Tomorrow, September 1, is officially Spring!! Yeehah! Winter hasn’t been all that bad really. We’ve had a couple of nights with wet flurries but no huge dump of snow. Temperatures haven’t been icy cold either. In fact, Winter has been pretty mild. It’s just that it has seemed looooooong.

Zeph and Zsa Zsa are spending more time outdoors. When it’s cold, you’ll find Zsa Zsa, in particular, under a fleecy blanket or two or Zeph in front of the fire. The last couple of weeks though, the days have been so sunny and bright – Zeph has been sunbaking during the day, lying on his pet bed outside in the sunshine. Zsa Zsa spends her days chasing butterflies and sniffing the cheery daffodils that are popping up all over the place.

The horses are already shedding their winter coats. When I groom Saffy, tufts of blonde hair fly around and all the horses are enjoying morning sleeps in the sun. Every time I look at Saffy, she has a ray of sunlight shining down on her. Spring favours such a pretty horse angel.

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Spring shines down on sweet Saffy!

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The dogs are spending more time outdoors.

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Cheery yellow Daffodils are springing up all over the property.

 

 

Zsa Zsa would like to update her concerned followers. She recently told you about a weird spot or lump that had appeared on her nose. Out of the blue. At first, it bled (which alerted her human to the situation) and had a crater-like appearance. About a week later – during a course of antibiotics prescribed by the vet, who thought it was an infection – it seemed to be larger and more raised. It also looked like it was filled with liquid.

The human (that would be me) decided to research and found out what else it could be. Canine wart was high on the list of possibilities. Then again, it could be an infection and it was taking a bit of time to clear up. Given that Zsa Zsa always has her nose in a bale of hay, it’s possible that a sharp piece of hay pricked her nose.

I had my bets on the canine wart (which is very common with dogs) and found that boosting the immune system is a first line of attack. I also found that Thuja Oil is an alternative treatment because warts may also be caused by vaccinosis or a reaction to vaccinations. Zsa Zsa had her annual vaccination in late April. Thuja Oil contains northern white cedar and arbor vitae, which means “Tree of Life” and it is recommended to give your pet a dose of Thuja Oil within two hours after a vaccination.

So I gave Zsa Zsa 5 drops in her food morning and night for the first week; then dropped it back to once a day in the second week. Shortly after the end of week two, I saw a DRAMATIC difference in the spot. The lump was now flat and much smaller. This was also three weeks after the antibiotics, so I really don’t think they did a thing. Now, in week three, you can barely see the spot and fur is growing back.

English Pointers are also prone to skin conditions and Thuja Oil may help with redness and eruptions. I put Zeph on the oil too and I haven’t noticed an outbreak until last Friday when they went to day care. A couple of female Pointers were in season apparently and, because Zeph has all his bits, I suspect that his teenage hormones get the better of him. He comes back a little red in the groin area. We have found that Aqueous Cream soothes the area and, by the next day, the skin is pink rather than red. But I don’t want to use this cream too much as it contains SLS. Sodium Laureth and Lauryl Sulphate (aka SLS) are nasties and you can read about why here.

I’m going to experiment with a combination of Thuja Oil and ground golden flaxseed (also known as linseed). I put a tablespoon in their dinner every day. Flaxseed contains Omega-3 essential fatty acids, which boosts the immune system.

For those who follow this blog for Pointer information, I’ll take some photos of Zeph’s bits (non-porno ones hahaha!) to show you how his skin can flare up. Meanwhile, Zsa Zsa is extremely happy that she is once again the world’s most beautiful female English Pointer and not looking as though she has a witch’s nose full of warts!

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Click on the photo to enlarge. You can barely see the spot now. It’s flat and the fur is beginning to grow back.

Poor Zsa Zsa. About three weeks ago, I saw her running around the property with a bleeding nose. She always has her nose stuck in the hay barn, so I thought that her nose had been pricked by what can often be sharpish bits of hay. I kept an eye on it but I thought it was getting bigger, growing.

So off she went to the vet who considered it to be an infection. Something lodged in her nose with inflammation in the area. She spent 10 days on canine antibiotics but I saw no change or improvement. The lump wasn’t getting larger but it wasn’t disappearing either.

