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Reader provides plenty of food for thought.

COUNTRYSIDE: Thing One: Thank you for printing the letter concerning the NAIS/NIAA/APHIS/USDA from Glen Slack, NIAA CEO. That was one of the funnier things I've read this year.

Thing Two: I did not write immediately in response to Jerri Cook's "The Gardening Game" because I thought you'd get so many people recommending the same things that I was thinking that there would be no point. Guess not. So, in response to Barbara Ferreira's question, I'd like to recommend Fedco Seeds, PO Box 520, Waterville, ME 04903; 207-8737333; There is also Fedco Trees and Fedco Bulbs. They'll send you a free catalog for any of those, or check out their website. Both the paper and online versions are beautiful (the paper one makes a fine coloring book), educational, entertaining, and their plant descriptions read like poetry sometimes. But being wonderful and all is not the point. The point is that each plant variety has a little number in a circle next to it and that code tells you where the seed came from. Quoting their seed catalog:

"1. Small seed farmers including Fedco staff.

2. Family-owned companies or cooperatives, domestic and foreign.

3. Domestic and foreign corporation not part of a larger conglomerate.

4. Multinationals not to our knowledge engaged in genetic engineering.

5. Multinationals who are engaged in genetic engineering.

6. Seminis/Monsanto varieties."

Also of note, from my experience, every seed packet they sell is an average of 25 cents less than the same variety/same size from other companies. Most of the packets they offer are available in at least three different sizes.

I'd also recommend Sand Hill Preservation Center, 1878 230th St., Calamus, IA 52729; They themselves grow around 90% of the seeds they sell. Like Fedco's, Sand Hill's catalog is also informative and good reading. Unlike Fedco, the front half of it is devoted to rare breeds of poultry while the back half is devoted to seeds.

Neither of these catalogs have any color pages or glossy blown up photos of the vegetables. To order from them you must read, think and use your imagination-things some people enjoy doing.

For those who have Internet access, you can find a big ol' list of "Who Owns What" seed and garden supply companies at php. Dave's Garden Watchdog at lets you check out customer reviews of many seed and plant companies before you make an order.

Thing Three: All I have read about keeping rabbits is that they must be in hutches because they will get worms if they are on the ground. I found that I am incapable of keeping anybody in a cage. I just can't do it, my heart aches. For the last three years I have kept my rabbits in a pen on the ground, in a colony. We haven't had any cases of worms, ever. Not one. Perhaps my rabbit meat isn't as good as fat hutch rabbit meat is. I don't really care. They hop about and play, have their litters in the burrows they dig. Rocks around the inside and outside of the fence prevent most escapes, and when they do get out they are easier to catch than chickens. Some escaped rabbits are very happy to be helped back inside with their buddies. Predator prevention is the same with the rabbits as with everyone else here--a great big, silly, bumbling oaf of a dog who changes from Slobbering Goofball to Mad Killer at the sight or smell of vermin. I just thought that maybe other people thought about doing this, but were worried about worms and whatnot and would be glad to hear that some lady in Indiana has had success with penned rabbits on the ground.

Thing Four: Another item I did not answer because I thought many others would, was the question of how kids felt about living on a homestead You guys received only two replies. Good grief. I asked my kids to answer this question and about living without a tv, because that is often an issue brought up by "townies" who we talk to. The children have never gone to public school and we have lived on this little farm for almost seven years.

Mom: "Tell me how you feel about living where and how we do."

W (age 10): "It's lonely. It's stupendous! It's really fun! We play with animals, climb trees, go in the woods all day sometimes, build forts, sleep outside, look at stuff in the woods and find salamanders and insects under logs, get nice rocks and mushrooms, and play in the water. I wish there were more kids here instead of only when we go into town visiting."

M (age 9): "It's fun because there are lots of trees that we can climb and animals to play with. Going to the auction is the best!"

W: "Oh yeah, the auction! I love the auction! We play with the other kids there."

T (age 7): "But sometimes the auction kids are mean. I don't know why. I like our house because I like watching the water in the woods after it rained hard. I like going into town sometimes because that is fun. I like the big stone churches that are like castles. Going to the library and picking out books."

Z (age 4): Z will not answer, but does a somersault instead.

Mom: "Please tell me something I can write about living without a television."

W: "We aren't stupid or fat and it's really fun to not know what's going on, like in the news, because then information is a surprise and really like news. That's different than tv news, I think."

M: "Even if we had a tv you wouldn't let us watch it. can't get muddy watching tv?"

T: "Instead of tv we do school and draw and work and color and play and read. I'd rather play."

Z: "No. I won't say anything." (Does somersault falls off couch.)

Thing Five: Question of the month, "What can you do with 'useless' plants?" Erm, if I ever find a useless plant I will be sure to let you know what I did with it. Seriously, I've never met a plant that wasn't happy to help with something. If you can't eat them, build with them, use their stems or branches to hold up other plants. If they don't smell nice or look especially pretty or can't be fed to animals-they can go in the compost pile.

The kids and I, just a few weeks ago, made lovely pea trellises from the drastic trimming my husband did on the privet hedges. The branches were all bendy and twisted together to be self-securing in all kinds of designs, no strings attached. Grape vines and Virginia Creepers from the forest get woven into baskets and wreaths. The bulky dried stems of larger plants, such as mullein, sunflowers, Jerusalem artichokes and corn, make the base layer in new beds because they are firm enough to be good for drainage for the first few years, but break down faster than wood. So many plants that get pulled out and insulted as being weeds are really food. There are far too many to list. Edible Wild Plants: A North American Field Guide is a good place to start if you're interested in them. (My copy is filthy and falling apart from field use.) My kids were surprised to find out that most people do not eat dandelions. You can take dead, dry plants out of meadows in the fall, give them a coat of shellac, tie them in bundles with raffia and sell them to city people who don't seem to know that they are just a bunch of dead plants.

