Q. My friend asked me to harvest her tomatoes from her vegetable garden while she was on vacation. When I got home, I had an itchy rash on my arms. I don’t think she uses chemicals in her garden. Do you know what might have caused the rash? I washed my arms and applied an anti-itch cream, and it went away after about an hour.
A. The natural chemicals from the leaves of tomato plants can cause a rash or skin irritation in susceptible people. Since it appears you may be one of those people, wear long sleeves when harvesting tomatoes, and wash any exposed areas of skin right after harvesting or working with tomato plants.
Q. How do we monitor our 4-H project animals at the fair so we know they are staying healthy?
A. Exhibiting livestock (steers, sheep, pigs and goats) at the fair can be stressful for the animals. The new surroundings, different water, unfamiliar animals and a constant flow of people can upset animals.
Important considerations: 1. Have your animals stay on the same feed they had at home. Abrupt changes in feed can upset animals and going off feed is an indicator that they are not feeling well and there may be an underlying problem.
2. Provide plenty of clean water. The water may taste different to the animal than the water they had at home, and some animals may drink less. Be prepared to provide water that is acceptable to the animals and make sure that they are drinking it.
3. Provide ventilation for animals at the fair. Heat stress can be a big problem, especially for pigs. Fans that are placed strategically in the barns will help with this.
4. Monitor your animals. Their general appearance will give insight into what they are feeling. Behavior changes can be a sign that they are not feeling well. Make sure they are eating and drinking normally as they were at home. Watch for rapid breathing and respiratory discharge as these can be signs of infection.
If you notice anything out of the ordinary for your animals, the fair veterinarian is available and will be able to evaluate their health and well-being while at the fair.
To submit a question for this column, please call the WSU Extension office in Kennewick at 509-735-3551.