Challenging behaviour

I walk the puppy in the park for at least an hour every day as well as for little 15 minute strolls along the road.  Mr PinQ takes her for a longer walk down to the beach but at 33 weeks pregnant, that’s a bit much for me to manage so we go out with a flinger, a ball and a bottle of iced water.

To get there, I have to cross the bridge over the Creek and from our house, the best way is via a little pedestrian cut through.  Not 10 metres past said cut through is a path that is split half and half pedestrian and cycle path.  Both ends of the cut through has a no cycling sign:

No Cycling

The cycle path entrances on the other hand, have signs showing that it is a cycle path:

Cycle Lane

There is a clear white line separating the pedestrian and cycle lanes, painted bicycles at each end of the cycle path itself and along the route, several signs to show that there is a split:

Cycling and Pedestrians

Now, as a cyclist AND a pedestrian (and a driver but obviously not along there!) I frequently use said cycle lanes and pedestrian lanes as appropriate – even though it means cycling that extra 10 metres or so *tongue firmly in cheek*.

Today, Puppy and I had just stopped to watch the young foxes play and were proceeding along the cut through when I heard a shout behind me.  I turned around to find a man in his forties on what was clearly a ladies bike, hollering at me to get out of the way.  I refused, turned to face him and stood my ground.

N.B.  I ALWAYS challenge anyone who cycles up there, there are mums with babies and toddlers, elderly people and dogs (with their owners) who use that cut through and are all less able to get out of the way of bikes quickly in a such a narrow space.

I said very plainly: “No.  There is a cycle path less than 10 metres away and this path is clearly signposted as No Cycling.”

And thus began his torrent of abuse.  I can swear with the best of them but it really isn’t a good way to get your point across.  He was calling me a f***ing a***hole and other choice phrases and shouting that if I hadn’t been there, he would have just gone through.  To which I replied quietly, “I know.”

At that, he realised that he had lost and he turned around and went up the cycle path, still shouting abuse.

We met again at the junction of the two paths and in reply to his barrage of swearing and insults I said simply, “Well, maybe you didn’t understand the signs because maybe you just aren’t bright enough.”

He obviously didn’t like that because he stopped on the bridge, got off the bike and leaned it against the ironwork and turned to face me.

I remember my Tai Chi Instructor once telling me about her ‘elephant arm’, where her body took over when she sensed trouble one night.  Mine did.  I got ready for the fight that he wanted.  After all, stopping on the bridge demonstrates premeditation on his part and as a heavily pregnant woman, no-one would have blamed me for kicking seven shades out of him.  Those of you who know me know that I am an absolute puss-cat but you also know me well enough to know that it takes a hell of a lot to make me lose my temper and an awful lot more to make me violent but I would have happily wiped the floor with the little ****.

He squared up to me and began to swear at me again but when he saw my body language and expression and heard me mutter, “come on then” he couldn’t get away fast enough.  It was quite comical.

Puppy and I were then able to have a lovely walk and play in the sun.

The Foxes & The Locals

I love foxes.

I love animals in general.

I spent a little time today watching a vixen and her cubs playing by the creek and a couple of years ago, sat out in the cold for several hours from midnight to watch them play.

I don’t like the over-population locally.

When we moved into this house, it was evident that there were too many foxes.  Their territories are so small and we regularly see them facing off against each other in the road around the corner.

There are no natural predators and the only thing that would keep the population down would be competition for food but that has largely been removed by The Locals.  A woman across the road makes them a fresh sandwich every night, cuts it into triangles, puts it on a plate and places it in the middle of the lawn.  Another person on the same block has a take-away every night and puts the half that they don’t eat out for the foxes.  A lady on our side goes out in the dark specifically to feed them because she likes them.

The constant human interaction has made them completely fearless.  A couple of weeks ago, a fox wandered past me in the garden just giving me a cursory glance.  A gentleman that I regularly see on my puppy walk was telling me that one had gone into his house (before he got his beagle puppy) , eaten a pair of his wife’s shoes and then appeared at his feet in the lounge!

I’m used to rural foxes where a family group can have a territory of up to 40 square kilometres.  Urban foxes can be limited to just 0.2 square kilometres.  Tell me how that is right.