Thing Six: In my searches for books on obscure crafts I will often find one where the author says, "I wrote this because when I looked for a book on this subject I found that none existed."

I caught my three dogs with an empty package of rat poison and I panicked. One dog is over 100 pounds, but the other two are both under five pounds. I did not know how much each of them ate and I had no money for taking any of them to the vet. The following is the result of my panic. It was written over a month ago and all my dogs are alive and well today:

Two hours on the Internet, an hour on the phone with two pharmacists, one nutritionist, and one very kind veterinarian, and I am able to put together concise and hopefully helpful information on anticoagulant rat poisoning in pets, and how to save them if you cannot get to a vet for some reason. This would not work for strychnine, vitamin D analogs, Bromethalin, or zinc phosphide based poisons.

Rat and mouse poison is most often made from anticoagulants. Blood thinners. Popular brands that contain anticoagulant rodenticides are: Havoc, Liqui-Tox II, Final Blox, d-Con, Contrac, Enforcer, Farnam Just One Bite, and Tomcat.

The most common poisonous ingredients are brodifcoum, diphacinone, warfarin, and bromadiolone.

Symptoms of poisoning: There will be no symptoms of poisoning until 24-48 hours after the animal consumed the product. The only real way to know your pet has been poisoned is to find signs that he has consumed it--crumbs or empty poison containers. The blood thinners cause internal bleeding and there is usually no external bleeding until the point of death when the nose may bleed. After 24-48 hours you may notice weakness, lethargy, aversion to food, coldness, pale gums, blood in urine or stools, and general "not looking too good."

Anticoagulants and vitamin K: The simple explanation, and all you really need to know, is anticoagulant rodenticides deplete vitamin K levels and then the blood cannot clot properly. Eventually the blood becomes so thin organs begin to bleed and the animal most often dies from his lungs filling with blood. Symptoms of poisoning take 24-48 hours to show up because it takes that long for the poisons to deplete the vitamin K levels to the point of causing harm. Therefore, the antidote to poisoning by anticoagulant rodenticides is replacing the depleted vitamin K.

Sources of vitamin K: In its naturally occurring form it is called vitamin K1 and exists in leafy greens such as turnip and spinach, and in high levels in stinging nettles and alfalfa.

(Here, I'd like some help if anyone can. I would like to find the amounts of vitamin K in stinging nettles and alfalfa to see how much would be needed as a dosage for an animal. How much vitamin K, by some portion of a gram, is in one ounce of dried stinging nettle, or dried alfalfa? I have searched and searched and cannot find this info. Can anyone help so I can print and distribute this as a fact sheet/public service type thing and be able to include this information? Otherwise, I would skip the plant part and continue with the following.)

A veterinarian uses 25mg tablets of vitamin [K.sub.1] under the name Thytonadione. After searching at many health and nutrition stores all I was able to find is a GNC brand of Thytonadione in 100mcg tablets, 100 to the bottle, for $2.99. You may be able to find a tablet with a higher concentration.

Dosages: To combat poisoning by anticoagulant rodenticides a dog or cat requires 10g of vitamin [K.sub.1] (Thytonadione) per five pounds of body weight, every day for three weeks. For example, a five-pound dog would require one entire bottle (100 tablets) of GNC's 100mcg vitamin [K.sub.1] tablets every day for three weeks.

Treatment: If you know your pet has consumed an anticoagulant rodenticide within the last two hours you should attempt to induce vomiting with ipecac. If none is available try vegetable oil. If you cannot get them to vomit you should give them milk or egg whites and vegetable oil to coat the stomach and slow down the absorption of the poison. If you happen to have it, activated charcoal is very good for absorbing toxins and preventing them from entering the blood stream. As soon as possible begin administering the proper dosage of vitamin [K.sub.1].

The poisoned animal will be under some physical stress during his treatment period. He should be kept calm in a quiet area for those three weeks, not played with or allowed to run around outdoors, even if he seems to be acting normal. While his blood is being challenged and the vitamin K levels are fluctuating he will be prone to excessive bleeding from any scrape or tiny cut he may receive while playing normally. One little bump could cause a bruise that could quickly turn into excessive internal bleeding. Keep him warm, have an unlimited amount of quality food available, also of course, plenty of clean fresh water, preferably distilled so there won't be any chlorine or other chemicals or minerals for his already stressed system to have to deal with.

That's all I have so far. Since I have not enough money to bring my dogs to the vet my husband is now on his way to GNC with scrounged change to buy two bottles of vitamin [K.sub.1] for today's dosage. He will be having GNC order 42 more bottles to cover the next three weeks for both little dogs. My dad is coming down tonight and I will borrow money from him to buy the rest. Hopefully the order for more will arrive soon, otherwise I can borrow more money from my dad and go to other GNC stores in neighboring cities and buy all they have.

The only difference between doing this and what a vet would do is the size of the tablets. The nice vet said he would just do blood tests to find out that they had indeed been poisoned and then send us home with a prescription for 25g Thytonadione tablets.

It will be a total of $126 for both dogs, which is quite a bit less than the $400 for each dog that the vet wanted. But they were very kind and helped me on the phone as much as they could, wished us well and asked that we call back and let them know how it worked out. But the doctor did refuse to take any items as payment, not even my other truck, which runs and is worth about a grand, nor would he accept payments. But they are the only office who would even talk to me on the phone about it. All others only repeated, "You'll have to bring them in," about six thousand times.
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Title Annotation:Country conversation & feedback
Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Article Type:Letter to the editor
Date:Jul 1, 2006
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