Category Archives: Daily Drama

never a dull moment

Daily Drama 66 – The Chicken in the Bathtub

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Daily Drama 66 – The Chicken in the Bathtub

Little Free Library Charter 38388

The good news is that the wasps have vacated the Little Free Library! I had a big warning sign up and thought no one had come near it for a few weeks. When I took down the BEWARE OF WASPS sign, I noticed that someone had stuffed my library full of great books! As you can see, it is much larger than most Little Free Libraries, and the donator failed to organize them properly: non-fiction on the lower shelf, Children’s books middle shelf right, hardback fiction at the top. By the time I had them all sorted out, I realized there are at least 50% more books in there than what I seeded it with! It isn’t fancy (It’s a discarded china cupboard I found on the corner with a “free” sign on it.) but it is a success!

So here’s the part about the chicken. Conchita is one of three hens dumped at a local feed store back in 2012. Adelita and Conchita survived whatever took Bonita out, and rule the coop over the four other hens who put up with them. Conchita developed a bad habit of hopping over the 4 foot tall chainlink fence that keeps the bully drakes separated from the little white call duck hussy, Ping, and her dimwitted beau, Boxcar. I found Conchita whimpering at the base of the fence with a broken leg and now she lives in my bathtub. What a klutz!

Chicken in a cast.

Conchita and I went to the vet where they confirmed my diagnosis, pinned her broken leg, put on a cast, prescribed antibiotics and pain meds, and sent us home. She went straight into the bathtub, leaving me to contemplate the surprise vet bill.

Chicken in a bathtub

A week later we returned for an x-ray to evaluate her progress. Her leg was healing up dandy, she had finished her course of antibiotics, and only needed pain meds once a day. She was lonely for her friends, and I knew she would eat more heartily with the flock around her, so I took her out to the infirmary in the aviary. We were still having nice summer weather and there is a heated pad out there so it would be an easy transition from indoors. The following vet visit, they removed her cast. Of course, she couldn’t walk yet, but she was much more comfortable. And she was within conversational distance of her friends.

Chicken in the infirmary

The next vet visit was a surprise. It was another surgery to remove the pin. With a fresh wound where the pin came out, she was prescribed another round of antibiotics and pain meds. In addition, I was given a bottle of antiseptic wash to cleanse the wound. I read the post-surgery instructions while they were settling the bill. Anesthesia, lethargy, vomiting, loss of appetite, blah blah blah. Medications 1, 2, and 3 blah blah blah, clean wound daily for 10 days.  At the very bottom of the page-> Other Special Instructions: Recheck in one week   Keep Conchita inside to keep wound clean

INSIDE! Really? I was crushed. She had been so unhappy indoors. The Bartender is a good sport, but this is our master bathroom. Okay then. When I considered the daily cleansing, the twice a day meds, how well she was healing . . . it wasn’t a good idea to chuck her back outdoors, even though she would miss her flock while she was back in the bathtub.

Conchita knows it’s med time: that’s as far away from me as she can get.

A bit more serious about her indoor accommodations, I hauled out a stack of old cage blankets so I could freshen up her pen at a moment’s notice. I had noticed that she liked to sleep on her picked-over corn cobs, so I moved in a couple of sausage-shaped toys for pseudo ground perches. Set her up with a Ring For Service bell. Made the all-day trek to IKEA and bought her an abacus (which she loves) and a baby bug mobile (which she ignores). The rest of the crew made out like bandits: Dobby got new rugs to sully and a toy box to knock around. Fat Bonnie the rabbit got stacking cups to knock over and a basket of plushie vegetables to toss. The Guinea pigs got new floor blankets and a plushie pig to abuse. Even the rats got new sleeping bags.

Conchita began to stand on one leg, using the broken one as a crutch for balance. Ever the optimist, she learned to whimper every time we approached the bathtub: “Let me out of here! Please? Anyone?” The twice daily med routine was a groaner for both of us. The cleansing was a quick efficient affair once I cleared a path to the lost laundry tub in the far corner of the cluttered workshop better known as The Dungeon.