Of course, in May, that spells danger for our hens and rabbits – a rabbit can die of shock just because a fox is sat outside the hutch watching it all night and many foxes will try their damndest to get into coops and hutches.  The hutches and coop that I have built over the last few years are well and truly fox proof (although I was told that wasn’t possible) and there are additional floors and hiding places so that my feathered and furry babies have somewhere to hide if they feel threatened.  I also made sure that there is much more space than they need because I can’t let them all out to play every day but on a nice day, when we are going to be in, the rabbits (and guinea pigs) go out in the run and the chooks have the run of the garden.

Last week, the chickens were out playing and pregnant-tired, I nodded off but awoke as soon as heard them calling an alarm.  I left the puppy in the cage and shot outside to find a fox in the garden, as brazen as you like.  I managed to get a couple of the girls to go into their house where they would be safe but three wouldn’t budge, so I made the decision to run and get the puppy.  By the time I got back outside, the fox (a vixen) had come back into the garden and had Lucinda in its mouth.  I made it drop her and between us, puppy and I scared her off.  I picked Lucinda up and although she was uninjured, she was in severe shock and died in my arms within minutes.

Now, people say, “They only kill for food.”

They don’t.  When I lived in the countryside, I would walk the dog over the hills every day and in the Spring, seen every lamb in a field slaughtered overnight.  Lambs that I had fed just the day before.  The fox only took the one to feed the family.  It’s a pretty stupid animal if you think about it – why kill off an entire food source in one night?!  I’m not even going to go down the road of the plight of farmers with only a small, family farm and the ridiculously small amount of money that they get per lamb at market.

I grew up as a Townie living on the edge of the countryside and didn’t know much about foxes, agriculture etc so it was years before I could make a genuinely informed decision about my feelings on hunting and despite everything, I still don’t believe in the whole fox and hounds hunt.  That is purely for the “amusement” of certain humans.  However, when I lived in the country, I was offered the opportunity to accompany “dog men” (as I call them) when they were asked by farmers to “take care” of a fox problem.

They went out lamping at night, calling in the foxes by making the sound of an injured rabbit, identifying the fox by the colour of its eyes reflected in the lamp light and shooting it.  One, single shot.  In the day, they would go to the fox hole with a bag full of nets and a Terrier, net the small holes and put the Terrier in the main entrance.  The dog can’t get to the fox, a dog fox is about 6 – 7 kg and a vixen about 5 – 6 kg, the Terrier over 8 kilos and all shoulder – it is simply too big to get down the hole.  The key is the nets over the smaller holes; the fox runs out through one of the other exits, gets caught in the net and again, a single shot dispatches it.

The “dog men” love and respect the foxes and can happily sit and watch them play but when they need to, they will kill them but as humanely as they possible can – obviously they can’t go out with a Terrier any more but I’m sure that lamping still goes on when required.  I’ve known dog men get angry when someone who doesn’t know what they are doing decides to get a gun licence and go out lamping – possibly for sport but no doubt to look big and hard – and they wound foxes but don’t kill them outright, leaving them to die slow and painful deaths because they can’t hunt any more and are more susceptible to things like mange.  The dog men genuinely respect the foxes and care for their welfare and won’t dream of killing them if they are not causing any problems.

I was raised to respect the countryside but I learned more about conservation and respect for nature from those hunters than I could have from reading, television or just living in the country.

Even if I had access to a rifle nowadays, I wouldn’t be able to reduce the numbers locally because there are regulations about the distance that you have to be from houses before you can shoot.  I also wouldn’t dream of setting traps or laying down poison, they would suffer slow and painful deaths and I expect a few domestic animals would suffer the same fate but I really do wish that there was something that I could do to reduce the numbers, give them back their fear of humans and stop The Locals from feeding them.

My beloved did try to engage in conversation with the freshly-made-sandwich-lady one night, explaining the issues but she just muttered that it was nature.  She couldn’t grasp the fact that it is _not_ natural for a fox to have a freshly made sandwich served up on a plate every night.

Although I must confess that I am tempted to hang the dead Lucinda on her front door with a little note to say that it’s just nature…

 

I had to make a stand

I spent yesterday morning at the hospital being tested for gestational diabetes.  I had assumed it was routine but it turns out that it was probably just because of my age.

The letter said “no food or drink from 20:30 the night before except water or black tea/coffee.”

