Daily Drama 61

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Daily Drama 61

Editing Dobby’s book has kept me so busy writing that I am neglecting the blog posts. Today, the Funny Farm is sad that my handicapped hen, Lula, has decided to fly up to the big roost in the sky. She came here five years ago, became lame at about 2-1/2 years, and stopped walking altogether two years ago. Daily meloxicam uprighted her, and she hobbled around, avoiding the other hens for a year. I finally moved her to the infirmary about a year ago, leaving the door open so she could come and go on her own.

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Princess Blur and Lula outside Dobby’s kitchen door. A lot of good stuff leaks out that door.

Last September, a tiny opinionated hen came to live with us. Blur’s sister had died and she couldn’t stop talking about it. Once here, she quickly became PRINCESS Blur, but she did quiet down. The size of a pigeon, she fights the cats, the other hens are afraid of her, and even Dobby is baffled. She has never laid an egg. Princess adored big Lula, though. They spent their days together, and when Lula’s lameness progressed, Princess Blur moved into the infirmary with her. In hindsight, they spent this last month beak-to-beak, neither one venturing into the horrific weather. I should have known Lula was not well. It will be interesting to hear what Princess Blur has to say about her.

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Princess whispers into Lula’s ear. They were inseparable.

The east coast is not alone when it comes to weird winter weather. We have had cold and snow and many Mallards. Many freeloading mallards. My resident pair are somewhat erratic, so Mrs. Mallard must have a nest, but she isn’t sitting yet. Sitting ducks hold their necks differently, as if they have spent too much time in one position. Their voice also changes, and their message is different. We aren’t there yet, but she has a nest, and it is nearby. I think they even spent the night on the swimming pool. I have never seen that before in the ten years since they have been here.

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Mallards on my roof. What must the neighbors think?

Dobby is making fair progress toward a recovery. He was feeling pretty good when he made these brown footprints. He was leaving the kitchen. Is that better or worse than if he had been coming in? There’s so much medicine in his milk now, that we ought to come up with a better word than “milk” which no longer describes it.

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Brown footprints: the Dobby version of yellow snow. 

Of course, we had a wind storm, too. A big birch branch crashed right through the wire roof of the aviary. It was a missed opportunity for the raccoons because my good neighbor fixed it that day.

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Timber!

The afternoon Garden Party has been damp. On good days it’s moist. Horrible days it is like living under a waterfall. I’m the one who wanted to live in a wetland, though. It’s groundwater, and it oozes up wherever it wants to. The asphalt out front has giraffe patterned cracks all over it. The cracks spit bubbles and ooze, eventually creating a flow down the street past the ambitious city public works drainage project that failed to take into account the source of the water. MY PROPERTY.

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Bird seed anyone? We’re eating it under a table because we don’t like soup.

Dobby IS improving, though he had a setback last week. He slipped on the deck when temperatures rose enough to turn the organics and rain into a coating of Deck Slime. There are now anti-skid rugs everywhere, and a bunch of cheap burlap bags as filler between the gaps. The hardware store guys roll their eyes when I tell them the bags have to be from Brazilian coffee, not African or Central American. Then they obligingly dig through the stack, commenting on the origins, and noticing the different bags for the first time.

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It’s the same bed, but different. For once I didn’t freak out about the change.

We lowered Dobby’s bed, so that the step up isn’t as steep. It used to have a standard box spring, but we switched it out for a “bunky board” which is a shallower mattress support. Now he can step out onto a big wide dog bed, and it’s a lot easier for him.

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Mine, all mine!

He’s feeling strong enough again to go to the front yard to graze . . . on non-existent winter grass. Prey animals are wary and they won’t leave a safe territory unless they have to. When Dobby is not feeling strong, he stays in the kitchen, playing pinochle and drinking mint juleps. Today he ignored the squealing little girls playing next door and went out to graze, so I know he is feeling pretty good.

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If you don’t let me in, I’ll bite the door. Again.

Dobby thinks he should be able to go in through the front door. In eight years, I don’t think I have ever let him in through that door. For eight years he has been begging.

