Category Archives: Bird Stuff

Daily Drama 64 – Am I smarter than a goldfish?

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Daily Drama 64 – Am I smarter than a goldfish?

In nice weather, I open the door next to my desk so that it feels like I am working outside. I had a couple raccoons approach one night, but I sent them scurrying. More worrisome is that I could step away from my desk, forget about the open door, and take Dobby to the front yard. I can only imagine the capybara glee when he finds the inviting open door into his old territory! He was banished from my bedroom/office over seven years ago. Double the glee when he finds MY pristine White Rabbit Rug! He has destroyed his, but he’s not touching mine!

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Cookie Monster and Brutus below, Stevie Ray and Squirrel above

Queen Brutus and Cookie Monster are two young guinea pigs who came to live with us recently. We are waiting for Cookie to grow up a bit so that they can be spayed at the same time. After their recuperation they will move upstairs with the dudes.

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“The bowl is empty!”

The second photo was taken after “The Great Escape.” See those orange clamps on the side of their cage? Even in this photo Queen B has been messing around with the ground covers, checking for breaches. They didn’t get far when they made their break. The girls had a little picnic way in back there by the baskets full of hay.

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The engaging plastic ball is a parrot toy stuffed with hay.

They were “free-range” before they came here, and are surprisingly tidy. They use the big hay box with the pigloo for a litter box, and have a well-used smaller litter box in their cage. I lock them in their cage at night, especially since their Big Adventure. It’s easy to shuffle them in with a big salad.

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No guinea pig photo is complete without beans!

The girls like vegetables but frown on strawberries, mango, and kiwi. Queen B is a year older than little Cookie and steals her food, but Cookie is quickly learning that I always have something for her if she waits until Brutus runs off with her prize!

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Stevie Ray will be 7 years old this fall.

Stevie Ray was losing weight and has an abdominal mass, but the trip to the vet must have scared him into getting his act back together. He’s friskier and seems to be putting weight back on. This is a guy who likes his strawberries, carrots, and tomatoes. Check out the fur under his chin! Guess he’s due for a shampoo.

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Squirrel, Maniac of the Year, in pole position at the food dish

Squirrel has been here almost a year. Not five years old, as advertised, maybe three. He’s a speed demon, very excitable. Clean cage? Popcorning. A lettuce leaf? Standing up oh-so-tall. Cleaning girls’ cage below? Zoomies going on above. I’ll never know why this amazing pig was considered un-adoptable. He’s a hoot!

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No, not a goldfish, it’s a Misgurnus anguillicaudatus, Dojo loach.

I have been trying to dip a goldfish out of Dr. Pepper’s turtle tank for two years, and now it’s enormous. It isn’t “gold;” it’s black and fast and smarter than me. Now there’s a smaller one in there, also black and fast and smarter than me. It’s not worth draining the tank to get them out. They have eluded the turtle for a couple years, too. I put them in as fry several years ago, for mosquito abatement, but with the three of them in there, nothing lives long.

Remind me to tell you the Dojo story some other time.

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Climbing rose, Rosa ‘Cécile Brünner’

This climbing rose has the most precious little rosebuds you can possibly imagine, thumbnail sized. You have to have a teeny tiny bud vase if you want to bring them inside. It’s easier to bring in a spray of flowers.

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Sluggo

Welcome to the Pacific Northwest! Bring flowers in, Sluggo will crawl over to your dinner plate from the bouquet! Seriously, slugs invite themselves into the house all the time. I guess they do, I rarely find the slugs, but see slime trails all the time.

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Norman splashes in Dobby’s clean hot tub. It won’t be clean after Dobby gets in there.

Same roses, hiding the gang valve and four hoses on the wall. It broke (don’t ask) and one of the hoses was frozen into it, the live feed into the aviary, of course. That particular hose is threaded through 50′ of protective tubing. I needed another project like a hole in the head.

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The hens are making headway at killing the brand new grass.