I had been very sick shortly after dinner on Thursday so by the tie I got up yesterday, I was pretty ravenous but I followed the instructions.  It’s funny though; this morning, I am happily sat here drinking green tea with mint but yesterday, I _really_ wanted a caramel macchiato!

Having arrived at the hospital 10 minutes before my 09:00 appointment time, I was disappointed not to be called through until 09:27 – particularly because Maternity Outpatients was still quiet at that point.  The baseline blood was taken and I was given a vile energy drink.  The flavour itself wasn’t to bad, it was the sweetness of it that was horrible because I don’t have a particularly sweet tooth.  The Maternity Assistant then had a bit of a flap (she was having a bit of a dizzy morning) over giving me some water, I said that it was okay, I had my filter bottle with me but she said that I couldn’t have that because i could only have a measured amount.  The teeny cup provided really wasn’t enough to get rid of that taste!

I then had to return to the waiting room for two hours before the next blood sample could be taken.  I had my crochet with me to keep me occupied.

After an hour, I couldn’t stay sat any longer and toddled off up the corridor to use the bathroom (rather than the one directly across from the waiting room) and stretch my legs.

When I retuned, the already busy department was now full with only one seat left.  I sat down and started to observe the people around me.  The young mums brought two people with them: mum + baby’s father or mum + friend/sister or baby’s father  + friend/sister; the older mums in for a scan had mum or baby’s father with them; and the older mums in for blood tests or examinations had come alone.  For us, it was the purely practical.  The letter had said: “allow approximately 2 and a half hours for your appointment.”  I knew that it would be more likely three and wasn’t prepared to pay for parking for that long so Mr PinQ dropped me off and took the puppy for a long walk before returning to collect me – no parking costs and a tired puppy FTW.

There was a young man next to his partner and her mum in the seats just across the aisle from me and a young man playing on his phone with his partner plus her friend/sister on the seats next to me.  As more heavily pregnant ladies arrived for their appointments, I found myself appalled by the fact that no-one gave up their seats but sat in ignorance.  I always remember being taught to give up my seat on the bus for pregnant ladies or elderly people – although many elderly gentlemen would refuse the offer.  Now, all of the young ladies that I know between 15 and 25 years of age would have nudged their partners and said, “Let that lady sit down” or similar but to my horror, not one person moved and women that were well over 30 weeks, obviously suffering from the heat and tired, were left standing whilst the appointment times were over-running by over half an hour.

I wasn’t far off my 2 hour mark and knowing that everyone in the room was listening intently for their names (none of the people calling patients through had the ability to project their voices) I stood up and offered a lady my seat on the basis that I would be called back in shortly.

At that point, a member of staff took my cue and went around the room asking if those who weren’t pregnant if they could please give up their seats.

It’s rather a shame that it took someone of 30 weeks pregnant and a member of staff to make it happen.

Inevitably, the morning had taken its toll and I slept for much of the afternoon before being sick again and am still sick this morning but no matter – not long now!

 

Broken by leg cramps

Warning – pregnancy post that includes bodily function detail!

I was 35 when we got married.  Many people believed that I would never find “the right man” for me (including me) and to be honest, I needed to find _me_ first.  Mr PinQ was very much the same in that his first marriage wasn’t the right relationship to bring a child into and it is only after that marriage ended that he became himself.  We met at the right time for both of us, despite our paths having crossed many times over the years.

When we got married, we said that we would let nature take its course but between our working hours and stress, I said that it wouldn’t happen and until my redundancy last year, it didn’t.

We’ve waited a long time to have a baby.

Maybe that sentence will make this post seem selfish and ungrateful.  Maybe I should feel guilty about what I am about to write but I don’t.  I am writing it because I didn’t know that pregnancy could be like this and if I had known, I might have been able to prepare myself mentally.  You see, even a relatively easy pregnancy can be a horrible experience and I’m going to tell you the truth.

I know women that have had Hyperemesis, that have been hospitalised several times through pregnancy for various reasons, I’ve seen how tired they get and some have had the most dreadful experiences but they don’t really talk about it.  I don’t want to be a bore and only talk about my pregnancy to people and there are some details that you really shouldn’t divulge in polite society (some listed below – you were warned) but bollox to that, the reality of pregnancy isn’t all sunshine and roses!

