In '06 problems started early. I was beginning to suspect the melon farmers but had no proof. Just suspicion. Prep work began early in February and I had ask the 'Evils' to make sure the melon farmer was only using fertilizer. Mrs. Evil had expressed an interest in going organic and requested information the previous summer, so I thought I was going to be protected. It was mid February when Rosie got sick. The 19th. At the time she showed signs of "over eaters disease" or pregnancy toxemia. Both have the same symptoms as pesticide poisoning, but I didn't have any factual evidence and was just beginning to note the connection. Remember, the melon farmer insisted it was "only fertilizer." I'd called and reminded him I needed notification if he put down any chemicals, the first day I saw him working in the field. That day they were "just discing..."
I treated Rosie for bloat, toxemia and mineral dificiencies. I should note that all our livestock have free access to mineral supplement. I was reasoning that it was the multiple births sucking the minerals out of her system, so she would need extra. Rosie was 'down on the field.' There is only so long that a ewes can be down before she can't ever get up. It's the lack of circulation that will kill them, so at least three times a day I was rolling her over and pedaling her legs by pairs, like one does for a baby. then I'd right her but make sure she was laying on her other side, so more blood could get to her legs. They lay on their legs you know. I notice that Clarise is also having trouble getting up, and Jane knocked her down at the trough. I treated all the ewes with cal/mag and started supplemeningt with combo and extra alfalfa.
Rosie continued to have problems and showed some vulvular swelling. She wasn't due yet, so I called the vet. He came out and administered dexamethasone, an anti hystemine to improve the lamb's lung development and advised polypropylene glycol. This is a synthetic sugar made from petroleum. I questioned my vet, but he insisted it was safe. I went ahead and followed my vets orders. Elanore was looking stressed as also, so I treated her w/PPG as well.
On the 24th, Elanore went down, too. I began a daily treatment of mineral gel and B12 drench as well as C with their rations. I wasn't thrilled with the polypropylene glycol, so drenched with warm water and molasses and gave B Complex injections. I was also doing physical therapy on every down ewe. Then Clarise began to show signs of problems and I included her. This is the day the vet said he would do a C section if Rosie was still alive.. We did it on the field; he came fragrance free. There were 3 lambs. One very large. They were very vigorous, at first. They didn't have enough lung development and suffocated. It was so very sad. After the surgery, Rosie expelled an unbroken sack of water with a placenta. A unformed 4th... She was able to get up 3 times by the end of that day, with help. Elanore also got up with help, and Clarise got up with just promoting. The vitamins were helping.
Elanore continued to improve and got up by herself when I came out to feed. Clarise was eating well again. And I discontinued the B Compex injections. I helped Rosie get up and encouraged her to make two laps around the pen. She fell down as her one hind leg was still weak, but she was making progress.
On March 1st Clarise had 1 large ram lamb, by herself, then a long wait and she had a 3 more, two dead. On the 4th Jane showed the sighs of a distressed labor, blatting, lying down for a tiny bit of strain, then hopping up like it was too painful. She was yawning a lot and her gums were pale. The next time she went to lie down to push, I jumped on her, held her down by laying on her and check out what is going on. I'm learning to get involved faster. I find an unbroken bag of water. When she next strains, I rupture it, then do another exploratory. One leg is protruding, only. I feel back along the leg and find it is up over the lambs head, which is causing it to protrude into the rectal wall and keeping it from moving out. It's also very painful for the ewe. I massage and stretch the vulva until I can bring the leg down into the proper position. I collect the other leg and nose and guide them into the proper position as well. Then I get out of the way. She delivers a good sized ram lamb, lively but stressed. Lots of meconium in the fluid. She is up and cleaning him, then goes down for the next lamb. Again, lots of screaming, her not me, and indications of pain. I check this next one and find a breech presentation. Again the bag hasn't broken. The membranes are very tough. I break the bag and very dark fluid rushes out. I reach in, grab both hind feet and quickly remove the lamb, swinging her like a pendulum. Breech lambs have a tendency to drow. They inhale as soon as the chord is pinched or broken. Since their heads are still inside, in the fluid, you have to pull them fast and clear their lungs. She's stressed and takes a while to get going. This is 4 of '06, who I later name Mel. Short for Melanin. She is a black face. Jane goes down again and strains quietly. It looks like she's expelling her uterus. It's called 'prolapse' in the sheep world. It pretty much spells the end for a ewe. Turns out it was a tiny lamb and a massive placenta. The lamb, when stretched out measured only 9" from toe tip to toe tip. It, of course, was dead.
