Thursday, September 28, 2006

Anaphylaxis in Goats?

Well I've seen many things in 17 years of goat farming, but yesterday was the first time I had seen an anaphylactic reaction in a goat.
Well, that was my estimation of what it was and I'm not a vet - so if anyone can correct me please do so.
The goat was in poor condition and as we are in a cobalt and selenium deficient area here in Western Australia, I gave her a vaccine of 3 in 1 with selenium and a 4 ml injection of B12.
I administered the injections subcutaneously.
Within about 5 minutes of the injection, the goat was hyperventilating (rapid breathing, her mouth was open, her tongue looked bluish and thick.
In all the reaction probably lasted between 7 - 10 minutes.
My assumption was that she had suffered an acute allergic reaction to one of the injections - most likely the B12 as I had exceeded the recommended dosage.
My immediate worry was that the reaction was causing her throat and tongue tissues to swell and her airways to tighten, as in a penicillin reaction or asthma attack.
My only thought for a solution was to give her some Ventolin by inhaler.
I administered four of five puffs into her mouth though I think most got blown out with her rapid puffing.
Whether my home-grown diagnosis was right or whether the home-grown treatment helped or hindered, I don't know.
If anyone can advise me, I'd be pleased to receive your comments.
What I do know is that the doe in question is alive and feeding today and no worse for her 'funny turn'.
Photo: M Muir - Pink and grey galah feeding on acasia in garden

Do goats grieve?

I believe they certainly do.
With the goats just kidded, I feel for the ones whose kid’s die for one reason or another. If/when it dies, the doe paws it and tries to get it onto its feet. She licks it, and at night she lays beside it. If you remove it then she will go around for two days looking for it and calling for it. It’s an easily recognisable call, quite plaintive.
But it’s not just newly kidded does who show feelings of loss.
Goats are very family oriented. They stay together and sleep together in family groups.
I sold some goats yesterday and didn’t realize I had sold the 3 previous years offspring of one six year old doe. She had a one year old, a 2 year old and a three year old..
Today she had been wandering around the paddock crying/calling and looking for them everywhere.
Don’t I feel like a real rotter.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Goats - the ballerina kid perhaps?

Perhaps I should be breeding performing goats?

Goats - kidding ends for another season

With the last kid born yesterday, that is the end of my kidding season for 2006.
A total of 19 new members to my small flock.
It was one of those seasons where lots of things didn't happen as they should but I won't bore you with the details.
Kids look good and most are at the stage of chasing around like a mob of little puppies.
We have a reasonable amout of feed on the ground, though the winter has been very dry and it started growing very late.
Will add more pictures later.

Saltaire - a remarkable town

Saltaire was built on the banks of the River Aire and the Leeds and Liverpool canal in the 1830s, It's founder, Sir Titus Salt, was an extraordinary man of vision and philanthropist.
It is said that in his lifetime he gave half a million pounds to charity (in the 1800s – that was a considerable amount of money).
Not only did he build a mill and town for his workers, but he provided everything for them including modern (in those days) housing, a hospital, churches, schools and recreation areas. But being a man of sober habits, he did not permit the town to have either an inn or a pawn shop.
Built in stone, Saltaire is designed in the Florentine style.
The Congregational Church (now the United Reformed Church), is an excellent example of Italian architecture.
Photo M Muir – Yours truly during a visit to the unique mill town

Saltaire - Goat and Alpaca fibre

From the 1850’s Sir Titus Salt was importing alpaca fibre from South America, and also mohair (which comes from angora goats) to add the luxury sheen and feel to his yarn.
Today Salt’s mill still uses these exotic fibres to produce its quality speciality cloths.

Photo: M Muir – The bust of Sir Titus Salt today stands in the entrance to the United Reformed Church (formerly the Congregational Church).
At his feet are an alpaca and an angora goat

Saltaire and 'The Black Thread'

I chose Saltaire as the setting for my latest manuscript, The Black Thread.
The title refers to the body of still water which runs across England – the Leeds and Liverpool canal.
It is a historical fiction novel set in 1898.
I completed the manuscript this week and have forwarded it to my agent.
I now wait with fingers crossed for the outcome.

Searching for an apt quote or verse to go inside the cover, I came across The Lady of Shallot by Alfred Lord Tennyson.
As I read it I found its content had some similarities my story:-
The Lady is alone and desperate.
She is on a barge (shallop).
It is being towed by a horse.
She is on her way to Camelot (a visionary town – just like Saltaire was).
She waves her hand and is known in all the land….