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You’re late with my corn.

Oh, Dobby. He’s not very patient. His “offerings” have been top form, though. In an effort to offset his usual high-starch bad diet, I have been supplementing his vegetables with a bucket of cut bamboo foliage, in addition to what he grazes on his own. The fabulous local grocer, who supplies Dobby’s corn and romaine at a very reasonable markup, has been ordering us dandelion greens, too. The very same greens that I can pick for free from the garden this summer, are now a gourmet Dobby-treat in winter. I dole them out one-at-a-time to make certain Dobby appreciates them.

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Little Spitfire is helping me edit Dobby’s book. If my desk was cleared off (or if someone lit a bonfire to it) I could set up her playpen. She would love that. For now she is happy with the cubby holes and a paper clip. She’s a fightin’-bitin’ female, but my farmer’s hands are like leather, so the joke’s on her! She’ll settle down after a while.

Capy-painting

This is the working cover for Dobby’s book. We’ve been trying out some jacket copy on his fans, and hope to have a finished rough draft completed in a couple days. (Unless I remember to prepare my taxes.) It will undergo various levels of scrutiny, head off to a publisher, and Bob’s Your Uncle! That’s the plan, and I will keep you posted. It will be ready for summer reading, or bust!

 

Daily Drama 60

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Daily Drama 60

I suddenly realized I had better write before I totally lose my sense of humor! The disasters are checking in with regularity and when I find time to sit down, you can hear the sigh in the next county.

First, a shout-out to our local grocer. With The Bartender scooting around the house, foot in a post-surgery cast, I am now the Number One Shopper. When I pull into any cashier line with a gigantic box of romaine, a case of organic baby oatmeal, and a bottle of vodka, they simply ask “Animal food or people food first?” They know we buy scads of vegetables on the Funny Farm account. No one asks why we have been ordering baby cereal by the case for EIGHT YEARS, or who eats so much sub-par winter corn on the cob. They know all about Dobby, and ask how he’s doing.

Not so hot, by the looks of it. He has had trouble walking for a couple months, now. I have arthritis and his gait looks like I feel, he struggles more on my bad days, rallies a bit on my good days. His bloodwork was inconclusive, but we may be looking at Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD), which compares to osteoporosis. Or maybe he has lymphoma. WE DON’T KNOW. But his original vet is available again, that’s how we got the blood draw without knocking him out. I have an ambulatory x-ray machine coming in tomorrow, and if Dobby cooperates by standing still, we’ll get an inside-out look at his bones. He’s got cabin fever after all of this nasty weather, and he sits comfortably under his new UV lights in the kitchen. Prey animals are more nervous when they are unhealthy, so he is hesitant to go to the front yard which is chock full of jaguars and anacondas. The ground has been frozen for a few weeks, so I’m wary of frostbite, much more deadly than predators.

draft saved 6 days ago

Okay, this is my point. I started this blog post almost a week ago. I would have time to write if there wasn’t so darned much going on around here. There certainly is no lack of material. Since that sorry draft, I have cleaned up the flooded downstairs. Then my prodigal son and his newly arrived girlfriend moved down there. That frees up his sister’s room for her visit in two days. The Bartender has graduated to cast number two in the series and can drive himself around, but still has to butt-sit his way down stairs. The yard is no longer frozen, well, the swimming pool is still totally frozen over. Not even a little thawed edge showing yet. It’s off-limits to capybaras right now anyway.

The veterinarian with the ambulatory x-ray apparatus came and went and I was so busy I didn’t take even one photo! All the busy paid off and The Prince was pleased with his visitors and held very still for his pictures. Unfortunately, they showed an L7 fracture. That’s basically a broken back. Very common with MBD, so we were spot on with the treatment. Unfortunately, there was a recall of Calcionate Syrup, the preferred treatment, so we are literally limping along with Calcium carbonate powder. Dobby is in good spirits, but occasionally spars with his corn, clicking at it when the Metacam doesn’t quite cover the pain. He’s terrifically spoiled, now, after all those cold-night slumber parties, and fresh-picked buckets of bamboo.