I am over the moon about my baby-girl and can’t wait to meet her and I am willing to go through it all again in a couple of years; but for those of you that have only seen/heard of the lovely glowing pregnancies or absolute horror stories that are, thankfully, rare, here’s a little taste of a quite “normal” pregnancy.

At about week 3, oblivious to the fact that I was pregnant, I was feeling nauseous and extremely fatigued.  My boobs were really swollen and tender but I put it down to the fact that I was “due on” – never mind the fact that they never got THAT swollen and tender!

By week 5, I realised that I must be pregnant and went to the pharmacy to buy a home test which of course, was positive.  Around about that time, the nausea had progressed to being violently sick 4+ times a day, regardless of what I ate or drank.  I thought: “Oh well, that’ll be the morning sickness.”  It was several weeks before I discovered that morning sickness is generally feeling nauseous and MAYBE being sick once or twice a day – by the time I found that out, I was being violently sick about 8 times a day, had no energy and had the most horrendous dehydration headaches.  That level of sickness is Hyperemesis Gradivarium, NOT morning sickness and if you live in the right area, you will be admitted to hospital like Princess Kate and put on a drip to get your fluid levels up and won’t have to do battle to get anti-sickness medication.  Don’t let them brush you off.

I had to fight for anti-sickness medication.  It turns out that my next door neighbour (who has just given birth to a gorgeous little boy – her second child) had the same thing and she used to be a doctor so we must live in the wrong postcode.  The response I kept getting at the GP surgery was: “Aww bless, well, that’s morning sickness for you.  We don’t deal with you now until after the baby is born, fill in the form to register with the midwife.”  I did, and after pushing the midwife over the phone, the Practice Nurse called to say that she had issued a prescription for my sickness.

At about week 10, we saw the midwife for the first time and explained that the tablets worked for about a week.  She asked if I could still wee.  My reply was honest: “Yes, once or twice a day and it’s like passing a tablespoon full of golden syrup because I can’t even hold fluids down.”  Her response?  Oh that was brilliant… “Oh good, your kidneys are still functioning then.”

Somewhere around that time, I learned what it was like to choke on your own vomit.  It was really, really frightening.  The sheer speed and frequency of the vomiting meant that I couldn’t breathe and my body just tried to take in a breath.  Unusually, Mr PinQ had already gone up to bed just a few minutes before and I was on the floor in the bathroom, kicking and choking.  On the fourth round of violent coughing, my airway cleared and I just curled up, tears pouring down my face.

At about 21 weeks, I started to feel baby moving.  I didn’t have a belly at all until week 20 and she just popped into existence almost overnight!  It was amazing.

I had to laugh when, at about 24 weeks, I stopped being able to put my socks on and tie my shoelaces normally.  It’s just not something that had occurred to me but my belly is in the way!  Most of the time now, you will find me in my Fit-Flops (slightly chewed by a puppy that we babysit) or my tatty old velcro-fastening Hotter flats because they are so much easier to get on.

A couple of weeks ago, the sickness started to settle down to only once or twice a day for most of the time.  I have had a couple of days where I haven’t been sick at all!  I also have a couple of days every week where I am sick all day.  The ability to retain some food and drink has had consequences.  Of course there’s the pregnancy thing of needing to wee more, and it’s not just because your bladder (along with the rest of your insides) is all squished up, sometimes, it is because baby is actually standing on it!  You know how it feels when you need to pee so badly that it hurts?  Multiply that by 1000.  I am also alternating between being constipated for several days and then days when I really have to run for the loo.  Joy.

Occasionally, I crave junk food.  I suspect that is because it is high fat and high sugar and my body is desperately in need of the extra calories.  However, the constant sickness has given me an insight that I didn’t really need but here’s the truth of it.  We cook everything from scratch and when I am sick, unless there’s nothing there so all I can taste is bile, what comes up tastes basically the same as it did when it went down.  When I have given in to a junk food craving and been sick, there is an awful chemical taste as it comes back that then lingers for most of the day and night.  If I needed a reason not to eat processed (plastic) food, that would do it, trust me.

For a long time now, I have struggled to get a good night’s sleep, I usually wake up between 04:00 and 05:00 and eventually give in and get out of bed.  I am absolutely exhausted.  I sometimes try to nap during the day but usually end up getting about an hour and it just doesn’t make up for the missing sleep.