If The Black Thread is accepted for publication I would like the following verse from Tennyson to be included.

By the margin, willow veiled
Slide the heavy barges trailed
By slow horses; and unhailed
The shallop flitteth silken-sailed
Skimming down to Camelot:
But who hath seen her wave her hand?
Or at the casement seen her stand?
Or is she known in all the land,
The Lady of Shalott?

Photo: M Muir - Salt's New Mill and the L & L canal taken from the grounds of the United Reformed Church

Cruising Europe - first stop Rome

A bit belated, but here are a few pics from my recent trip to Europe.
I’m sure there are lots of you who have ‘done’ these destinations, and thought it would be nice to share memories.
How about ROME – I started and ended my cruising holiday there – three days in the Eternal City.
I visited so many places it hard to remember them all. Of course there was the Coloseum, The Trevi Fountain, The Spanish Steps and the magnificent modern war memorial. Even stood in the field of Maximus which is nothing more than a long oval expanse of grass – but that is where the chariot races used to be.
But I think for me the trip to the Vatican City was most awesome (see final post in this series). The artwork is absolutely unbelievable and there is just so much of it. The Cistine Chapel with it’s famous ceiling is just a drop in the ocean. St Peter’s Basilica is another awesome place and I was pleased to see that there was no cost to go inside.
A few things of practical interest for anyone going: I booked a hotel over the internet – easy peasy – and got one almost right outside the main Terminii station – that is just so handy for the metro and country trains.
Also if you are on a cruise don’t pay the ships cost for transort to Civitavechia – they’ll want and arm an a leg for it. The trains cost a few dollars – only proviso is that you can walk a few hundred yards at the other end.
Next stop Naples
Photo: M Muir - Arch of Constantine with the Coloseum on the right and the Roman Forum on the left (2 pillars showing)

The Colosseum - from the inside

If you have watched the movie, Gladiator, you wil remember other gladiators and a tiger appearing from below the arena.
I have to admit I thought that was a bit farfetched.
I now understand that it was the case.

Looking at the actual Colosseum you can see the maze of corridors and pens beneath the area itself.
An awesome place.

Photo: M Muir - Inside the Roman Colosseum - The area at the far end where the floor level has been recreated gives an indication of the maze below the area where gladiators and wild animals were housed.

Naples, Vesuvius and Pompeii

Cruise ships are great for getting you from one interseing place to another and I much prefer it to the hassle of airports. The only trouble is the time you have to visit the places of interest can be a bit limited.
However, the ship docked early in the morning in the port for Naples and I had booked to take the day tour which included climbing Mount Vesuvious and visiting Pompeii.
Vesuvius is a volcano which has blown its top on several occasions - the most well known when in destroyed the towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum in 79AD.
It looks pretty dormant today when you gaze down into the crater at the top, but I gather it is still classed as active in geological terms. The climb up was pretty long and tiring (hard work on dusty volcanic ash and rubble) but envigorating.
From Vesuvius it was down to Pompeii. This is somewhere I had always wanted to visit and had seen several documentaries about it on the TV over the years. I wondered if this would spoil it for me but it didn't.
The town is amazing and it is so big. Streets criss-crossing which in the first century had lots of shops (you can see the grooves in the doorways where the sliding doors were) and houses and public areas. The sanitation and drainage the Roman had puts the poor mediaeval Brits to shame.
Unfortunately, I didn't have time to go into the main museum which houses most of the best artefact, including the encased bodies of those who seccumbed to the ash, but there were a few at the site. What a terrible way to die.
I would have loved to have seen Herculaneum as that town is still being uncovered, but time did not permit so it was back to the ship for the two day cruise down to the Greek Islands.
Photo: M Muir - Frozen almost two centuries ago in volcanic ash - a falorn figure awaits its final resting place

Greece Islands - Mykanos

Cruising the blue waters of the Greek Isands is perfect. Theislands themselves are beautiful.
Mykonos brought back memories of Majorca and the holidays I spent there at El Arenal, back in the early 60s, when they were still building hotels on the beach front. It all looked so pristine and white against the azure sea.
The Greek town is a bustling fishing port where fishermen hang the squid they have just caught, on the boat's rigging to dry.
Dominating the bay are the unusual thatched windmills and in the town itself the small shops are hidden in a meshwork of narrow alleyways.