So why does Dobby have MBD? Actually, his radiographs don’t seem to indicate it, but the fracture is telling. That wouldn’t happen if his bones were strong. To promote strong bones, his diet needs to be high in calcium- higher than his phosphorus intake. His starchy diet isn’t very good, but it is difficult to provide fresh greens in winter. Horses can get by on hay in winter, but dry hay doesn’t supply vitamin C, which capybaras seem to need in copious quantities. He seems to know this and craves the fresh bamboo foliage slowly taking over my front yard.

He eats his lettuce but turns his nose up at the fancy kale the Guinea pigs snarf down. I tried growing kale at snout level, fenced it off, pretended it was very special, but he still won’t touch it. Collards, are you kidding? Everything he likes is bad for him. I recently discovered fresh dandelion greens at our grocery store, and he’ll deign to eat alfalfa if it’s the fancy Guinea Pig hay in a pretty little bag. He won’t touch the big bale out in the barn.

Back to the calcium, well, it’s is poorly absorbed without Vitamin D. Vitamin D comes from sunshine and everything you have heard about Seattle is true. It’s dark and gloomy all winter. At the winter solstice, the sun rises around 7am and sets around 4pm. That’s well shy of the equatorial day he would enjoy in South America. The only other way to get Vitamin D is in milk, as a supplement. That’s why they supplement milk with Vitamin D, so that our kids can absorb all that calcium in their milk. It’s also why Seattle vegans are encouraged to take a Vitamin D supplement. You can’t get D from vegetables and grain. And that’s why Dobby has tanning bed lights hanging over his bed in the kitchen. I’m tempted to lay under there with him myself.

I’m sick but I’m pretty . . .

So what else? This has been a bitterly cold winter and I have lost 3 doves. Two were treated, responded, but no, didn’t make it. The third didn’t give any warning. The flock and the cats are happy the freezing is gone for now, and resigned to the constant drizzle. The wild mallards have become a problem, so there are no garden party treats when there are more than six mallards lurking. There have been as many as 38 looking for handouts. I’m hoping Norman, my Flock Manager, will learn to drive off the mallards to earn his treats, but that might be asking too much.

I need to write up my Shanghai experiences. It was a fabulous trip, blasting many preconceptions. I came home with answers to questions I didn’t know I had. When you don’t know what you are getting into, every moment is a surprise. Questions pop into your head hours and days after your brain finally processes what your eyes have scanned. I look at my photos in detail and exclaim, “What the heck is THAT?” Much too late for a close-up shot or in-person examination.

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Baby Dobby

Dobby has a birthday coming up, his eighth! Born on Valentine’s Day in 2009, these eight years have brought me a lot of joy. I’m glad I didn’t know how tricky these guys are to raise up. I have been very lucky, and even with this devastating new development, I continue to marvel at my good fortune. I’m not sure what we will be doing to celebrate, but please join Dobby at his facebook alias page next month and we’ll make something good happen!

Daily Drama 59

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Daily Drama 59

Dobby’s diving video is featured on Bored Panda! He also made the front page of reddit yesterday! Woohoo! It isn’t quite the same as The New Yorker magazine announcing his candidacy for the 2016 presidential contest, but it is still pretty cool! That didn’t go so well, anyway.

A little bit of the Amazon River, right here in my backyard, complete with indigenous species!


Stacy’s Funny Farm is a non-profit pet sanctuary. You can read more about it here.

Daily Drama 58

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Daily Drama 58

Winter is here and it’s awful. Those of you who live in a cold climate know about hauling water out to the flock in the morning. You know about “ice management.” That’s when you toss the ice out of the frozen waterers strategically, so that the shards of ice don’t create a hazard if they don’t melt within the next couple of days. You know about hoarfrost, and dig out around your gates so it can’t build up and shut you out of your pens. Winter water bowls are re-stacked so they aren’t frozen together when you need them. Food and meds are brought indoors so they don’t freeze. Ugh.

