Saturday, 22 September 2018

Septic Arthritis or Joint Ill in Lambs – Fran’s Journey

By Chris R.

Three months ago we were contacted regarding a very young lamb with a broken leg, who was destined for euthanasia at a local vet clinic. We were able to rescue this tiny merino baby, who was promptly taken to our sheep specialist vets at Farm Animal Service, The Animal Hospital, Murdoch.

Upon x-ray and examination, it was noted that Fran Lamb, so named after the nurse who had so kindly contacted us, was in fact suffering from a progressed case of ‘joint ill’ or ‘septic arthritis’. This condition is all too common in young lambs who have a poor immune system and/or missed vital colostrum from their mother at birth.  This bacterial infection may enter the body through the naval of young lambs or through broken skin, then move throughout the body, commonly presenting in the joint/s of the legs. The infection was well progressed in Fran, causing much pain in her front leg and subsequent lameness.

Due to the significance of Fran’s infection, her little leg was surgically opened and cleaned and cultures of the bacteria in her joint were made. A number of antibiotics were trialled, together with regular flushing of the joint by veterinary staff and dressing with antibiotic powder.  Fran was an exceptional patient, never complaining about her constant needles and dressing changes. She worked hard to keep up with her lamb siblings at playtime, using her three legs to ensure she wasn’t left behind. After ten weeks of antibiotic treatment, it was decided that Fran’s joint was recovering.  Her legs are still assessed on a regular basis, given the risk that infection may return if any remnant bacteria are dormant in her damaged knee cartilage. Fran’s temperature is taken daily to provide an indication of any pending return of infection and she is rested each night in the warm to ensure her leg is not compromised from overuse.

Fran will always have a unique walk from the infection and arthritis in her joint. We are grateful to the vet staff who assisted her both then and now, giving her the best chance of walking as she grows.  Fran will always be a special needs lamb and we feel privileged to have her here with us in the Valley of Hope.

Spring in the Valley 2018

By Chris R.

Winter in the Valley was rainy this year, and became one of the wettest since our arrival in 2013. It has been magical watching the dam fill, the brook flow and to listen to the frog chorus each evening in the Valley’s bushland.

The gardens have flourished with so much water available and the vegetable and native plantings have grown incredibly quickly.  

The Vegepod has been a great asset, allowing a steady supply of herbs, cabbage, lettuce broccoli and beans for human and animal residents, without the need for chemicals to be used.  

The native birds are enjoying the amazing array of banksia and grevillea flowers on offer, sharing with the resident possums who also frequent the garden. 

With two busy bee days scheduled for October, we are hoping to plant beds of spinach, Chinese vegetables and silver beet to feed our 27 resident ducks who adore fresh greens from the garden. 

Friday, 21 September 2018

Shearing Time in the Valley

By Chris R.

With the onset of spring, it was time for the flock to lose their fleeces. It is important that shearing be done early enough in the season to prevent fly strike in our wool friends, as it can cause them much pain and distress. 

Our favourite shearer, Brad, was happy to assist, taking great care of our rescue sheep through their shearing encounter.  

The teenagers were first. They appeared confused and unable to recognise their sheep kin after shearing. They chased each other until realising who each was with their new look.

Lucas was next. He produced a fine merino fleece which was set aside for our local ethical crafters. The main adult flock was then shorn, with each sheep watching in amazement until the job was complete.  

The alpacas after shearing.

The bagged fleece.
Finally, a light spray was given to take care of any lice. We then watched the newly shorn residents get their zoom on, enjoying laps of the paddock now free of their heavy winter coats.  

A number of the sheep at Possum Valley are self-shedding, meaning their coats will naturally come away as the weather warms.  These including Digby, who is a Damara, and Brownie and Frosty, who are Dorpers. Their hair like coat will come away without the need for shearing. These sheep can commonly be found rubbing on fence rails and trees, assisting their coats in coming away in time for summer.


Thursday, 20 September 2018

Vegan Recipe: Vegan Malty Balls

By Chris R.

These malty balls taste similar to traditional Maltesers but with a chewy, caramel texture.

They are ideal as a topping on your favourite chocolate cake or with a cup of tea or coffee for a tasty snack.

-5 cups of Rice Bubbles, finely crushed
-3/4 tin of Soymilke
-1/3 cup of malt syrup
-1 block of dairy free dark chocolate, melted

-In a large bowl, crumb the rice bubbles and mix with the malt syrup and Soymilke.

-Using clean hands, form the rice bubble mix into small 2 to 3cm balls and dip into the melted chocolate.  

-Place the balls on baking paper and set in the fridge.