In the last few weeks, I’ve noticed that when I wake up, my hips really hurt.  I am lying on one side or the other now because I can’t sleep on my front anymore and it’s not really safe to sleep on your back at this stage because the womb presses on the vein that returns the blood from your lower body to your heart.  According to my favourite source of good, solid information,  The Baby Centre, you should, ideally, be sleeping on the left side but as many of you know, my left hip is the busted one so I can only cope with that for short spells.

This week, my little Twinkle went from kicking and waving to turning into a proper little alien.  Watching and feeling that level of movement in your belly is totally freaky.  Daddy doesn’t know what it feels like but even he will feel a bit sick when he sees it!

I have had to take a day of sickness absence from work this week due to exhaustion.  It’s the first that I have taken so I’ve done really well.  They did send me home one evening because of sickness but even so, many people suffer much more in pregnancy.  I’ve been able to work around my sickness and fatigue the majority of the time because I only work 11 hours a week now and I’ve just had to switch off the rest of “normal” life but it has meant that I can cope.  If I was still working full-time, I wouldn’t have.

Mr PinQ has been the main factor that has saved me from utter collapse.  We always shared the household chores but because I haven’t been sailing through pregnancy, he is doing almost everything on top of working full time and he looks so tired.  My poor, beautiful, darling boy.  I do little jobs to try to make sure that he gets a bit of a rest but I can’t physically do much so he ends up having to do most of it.  For someone that has always worked hard and been really active, I am struggling a bit with my inability to do stuff!

No-one tells you how it feels when your womb stretches as baby grows.  It’s like having really bad period pains but so, so much worse.

Yesterday was week 29 and “staff day”.  We went to a forest for the day and after the walk and guided tour by the Forestry Commission’s Visitor Centre Manager, headed back for barbecue.  Two of the party had sloped off 30 – 45 minutes previously to light them but when we arrived, were still struggling.  It was embarrassing.  Charcoal in first, then firelighters, then cardboard on top – it was no wonder they wouldn’t light.  I realised that if they were struggling with lighting the barbecue, the food could be something of an issue so, a dab hand at barbecuing, I took over – What?  Really?  No!  I can hear you all…

I only got tetchy when a couple of people decided to come and “help” by sticking meat thermometers into the food and had to ask me what temperature it should be.  If you don’t fecking know, FECK OFF and leave me to it because I _do_ know what I am doing!

On the way back, I wondered out loud about how soon the sickness would stop when the hormones settle down after giving birth and my lovely manager was telling me about the scary leaflet that her midwife has just given her.  She is 34 weeks so I expect I’ll get one soon.  It tells you all about labour and childbirth, including that most of the time, mum poos herself as she gives birth.  That makes sense, all that pushing – especially after all that constipation!  There’s also a high probability that mum will throw up during the birth – I gather that’s a stress thing.  Great.

We got back to the Youth Centre at 17:00 and it took me 1 hour 45 minutes to get home, just because it was rush hour.  Hours on my feet and a stressful journey home – not helped by the youngster in the Corsa that did an emergency stop in front of me to allow a car to pull out of a side road despite there being NO traffic behind me didn’t help my mood – left me in pretty bad shape.  I didn’t even manage to say hello to Mr PinQ when I came in but did, thankfully, make it to the bathroom in time to throw up.

I was absolutely shattered and after a light dinner, snuggled up in bed and was asleep in seconds.

Then I was woken up in the small hours by the most godawful pain in my right calf and ankle.  My foot was twisted up and to the right.  I got out of bed and worked through the pain to flex and stretch my foot, massaging the muscle that was cramping.  I got back into bed thinking that I had it beaten and my foot flipped back up and right and the pain was so intense that I woke Mr PinQ.  I lay there sobbing.  I felt like I just couldn’t take any more pain.

Dearest friends, please don’t say, “I hope you get better soon” or similar.  I know that you say it because you love me and you are trying to offer me some comfort but I’m not actually ill, I’m pregnant, so the physical turmoil that my body is going through will be over in just under 11 weeks.

Interestingly, none of the above cr*p that is happening to my body matters one jot.  When my little Twinkle is having a shuffle around, when I stroke or hold her through my belly and when the kitten gently pats her with her paws or the puppy licks my belly because they have felt her move; I forget all of it.  There’s a tiny little human in there and I will get to meet her soon.  If she’s early, she’s mine; if she’s late, she’s Mr PinQ’s but either way, she’s ours and is worth every second of the months of yuckiness and pain.

