Thursday, April 30, 2009

life and death

I got to do some work on the farm today. We set up my 6ftx6ftx8ft aviary and attached it to our turkey house. My cats will live here for the summer so that my parents don't have to put up with their hair and litter.

So, funny head injury story here...you know how in cartoons they always show a clumsy character stepping on a rake and getting walloped in the head? Yeah, well that happened to me today. My dad leaned the rake up against the aviary, and I was shoveling dirt around the edges, when suddenly, WHAMMMM! I stepped on the rake and got walloped in the head! The left side of my forehead immediately swelled up into an impossibly huge egg. It hurt, but only superficially (brain is fine). The swelling has gone down a little, but not much. I probably should have iced it, but I just kept working. I felt embarrassed though...what a stupid way to smack your head!

I think the cats will enjoy the aviary. It will be like having their very own room with a screened in porch. I'll put pictures up of it tomorrow. They will have to share it with Ms Turkey for now, but I'm not sure how much longer we should let her live.

This is a difficult thing, but how do you know when you should let an animal go (euthanize it), for its own good? How do you know when it is in too much pain to go on living and would rather it end? We've struggled with thinking we need to put Ms Turkey out of her misery for 2 years now. She's so huge for her body (because she's a meat turkey) that she can barely stand. She actually can't stand for longer than a minute or two before she needs to squat down to rest. She spends most of her time just squatting on the ground. And she really can't walk. What she does is a controlled stumble or waddle from one side of her pen to the other (food is on one side, her eggs are on the other).

I watched her for a good while today. She stumbled over to her eggs (she only has 5 left because she's accidently crushed a couple), and tried to brood them. It was so sad. She repeatedly tried to lift her body up and pull one of the eggs underneath herself. She did not even budge it because she can't lift herself up high enough. I finally took pity on her and tucked it under her, hoping she wouldn't crush it. Do you think she feels bad when she crushes her eggs? She can't help it, and I know I'm personifying her.

I also preened her butt feathers for her. She really likes that because she can't reach back there and I'm sure that it really itches. Whenever I start preening her, she immediately starts either preening me, the straw in front of her, or herself. She's funny. She obviously enjoys life to what extent she can, but I wonder how much pain she really is in. Her legs cannot support her body weight. Her tendons creak and snap very loudly when she does stumble around. I also noticed that her middle toes on her feet are starting to become really swollen. In general her legs look a little swollen always.

I do worry about her well-being during the hot humid summer here. She's already panting after stumbling from one end of the pen to the other (pen is very small, only about 5ft x 5ft), and it was only 65 degrees today! What is she going to do when it hits mid to upper 80's and is super humid? I know no one else can tell me what to do in a situation like this, but do you think it would be okay to let Ms Turkey live through this spring, and then end her life before summer hits? Am I being fair to her? Or have I been unfair all along by letting her live?

Todd's mom is still hanging in there, but the doctor said that her brain is still bleeding today, however it has slowed some. She is able to move all her fingers and toes. Apparently the part of her brain that is damaged the most is the region that controls language. She can speak, but she has a lot of trouble recalling which word she wants to use, and some of her sentences aren't completely correct. She's apparently in good humor though, but that is how she deals with these serious situations.

1 comment:

Andrea said...

Wow, I really feel for Todd's mom. What an awful thing. She'll heal enough to speak correctly again, won't she?

And what's with everyone getting hurt? That is a funny way to hit your head, but it sounds like it hurt!

I think if I were you I'd give Ms Turkey some really good attention for a while and let her enjoy her eggs, then put her down. It sounds like you're not ready to do it quite yet.