Dobby sleeps indoors, in all his glory, because frozen blankets are a drag. I have to wear my mud boots to walk through his section of the kitchen, because, you know, he’s “living” in there. In his seventh winter, Dobby takes sleeping indoors in stride. He even “goes” outside during the day. Sometimes. He has also learned to tolerate staying indoors, and not go in and out the door all night, leaving it ajar in twenty degree weather. Right next to the bird cages. He did decide to go out at 3AM last night. It was 28 degrees out there, his bedroom heater usually keeps it 10 degrees higher, so 38, and the blankets were probably pliable. I still had to go down and shut the door behind him, bird cages. Go back to bed and fall asleep, fretting. If Dobby wants to go out, there’s no keeping him in. He eats the door jamb trying to get out. Another response to the question “It’s kind of like having a big dog, right?” No. It’s not.

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November 21, 2016 issue, The New Yorker magazine.

For those of you who continue to ask, “Why capybara?” I offer this cartoon. I learned to walk by dragging a hamster cage around for balance. That means that this little joke is really the story of my life. It doesn’t explain the ducks, though.

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Vinny performs the Donkey Honk, a drake display move. Ping is not impressed.

Most freezing nights, the ducks keep their water open by swimming in it and dabbling in it. That means there is always drinking water for the hens and cats, too. It was iced over this morning, a thin sheet easily poked, one drinking hole still open, so they are doing a good job.

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The doves sit high and dry in their separate pen.

The doves are captive, though, and can’t get to the “dabble-hole.” I take out gallons of hot water to unfreeze their waterer. They have a bathing dish of water ice, and hop right into the warm bath water I take out in the morning.

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Beverly on the first day, contemplating her sudden loss of freedom.

Beverly is in jail, and has to keep her own dabble hole open. She’s brand new, rescued by a human Bev (the name is a coincidence) who befriended her at a nearby park. Muscovy ducks are from South America, not native here, so she’s probably an escaped pet. They aren’t as cold-tolerant as our indigenous ducks. Bev was able to pick her up and bring her to me, verifying her tameness, and I easily nabbed her for wing clipping. Now that she’s safe, we don’t want her flying away.

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Beverly’s first few nights here were cold, down to 18f degrees (-7c).

She spent a few days in quarantine, ye olde bully pen. She was desperate to join the flock, though, and looks very happy today, her first day mingling with the general population. Norman isn’t letting her get too close, but no one else seems to mind her.

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Freeloading Mallard hens

There are way too many Mallards, and when I open the gate in the afternoon for the Garden Party, they make a beeline for the feeder.

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Norman cleans house

The photo above should be a video. Norman the flock Manager, is at the back, beyond the gate, a pale blob above and to the right of Dobby’s hanging yellow and green soccer ball. He is marching toward us, honking, and all of these mallards, 17 I think, marched out in front of him. He chased them away from his feeder! Go, Norman! Geese are so cool.

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Carmen registers a complaint.

I was so pleased that I gave in and treated them to cracked corn out in the yard. That’s Carmen Miranda facing me, madder than heck at me for giving them HER corn. Note the stool on Dobby’s swimming pool steps, which are falling down in slow motion as they rot. They usually last a year, these were new late last summer.

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Front row: Shamrock and Vinny, Crowd scene behind: Cubicle, Tony, Sal, Norman, Boondock, little Ping and Emilio, Boxcar behind, and Carmen Miranda far right

The mallards left, and my little flock finally enjoyed their treat of cracked corn.

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Mr. and Ms. Mallard, posing after a synchronized skating exhibition. She’s the one who brought her children to the front door and then through the house to the back yard last spring.

Remember the stool on the swimming pool steps? This is another reason why it is there. Dobby isn’t doing much swimming these days, and he probably can’t mount those raunchy bales, but he won’t climb past the stool. These are the resident Mallards, the ones who have been hanging out here since before Dobby got here. I suspect that the unruly mallard crowd is their offspring.