Another vet visit, another surprise: out of the wound they pulled an exceptionally clean and solid plug of pus the size of a checker. Then they stapled her, closing the pin hole for good. Whew! All finished! But wait, another round of antibiotics and pain meds. And of course, there would be one more vet visit to remove the shiny new metal staples.

She was very proud of herself for getting up there, but she was happy to get helped down in the morning.

She really started walking around after that visit. Climbing the short flight of stairs to the master bedroom, we began to see a Conchita head pop up as she greeted us. “I gotta get outta here! Please?” I decided to put up a little fence around the tub. It wouldn’t keep her in if she got active, but I hoped it would discourage any escape plans. The very next night at bedtime, we discovered her up on this perch! What do you think? Tall enough fence? Maybe not.

“Dang, that’s a tall fence!”

Poor Conchita, the next day I switched out her little fence for this big ex-pen. She hasn’t been up on the perch since. To tell you the truth, I absolutely cringe at the thought of her jumping up and down from anywhere. She did hop up there today when I cleaned her blankets, but she always waits for me to lift her back down. Even that night when she slept up there she didn’t get down until I lifted her gently down in the morning.

Chicken peek-a-boo

So this is what we see every time we climb the stars to the bedroom. “Please! I’m begging you, let me outta here!” She has a vet appointment tomorrow afternoon (those staples), and even though they might say it’s okay to put her back outside, I’m not sure I’m ready to do it. We’re going to miss having her inside. It’s kind of fun having a chicken in the bathtub.

Stevie Ray, still handsome

Little old Stevie Ray will be my next challenge. He used to be big and fat, but in April, the vet discovered an abdominal mass, undoubtedly the cause of his weight loss. At his age, surgery isn’t an option. She said he probably had another three months, and we discussed what that would mean for his buddy, Squirrel.

Stevie Ray still tussles with Squirrel for his salad.

At seven years old, Stevie Ray can look a bit rough, but he cleans up nicely after a warm bath, shampoo, and blow dry. It has been five months now since he saw the vet, and he even gained a little weight over the summer. Now, he’s starting to have some old-age problems, and he’s losing weight again, but his appetite is great and he doesn’t seem to be uncomfortable.

Cookie and Brutus have finally learned to share.

Brutus and the Cookie Monster are young girls that came my way shortly after Stevie Ray’s depressing diagnosis. They graciously donated the ex-pen you see here to the chicken. In return, they have Conchita’s lower grid fence. They managed to escape the ex-pen once, so I’m anxiously awaiting their escape from the short, lightweight fence. If they work together, I’m sure they could shove it around. Maybe they’ll push it near enough that blue Thomas the Tank Engine step (with the IKEA pig on it) so that they can make a flying leap escape. I’ll let you know.

Spitfire is so subtle.

Meanwhile, I have this great new blog helper. Spitfire the budgie is very inspirational if you like mirrors, paper clips, pieces of string, and seeds all over your keyboard. Oops! She just flew across the room. That’s how I know I’m at the end of a blog! Bye!

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Daily Drama 65 – The Duckling in the Bathtub

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Daily Drama 65 – The Duckling in the Bathtub

We’re hurtling through the summer at breakneck speed.

With the Funny Farm a tad over capacity I’m grateful to have two summer volunteers.

Before we get to the duckling, Let’s see how Cookie Monster and Brutus are doing!

Cookie Monster: every foot is a different color. Brown, white, black and the fourth one is a hodge-podge.

Remember, they took over the “Floor Suite” of the Dude Ranch in June. Brutus is about 18 months old, and big enough to be “fixed” but little Cookie Monster is still growing. The big plan is for them to eventually live with the dudes, Squirrel and Stevie Ray. We’re more likely to have a successful introduction if the girls are spayed. Stevie Ray and Squirrel were taken care of years ago, but that doesn’t guarantee against rivalry, especially with two girls as attractive as this!

