Monthly Archives: November 2014

There’s a Gift Shop?

There’s a Gift Shop?

In order to make ends meet at The Funny Farm, I will be selling some of my fabulous jewelry. And some funky jewelry, too. I might even sell some Salt & Pepper Shakers, some small plastic aardvarks, some vintage postcards, and anything else that is collecting dust around here. There might even be SuperCapy plushies available!

Check it out and read about where the jewelry came from here.

Daily Drama 28

Daily Drama 28

I pretend that I am open-minded, but really, I have learned a thing or two in the past couple days.

(Okay, I don’t have any recent photos to decorate this post. So how about these old ones, instead?)

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I will never forget you, Poodle.


1) Dobby can toss a coconut.

I bought him a coconut as a joke- his fur is just like a coconut. Try it- fondle a coconut next time you are at the grocery store. Just tell them you are checking out what capybara fur feels like. So, anyway, I am always looking for “enrichment” for Dobby. He is so smart, and he does enjoy an intellectual challenge. He was fascinated by this new offering, but when I put it in his potato bowl, he just tossed it out. Just. Tossed. It. Out. Can you imagine picking up a coconut with your teeth and tossing it?

2) Keep an eye on your turtle tank.

It was overflowing with rainfall, but at the same time, the leaves that were falling in were turning it dark with tannin, like over-steeped tea. I decided to drain off a bit, and started the siphon. A couple minutes later, the siphon had stopped, clogged with debris. So I started the siphon again. A couple minutes later, the siphon had stopped, clogged with debris. So I started the siphon again. A couple minutes later, the siphon had stopped, clogged with debris. So I started the siphon again. This time, I looked over, the water was GONE,  the turtles were awake and looking around, like “What? Is it Spring already?” and the submersible pump was making sucking/wheezing sounds. (Sorry no video.) WOW! So I quickly re-filled the tank with new water, and bailed like crazy from the duck pond to get them some “aged” water. I didn’t want to overload them with chlorine and fluorine and whatever else comes in with “clean water.”

3) Dobby isn’t going anywhere.

So, some people came by while Dobby was in the front yard, and the last one to enter didn’t check the gate. It had bounced back open and was quite unsecured when Dobby reviewed the situation. I had been hunkered down in the greenhouse, warm and dry, and when I finally came out to observe his grazing progress, I found Dobby staring at the open gate. He was very concerned, and had made that clear by creating a masterpiece outside the window corresponding to their activities inside. So now we know: if the gate is open, he doesn’t leave. Probably.

4) The budgie is a jerk.

When I open the cages at night, the budgie barges into the cockatiel cage while they scurry aside to give him space. So, I decided to trick him by opening a new cage door. There are actually seven doors on the cockatiel cage: 1 big door, 2 smaller access doors, and 4 tiny doors for food dish access. It took him about 5 extra minutes to discover the second access door, down below. I’m really excited about  all these doors- I’m going to open different doors every night just to trip him up! Don’t worry- I watch them carefully, and no one gets hurt, but it is important to provide stimulation to caged birds. Boredom is a big issue with all caged domestic pets, so I’m always looking for new ways for them to interact with each other- in a safe way, of course!

Daily Drama 27


This month, we decided to skip Autumn and proceed directly to winter. I winterized Dobby’s swimming pool pump, brought in his rattoon- a small clump of tender sugar cane- and watched the overnight temperatures dive to 22 degrees (f). This allowed me to finally make the determination that Dobby’s heater was dying, and so even though he has a heated kennel pad, I set him up for a slumber party in the kitchen. Who wants to sleep outside under crunchy frozen blankets, anyway? Well, Dobby does. A creature of habit, he feels safer sleeping in his pen with the raccoons and owls locked out. At 5 years old, he has slept inside on enough frigid nights to understand about winter, and he spends *most* of the night indoors. When morning comes, I usually discover that he has gone outdoors.

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“What are you talking about? That curtain has had a gaping bite hole for years.”

The kitchen birds had to make some adjustments, too. I put a heater in their space and covered their cages, just in case some fool left the door open on his way out to his pen. They also didn’t get their evening play/fly time, and missed a cage cleaning that generally has to happen at night, when “the help” is penned up.

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The parking area in front oozes groundwater that flows across the driveway and then turns to ice.

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The creek is spring fed, and ran continuously, even in 20 degree weather.