Winter rains kill Dobby’s grass in the back yard. After Mother’s Day, the weather is perfect for reseeding it. Every week I broadcast seed and water. The hens love to pick out the seedlings and the ducks dig holes if there are any puddles bigger than your big toe. Still, it’s looking good this year and should be in great shape when the September rain storms massacre every single blade. It’s a testimony to my optimism and sheer stupidity. Anything for Dobby, though. The boy needs pasture.

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“Actually, I prefer the mud.”

Dobby stops to indulge in a mud treatment on the way to the front yard every day. It gives the chickens time to scoot past me into the storage area where the baby grass is even more lush and tender. A couple good scratch-and-pecks and they have ripped up an area the size of a bathmat by the time Dobby finishes up at the spa.

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Dobby and Jello wait for the front door to open.

Sometimes, Dobby invites a hen to the front yard. This was little more than a week ago, and old Jello looked as perky as ever. A couple days later she suddenly departed for the big dustbath in the sky. This was her 7th spring, and her cohorts preceded her long ago. Hens are both tough and fragile as I have learned in my 30+ years of chicken wrangling.

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Practicing to be an alligator.

The mudhole in the front yard has the perfect amount of water, muck, and weedy buffet. Today I watched Dobby grazing and asked him “Go swimming?” He perked right up and we walked over to the mudhole and he scrambled right in! He used to swim in his big pool on command, but he’s not using it any more (even though his diving video has gone viral). We’re not sure he can get out of his swimming pool, though it’s unlikely he can make it up the straw bale stairs that are no longer there.

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“All I wanted to do was clean my face off on your pants. Why did you run away?”

He still has trouble walking and going up and down steps, but his weight loss seems to have bottomed out at 110 lbs and he’s back up to 116 lbs. He’s eating like a horse. Literally. The grass in the front yard is, well, it’s BIG. You can see some of the coarse blades in the foreground of the faux-alligator photo. He grazes and I cut him a bucket full and haul it around to the back for him. Prince Dobalob’s trusty servant.

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Bored with svelte, and going for the porky look next.

This toolbox holds his milk meds and supplements, all color coded for morning, noon, and bedtime so they don’t conflict with each other. The actual milk powder is in a separate container, and the yogurt is in the refrigerator. Some of the pills have to be ground up with a little mortar and pestle. The Fluid Action HA is the newest concoction to be added. Dobby started receiving K-Laser treatments at about the same time as we added the Fluid Action HA, or “Castrol” as we so fondly refer to it. One of those two treatments could be the reason why he seems to be improving.

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Where’s the milk?

Dobby’s book is in final editing and moves next to formatting for publishing! So we are very close to our due date of Late July or August.” I hope we don’t “April the Giraffe” it! When the book is available I will be pretty obnoxious about letting everyone know. Dobby’s smug fans who request postcard announcements can ignore my blithering. I will need your snail mail address. That’s what the form below is for.

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That’s all for now! Once Dobby’s book is launched, I’ll be back to my irregular but more frequent blogging.

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 55

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Daily Drama 55

Writing a blog is easy when there is so much to write about. Sometimes, though, the material piles up so fast and furious that there is no time to write! Taking a vacation creates a windfall of material, but if taken correctly, induces a predictable and even desirable stupor. The school year aspect of my life (that I don’t write about) creates an artificial deadline which looms like a cliff of doom to rodent aficionados. So while I have a couple blog posts in the works, why not start and finish a third, and really confuse the heck out of everyone?

As a sanctuary (also called a LOFT, Live Out Full Term facility) I see many animals through to their last days. Older pets aren’t as adoptable and often find their way here. Some have just been here a hella long time. Carl Sagan the Guinea pig is one of them.