20160409-English Rose Kits_5 days old  (15)

Time to melt t’interwebs

So, the big hutch Spring clean had to happen yesterday when Raisin (guinea pig) came home from the vets with his bits chopped off.

It all began when we rescued some Guinea Pigs a couple of years ago and I came home from a little holiday to find a tiny guinea pig looking at me.

Diesel

A few weeks later, her aunt had made two little cousins.  One of those was Raisin.  Unfortunately, Raisin turned out to be a boy.  He had been so special because despite being unable to see, he was a big adventurer so we decided to keep him.

Then, just before Christmas, one of our dearest friends rescued 2 little rabbits from being turned into dog food and gave them to us as an early Christmas gift.  Beautiful though they were, the lack of appropriate housing was a massive worry.  They couldn’t be housed with any of the other rabbits as the males would fight (both of our previously rescued boys had been in scraps before we got them) and we didn’t have a spare hutch.

We put them into the “hospital hutch” as a temporary measure whilst we worked out what we were going to do with them.  It is a single occupancy, plastic and wire construction indoor hutch.  We have been wracking our brains to work out how to home them properly: Do we have enough wood in the shed to make a new hutch (that we don’t have the space for)?  Should we  re-home them?  Can they go in with the Guinea Girls?

We realised that the best possible option was to have Raisin “done” and put him back with his family.

We began by cleaning the top two floors of Chinchilla Towers (which really is as grand as it sounds!) and we moved the Girls back in.  Then we cleaned their house (an old chicken coop designed for up to 4 hens – with a little service modification) and put Dice and Domino – the two Christmas bunnies – into it.  Then we started to deep clean the hospital hutch so that Raisin could convalesce in peace, indoors.  The correx board protection was removed, bowls washed, the wire roof lifted off and the little tunnel/step taken out and put into the bath to be disinfected and Mr PinQ was ready to scoop out the old, dirty bedding ready to give me the base for cleaning.

Just before he put the shovel in, he looked and shouted to me.  The bedding was moving in one corner!  We investigated and found six tiny kits!  We’d already moved Dice and Domino and if they stayed in the temporary home, the babies would have died for sure because when it rains, the bottom of the quarantine hutch gets wet and the bedding has to be changed – as the quarantine hutch, it is normally kept indoors for good reason!  We had to move the nest into the new hutch so we picked up three each in one hand and found out that they are really wriggly, even though they are only a few days old!

I woke up early (before 05:00) but for once, not because of a kitten or a baby.  I woke up because it started chucking it down outside and I snapped awake, worried about the baby rabbits.  I threw some clothes on, legged it downstairs and went to check the hutch.  All was well.

Hours later, Mr PinQ found three of the kits out of the nest.  All three were extremely cold, one in rigor, one that didn’t appear to be alive and one that was barely moving.  I snuggled the latter two in my ample cleavage and within minutes, they were starting to wriggle.  Using a dropper bottle, we fed them a little kitten formula until they were warm and happy.  He microwaved one of the pet warming plates, wrapped it in a fleecy blankie and putting it into the nest.

We’ve been on Kit watch constantly since and I am pleased to report that all is well.

20160409-English Rose Kits_5 days old  (15)

We named the little casualty “Napkin” after I bathed him, dried him and gently wrapped him in a little face cloth ready to go to his final rest.  I’d only known him for a few hours but I was heartbroken at losing him.  He was such a beautiful tiny baby.

Raisin is doing well, happily munching kale, carrots, hay and guinea pig biskwits and snuffling around his temporary home.

It’s not a good idea…

…to look in the mirror when you’ve been struggling with nutrition for months, have a tummy bug and are very, very tired.

I had slept for an extra 2 hours this morning but when I glanced in the bathroom mirror, the exhausted face that looked back was something of a shock.  Even my skin looked exhausted.

I scooped up my fringe and  realised that my eyebrows were suffering from months of neglect too and thought: “I’ll feel better if I tidy up my eyebrows.”  Those of you that know me of old will be well aware of how big a “thing” that is for me.

I grabbed the tweezers and then did something _really_ stupid.  I nipped upstairs and got my magnifying mirror.

