|Ring Around the Sun All Day|
|Tiny Bits of Yellow Add Up To...|
|...Acres of Yellow|
|The Glowing Gold of Autumn|
|Despite the Drought, the Prairie Displays Her Beauty|
|Happy Immigrants. Notice the Cacti in Bloom!|
The rain continually avoids Wabaunsee County, or falls in a few drops for a minute. Several times I have been driving through falling rain in Topeka, only to drive right out of it, coming home to dry and dusty roads. Despite the drought, the prairie has nonchalantly dressed herself in autumn flamboyance. You would think the tall grass evolved to withstand drought - if you believed in evolution, that is.
It was a difficult summer with many days over 100 degrees. I worried the well was going dry during the hottest days because the water coming from the garden hose was milky and the animals appeared to not want to drink it. The cooler weather cleared the water.
The lack of rain has caused much suffering for human beings and other mammals. One morning I noticed Wally was lacking his normal joie de vivre. Subdued but still eating, drinking and getting around the pasture alright. It was subtle. As I watched, I saw that he did not pick up his hind hooves with each step, instead dragging the front edge of his hooves on the ground. He seemed to be in some pain in his hind quarters. The second day I called the vet. He first examined Wally's hooves, squeezing them with a big pair of metal pliers. He pushed and pulled on Wally's hind legs, leaning on his hips - even pulling his tail! Wally was a perfect gentleman. (I was thinking of a certain red mare being examined like that...) At last the vet said Wally likely had a tinge of arthritis in his hips but I just knew that was not the problem. I asked about a slight swelling along the very bottom of Wally's belly. That is when a large lump far up in the groin area was discovered. Then the diagnosis was a very bad bruise and Ginger was named as the culprit. I know it is hard to believe, but I was certain Ginger had nothing to do with it. We had to go on the evidence. Anyway, how could a guy who successfully completed eight years of veterinarian training possibly know more than me?
After five days of 'bute, an anti-inflammatory/pain reliever, a second vet visit followed by two weeks of horse antibiotics, and no change for the better or worse, I was quite worried, afraid Wally had cancer or something like that. I sought the advice of another vet. Then came the awful morning when Wally was walking with much difficulty, clearly in pain. It was the Sunday morning of Labor Day weekend. I did not want to call the vet out on a holiday. I know it is his profession and he understands animals do not follow our holiday schedules, but since Wally was still eating, drinking and slowly getting around the pasture, I decided to wait one more day. If there was no change on Monday, I would call at the break of day. Mercifully that night the large and painful abscess finally broke open, giving Wally great relief. He was immediately better, walking without any apparent pain. He has improved steadily each day, but it has only been in the last week that Wally has returned to his normal high spirits.
Now we know what afflicted Wally. Due to the drought, a particular bacteria found in the soil somehow causes large abscesses in horses, normally on the chest. It is commonly known as pigeon breast fever. My neighbor has two horses with it now. Due to the sensitive place where Wally's abscess manifested, and the misdiagnosis, the normal treatment of applying hot compresses to draw the abscess so it can be lanced was not done. I am thankful that Wally was tough enough to survive despite our human ignorance. And Ginger has been vindicated.
Now when I call the horses, Wally comes dancing, tossing his head and lifting his hooves by birthright of his long and noble genetic ancestry. His supple neck and the high plume of his beautiful tail transform him and he does not look anything at all like a "Wally". And I am so very thankful he survived the drought.