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Bath and blow-dry time for Carl Sagan

His brother, Ankhsheshonq, left us long ago, complications due to dementia. Carl will be NINE* TEN years old in October, but he is having some issues with right rear axle paralysis. He’s perky, doesn’t seem to be in any pain, still interacts positively with Stevie Ray, and races to the treat bowls on cue. Still, he has no strength in his hip and leg, and flops over as soon as he is stationary. Because he isn’t as active, this gets fairly messy, so he has been getting baths, as needed. He likes the extra attention, and the older I get, the more sympathy I have for these old pets. I hope Carl makes it another year, to TEN ELEVEN years old, but in case he doesn’t, I have located an older boar companion for Stevie Ray, who remembers when the Dude Ranch was 5, not 2 dudes. You will be hearing about him in a while.

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Fat Bonnie attempts to explore the living room. Watch out, Fat Bonnie! The wood floor is LAVA!

Fat Bonnie Bunnie seems to be making an effort to overcome her fears, and we have started to let her into the living room for romps. She doesn’t seem as fearful there as she is in the kitchen, such nonsense. Her sister and litter-mate, Helen, was so joyous and playful, I know Fat Bonnie had a nearly identical history. I am reading some of Temple Grandin‘s fine work, and thinking maybe my little fatty has some brain anomalies, but whatever the problem, the treatment is the same: minor adjustments, one at a time, to her daily routine until she responds positively to something.

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If he performs outdoors, that is one big help! Thank you, Dobby!

Dobby continues to be a big help around here. He eats grass from my bucket, apples from the raked up pile, bamboo that sticks through the protective fencing. He marks my tool handles, my jackets, and surprisingly, he now marks Kitty Hawk the tomcat!

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Grover (Cleveland) and Kitty Hawk

He’s back up to 116# but that’s still below his pre-veterinary visit weight of 117.5#, and well below his previous 125#. He has gained weight during apple season before, so we’ll see. His big secret is that he’s writing his memoirs, but I’ve seen it and if he wants my help publishing it, he’d better tone it down a bit.

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Dobby taste-tests the bird seed. Is it okay for the hens to eat?

I can tell you that a capybara that falls off his bed- it’s a pillow on the floor!- during a nap doesn’t have a lot of wiggle room in the dignity department.

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Seriously, he fell off this bed.

In other Dobby News, he has a couple new-from-Florida wind chimes, and a beach ball that he despises!

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“My mom and dad went to Florida and all I got was this cheesy beach ball.”

The wild animals around here are out of control. A mother raccoon and three babies peered in at me while I was feeding the chickens- during the day. I had to pick the bumper crop of grapes, too tart to eat, but rats in the arbor are not as adorable as they sound. These aren’t my cute Wistar rats, no they are the other mangy kind, and they don’t look so hot this year. 

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There are rats up in the apple tree, too. [No rats in this photo, use your imagination.] Go ahead, walk right under this arbor. Don’t cheat and look up!

And Dobby had 28 visiting mallards yesterday, prompting a brisk recall of the cracked corn appetizer I put out for Happy Hour.

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Only a few Mallards here, but my little flock is still too timid to chase them away from the treat bowl. Imagine this scene with 16 in the pool, the remainder distributed in the yard. Too many freeloaders!

Enough is enough.

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Mrs. Mallard is the only one brave enough to swim with Dobby. She’s been hanging out here (pre-pool) longer than Dobby has, 8-9 years.

At least the hummingbirds are satisfied: my garden blooms for them all summer and I can ignore the feeders for a while.

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Ping the duck! She has angel-wing and is tiny, but she’s very spunky.

I was contacted by a Facebook friend of many years, and we made a very satisfactory duck exchange. Her little Ping is small, white, and has angel wing, and probably wouldn’t thrive in the natural environment available to her there. My thuggish Muscovy drake, Romeo, has not mended his ways, and my little hens have been living in fear. Norman the goose isn’t too fond of him either.

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Dobby checks out the new duck. Ping is that little white blob beyond him, keeping her distance.