Suddenly, I could see how bad my psoriasis looked and discovered that my face was also covered in evil looking blackheads.

I know better than to pluck my eyebrows when my psoriasis is up, I end up ripping out little chunks of flesh with every hair but I proceeded all the same.  The trouble is, the blackheads were somewhat distracting and it took me an hour and a half to trim and pluck my eyebrows into a satisfactory condition because I kept having to go and grab a tissue and deal with the evil little monsters that were growing on my face.

Cleansed and toned, awaiting a nice, soothing face mask, my skin – apart form the psoriasis – is blemish-free and my eyebrows have at last been tamed.  I hope to meet a younger, fresher version of me in the mirror later!

Annual vaccinations for your pet?

When my beloved Sheehan was about 5 years old, I moved to the countryside.

Now, I had always lived on the edge of the countryside and spent much of my time playing/hiking in the hills and walking by reservoirs and rivers.  I knew the countryside code and stuck to it.

Up until then, Sheehan and Spike had always had their annual vaccinations and ate the best “complete” dog and cat food that I could afford for them.


One day, Sheehan developed a massive dry, flaky, white scab on her back and on the site of the scab, lost her hair, so I took her to see an old country vet.  He told me to feed her raw mince and brown bread for a fortnight, he suggested that I might crack a raw egg in as well once or twice.  He was very much against “complete” food because in its natural state, a dog wouldn’t eat a perfectly balanced diet.  I told him about the fact that she ate grass on a daily basis but was never sick with it and he suggested that I give her “veggie ends” because in the wild, if she hunted a grazing beast, she would get all of the vitamins, minerals and fibre of the grass when she ripped out and ate its belly.   He also told me to give her starve days every once in a while to clear her gut, after all, a wild dog/wolf doesn’t get to eat every day.

I was discussing this with an old “dog man” – sadly not a new species but a chap who works dogs – and he told me that he only has his dogs vaccinated for the first couple of years.

I took their advice and changed the way that I fed Sheehan and neither she nor Spike were vaccinated again.

I don’t actually know if annual boosters work like a flu jab where you get a bit of last year’s strain; I also don’t know if they are given live vaccines and there’s a lot of conflicting information out there but I do know that apart from breast cancer at 10 (benign tumours), Sheehan was a happy, healthy girl for almost 17 years.  A Border Collie’s lifespan is 10 – 14 years with an average age of death at 12 years.  Even in her last weeks, she was still walking 5 miles a day.  Don’t get me wrong, when she was in her prime, I walked 10 miles a day and she would do about 30 because she was running back and forth as I walked, whereas in her last year, the 5 miles were broken into 3 walks and there was no running about but I know a lot of young, healthy (?), fit (??) dogs that don’t do that.  Spike lived to be 21 and developed Chronic Kidney Disease in his last couple of years but that was controlled with medication and diet.

If the vaccinations are live, then surely our dogs, cats and bunnies build immunity that doesn’t need to be topped up.

I have recently learned about the Titre/Titer Test (pronounced TIGHT-er) where a blood sample is taken and can be tested for antibodies to things like parvovirus, distemper and rabies.  It is my understanding that the vaccination for parvovirus should last for 7 years and distemper for 5 – 7 years but the vets that will actually do the test will recommend annual testing (it’s more expensive that vaccination – make what you will of that) and many people choose to est every 3 years.

I have also learned a lot about the health problems that cats can develop from eating grains but it is surprising how many cat food products out there still contain rice, wheat and maize.

Finding food without grain for Snowdrop, our new kitten, has been challenging; even the free sample of Royal Canin Paediatric biccies contained grain but Arden Grange (cheaper via Amazon subscribe and save with our other animal feed to make up the 15% discount) has only protein and potato so we’re onto a winner with that one.  Wet food is more challenging for her as she seems to have a bit of an allergy to chicken – it gives her a very poorly tummy – and Mr PinQ discovered that even a food labelled as “salmon” was made from salmon, pollock and CHICKEN so we might be making her wet food ourselves.

20160206-Snowdrop

One thing that I do know for sure is that I won’t be having the babies vaccinated annually.

They will get their primary vaccinations and then I will have to decide whether to test or top-up every 5-7 years.  I will also continue to feed and exercise them as I have learned over the years