Monday, July 23, 2007

A Series of Unfortunate Events

Two weeks ago (seems like forever except haven't had a chance to blog it until now) we went to a Colorado Rockies game. From the start of that game a series of odd events were kicked into play. In hindsight I decided that each one, while seeming negative could be viewed with a positive component.

1) It rained and delayed the game which kept us out later on a night when we had a long drive home after the game. Hoping to be home by midnight this assured us not to be home before 1am. Then on the way home the Honda broke down, the timing belt broke.
1st silver lining : Mike was with me, and the girls had a new experience pushing a car.

2) It was just after midnight and the car rental places had all closed for the night. We thought we'd have to get a hotel. We had a big day the next day though, Sara and her friend Leandra (who had been visiting for a week) were taking a Greyhound bus to Albuquerque and Kelsey and I were flying to California to check out universities. We didn't really have time to get up in the morning, rent a car, get home, and then off to our various appointments.
Silver lining 2 : the place that towed the car also rented cars so that guy set us up with a rental and we were home at 4am.

3) So I headed off with the girls at 7:30 the next morning to put them on the bus, which was 40 minutes late. That was nerve wracking and stressful as I needed to get to the airport, and I DIDn't need to worry about their safety.
Silver Lining 3 : The bus schedule and the plane schedule actually gave me lots of leeway, and the girls did get to Albuquerque without incident.

4) Kelsey left home in the Subaru when I left the bus station to met me at the car rental place to return the rental and then on to the airport, we hooked up 40 miles south of the rental place and convoyed. About a mile before the exit she called and said the speedometer was going whacky. I said we were getting off at the next exit and I'd look at it there. We pulled into the gas station, I filled the rental with gas then went over to look at the Subaru. It would not start.. completely dead! Turns out the alternator belt had disintegrated and was completely gone. Probably happened 100 miles before and the car and been running on battery since then.
Silver Lining 4 : She didn't die on the highway, instead the car died at the gas station, 1/4 mile from the tow truck guy we had met the night before and across the street from a Napa Auto parts store which closed 5 minutes later, 30 seconds after I walked through the door. They sold me a belt, but didn't want to put it on, so the tow truck guy did it for me (I have a recommendation if you ever break down in Castle Rock, CO). and we were back on the road 20 minutes later.. with probably enough time to make our plane still.

We were convinced that Global Warming had caused all belts in everyones cars to melt away!

5) There was an accident on the highway that diverted all traffic onto city streets and caused us to miss our plane.
Silver lining 5 : That plane would have crashed if we had been on it!! AND we didn't check our bags and did get out standby (even on the extremely busy Sunday after 4th of July in Denver) and got into San Diego only 2 hours past our original scheduled time.

Then we spent the week in California. Two days staying with my friend Amy, one day looking at Moorpark Community College and one day looking at UC Santa Barbara. Then on our own we spent one day looking at UC San Diego and one day looking at UC Davis. We fit in dinner with Mike's sister, Nancy, and her husband, neither of whom we hadn't met before. And we fit in a trip to the Jelly Belly factory in Fairfield. Kelsey had lots of time to develop some thoughts on what she might like to do after HS and she is converging on the community college to work on core classes, residency, and get into an "exotic animal handling" program they have there, before transferring into UCSB.

Good trip. No particularly unfortunate incidents except the delay of the flight home caused us to make our Las Vegas connection but not our bags. As we were trying to decide what to do (ship the bags, wait and see if they were on the next plane) we realized the car keys were in the checked bag!
Last Silver Lining : The bag came in on the next flight 40 minutes later (the last flight of the night) and the car started after sitting for a week and we got home... late but safe.

The next day my parents came up for the night bringing Sara home from Albuquerque. Their car broke down (Right front wheel locked) on their way home and they had to be towed on into Santa Fe. Their silver lining? Well, this didn't cause an accident since it happened when they slowed to a stop on the highway due to another accident, so they were standing still, not going 70 miles an hour when they discovered it.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Water Problems Solved

I had a couple people point out that I had not posted on the resolution of our water problems.

I am happy to report that by mid-June we had the solution installed. It was pretty intense. It involves injecting peroxide into the water out of the well. The peroxide molecule attaches to the sulphur molecule and becomes an oxygen molecule, that then dissipates off in a 300 gallon tank. Next the water goes through a carbon filter to remove any of the peroxide left. From there it splits off to the barn and the house. In the house it goes through a water softener and then reverse osmosis at the kitchen sink.

The pipes have all been corroded by years of sulphur/copper reaction so before we are done we will have to replace all the piping in the house, which we will do over time with PEX piping (plastic - won't react to the sulphur).

In the meantime the water tastes great, the house smells better, the showers don't make your eyes sting. Every time we think about it we are just amazed that the previous owners lived for 10 years this way.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Disaster Averted

The herdsire we picked up in Georgia and then had to leave in Ohio because we didn't have enough room in the trailer, Symphony, arrived via transport a week and a half ago. He is a beautiful black boy, and especially good looking for his age (8) and we think he'll make a very nice herdsire. We had him quarantined, across the barn from the other boys, which he was pretty stressed about.

My cousin Laura from "the Van" and her friend, Abby, were visiting for a couple nights over the weekend. When we got down to look at the boys, Abby noticed Symphony was walking funny, kind of limping. We took a close look but couldn't find anything, and decided to put him in a small pen for the night hoping the restricted movement would help him heal.

In the morning he was noticeably worse. It was obvious to me that we had misdiagnosed this as a foot/leg problem, but now it was obviously a hip/abdomen problem. I thought maybe a bowel problem, although we hadn't noticed problems in his feces.

I called the vet (Sunday morning) and he was no help. Thought he might get there after church and before his Lions club picnic, but wasn't sure! By 10am we were sure Symphony wasn't going to wait another day for the vet. I began calling alpaca people that might have suggestions and ended up calling the ranch in Ohio he had spent the month at (The Alpacarosa). They are a wealth of knowledge about alpacas! I didn't even have to finish the story before she knew what it was and emailed the treatment. Called the vet again and he agreed to meet us an hour later at his office to give us the drugs we needed, so by 1:00 we had given him the first dose of pretty serious medications required for the next 5 days.

What he had is a parasite called Meningeal Worm, that is so small that it gets into your spine and causes nerve damage to the end of the spine and works it's way up into the brain, killing the animal. It is very common in Alpacas and Llamas in Georgia, and Ohio. Very difficult to diagnose and generally by the time you know what it is, it is fatal. If suspected you should treat immediately. We apparently caught it way early in him and he is well on his way to recovery now He may have a gimpy leg for the rest of is life, but otherwise should be fine and still a good breeder. This parasite requires a weird combination of having to be introduced into a pasture by a white tailed deer (in its feces) and then picked up by a snail and then eaten by an alpaca, then 40 days later you will see symptoms. We don't have this parasite in Colorado because it is not wet enough to have many snails. So even if the vet had come out he probably would have missed it.

Anyhow the stars must have aligned. We feel very lucky!

Otherwise June has been relatively uneventful. Kelsey and Sara are up for the summer, we are enjoying the ranch, playing with fleece, taking care of the animals, making small improvements to the house and barns daily. Token, our girl in Idaho has had trouble getting bred and we almost planned a trip to go get her, so we could figure out what was wrong, but the night before we left she bred... so with a sigh of relief (on many counts) we canceled that trip and stayed home for more "ranch time".