Greek Islands - Santorini

Santorini is quite different.
The group of islands on which it is located are actually the caldera of an active volcano.
It's like the town (and a few others) is sitting right on the rim of a teacup with an almost perpendicuar drop to the water below.
The only access to Santorina is by cable car or donkeys which zig-zag up the cliff.
I chose the cable first up to take in the fantastic views. The cruise ship looked like a toy from above.
Like Mykonos, Santorini is made up of white buildings many with rounded domes, amongst them, some beautiful churches.
The museum contains archaelogical relics going back to the 3rd Century (and probably older) and it is thought by some that this area - before the massive volcano blew it away - was the lost island of Atlantis.
With a whole day to wander around, I took a local boat tour to the island in centre of the bay.
Stepping ashore you are overawed by the towering mounts of ugly black solidified rock of a geolocically recent lava flow.
It's amazing to imagine that within our lifetimes this was red molten lava sizzling into the sea.
We were assured that the island is safe today but the vents puffing green sulphuric steam are a reminder that there is a lot of unbridled power lurking not far beneath the earth's crust.
For the ones who brought their bathers there was the chance to swim in the warm thermal waters. I missed out on that.
With a bit of time remaining, when we go back to the jetty, I decided I had to take the doney ride up the cliff.
In retrospect, as I hate height, it might have been a mistake!
Sitting atop a donkey which seems to want to take the side of the path nearest to the edge, had me regularly closing my eyes and hoping for the best.
Needless to say, I made it to tell the tale.
Santorini is a fantastic holiday destination which I would go back to tomorrow given half a chance.
Off to Scicily next.
Photo M Muir - note cuise ship below the town of Santorini and new 'active' volanic island behind it


Steaming into the port of Messina in Sicily gives some indication of the character of the island which is best known for its Mafia connections and the its still active volcano, Mt Etna – the largest in Europe.
Overlooking the port is a golden statue (not sure if it’s Christ or the Virgin Mary – perhaps someone knows), while nestled against the wharf are three huge cruise liners. Further along there is a sailing jetty full of expensive modern yachts, but a little further along the harbour, a shipyard littered with partly sunken hulks.
Having climbed Vesuvius in Italy, I opted not to go up Mt Etna or take any of the other trips organised by the ship, so I spent the day wandering around the town.
The port city, like so many other port cities, is not a place I would recommend for a holiday but it did have some interesting building. Next to the cathedral is the famous bell tower. Rising 90 meters from the Cathedral square, it houses the larges animated clock in the world.
All the symbols and characters and astrological signs are in gold and at 12 noon for 15 minutes they ‘perform’ their show. Apart from the various gyrations and movements, the lion roars and the golden cockerel crows.
There is not a lot more I can add. It was Sunday and siesta time and everything was closed – that is off course apart from an Irish Pub across from the waterfront. As it was a very hot afternoon the beer went down very nicely, thank you.
Back on board for the cruise up to Cannes

Cannes - Nice - Moncaco including Monte Carlo

Still cruising: Cannes – Nice – Monte Carlo The ship docked off Cannes and we went ashore in the tenders to join a tourist coach to take us to along the French Riviera to Nice and Monaco/Monte Carlo. I don’t know what I had expected of these places and I suppose they lived to my expectations though with some reservations. It’s an expensive coast – you can tell by the number of huge yachts in the dozens and dozens of marinas, and the number of expensive cars parked outside the lavish hotels. A bit beyond my pocket!! But why do people flock there? Because it is THE place to be? – Probably! Certainly not for the beaches. The beach at Nice is pure pebble and you need shoes on to walk on it. I wouldn’t like to try laying on it. Monaco is certainly packed and compact – a tiny country of high rise-buildings, wrapped around a bay filled – (you guessed it) – with luxury boats. I can say I went up to the Monte Carlo casino but never went in. Not my thing, and besides it cost money and you had to be suitably dressed. I did take a drive around parts of the Grand Prix course which is steeper than it looks on TV. And also went in the cathedral to see the graves of Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier. Cruising is great in that you get a look at different places without staying for a fortnight in one spot. I’m pleased to have visited the Riviera but wouldn’t bother with it again. Next stop Florence.

