Monday, February 28, 2011

Coming out of my carbon monoxide cloud

Yes, that's right.  The carbon monoxide saga continued after I posted that our carbon monoxide detector had saved our lives.  See, my Dad had just written an article about testers and was horrified that this could happen to his kids...well the horror got worse!

Dad pointed out to us that our tester was OLD!  We were lucky the darn thing had gone off in the first place; so he replaced it with a newer any good Engineer Dad would.  During this time, we were having chimney issues like no other.  The darn thing was literally falling apart... The chimney to the woodstove, not the fireplace, and we were hardly using the furnace at all.  But anyway, when the first alarm had sounded, we thought we found the problem, fixed it and then moved on.

A few weeks later, the new alarm started going off in the night.  It was reading very low levels of carbon monoxide.  It was coincidentally when the fire in the woodstove was going out, so we'd get up in the night thinking it was our bad chimney and open up the garage door and get the fire going again for good draw up the chimney and then go back to bed.  This went on for a couple weeks.

One morning after a particularly bad night with the damn alarm I could not for the life of me do my e-mail and stuff.  I couldn't think straight and was very confused, I kept forgetting what I was doing; and although this is a common problem for me with my seizure meds this was way worse.  I looked up carbon monoxide poisoning and lo and behold...I had a match!

I was due for some labwork anyway and asked my doctor if she would ad the test.  After some initial questions she did so, and a test that normally takes 24-48 hours came back in less than 18 hours with my blood level at ten times the rate of what it was supposed to be.  Now, there is a bit of a debate about measurements of carbon monoxide in the blood, the only thing I know is that they were trying to talk me into going into "the chamber" more than 24 hours after exposure.  What??????????

So, this is what we have learned.  First of all, we were pretty much idiots for ever thinking it was the fire.  A woodstove would have to be practically smoking into your home to do that to me.  What was happening was that our furnace had a malfunctioning heat exchanger in it.  When we opened up the garage door to get the fire going again, we were releasing the carbon monoxide and saving our lives!  The rest of the family was leaving for 8-12 hours a day and cleaning out their systems, while I sit here in the garage (where the furnace and woodstove are both located) and work a good portion of the day.

And, as usual, I am going to say follow your instincts folks.  When the first alarm went off, I quit trusting that damn furnace and quit using it whenever possible.  I would shut it down whenever I could, but those weeks that we were getting poisoned it was like -20* here, there was just no avoiding using it.  Well, I would have if I had known-ha!  As a matter of fact, I was so sure it was the furnace, I had shut it down the day I had left to go get my blood drawn or I could have come home to a house full of dead pets!

The point is, is that we were not thinking clearly which is the first sign of carbon monoxide poisoning.  Do not let low levels of carbon monoxide fool you.  If your detector is going off, it means that there has been a low level for over eight hours.  I will say it again, because this fact is so important.  If your detector goes off, at any level, you have been exposed to carbon monoxide for at least eight hours!

Now, to the not so fun stuff.  I have had a hell of a time getting this crap out of my system and out of my home.  If you have better insurance than I do, by all means take them up on "the chamber" and get it out of your system in a quicker way than I did.  If not, get out and get fresh air and exercise.  This was not easy to do with my back, and I had to try and take it slow, but I just did it.  It was great fun for the animals, and I know that the dogs really needed it too!

As for the that almost is a story in itself!  See, the men (the hubs and the oldest boys) all kept telling me that once the furnace was out; and believe me we had it out quick once it tested bad (in the nineties when you are supposed to evacuate at 9!) so was the carbon monoxide.  Well, I could still feel it.  That was until Hubs went back to work on Monday after being sick on the weekend and realizing that he had been showing symptoms....Thank goodness his sister was on her way to help me decontaminate the house!

And that is what I believe a person needs to do in a case like this.  We took lampshades outside and shook them and you would not believe the black dust that came off of them.  We did the windows, the sheets (which I think were the biggest contributing factor) you name it, if it was porous, we tried to clean it.  Now, keep in mind, that our furnace had been off for days, and then out of the house for another few days.  

As usual, I have to put a plug in for my friend Tiffany and her wonderful cleaning products that are available on Etsy.  My SIL Annie and I got the giggles when we saw the name of her product that we were using...Mama's Crisis Cleaning Solution!  Talk about nailing it.  This product was easy on our hands and smelled delicious as it has a bit of lavender in it.  I used it on my wood surfaces too and they really shined as well.

So God forbid this happen to you or anyone you know, but if it does, I highly encourage you to be aggressive about it.  If your alarm goes off...get out of the house and find out what the problem is immediately!  Then get your house cleaned; and I mean cleaned well.  If you can afford it, even clean the vents because when we turned the new furnace on, we had symptoms show up again.  