I spent time researching and concluded that it could be a wart or cutaneous papillomas, which is the result of a virus and a weakened immune system. What can cause a suppressed immune system I wondered? More research. And it seems that the vaccinations that are given to dogs may be linked to canine warts as the dog reacts to the vaccination (called Vaccinosis). Zsa Zsa was vaccinated in April of this year. The virus itself is also quite contagious and can be passed on through pets sharing dog toys, greeting each other and so on. So she could have caught it at doggy day care. Young dogs are susceptible to dog warts due to their immature immune systems and Zsa Zsa is three years old.

The vet told us that if the antibiotics didn’t work, then it would need further investigation. I had visions of Zsa Zsa having some sort of biopsy that might only make things worse in the vet’s enthusiasm to diagnose. So I decided to try a combination of natural remedies  – Thuja Oil and boosting Zsa Zsa’s immune system. I dispensed 5 drops into her food (breakfast and dinner) for one week, then dropped this back to once a day in the second week. I also ground up about a tablespoon of golden flaxseed (linseed) and chucked that in her food. Flaxseed contains Omega-3 essential fatty acids, which boosts the immune system. Twice a day, I rubbed Thuja Oil or Vitamin E oil on the spot. I bought Vitamin capsules that you can cut open and get the oil.

During the first week, I saw a change: the lump itself was not as raised as it had been the previous week. By the second week, the lump was flat and decreasing a bit in size. Hair is now growing over the spot and I am hoping that it is a wart I’ve managed to treat with alternative remedies. Zsa Zsa will keep you updated :-)

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The spot on the day Zsa Zsa went to the vet. You can see what seems to be a hole in the middle of the spot.

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Just as she finished her 10-day course of antibiotics – the lump looked to be raised and about the same size.

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Ten days into treatment with Thuja Oil, Vit E and flaxseed. The lump is no longer raised or rounded. And hair seems to be starting to grow back.

 

 

 

It’s in the air. Spring. Well, this week we’ve had a bit of a cold spell but, mostly, Winter has been pretty mild. No huge dump of snow. Just two nights of wet flurries that painted the landscape snow white the next day but quickly melted with the appearance of warm sun.

Spring in the Southern Hemisphere starts on September 1st and that’s just two short weeks from now. Some cherry blossoms are already in bloom in Christchurch and, the other day, I found one of our cherry blossoms awakening, as well as daffodil buds appearing. This is my favourite time of year on the property. It seems we have long Winters and you get sick of the rain and overcast days. Mind you, in Canterbury we can get cold, frosty mornings followed by beautiful, bright blue sunny days – so I can’t complain too much.

It’s the anticipation that I savour. Of seeing the pink and white pastel cherry blossoms abloom; spring lambs leaping about on the neighbouring property; canary yellow daffodils bobbing their pretty heads; and the general feeling of rebirth. It’s approaching.

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One of the cherry blossoms stirs.

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A daffodil bud.

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The large cherry blossom in the front garden usually waits until October to unfold in all its glory.

 

 

Remember I told you recently that I’ve quit sugar? Well, I don’t actually have sugar in tea or coffee but there is so much hidden sugar in food these days – we are all eating far more than we should. Especially if, like me, you don’t mind the odd cake or biscuit.

I’ve been cooking from five cookbooks that feature recipes with no sugar. The sweet stuff is substituted with agave syrup, rice malt syrup, maple syrup or honey. But even these ingredients have too much sugar, so I usually ditch them. Some days it’s really easy to go without anything sweet; other days, not so easy.

This week will be a challenge as it’s El Hubs’ birthday. He has requested a birthday cake with no sugar and I’m planning doing some sort of coconut or carrot cake. Not majorly exciting but it’s the gesture that counts isn’t it!

I regularly whip up bread that uses almond meal as a substitute for flour. Wheat is the most common base for flour and modern wheat has a little something called gliadin protein that is addictive. Wheat is even called an opiate these days, so I’m trying to steer clear of it.

Not having toast for breakfast or a sandwich for lunch forces you to get creative. I make my own muesli that contains dessicated coconut, sunflower seeds, pepitas, cashews, almonds and chia seeds and I prepare almond or coconut milk from scratch. For lunch, I often whip up a batch of sunflower crackers or a loaf of bread to have with some cheese and salad. A favourite bread is chia and flaxseed.