It was wet and cold at the same time, but the sky was clear and the stars at night were startling. The ducks kept their pond from freezing by swimming all night. It’s warmer to swim in 33 degree water than to sleep on 20 degree frozen ground. In the photo below, you can see Dobby’s frozen swimming pool. The ice is over 3″ thick.

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Professional Icebreakers

Dobby moved around the back yard during the day to make the most of every ray of sunlight that popped through the tall trees to the South. Here’s Grover, doing the same thing. You might be able to make out Kitty Hawk’s white chest and paws on the ground and Madonna looking for bugsicles.

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Loving that sun!

Dobby has several wading pools in the back yard, but they freeze up faster than his swimming pool, and break when you try to chip out the ice. Once I discovered that new wading pools aren’t available in the winter (D’oh!) I became very respectful of them. (In that photo above, Grover is on a stack of them, stored upside down.) That’s when we put Dobby’s old potty bowl to use.

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Note the ice chunks behind Dobby.

The little black rubber feed dishes we all use for baby capybara potty bowls are sturdy, bite-resistant, and flexible enough so that you can chip ice out of them without destroying them. Dobby loves to sit in one of these bowls and have me pour warm water over him. With the deep freeze lasting a week, one challenge was stashing the ice chunks out of the way where they don’t refreeze and become a bigger hazard tomorrow.

It is also frustrating to discover the hoarfrost has expanded to block the gates from opening. As the daily temperatures crept above freezing, I chipped, raked, and cleared ice from the gate swing area. Oddly, the water table is so high this year that there is a permanent swamp- that never froze- just inside the gate to the barn. It’s not very conveniently located. It is an upwelling, so digging won’t make it go away. Maybe I need to build a bridge over it.

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Six freeloading mallards on the roof, my flock below, snacking on cracked corn

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Dobby peeks from the deck as the freeloaders fly off the roof to check out the snack.













The work never ends at the Funny Farm. While I am saving up for all new decks and railings, I am patching the rotten places with old license plates, a la Ma and Pa Kettle. Dobby insisted upon helping, but he isn’t very good with a hammer. He also isn’t very good at going away when I need to hammer something.

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Move your big fuzzy brown face, Dobby!

Meanwhile, the kitchen was getting grubby and sticky and gritty. I really can’t clean with him in there, and then, what’s the point?


Prince Dobalob, The Grubber

Eventually, I made the mistake of briefly leaving the barrier gate open to retrieve a bowl, and Guess Who slipped in the door at that very moment? For those of you who think I am cruel not to let Dobby into my home beyond his special kitchen area, I present the following photo. The puddle of urine he quickly created as he pranced into the kitchen didn’t show up in the photograph, so I created this visual aid. The only reason the puddle stopped here is because I convinced him to turn around and go back. Those of you who own capybaras will be very impressed that I was able to do that without a cattle prod. Dobby is adorable, but if he wants something, his quick temper turns him into a wild animal.


Lake Dobby

Meanwhile, the temperature hovered around 20-22 degrees every morning.


22 degrees f = -5.5 degrees c

For a week. Dobby slept inside, the birds got covered, and the kitchen got grittier and stickier.


There sure are a lot of grubby blankets in there.

Dobby always has his breakfast milk indoors in this bowl, but his dinner milk was indoors in this bowl, too.


Wipe your chin!

Corn is really sticky, but it was now an indoor treat, too. Milk and corn together, day after day. I probably need to clean the walls, too.


Too cold outside to eat corn on the deck

And then, there are the pouffy moments. I used to think it was so cute to see him all puffed up like a porcupine, but when he’s in the kitchen, it usually means he has created a masterpiece.


Oh, NO, Dobby! Not in the kitchen again!

Dobby is a lot more mellow than he used to be. In cold weather, he’s resigned to sitting out the day indoors, by his heat vent in the kitchen. Even so, eight days was a long time. In the fall. We aren’t anywhere near official “winter” yet.


Toasted Capybara

Meanwhile, check this out. Cute hay dispenser for bored guinea pigs, right? Well, not if the hole is exactly that size. Big enough for a guinea pig to get his head IN, not big enough to get it OUT. Thank you for that demonstration, Fred. Next time, I’ll cut out bigger holes.


Sorry about that, Frederick of Hollywood!