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Frieda. She’s a little different.

Eartha, Windy, and Frieda are my newest hens. Frieda follows me around like I’m a busted feed bag.

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Dobby loves the barn. Sometimes he spends the morning out there, bothering everyone and eating their food.

I hate heat lamps, but this year I’ve got three out there, plus some heated pads for the tomcats, and of course one for Sir Dobbykins. He loves the barn. That’s the infirmary behind him. Lula is in there, but the door is open so that her companion, the inimitable Princess Blur, can come and go as she pleases.

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Princess Blur, displaying typical attitude, and her pet hen, Lula. Lula is handicapped, and Princess adores her.

A couple days ago Princess did too much going. She was missing when I went out in the morning. Blaming myself, I figured I had missed her at the nightly lockup. I walked the neighborhood. I put a notice on Next Door. I drove the neighborhood. I knocked on doors. And that afternoon when I went to open the gate to let everyone out for Garden Party, guess who was first to run OUT the gate? Today I discovered she has skritched out a hollow between the barn wall and a bale of straw. She can really hunker down in there. She’s so bad.

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Jello, Conchita, and Adelita on the roost. Princess Blur, in the background for once.

This was just before dusk, and the hens were ready for bed. These girls have been here a couple of years.

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Eartha and Windy, here since late October.

Here are the three new hens. Hmmm. They are finally settling into the evening routine. Where’s Frieda?

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Frieda, Kitty Hawk, and Grover

Frieda sleeps with the cats. Whatever. They aren’t as excited about it as she is.

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Dobby Burrito

Bedtime for The Dobster. He usually sleeps outside, but when he’s indoors, he likes his bed, his white rabbit rug, and his pink princess blankie. Goodnight, Dobby Boy.

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They’re coasters!

A very wonderful friend created and donated these tiles to the Funny Farm! They are raku fired ceramic tiles, backed with cork so they may be used as coasters. They feature the footprint of Caplin Rous, the World’s Most Famous Capybara! He was also Dobby’s big brother.

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Each one unique!

The glaze has a coppery iridescent sheen that doesn’t photograph to advantage because it changes from different angles. Right now they are mine, all mine, but I should probably sell them. They are available at Georgia Dee’s Gift Shop.

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Shanghai teens!

I will be incommunicado for about a week at the end/beginning of the year. My son is teaching at a high school in Shanghai, China and I can’t pass up the opportunity to visit. Don’t worry, The Bartender is gamely staying behind to care for Prince Dobalob and his subjects!

 

Daily Drama 57

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Daily Drama 57

Blogging is not a priority for me this month. Dobby is participating in NaNoWriMo, otherwise known as National Novel Writing Month. The Prince has decided to write his autobiography. You might think this has nothing to do with me, but it has resulted in a lot of encouragement, research, consultation, and plain old butt-kicking from ye olde Farm Manager. He wants to do this very much, but he hasn’t the discipline or skills to go it alone.

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Sonya’s sketchbook

Fortunately, my illustrator, Sonya Reasor has stepped in to help Dobby on this worthy project. It’s inspiring to see Dobby come to life on someone else’s sketch pad for a change. 

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Breakfast is served! At the bowl: Carmen, Emilio, and Tony. Beyond: Ping, Shamrock, and Sal.

My mornings are busy, and in addition to the usual chores, leaves are falling onto the wire netting that secures the roof of the aviary. If I don’t pick those before it snows, the weight of snow+leaves=broken roof. We had temperatures down to freezing night before last, so I will soon be winterizing the swimming pool pump and packing away all of the freeze-sensitive accoutrements around here. Time to switch Dobby to his heavier blankets, ratchet up his heater, increase his corn ration.

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Dobby is thrilled about his new hens (in the background.)

The three new four-year-old Golden Laced Wyandotte hens have already moved from the bully pen out to the general population. I guess they have never had a roosting perch, because they roost in a huddled pile-up next to the cat food dishes. Not a big hit with the cats, but they are sweet old traditional hens. They remind me of the hens in Chicken Run. (One of the best movies ever made, BTW.) Frieda, in particular is a friendly old gal, curious about everything I do.