Florence - The Duomo and Bell Tower


Florence and Pisa in a day is a bit of a rush – to say the least. Having docked at Livorno, I joined the coach for the drive through Tuscany to Florence about 2 hours drive inland. What I remember most about Florence is the number of statues and the number of tourists. Unfortunately you can’t go anywhere which boasts anything famous without being part of a mob, and unless you have lots of time to spare, it sometimes means you don’t have time to queue to get into all the places. (And who really wants to queue for an hour or more!). Of course the Duomo is a magnificent building, and I managed to climb the 400 + steps of the Bell Tower next to it, to look out over the city. The octagonal Baptistery was just across the square with the Gates to Paradise (I’m happy to wait for a while before being invited through those) . I walked over the Ponte Vecchio – one of the many bridges over the River Arno – and wasn’t tempted by all the jewellers’ shops which are actually on the bridge, all selling gold. I kept my eyes closed. Leaving Florence, the coach headed back towards the coast and stopped at Pisa on the way. I can say I saw the leaning tower but it was a bit of a rush being given only about 45 minutes. Enough time to walk around it and take some photos – not that all the world doesn’t know what it looks like. Still, I have crossed it off my “must see once in a lifetime” wish list. Back to the ship for the last night at sea. Last stop Rome.

Final Stop Rome and The Vatican

The Vatican city is a must for any traveller.
It is a most amazing places - the decorations are just mind-blowing.
And there is so much to see.
Visiting the Vatican was a great way to end the holiday.
Had a great time and saw some great places.
Would thoroughly recommend a cruising tour of the Mediterranean if you want to take a glimpse at the most significant tourist attractions.
Till next year .........

Friday, September 01, 2006

Sea Dust (Large Print) - Published today

Title: Sea Dust
Author: Margaret Muir
Publisher: Thorpe/Ulverscroft
ISBN: 1-84617-443-0
Format: Large Print
Publication date: 1 Sept 2006
A historical novel/sea story set in Whitby in 1856

Emma Quinlan desperately wants to get away from her cruel husband.
When she meets a French seaman on the windswept Whitby cliff top, she considers accepting a passage on his sailing ship.
But when the time comes to sail, there is no berth available and she has no alternative but to stow away.
When she is discovered, the Captain threatens to put her ashore, but foul weather prevents this happening.
Unbeknown to Emma, evil, in the guise of a seamen, has stalked her on board. Biding his time, he waits for the opportunity to strike.
As The Morning Star sails into Cape Town, disaster awaits.
Will the ship make it to Sydney?
Will Emma survive the journey?
"Confronting and real. Margaret Muir pulls no punches in portraying the dark side of family life and the lives of those bound by the sea. This story inspires the reader to begin their own sea-faring adventure. Dramatic from start to finish." Nicole Biber (random testimonial)
Sea Dust
(Ulverscroft Large Print) is available from UK libraries and
Note: Although SeaDust (Hale hardback edition) is still showing on Amazon as available, it sold out and is no longer available.
Jacket Illustration by: (to be advised)

The Twisting Vine - Published today

Title: The Twisting Vine
Author: Margaret Muir
Publisher: Robert Hale
ISBN: 0-7090-8132-4
Format: Hardback
Publication date: 31 August
A saga set in Yorkshire - 1896

Life is full of twists and turns. We never know what is around the corner.
Who would have ever thought I would see my second novel published only eight months after the first.

The Twisting Vine is a historical novel, set in and around Leeds, Yorkshire.
It begins in 1896 and spans a period of 25 years.
With temptation thrown in her lap, Lucy Oldfield steals an expensive French doll from her dying mistress.
After losing her job at Heaton Hall, she returns to the squalid streets of Leeds where she falls victim to the lies of a confidence trickster.
Alone, and with a son to support, Lucy has little to look forward to, until a chance meeting with a stranger on a train changes her fortune.
When Lucy moves to the country to care for the ageing gentleman, she is provided with a cottage of her own. What more could she wish for?
But the menacing torments of an itinerant worker, and the outbreak of war, turn her world upside down. Then a sudden death and an unexpected discovery sees her embarking on a voyage to India.
But can fate have other cruel twists in store?
The Twisting Vine follows the fluctuating fortunes of Lucy and her son, James, over a period of twenty five years.
Their lives are loosely connected by the unobtrusive presence of the porcelain-faced French Bru. The doll’s apparel, which changes throughout the story, serves to parallel the ageing process.

To read an excerpt, visit
The Twisting Vine is available from Amazon uk (via website above) or you can request it from your library or any bookshop
Jacket illustration by Barbara Walton