up with three good matches and lots of information to go with it. A cyst or tumour, is a way the body has of protecting itself from sharp foreign bodies by surrounding them in tissue....

So, having established that this cyst is probably not too dangerous. I wanted to know how it developed and I kept thinking back to the vet's visit and yet the cyst wasn't at an injection site but under the jaw. Then I remembered this photograph.

Taking goat's blood samples for the lab

All of our goats were blood tested a few weeks ago, and it's true the injection site was in the throat, but we held each goat under the jaw to raise it's head for the vet so that he could see what he was doing. If a goat had been eating hay with hard splinters in it, then the grabbing action could have caused the splinter to pierce her mouth and it's probable that that's the cause of this cyst.

The goat's comfortable, she's been cleaned up and the site of her wound sprayed with Duphacycline - that lovely indelible purple spray - just a week or so before she's due to be sheared. Next time the vet comes, we have to find a way of making sure the goats come in straight off grass, or have finished all the hay in their mouths before we take blood tests !

There are more details and excellent photographs of cysts and tumours like this in THIS link, where it mentions that the same kind of cyst can develop in goats and sheep too. The next link shows only photographs of dogs, HERE and there's yet another good article in HERE

A few days later, the goat's doing fine. The site of the tumour is clean and dry and there's a nice scab forming which should come off in a few days.

The goat who had the tumour is doing fine, the site is dry and clean

21 August 2007

It's freezing here, so we lit the fire yesterday

This fire heats the kitchen, and the magic caldron heats the hot water and two radiators

...not just a "summer evening let's get rid of all the rubbish fire", but a real fire with wood because it was really chilly and damp. We've been in and out a lot to give the goats hay, to tie up fallen plants, and to check the new drainage system and it's nice to come in and dry off in front of a cosy fire.

I love this fireplace, it's really comfortable and cheering. Fabrice made the chimney above very narrow with an amazing amount of rocks and reinforced concrete above to act as a heat sink, then the chimney twists off centre to reduce the speed of the flow of hot smoke and trap more heat in the firebricks to warm the airing cupboard upstairs. The house stays warm for a long time after the fire has gone out.

Making Confit de Canard for sterilising in Kilner or Parfait jars which will keep for up to a yearThe caldron is a kind of back boiler full of water which forms part of a closed system leading to the hot water storage tank situated in a little drying room behind the fireplace. The pipes wind round inside the tank and the heat exchanger heats the mains water without mixing with it, the pipes also heat the two radiators upstairs when they're switched on. The system's connected to our solar panels which heat the water in the summer on the same circuit.

The fire stays in all night if we cover it over with ashes before we go to bed. In the morning we clear the ashes away add a bit of wood and it lights well every time. We use it a lot for slow cooking and it gives a lovely wood smoke flavour to the food.

Drying out Ceps in theri basket in front of the fireWe also use our fire for barbeques, for drying out mushrooms, wellies and socks and it's enough to heat our 168m² house in Spring and Autumn. When the temperatures really drop, we light the woodburner.

There are more details of our renewable energy systems in THIS link.

19 August 2007

Progress of our extension, French drains and ponds for rain water harvesting

French drainsThe French drains around the house are finished. The pipes are laid holes downwards then filled in with large river stones and covered with geo-textile to keep out the earth and make sure they don't get clogged up. Fabrice has dug ditches sloping towards a small pond which we've dug and we'll use that to store the rainwater from the roofs and provide a fun area for the geese to play and clean themselves and mate in. We'll use gravity to take the water overflow in pipes down towards the goat shed and the vegetable garden.

Well made drains will ensure the house stays dry and as it's been raining a lot it's been useful to watch where the water goes and make sure the run-off works as it should. In the this part of France we often get storms with very heavy rain and although guttering is useful to direct water where you want it, when the rain is really heavy the gutters can't contain the water and they overflow and sometimes bend with the weight. At this stage in the building process it's worthwhile taking the time to get it right.

Bitumen to keep the damp out

We've been waiting for materials, (August in France is almost in complete shut down) so Fabrice has started facing the walls with stone to match the existing building. This photograph gives a good idea of how it will look.

Facing the house walls with stone

The back of the extension where the bedrooms will be is getting higher and higher and it's great standing on the scaffolding looking out of the window spaces at the views into the garden and the woods behind the house. We've chosen the windows and got most of the doors, but we're still deciding about the big window facing West downstairs.
Looking down the back terrace from the second floor

Pond in front of the house

We've dug two ponds to capture the rain water, and the new one behind the house filled up during the very heavy rain so we know the drainage system around the house works well.

12 August 2007

The tomatoes are a disaster, but everything else in the potager is doing OK after a late start

Czechoslovakian Black Chillis and French Beans. I've already bottled lots of French beans, this is the third batch of beans, and I planted another four rows three days ago - a bit late, but if we have a nice Autumn, they might produce something.

The Parsley is doing well and the Romanesco is recovering after a bad attack of Cabbage White caterpillars.

The Parsley is great this year

The Sweet Peppers (Piment Douce) are really productive and very pretty.

Sweet long peppers

The corn is high and the cobs are filling out.

Corn and cabbage

The Aubergines are producing well and are really sweet this year and the vegetable Spaghetti are all over the place underneath them.

Intercropping Aubergines and Vegetable Spaghetti

We've got lots of nice chunky sweet peppers.

Nice chunky  Sweet Peppers

More Romanesco and they're doing fine despite the chickens and the cabbage white caterpillars which also attacked this batch.

More Romanesco and they're doing fine despite the chickens and the cabbage white caterpillars

Oh, and don't forget to watch the Perseid meteor shower tonight !

9 August 2007

RIP Arthur the Mynah Bird

We've had Arthur for about five years, although he was about nine when he came to live with us from Chrissi, a friend who went back from France to live in England.

He was bilingual, with a posh English voice and a very working class French voice (A bit like me really...) He had a great vocabulary, could whistle the first few bars of the Marseillaise and laughed when we laughed.

Arthur was a girl, he laid two lovely blue eggs which are in my remembrance corner.

He was a great character and we miss him.

One of my Flickr friends sent me this poem for him:

"Little sweet wandering soul,
our guest and companion,
in what pale, stark, naked places will you go now
where you won't joke as you like?"

RIP Arthur et au revoir.