Romeo’s hen-directed activities are inappropriate, but he is friendly to people and ducks, and he is a big drake, able to take care of himself. So we traded, and while we are still watching to see how it goes, I think we both came out ahead. Just yesterday I noticed how quiet it is around here. Romeo himself was quiet, but he had a way of stirring things up, and it is nice not to hear Norman honking at 2am!

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Dobby says it’s time to return to the back yard, asking to go through the front door this time. He’s right, it’s closer, but oy vey, the cleanup as he trashes his way through the living room! Never again!

UPDATE: I stand corrected. After talking to Carl Sagan’s owner (Carl is a foster guinea pig), I am stunned to report that Carl will be 10 years old in October. He’s doing great, and I honestly think he’s going for 11!

Daily Drama 54

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Daily Drama 54

I just returned from the 2016 Blogpaws conference . . . wait, almost a couple weeks ago! So where are the blogs? I’m writing about two fantastic capybara folks, really I am, with lots of photos! 

The blogs will be posted before my next trip, but the dramas have slowed me down.

This will be a little dramatic update, then, and maybe the roller coaster that is this week will take a break.

Today, my precious little budgie, Tank, gave up on me. He’s one of the two I adopted from Petco’s back room, and we never expected him to survive more than a couple days. That’s why he came to my sanctuary instead of going to a home. Two months later, his little bitey Spitfire is alone, and she pines. She knew Tank was unwell, we all did, but he was well loved.

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Spitfire and Tank, their first day at home.

This morning I faced the fact that my pet sitter still had not responded to my request for service. I frantically started the search for a new petsitter, filling out their woefully inadequate forms, leaving so many boxes unchecked, no dogs, yes but my cats are not the issue, the “other” category only goes up to “4” but who expects fifty pets? That’s crazy, right? Fortunately, my sitter contacted me a couple hours into the task. Prompted by my voicemail message, he had checked his email spam folder and found my requests. EVERYBODY, CHECK YOUR SPAM FOLDERS! You might have a Nigerian uncle who bequeathed you a million dollars!

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Frederick of Hollywood, 2014

I have been recording Guinea pig weights, just as if they are little capybaras. Frederick of Hollywood has been in a slow steady decline for the past year but I was surprised when his breathing became labored. Off to the vet he went, and now he is being treated for a touch of pneumonia.

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Frederick of Hollywood, 2015

Once we get him stabilized, we’ll see if he responds to treatment for his advanced arthritis, and what the heck is going on with his spleen? The overall conclusion is that he is much older than 5-1/2 year old Stevie Ray who he came in with. Fred loves his banana flavored medicine and his Apple Banana Critical Care. I’m also giving him some baby squash in hopes of putting some weight back on him. After loading those hand feeding syringes with critical care, I’m really excited about baby food! It’s a piece of cake!

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Fat Fred, 2013

It looks like the ratties will be here a while, so it’s time to build a larger habitat for them. I have never been quite so excited about a rat cage! Its a flight cage I picked up on Freecycle over a year ago and it has weathered to a lovely patina out in the barn storage area. It is large enough to hold some birdhouse climbing platforms, a pair of Levi’s, an IKEA bedroom suite, and two cute little white rats! There is a drawer underneath to collect debris, and I have a fistful of coupons from BlogPaws for fancy Ökocat kitty litter that should be perfect. Now we have a race to see what is complete first: the cage or this blog post. If you see before and after photos, the cage won.

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Prince Dobalob: the curmudgeon persona

Dobby has had a lot of visitors lately. It’s kind of seasonal, the interest in pet capybaras. He sets aside his curmudgeonly Dobbs persona and becomes Prince Dobalob, the charming and entertaining donkey/pig. It’s fun to see the reaction to their Facebook posts as his visitors spread the word that while there are ROUS’s, there is no fire swamp. I guess I need to talk to The Bartender about that.

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Dobby has friends in high places.

