Monthly Archives: January 2015

LilBit turns One!

Lilbit-B-1 year oldYou may recall from a previous post, that we have a dog with Megaesophagus.  We are thrilled to celebrate her first birthday January 9th, 2015.  She is a smallish, but very healthy Great Dane. We’ve had her since she was born, and the vet told us that most dogs with a severe case like hers don’t live very long.  If you aren’t familiar with Megaesophagus, it is a manageable, but not fixable condition where her esophagus muscles don’t push her food to her stomach.  Other than that, she is perfect and wonderfully talented.  In this birthday picture to the left, you can see our solution to the esophagus problem.  It is her special table that Doug built. She is standing on her hind legs in this photo.  An older version was this bar stool, in the photo to the right, but she outgrew that rather quickly. LilBitThe design of her current table is really tall now, just like a cocktail table at a bar.  It has a rounded edge, is slightly padded and upholstered with waterproof material.  She stands at this table, and eats her meal, then she has to stay there for 20 minutes for gravity to take the food to her stomach.  We do this three times a day at 8AM, 2PM, and 8PM.  She is like a coo-coo clock and at 8, 2 and 8, everyone knows what time it is.  Training her to stand at this table self-sufficiently took a lot of patience and persistence, but was well worth it.  We do not have to stand guard to make sure she remains there for her 20 minute interlude.  She stays on her own, and, of course, lets us know when her 20 minutes are up.  She will whine or bark, and we come over and tell her its okay to get down.  We researched the Bailey Chair, which is an invention to keep the dog in an upright but sitting position.  They can be adorably cute, but are more suited to smaller dogs.  This wasn’t practical for us.  Being a Great Dane, the chair would have to be massive, and she has grown so rapidly, and is still growing – so by now we would have probably built 5 different sizes.  Also, as it is, we do not have to tote anything with us when we go places.  We take her food in a cooler, and choose an outside restaurant preferably with tall tables or a bar.  So far, this has worked out for us.

Some dogs can get Megaesophagus later in life usually due to other health issues or as a side effect from medication.  If your dog is losing weight, regurgitates regularly or is aspirating food or water have your vet check for this condition with a simple x-ray.  It is manageable, and for LilBit, she got a bonus… Awesome leg muscles that any dog would be proud to show off!

Feeding Bees

2014-12-27 13.40.32In the north, when it gets cold it usually stays below 45 degrees for months.  If you are a beekeeper in that climate, your bees will go into a cluster inside the hive and stay there.  This cluster, is where the bees huddle in one large mass to keep warm.  Here in the Southeast, winter temperatures fluctuate from single digits to 60 degrees quite often.  When it’s cold our bees cluster just like northern bees, but when it warms up above 54 degrees (or so), the bees think it might be Spring, so they break cluster, begin house cleaning, and send out foragers.  They expend a lot of energy only to find out that it’s still Winter.  Bees can easily starve during this time.  In fact, starvation is the number one reason for loosing a hive over Winter.  To fix this, beekeepers in our area must feed them during the warm spells.  How do you feed a bee?  Well, not by hand, although that is possible, it’s not recommended.  What we do is make a sugar water solution and make it available to the bees in a central location.  By central location, I mean a common area between all of the hives.  We mix this solution with a 1:1 ratio, although some of our other local beekeepers use a 2:1 ratio (sugar:water).  Bees can drown quite easily, so you can’t just put out a bowl of this solution, like you might put water out for a dog.  The bees need to be able to pick up teeny-tiny amounts, and it needs to dispense really slowly.  The set-up we use are inverted mason jars where the lids have a few small holes punched in them.  Underneath the jars, we have rocks that the solution can drip onto and the bees don’t drown.  In this picture, I’m showing two jars.  In warm weather both jars will be emptied in one day.  The reason the jars are up off of the ground is to avoid ants from stealing all of the solution, and to make it less interesting to curious dogs.