This was the last night of freezing weather, and Dobby was pretty fed up. It’s easy to say it was an Oops! but he is deliberate and extremely accurate with his masterpieces. I am still puzzling over the message here, though.


The Philosopher. What does it all mean?





Daily Drama 26

Daily Drama 26

Spike the budgie is a twit. I’m sure everyone is familiar with parakeet mirror obsessions and their fondness for toys. I’m not certain that people understand how aggressive they are.


Spike on the left, Jorge and Vincent on the right.

In the evening, when large rodents are in bed and the kitchen door is no longer opening and closing, and dinner is cooked and the frying pan and pots of boiling water are gone, the bird cage doors open. Spike often comes out to the living room and watches tv with us from a tray set up as a bird playpen, similar to the one on top of his cage that no one likes. Sigh.

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I don’t have any living room playpen photos, so here he is with a cake cover.

Lately, when the cage doors open, he immediately abandons his own cage for the cockatiel cage. He is such a bully, he chases Jorge and Vincent out of their own cage, and they end up on the unpopular playpen or on top of their cage, just underneath the top shelf.

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If it makes you dizzy, just turn the picture upside down.

Last night, tired of his shenanigans, we took him out to the living room. He played happily for about 20 minutes, then flew off, in a big arc, toward the dining room. He does this all the time, and we go get him and bring him back. Last night, though, he disappeared. We looked high and low. We got out a flashlight and looked behind furniture. We check rooms in the opposite direction, just in case. We looked in the kitchen, atop cupboards, behind plants, any little nook or cranny possible.


Ha ha, the joke is on you!

Suddenly, I heard Dick laughing. “Found him!” Spike had flown in an arc, all right. He had flown straight into the open cockatiel cage! In fact, I had shut the door and closed him in, which explained all the cockatiel chatter for the previous 1/2 hour! D’oh!


ROUS Foundation

ROUS Foundation

I wear many hats, but this weekend I am working for the ROUS Foundation. My friend Melanie Typaldos established the ROUS Foundation in fond memory of her pet capybara, Caplin Rous, the World’s Most Famous Capybara. The ROUS Foundation provides funds for certain veterinary expenses associated with the care of captive capybaras through services provided by Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine.


Melanie and Caplin (Photo credit: ROUS Foundation)

Melanie and Caplin inspired me to get my own capybara, so all of the Dobby Destruction around here is actually their fault. While I never met Caplin, he was Dobby’s brother. They were not litter-mates, but had the same parents, Bonnie and Clyde. They met in this video:

Dobby is the friendly but squeaky little baby that Coral holds up to the fence about 2 minutes into the video. I went out to Star Farm about a week later to pick Dobby out and bring him home. Everybody knew I was going to pick the friendly little guy in this video.

I didn’t actually meet Melanie until after Caplin had died and she had adopted her second capybara, 10 month old Gari. I flew to Texas several times when Gari went to the veterinary clinic at Texas A&M. The photo below was one of the fun visits when Gari was fairly healthy and had only recently had some sebaceous cysts removed. For Gari, that was nothing. He was a good sport about the veterinary care he seemed to need throughout his life.


Melanie, Me, and Gari (Photo credit: Angela Mitchell)

Gari’s medical problems were probably related to his early care and nutrition. When Melanie adopted him at 10 months, he was 18 pounds (8.5 kg) underweight and very, very hungry. That is why the ROUS Foundation started the Why Weight? program. Then she made me Vice President of the ROUS Foundation. I had already been tracking pet capybaras, including those kept in small petting zoos, circuses, and even zoos. (Currently I have about 70 individual capybaras on my list, 45 living outside zoos world-wide, 39 in the United States alone.)

There is very little information available about capybara care, so when a capybara gets sick, there is often little warning. Weight is fairly easy to determine, and one of the few factors that can be easily compared between individual animals. A capybara that is growing at a normal rate and achieves a normal adult weight has at least that- a good adult weight. We have seen what Gari’s early below-average weight eventually meant for him. The Why Weight? program tracks the weights of capybaras- especially young ones- and collects the data on healthy capybaras to use as an average baseline.

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Dobby is big


So, that’s what I am doing this weekend, besides chipping ice off of rabbit and dove water dishes. I’m collecting capybara weight data.

If you would like to donate to the Why Weight? program, follow the link below.

Donate to Why Weight?