Also in the Fame and Fortune category, Dobby’s mugshot was selected by Don Moyer for his next puzzle! Selectees receive a copy of the proposed puzzle, a current puzzle, and a Surprise! Dobby just received his surprise, and it is a framed thank you card, signed by Don! Most amazingly, the card features Dobby, right smack dab in the middle of the card! It is truly magnificent!

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No, in fact, I am NOT going to mow.

Did you know that Stacy’s Funny Farm is a Certified Wildlife Habitat? The neighbors think the sign just excuses me from traditional gardening tasks, but in fact my garden meets all four of the required criteria. The sapsucker nest is next door, but the top of their rotten tree fell into my yard. Does that count? I have a pair of hummingbirds buzzing me as I write this, and fledgling bushtits were fed by their parents on the tree branch above my head.

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Better the cat food than the cats. The raccoons around here are fierce.

I’m on day four of trying to outsmart a raccoon who discovered where I (used to) store the bag of dry cat food. The nightly possum hasn’t checked out the recyclables lately, but it’s possible he checks up on the raccoon handywork for leftovers. I doubt he’s dextrous enough to get past bungee cords on his own.

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Mr. Oliver Possum (This is right outside the kitchen door.)

Dobby’s mallard ducks are currently absent, no doubt in their eclipse molt. They’ll return in a couple of weeks. Dobby’s B&B is currently hosting a Bewick’s Wren with nestlings! I can’t really see them in the nest, but she is a very busy birdmom and they cry for her when she flies off to gather food. The crow and squirrel population have increased already and summer has just begun!

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She built the nest way up, so you can’t see in. They were only eggs when I took this photo. (Yes, that’s Dobby’s bed back there.)

Did I say summer? As in the Olympics?

THIS is summer! (Not for Dobby!)

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Daily Drama 53

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Daily Drama 53

Last month’s root canal is almost complete, it only needs to have a proper filling installed in the middle of my pretty gold onlay. It turned out my roots are tiny, curved with cute little bends at the ends, and one root had two canals (Surprise!) so two sessions of grueling endodontal procedures. A reclining position accentuates the viscous post-nasal drip that I usually ignore, but that pretends it can ooze down to clog my windpipe. With my mouth propped open to effectively prohibit gasping for breath through my mouth, panic increases in tiny increments. I retreat into an infantile version of myself. Like a baby strollered through The Fire Swamp, I trust I will survive. For two of the three appointments I have forgotten to bring my cell phone, leaving home in a hasty fury like a swarm of bees. Fortunately I have loaded my antique iPod with my favorite tunes, next time I’ll leave out the dance numbers. The music has spared me most of the technical discussion “a number 4 please” and if I close my eyes I don’t see the array of tiny drills, miniature brushes and vacuums, the wicked thingies that make everything hot or stinky. Now my jaw is sore, my hands are cramping from holding onto the chair for dear life, and I think my forehead muscles are sprained from frowning and wincing. Sorry, no photos.

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A consolation photo of me playing Scrabble while Dobby grazes.

A fanfare for the next topic!

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The chandelier installs itself! (Thank you, Connor.)

Six years ago, during major and sudden ceiling repairs, I took out the funky useless fan and made a space for a chandelier. I couldn’t find one I liked, except for one made in England that doesn’t do shipping. So I made my own. My handy-neighbor hung it and my life is now complete!

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Check out the reflections! Most of the glass was my grandmother’s, silver spoons were my mother’s, miscellaneous kitchen tools and worthless items are mine, of course.

I managed to convince The Bartender, one more time, to help clean Dobby’s Swimming pool. It’s a couple days of draining, a fish rescue, a couple days of scrubbing, an overnight to refill.

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Banished, for the time being

Oh, and two months of looking for the pump drain plug.

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It was still in the pocket of my winter jacket.

The weather has been reminiscent of my early California summers, but I suspect that is the reason for the devastating loss of fish this time.