While I was lying on the field pulling lambs I saw the melon farmer drilling something into the soil of the back field of the 'Evils.' As soon as I was done I went in and called him. I backed him into a corner by saying, "You don't drill fertilizer! What is it that you're applying? He 'fessed up that he was using Bravo. He said it was just once and promised to notify me every time he used a chemical. He didn't. I looked up the MSDS and the label at that time. They were very vague, saying that that it was mildly toxic. But that wan't what I was seeing, or experiencing first hand. I found a site that had thorough research concerning chlorothalonil (aka Bravo, Daconil). It said it was extremely volatile, and extremely nasty. Caroline Cox was the researcher. She's on my 'wall of heros.' I found other research papers on it. One was an independent study in the Grande Ronde Valley that detected chlorothalonil 4 miles from the application sight at toxic levels. The researcher noted that it was drifting beyond that range, but they just didn't continue to gather data past that. It was found in fish, frogs, birds and mammals above the valley in the supposedly pristine wilderness areas. It listed genetic damage, fetal mutations, endocrine system disruptions and gestational problems all found in all these specie, as well as being the cause of death, for many samples taken. In summation, chlorothalonil kills all living cells, from fungus to mammals, by up taking cellular glutathione. My livestock were manifesting the symptoms of the chlorothalonil poisoning listed in this research paper. Add to that, I'd been diagnosed as severely glutathione deficient since I first saw Dr. Smith back in '04... Bingo!
But most people still thought I was crazy. After all, if it was really that bad, they wouldn't sell it, right? Wrong! So much more to learn...
3-4-06, Elanore is off her feed again. She's dragging herself about and flopping end to end. I catch her up and do a cavity check. Nothing in the vaginal canal, but the cervix is soft. I reasoned she just didn't have it in her to get the job done, so I massage the vulva and go in and retrieve 3 live and 1 dead lambs. The first one yellow with meconium, the second white, not stressed, the third, was small and dead, the 4th was a stressed ewe and brown with heavy meconium staining, but she had a vigorous sucking reflex, so I knew she'd be alright.
On 4-17-06 Brax suffered another severe "asthma attack." I gave 5cc of dex. I should probably mention that he wheezed and had labored breathing all the time. He was also off his feed and would only eat if I supplemented him with B complex, C and L- lysine. Rambo is also showing disturbing symptoms. His feet have been giving him all kinds of problems. I was running him through a zinc oxide bath the previous summer because I thought it was viral foot rot. Only it wasn't like normal foot rot. He was also getting tumors on his scrotum and showed symptoms of arthritis. It was in May of this year that I happened across a photo of a cow with laminitis. It looked the same! I researched laminitis in sheep and came up with a Boise research station paper on pesticide induced laminitis in sheep. Bingo! I also heard from another chemically sensitive group in the Alsea National Forest they people were finding dead deer and elk with malformed hooves and antlers and were documenting them and the cause was chlorothalanil spraying by logging companies for the express purpose of reducing the deer and elk populations so they'd quit eating their replanted seedlings. More greed, more poisoning. These deer and elk had the same hoof malformations as Rambo. The note in my journal references the first incidences following when they were pastures in the back, last year. And my suspicions, then, that these problems were related to the melon growers and the chlorothalonil.
In June, Jane Baaaand died suddenly and on 07-21-06 another ewe lamb dies without warning. By the end of the month we have several cases of pink eye in our cattle. (by the way, the melon farmer is still insisting that he's only applying fertilizer.) One of our calves has a severe case. The blister on the eye ball is so bad she may be permanently blinded. Ron has to give her a course of shots in the eye. I helped. This is the one I can't do...needles in the eye. Eugh! Then our brand new prize bull, Bullwinkle, gets pink eye and has to get the shots. This is not something they stand still for. Not only was this harming and killing our animals, it was physically putting us at risk. Sticking a 2000 lb. + bull in the eye with a needle, even with a squeeze shute is still a dangerous job.
O8-10-06 I treat all my sheep for diarrhea with Kaopectalin and probiotics. They have no other sign of parasites, so we don't worm them. They improve. I add a new 70% wendsleydale ram (Wendell) to my herd as Rambo, my Mont ram is failing. My sister-in-law brings in a leiscter ram (Phillip) and a wendsleydale ewe (Ewe-nice).
