"I hope it doesn't suck…"

A busy weekend. Saturday morning/early afternoon was spent (along with Tam, Kerry, Jenny and Zane) collecting free firewood- the scrap left over after the harvest of a forrestry block near Makara. Sure, it is only radiata pine, but it is free! Only effort required. A rather exhausting amount of effort mind you, what with the chainsawing, splitting, hauling, loading, trsnporting and unloading. After four hours, we were well done. We can do more loads in subsequent weekends. We have to return anyway, to pay the landowner the case of beer we owe him for the wood.
And then for the watching of BSG. With the airing of the finale in the US a few weeks ago, we needed to finish watching season four up through the end, so to prevent spoilers. This was about 10 hours of ever-cheerful Battlestar-happiness. Thus we scheduled to watch it both Saturday and Sunday evenings with a half-dozen friends.

As we headed toward the conclusion Sunday night, we had a second anticipatory experience- spagetti squash. We have a rather lots of it in the garden. I planted it because it sounded cool, but I didn’t know if I had ever tasted it before. Did I mention we now have a lot of it?

***Warning BSG Spoilers below!***
The verdicts:

-Spagetti squash is good! You can use it as a pasta substitue, it has a lovely mild flavor with a slight hint of nut. We think it would probably also go well with a curry.

-The ending of BSG was fun, and satisfying! After 4 seaons (spread over about 6 years), we really wanted it to end well. I like that they did not explain everything (as the mystery revealed is often lame). I like the huge visual shift from the cramped, dark-and-grey ship interiors to the vast green lush of the savannah. It is good when a writer knows what the ending will be, and the series ends well, rather than the wandering, aimless ends that afllict so many other otherwise-good series.

My theory as to why Earth was never found and “finshed off” by the remaining Cylons? The hundreds of red-stripe Centurian-piloted  base ships that now surround the Sol systems. They never forget. And perhaps they feel some affection for the meat sacks who set them free. Wouldn’t that be a fun discovery for the first human explorers to leave the system?

Last of the season

What do you get when you cross a dark vicuña-patterned fawn with a blue-eyed white ? Well, if it’s Fred and Minty, apparently the answer (this time around anyway) is a tuxedo-patterned gray. And this one’s a girl ! Go Minty !


Other goings on

We went to the Central District Field Days on Friday. We took the new ute up, so we could pick up our new alpaca shearing table. The one we had ordered arrived a couple days prior, but someone in Rotorua put a forklift through it, so we arranged to pick up a replacement, since the folks who make them were going to be at the show.

Also got a pair of binoculars, some socks, a new hat, an oilcan for the shearing handpiece, and a few other bits and bobs. One of the highlights of the day was “Dirty Girl” — a beautiful old steam tractor — shiny black with trim in red and brass, and wheels half again as tall as me. Woo. The other highlight was walking in the gates just in time for a trick riding demonstration, given by some of the people who train horses for movies. There was a gorgeous dun whose rider had him practically dancing, without the reins, even, just using leg pressure and center of balance. There was one horse who’d been trained to kick down doors, and another who would bow, or lie down and play dead while the bullwhip snapped just feet away; he didn’t twitch an ear. Then they had their stallion lie down with three people lying on top of his ribs and another two sitting against his belly — between his hooves — while another stunt person leapt back and forth over the lot. Etc. Very cool.

Alas, I didn’t bring my camera.

So you’re stuck looking at more photos of cria, since the camera was left home.

Here’s a photo of Jodie and Mjolnir. It was taken at dusk and came out all blurry, so I played around with it:
Jodie and Mjolnir

Here’s Galadriel’s new boy:

A1 had a girl! Unfortunately, she has got to be the least photogenic cria I’ve seen yet, which is saying something considering we were calling her sister “Quasimoda” for a while. This girl has this unfortunate Clockwork Orange thing going with her eyelashes…
Braaaaaiiiiinnnnsss!! A bit prem = floppy ears My mother loves me.

Tizona, RIP

Tizona had to be euthanized today.

She had been doing well, but early this week had a “relapse.” Tuesday morning it was clear she was not feeling well. Off to the vet for checkup and antibiotics. By Wednesday afternoon she was clearly getting much worse. The neurological symptoms were returning. I think her vision was starting fade, too. When I tried to bottle feed her Wednesday afternoon she had a choking fit afterwards, probably not an aspiration into the lungs, rather it might have been a neurological megaesophogus (dysphagia).  By yesterday evening she was in bad shape. Overnight she seemed to improve a bit (at least she could get back into kush on her own- that’s how bad she had gotten). But this morning she starting fading very fast. By 8 AM she couldn’t hold kush, her head was bending back along her body, and she was trembling.

Phone tag between our vet (Julia), Stuart (the Massey vet) and myself commenced. It was decided at 9AM that the best thing to do was euthanize her, as she probably had a brain abcess, which was essentially untreatable. (There has been one case of experimental brain surgery on an alpaca in te US to treat such an abcess, and endeavor and expense none of us were willing to undertake.)

Stuart, the Massey vet, made a very kind offer to Post-Mortem her. He has a research budget for such “interesting” cases. A basic PM (cut open and check organs) is only $50-75. When you starting adding in some tissue histology a few hundred $ is added to the bill. Once we start getting into brain biopsies and lots of post mortem tests, the expense quickly rises. We were just going to bury her, as we knew a basic PM would be uninformative. Now she gets to help educate some vet students, and she may add to the body of knowledge of camelid diseases.

I took her to Massey to be euthanized, so they could do the PM immediately (to get the best info, the fresher the better). Just in the 2 hour drive she declined significantly, by the time I arrived she was stiff-legged, and starting to twitch/convulse. I think Tizona had checked out some time previous, as the brain damage got too great.

Next week we should have the PM results, and know what killed her.

While I am sad at this turn of events, I am not wracked with guilt or second guesses. We did everything “right.” We caught conditions early, we treated appropriately, we provided lots of care and attention. But of course even with the best care and treatment, not every case can have a happy ending.

**Edit** The very fact that TIzona had a life at all does give me smile, even if it is currently tinged with sadness. The mating that got Persil pregnant in November 2007 was pure happenstance. It was a week after Ferrari had died, and our friend Kate was passing through with her fabulous sire Khandahar. She gave us the opportunity for sympathy sex- well, for the alpacas at least- and Tizona was the product.

Furthermore, Tizona would have died the day she was born without my efforts. She hit the ground, cold and wet, just as a very cold southerly storm arrived. After a few hours of struggle- while Persil was screaming and biting my head to defend her baby- Tizona was warm, dry, and had a belly full of colostrum.

And even after she fell ill, my efforts more than doubled her lifespan. She would have died back in the middle January otherwise. While I can wish that her short life had not been so expensive, she had a life, and that is a value that is hard to measure. She is also a testment to the strength of camelids and children. The initial PM results came in yesterday, and it was in fact a very large abcess in the left hemisphere of her brain. Yes she had managed to regain vision, coordination, and much of her youthful vigour before relapse finally killed her. Her short life was, on the whole, pretty good. I may have wanted 15+ years and lots of lovely babies from her, but things don’t always work out that way.
Plus, we take some comfort that really we could have done nothing else.  With an abcess like that different drugs, or treating her earlier, or noticing sooner, would have made no difference to the final outcome.

I will be happier when Persil stops staring at me and following me around with the “where’s my baby!” humming. She knows that I would take Tiz away and bring her back. I think she also understands that I was helping, as she was very rarely aggro at me, even as I did rather extreme things to keep her baby alive. In a few days she will resign herself that Tizona is not coming back, and move on. It will be easier for both of us that way.