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The reflection makes it hard to figure out what you’re seeing, but along the top arc you can almost see my beautiful goldfish. RIP my pretty ones . . .

A half dozen rescues under my belt and I have lost only one fish before, the overlooked victim of a bailing accident. This time I ended up with a stack of magnificent corpses, like carnival sardines or a horrific serving of sushi. You can’t tell me they are only 29 cent goldfish, I am heartbroken. Two lovely beauties remain, joined by several very vulnerable tiny newcomers who just better learn to swim deep, beyond the Mallards who immediately moved back in.

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Three hoses to siphon out, three reversed to refill

The water is so clean I can see duck poop on the bottom, maybe it was better when the water was opaque. At least they look healthy. My broken pipe repair is holding, but I fear for it and expect the pool to suddenly empty overnight when it is most inconvenient to re-think my methods. The too-expensive-to-replace-filter has been hosed down, per specifications, but the pores are so clogged with teensy bio-debris that circulation is minimal. A very lazy 3/4HP pump. And so the water is already fuzzy.

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Dobby went swimming as soon as I took down the barricade!

A month ago, I took in a pair of young budgies from the Petco “back room.” Like Spike, they had been treated by the veterinarian, were ready to go home, but could not go back out to the main floor for sale. The staff was thankful to have them come here because even after treatment, they are probably weak birds and the store is reluctant to sell them as certifiably healthy pets. Spitfire seems to have completely recovered from her ear infection and is all girl, a biter and a fighter. Poor Tank is still pouffy a month later. I have re-treated him through two more courses of antibiotics, tried a couple herbal remedies, probiotics, minerals and amino acids, special foods, and dandelion greens, fresh-picked twice a day. I got out my old copy of Stroud’s Digest on the Diseases of Birds and marveled at his diligence. I understand why the vet treated him and released him. Even though he has looked pretty rough a few times, I am amazed every morning I find him still alive. He lost a lot of weight, but has now started to eat everything in sight, so we shall see. A hungry bird is usually a bird on the mend. Tank’s a sweet bird so I hope he and Spitty will soon leave the infirmary and join the feisty flock in the kitchen.

My recycling bin is right outside Dobby’s kitchen door. Lately, when I toss out the empties, I have to be careful not to bonk the Possum that hangs out in there. He and his buddy come around to annihilate Dobby’s leftover corn cobs. They shred those cobs and leave little piles of cob sawdust. What in the world are they eating? The squirrels efficiently extract every kernel, then the hens perform a quality control check, and when the flock is put to bed, the resident mallards check over the cobs one final time. There can’t be any food left in them.

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Mr. P.

 The duckling story is increasingly complex, and probably incomplete. I will wait to see if the story has an ending and then I will write it up separately. It’s kind of like the Funny Farm version of the Memphis duck parade through the lobby of the Peabody Hotel.

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In this photo, the ducklings are in the pond next door, sitting on a log in the center of the picture.

Dobby has been a good boy lately, and I must face the fact that his kitchen protest statements are weather related. A rainforest animal who doesn’t like rain. Terrific. He is a funny guy, though. We played the Poop Game today, a game he always wins. I clean his pen, flush his Good Boy down his handy outdoor toilet. Returning to put away the scoop tools, I see him proudly indicating a fresh pile. He’s pouffy, nose nearly touching his product. I scoop it, flush it, and return. Pouffy again, there is a second pile, nearly as magnificent as the first! He’s pouffy and this time, he’s wiggling his ears. I praise him (it’s outdoors, at least) scoop and flush. Returning for the third time, he’s pouffy AGAIN! The last one is smallest, like an oversized Hershey kiss, listing to the west like it had too much sun. The “kiss,” I know, is the last, and so it was. Such a fun game, and I want you to know he made it up by himself. I HAD NO PART IN IT. Sheesh. What a guy. Sorry, no photos.

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Consolation duckling photo: Ms. Mallard and 5 little ones, a couple steps from my front door.