On 12-18-06 Rambo dies from his toxic injuries. There is a notation that he was recovering until the second adjacent melon farming on the 'Evils' property this year. It was too much for him. He was a dolly. Obedient and friendly. I still muss him.
In December of '06, I learned that the melon farmer was going to rent the property directly up wind of me, in '07. I immediately requested a letter of reasonable accommodation from my doctor, who complied and we got the letter out in two weeks. The letter stated that any ground spray w/in a mile or arial spray w/in 2 could be life threatening to me. It also stated that petroleum exhaust was life threatening and there should be no air traffic over my house and property. (that was to address my strafing ag pilot). I sent it out to all my neighbors, requesting that they just cooperatively notify me when they needed to spray, so that I could 'shelter in place' and they could still get their business done. I sent it to all the spray companies and to the emergency services. And that my doctor recognized me as disabled and meeting the criteria of the ADA and entitled to accommodations. The day the Evils got the letter, her father, who was also a pilot, flew his acrobatic plane over my house, in tight little circles, 10 feet off the roof and strafed my pregnant sheep. The minimum ceiling for acrobatic planes is 1500'. That was in January '07. They claimed it was accidental. Yeah, right! I actually got a picture, but the cops didn't report it to the FAA and nothing was done. I called EPA to find out more about chlorothalonil and learn that the practice for melon growing is to drill the chlorothalonil into the soil at the beginning of the season, right before planting, and to spray or fog it with fertilizer every week for the entire growing season. That rat had been lying to me all along!
Now Mr. McColley, the owner of the field behind me is no wimp. The melon farmer is a bully, but Mr. McColley can take him. He orders him to keep me informed as part of the contract and to apply in the least volatile manner. I finally start getting notices. It makes it a lot more manageable for me. I get help to watch ewes when there's been a spraying. Yep, he applied every week!
Brax died from respiratory distress on 1-27-07. What more can I say. He was a grand champion FFA show llama, he visited kids at school and participated in petting zoos and was all around, a charming and loving llama. I cried. It was so senseless and so wrong. Both my stud boys were gone!
Then it was lambing time. 3-3-07 Elanore delivered 4 lambs, by herself on the field starting at 6:00 a.m. Mel begins a difficult labor at 9:00, with all the attendant crying and delivery problems. I caught her up, checked, misdirected front feet again, and pulled it. I let her work on her 1st lamb, until she showed trouble with delivering the second lamb and pulled it as well. Both were fine. Smokey Rose, a grey ewe out of Rosie and Wendell, was up next. She started her difficult and problem labor on the 4th. On her initial check, I encountered a a spine against the 'door.' This one took a lot of turning and when I finally got it turned round right and grasped the legs and nose, I felt the hair slough off in my hand. It was dead, I pulled it and went after the next one. I found it's head and legs but as I passed my hand over it to identify it, I felt my finger slip into the empty eye socket. It was either missing an eyeball or,... I pulled it and the reek confirmed it was dead and decaying. I reached in past the nasty material and found one more lamb. I drew it out, alive, vigorous, a black ewe. I flushed Smokey Rose thoroughly with beta dine solution and bolussed her. (something I do after every assisted pregnancy, but I forgot to say before.)
On 3-5-07 I bring in Clarise, who begins lambing behavior. She has 1 lamb. Elanore's '3 of 07' is found dead on the field and 5 days later '4 of '07' dies. I have to say again, before the melon farming, I never had these kinds of problems or lamb losses.
Cheryl's Ewe-nice is next and it's her first lamb. She gets it part way out, but it's head is large (breed thing) and is stuck with it's feet and nose out. When Ewe-nice seems ready, I pull it, while she pushes. The lamb was slow to respond, but came around. Lily, a Clarise daughter had one lamb on her first season, as well. This is not uncommon.
In April we got the first cases of bottle jaw we've ever had on our ranch. It's a parasite infection and parasites attack animals with weakened immune systems. On the 24th one of our Hereord cows had twins. Cows don't have twins. I find out that another neighbor that is adjacent to melon farming's suffolks ewes are having quads and triplets and a cattle farmer is experiencing sequencing problems and had multiple sets of twins. These are all symptoms of endocrine system disruption.
That winds up the animal issues for the year and about all I can do today. I will continue in '08 next time.