Radar the BatCat in less smelly days.

It’s inevitable that ranch animals will make the acquaintance of skunks. While older animals may be smart enough to take a whiff from a distance and pass on by, puppies and kittens tend to want to play with the interesting black and white critter. The latest of our animals to do so was Radar, The BatCat, who bounced in the door not long ago stinking to high heaven. Luckily, he’s very quick on his feet and I think he only got a glancing blow, but he was still rather odoriferous. So Mom grabbed the de-scenting makings and whipped up a quick wash.

Don’t you “kitty, kitty” me!”

When dealing with skunk scent, time is of the essence. The longer you let it sit on the animal’s fur, the more the oils embed themselves in the hair shafts. For dogs, straight tomato juice is quick and easy, although it is the least effective of the odor removers. The wise ranch wife always keeps a few cans around just for this purpose. You can also use one part cider vinegar mixed with two parts water. Pour it on the animal and rub it in well. Let it sit for an hour or so and follow with a nice warm soapy bath and a good rinse. If the dog still smells, mix a quarter cup of vanilla extract with a quart or two of water and repeat the dousing process.
Cats, however, do better with the following recipe. (You can also use this on dogs, but it takes a lot, especially if the dog is long-haired):
1. One quart hydrogen peroxide
2. ¼ cup baking soda
3. 1 tsp dish liquid soap
Use this immediately – you can’t let it sit or it won’t work – as the chemical reaction between the baking soda and H2O2 is what neutralizes the odor. If you have the sort of cat that is used to regular baths, you can use this mix to wash the cat in the bathtub and then rinse with warm water. My cats are definitely not enamored of baths. Instead, one person holds the cat (good stout leather gloves are an asset). The other dips a hand towel into the cleaning solution or pours it onto the towel. Rub the wet towel into the animal’s fur – dodge teeth and claws as necessary. Repeat with a towel saturated in clean water. If your partner is still able to hang onto the cat, you can dry with a third towel. Since I had to do Radar alone – hubby was in town – I dispensed with the drying part.

Mom, now I’m all wet!

The cat still smells very faintly of skunk, but it’s diminished to the point that we can live with it. However, I am definitely on the feline fecal roster.

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Hurry Spring!


I don’t know about the rest of you, but I could do with a little spring instead of snow, ice, hail and winds. In honor of the upcoming equinox, here are some pictures meant to encourage Ma Nature!

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Backup – A Tough Issue


Cows need feed no matter what the weather.

Among the hats I wear is that of a nursing consultant. I experienced an interesting intersection today between my life as a ranch wife and my life as a nurse. I think it’s important, because it speaks to the aging of American farmers and ranchers and their problems finding backup when they have health issues. It’s also important because many medical professionals have no idea why their patients are resistant to some medical recommendations.

Ranch kids know about feeding time.

One of the nurse practitioners has an older patient who has quite severe back pain. We’re talking walking-bent-over-most-of-the-time pain. The rancher has no hired hands and no children. He has cows to feed daily. The NP has been trying to convince the patient he needs surgery. The patient refuses – “I have cows to feed.” The NP is frustrated, the patient is in pain. There is no meeting of the minds, partly because the NP doesn’t know what the patient and I know.

That hay doesn’t spread itself.

It’s not too hard to find someone who will bring in the mail, feed your cat or dog or water your plants if you need to have surgery. It’s downright tough – if not impossible – to find someone who can feed your cows, knows how to tell if they are healthy or pull a calf (many ranchers in this area are calving right now.) Someone who knows how to get bales out of a haystack without getting hurt or making the stack unstable. You need someone who can shoot a coyote or feral dog that’s attacking a calf. Someone who knows how to fix a fence if necessary. Someone who can drive a tractor in a muddy field and not get stuck. Someone who knows enough to pick up all the baling strings so the cows won’t eat them right along with the hay.

Brand new baby, just on her feet for the first time.

Taking time off for a back surgery means three to five days in the hospital and several months of recovery time, during which you can’t feed your cows. So your relief person is tied down doing those chores – that’s a sizable commitment. No to mention, that for many ranchers, it’s not just feeding the cows – there may also be horses, pigs, chickens or a milk cow on the place. When hubby had his back surgeries, I was able to take over all those tasks. If I hadn’t been able to the cow would probably have gone dry – darn few people know how to milk cows any more.
A rancher needs a lot more than a warm body to cover him or her for a health problem. Our ranchers are aging and few people have the necessary skills to help. I understand how the rancher feels – and I guess I need to spend a little time explaining things to the NP.

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