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Frieda watches Windy and Eartha take dust baths in the barn. They are all molting.

Princess Blur is one of a kind, and I have known quite a few chickens. She befriended my old handicapped hen, Lula, and I have to carry them everywhere together. Blur is the only hen who doesn’t go home to roost, unlike the old adage. Oh, no, she flies up into the apple tree at dusk. Fortunately she prefers a low branch where I can pluck her down and carry her to her Official, if not preferred, roost in the safe and dry barn, near her beloved Lula.

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Petite Princess Blur. Not a good climate for feathered legs, she carries a bit of mud on her slippers.

Princess Blur is so funny and tiny. My other hens don’t know what to make of her.

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Look! You can see shadows! Enjoying the sun, Blur, Conchita, Jello, and Adelita.

Dobby is waiting patiently for me to take him to the front yard. The grass is nearly gone, but he still finds greens here and there. The bamboo is spreading like wildfire, but he eats it all winter long.

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Dobby looks a little shaggy this season.


We walk through this storage area when we go to the front yard. We have had record rainfall and the ground is saturated. My entire yard is a mudhole, and there is an inch of standing water over most of the front lawn.

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Dobby stops in a mud puddle to scratch on his way to the front yard.

Dobby wants everyone to see his feet.

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That’s good organic mud, black and gooey like crude oil.

Dobby’s preference is to have his grazing catered so that he can enjoy a snack with his friends. I used to provide a cracked corn snack in the afternoons, but a gang of mallards keep crashing the party. Seriously, 30-40 mallards fly over, land in Dobby’s pool, and present vouchers for drinks and bar snacks as if they were entitled. I have been weaning them of this indulgence, but there is still a core group of half a dozen mallards who know their way around here and go into the aviary where the real duck food is available. Scoundrels.

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A round of cracked corn and bamboo-in-a-bucket. Carmen, Norman, Boondock, Boxcar, Cubicle, Dobby, and Ping.

For some reason, I cannot take a decent photograph of my silly little white duck, Ping. Today she sat and gave me the stinkeye while I administered medication to a dove. Yesterday, Norman and the flock was antsy at the end of the day. Turns out Ping forgot how to come around the apple tree fence, and was left behind, frantically pacing when Norman brought everyone else into the aviary for the night.

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Ping keeps an eye on me.

It isn’t much different indoors. Rats, it turns out, are little beggars. Fortunately, they are eternally grateful even for stale graham crackers.

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Yuki will eat almost anything, though she balks a bit at carrots.

We are all devastated at the death of our little old guinea pig, Carl Sagan. No one felt the loss more than Stevie Ray, who kept vigil in his special observation post long beyond necessity. He gazed longingly at the former location of Carl’s cuddle cup, and rather ignored snack time unless I handed him the treats. Fortunately, Squirrel was ready to be introduced into Stevie Ray’s spacious cage, and after nightly floor time on neutral territory, the big day arrived.

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Squirrel the maniac, and Stevie Ray, a sadder but wiser gentleman pig.

During the Monday Mayhem otherwise known as Guinea Pig Cage Cleaning Day, Squirrel moved in. He was so, well, squirrely, that I wasn’t convinced it would work, but poor Stevie Ray was so despondent, that even rambunctious Squirrel was a welcome respite. The two boars are getting along nicely. Stevie Ray is eating normally again and as long as the carrots keep coming, Squirrel will be happy!

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Fat Bonnie snuggles up to a plush piglet.

Dobby goes out to sleep in his night pen every night. Fat Bonnie takes advantage of this and hops around to his side of the wall where we set up toys and treats for her. She would like it better if we didn’t also let the birds out for an evening flight. They like to land on her blanket and tease her. It’s not nice to tease dummies, but she is smarter than I thought! Not only does she “stand up for a cookie” but she also “turns around for a blueberry!” I never thought I’d see the day when Bonnie could do a trick!