I still have some memory issues, and this has been a couple weeks now.  As you can see I have taken a lot of time getting back into the blog and my computer work, and this has helped with my concentration levels.  I have to really work at getting a lot of fresh air daily.  Thank goodness I live on a ranch in beautiful Colorado; I have been blessed in many ways.  To tell my tale...and to recover in the Rockies...Now those are blessings!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Royal Ranch Royalty

Well, what a wonderful way to welcome us all back from my little break....A new lamb!!!  It is a female and it has been quite an adventure for this little girl and her mommy; and their Shepherd now that I think about it.  Tom says that I am a real rancher now that I have had my hands inside of an animal, but that is beside the point.  I was unable to save her twin...but I did save Mama and as far as I'm concerned that is almost all I could ask for.

This little girl was born Friday afternoon, after a very long morning of laboring for my ewe, Esther.  Although I knew that Esther typically has multiple births, we watched and waited; and waited and watched until I was frozen in position.  No more babies and no more signs of labor.  I checked with the vet and they said that not always do they have multiples and they couldn't obviously diagnose her over the phone, but that things sounded okay.

That was until I got up early to check on them yesterday morning and found her straining and pushing!  A whole day later...which is not a good thing.  We ran back to the house only to find that the vet had a morning already filled with was do or die time.  My handy dandy vet kit, a bucket of clean water and the daughter, husband and I were off!

Husband held Esther, daughter held baby right where Mama could see her and I went in!  Baby #2 was lodged in a breach position and was stuck in her pelvis, I had a heck of a time getting him out, but I did it!  I cried and mourned when I got back home, like any good Shepherd would, but I am still very grateful I have so far been able to save my Esther Girl, and we were all thankful that this guy was not in position #1.

Now, I have learned a few things from this experience.  First and your trusted friends and neighbors in times like these.  I called a neighbor about getting the new baby some raw milk in case we need to supplement her and she had a great pointer for me.  When a female still has a baby in her belly, their tummies are still hard and when they are done with birthing, it goes soft; I sure wish I had this bit of info the day before.  There is a simple way to test for this, by wrapping your arms around the female and sort of hugging her in a downward motion as you straddle her.  This is something not even the vet had mentioned.

The other is to always trust your instincts when it comes to your critters, or anything for that matter (more on that and why I have been absent in future posts...), but especially when working with animals.  They have no way of telling you when they are in distress, and believe me, I spent hours on Friday looking for signs of labor or distress and saw none.  They are absolute masters at disguising any weakness.  My gut told me that I should have gone in sooner, but who wants to stick their arm in a sheep unnecessarily?  Not me.

Not only because of the obvious reasons, but for Esther's sake mostly.  I didn't want to infect her unless I absolutely had to.  I am also a newbie (second year) at Shepherding, even though it was my maiden name, and so I don't know if all sheep who usually have multiple births always have multiple births, you know?  I wasn't sure I would even know what I was feeling for.

Lastly I would like to say that the internet was no help at all (about things like how far apart lambs should be born, etc.).  Either people that have sheep spend a ton of money and really depend on their vets (they must not be hands on or in in my case-ha!), or just don't get online much.  But, after talking with my neighbor, I did find a very informative website about goats that will help me with these endeavors in the future.  Goats and sheep are very similar and so I will be able to take what I need and adjust and apply it where I see fit.

I say it time and again folks, trust your instincts, make a list of mentors and friends to help guide you through the emergency times, and then most importantly remember to use it!  Oh, and don't forget to let everyone in on the fun, even Avalanche the rooster had to be a part of lambing season at The Royal Ranch!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Royal Ranch Royalty


This is Chief...I had introduced him as Big Whitey before.  The spots of war paint are under both eyes...and he always has this look on his face.  The look of not quite trusting, and very aware...He is the Big Chief.  Always on the lookout, and never quite at rest.

This is one of our Montana Large Animal Sanctuary (you know, it galls me to even call it that, but I have to for linking certainly ended up not being a sanctuary for these guys!) llamas.  We knew he had been a herd leader right away, because when the vet body scored him; he had a pleasant surprise...Chief is quite average on the body score scale, a 4 out of 1-9.

But then we got him here to The Royal Ranch.  And we knew right away that he was the Big Chief; he was doing the alarm call whenever the dogs came out of the house.  Which at our house (the house of Many Dogs) is quite often.  The smaller, more fragile rescues followed him around like he was God, seriously!  But the story he told...and I can't really describe how he told me...was just that of a weary Chief.
(See how they surround him?  The red line down his back was a sorting mark from when they transported him from MT to CO)

So, that is why he is the first of our fantastic new rescues to be Royal Ranch Royalty.  I do believe that this is one of the proudest llamas I have come across in my career of rescuing animals, of any variety.  Welcome to The Royal Ranch Chief; I seriously hope you can find some peace here.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

And the Winner is....

And Rebel Jose!!!
And in rebellion of all the crap these guys went through, here is what I did:

 So, I am happy to report a win win win situation!!!!

After I saw this:
It changed how I look at "animal rescue" forever.
So as I was cutting off the hair off this magnificent creature;
kneeling in the snow and ice,

I secretly hatched a plan...
He was not going to be the only fella losing his locks!

For informational purposes only:  I have chosen Pantene Beautiful Lengths to donate my ponytail to this time.  I have blogged about donating hair before, and thought I'd try something new.  I chose them because I thought they might have a bit of a disadvantage since it is for women only and not for kids.