So I’m progressing quite well with the no sugar, no wheat thing. I’m even eating dessert at nights – like apple crumble or vanilla custard. Plain stuff my mother and grandmother used to whip up and I’m enjoying the less rich food. I’ll get a photo of the cake I will bake for El Hubs but, in the meantime, here’s my fav chia and flaxseed loaf.

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Nothing much is going on dear reader. Well, we did get 14 enormous Eucalyptus trees trimmed to half their size a couple of weeks ago and that makes us feel a WHOLE LOT better. The trees were looming over the stables. The previous owners planted dozens of wretched Eucalyptus trees – I guess for firewood – but they had grown to enormous size by the time we arrived from Australia to live in NZ.

We’ve been here close to five years now and, every time there is a strong Nor’ Wester, we worry about how many trees will come down. The last strong winds took down a massive tree – you can see the ginormous root system in this post. We lost some willows and a lovely chestnut tree in that wind blast.

Over the weekend, we had super strong North Westerly winds and a day of rain. The winds had been huffing and puffing for a few days but Saturday was particularly bad. We hadn’t slept well for some nights due to the sound of windows and the roof rattling. Several people I spoke with suffered from the same lack of sleep and a touch of anxiety over trees coming down. At least we weren’t worried about those trees over the stables. Fortunately, nothing much happened – just a few large branches came down here and there.

Zeph and Zsa Zsa don’t like going out in the wind, so they lounged around inside most of the time. Saffy seems to love the wind. Whilst the other horses turn their backs to the wind, she boldly faces it. Her mane flies everywhere, she closes her eyes and firmly plants her four chunky hooves into the ground. There is a ton of shelter for the horses in the area they are currently grazing – trees and macrocarpa hedges. Nothing that is in danger of crashing down on them but, for some reason, they don’t always take advantage of the shelter.

Sunday night was eerily quiet. Too quiet. We wondered what was going to hit next. And then, Monday morning was bright and sunny. Zeph and Zsa Zsa ran to the arena to play and there was Saffy waiting for Zeph. They get on extremely well and when I school Saffy in the arena, they often touch noses and chill together. Zeph wanted to play with Saffy but she just wanted to sleep in the sun and have some quiet time after all that windy racket.

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Zeph and Saffy get on very well.

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Zeph wants to play but Saffy prefers to enjoy the sun.

 

 

English Pointers, well male ones it seems, love to crouch down and lie in wait. For what I’m not sure but, in Zeph’s case, he was waiting for Saffy – the world’s boldest foal, who is no longer a foal but rising three.

The weekend was pretty gorgeous. A bit cool but a lovely bright blue, sunny day. So I decided to bring all the horses up to the stable area for a jolly good grooming session. My horses were looking more like mud people than equines, especially Miss Rosie who loves a roll in the mud.

I groomed for what seemed like hours. No matter how much I groom, the next day they’re covered in mud or have twigs tangled in mane or tail.

Saffy decided she wanted to explore. I let her off the halter to do this. She doesn’t run around wildly or flee back to the paddocks. She loves to spend time with me or, better yet, just have a good old explore. She was fascinated by the pile of wood near the tack room and the door leading into where we keep the wood.

We recently cut down about twelve staggeringly tall Eucalyptus trees and the wood is temporarily outside the wood shed. Saffy approached, sniffed, touched the wood with a front hoof. Then she slowly approached the door area and looked in. She got a bit of a fright – at what I’m not sure – but stood her ground and then gingerly stuck her head in the door.

I watched quietly as I groomed Miss Rosie and then noticed Zeph was very intrigued by what Saffy was doing. They get on very well although Zeph can be a bit active for Saffy sometimes. When she gets tired of his puppy-like enthusiasm, she pins her ears back and chases him.

Saffy then disappeared around the other side of the tackroom and Zeph decided to take up his lying-in-wait position. He does this when he’s stalking birds or chickens (which I hasten to add are faster than him and get away). When Saffy came around to greet me and Miss Rosie, Zeph zoomed towards her. She looked down on him as if thinking silly small creature. I then decided to trim all four horses and they now have lovely pedicures.

You wouldn’t know it this morning though, the horses are mud people again.

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Saffy sticks her head into the wood shed – what’s in here she wonders?!

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Zeph lies in wait!

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