Interior decorators at work.

The boys are unconcerned, but they can’t see into the girl’s area where they are working on some very distinctive decorating schemes. I have had excellent luck with introducing new boars, but this is a different can of worms.

Stevie Ray and Squirrel massacre some wheatgrass. Six year old Stevie Ray has gained 1/4 pound since his abdominal mass was discovered in April. He’s more frisky and is doing great! You just never know, do you?

There is an orphan duckling in my bathtub. Her mother and siblings perished in a hit-and-run accident on the highway. Turkey was being raised with some, well, actual turkeys, and was doing great but came here where she could be with ducks until she is ready to be released. There have been guinea pigs and ducks in this bathtub, maybe a turtle, and even a baby capybara! It doesn’t get much human use.

Miss Turkey takes over Dobby’s old stomping grounds.

I think Turkey’s bill is too narrow and upturned and her legs too long to be a Mallard, but the older she gets, the more mallardy she becomes.

Turkey is sitting on a heated pad in this photo. It is positioned so that she can be on or off while she is near her mirror.

She is very well-behaved. Quiet and dignified, there’s none of that annoying non-stop peep-peep-peep-peep-peep nonsense.

In this photo, she is sitting beside- not on- the heated pad.

She loves her mirror and has lengthy conversations with it. She joins the afternoon garden party in a secure cage and adores the ducks and geese. My wild resident female mallard has been by once and was very interested in Turkey, but she hasn’t returned. She lost two broods of ducklings this spring. It was a horrific year for prey animals locally.

She may or may not be a Mallard, but she’s 100% duck. Duckweed is tiny floating pond plants that wild ducklings eat.

Turkey has her own swimming pool in the shower stall where she can splash and eat the duckweed I collect in the pond next door.

Dobby loves his stinky front yard mud puddle. It has dried up some summers, but this year it has stayed perfectly wet and mucky.

There’s no duckweed in my own pond. the pond scum is thick and brown. Oh, oops, that’s Dobby!

The Ding Dong can’t reach the ding dong.

Dobby still fantasizes about the living room and spends part of every afternoon standing at the front door. I’m glad he doesn’t know about the doorbell.

A great big bucket of grass is a great big distraction.

He wastes so much time at that door that I have to gather his grass in a bucket. His gait is still wobbly and that makes him timid and wary in the front yard. The bucket of grass actually helps him stand still for the k-laser therapy he receives for his broken back. The therapy has helped a lot, but he isn’t 100% cured, and we’re not sure how much more muscle control he’ll regain. Maybe his new therapy pool will help.

One entire refrigerator for Dobby-food.

Meanwhile, his refrigerator empties and refills like clockwork: corn, romaine lettuce, potatoes in the drawers, apples and pears in the door.

The car finally got washed between trips to the grocer and feed stores. Sitting in there, pulled along as soap and brushes removed a year of grime, it occurred to me that getting my car washed was the most luxurious event I could recall enjoying during the past six months. I need a break.

Shadow Rat

In spite of the piggies, the duckling, and volunteer help, Dobby’s injury overshadows everything. I don’t plan trips to Paris or Shanghai, there will be no house-boating craziness for a while. Dobby’s functioning well and seems generally content, but I can’t bring myself to leave him with anyone but The Bartender for now. I hope that will change.

Dobby’s book has been making fantastic progress, in spite of him! Sonya and I are well into the final edits and our plan to have books available later this month is on target! I will send out postcards announcing its release, so gimme your address if you want one!

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 63 – Visitors large and small

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Daily Drama 63 – Visitors large and small

I was planning to write a blog post until the budgie on my desk claimed the mouse. She sauntered over to it and bit the heck out of my finger. Sigh. Not all of my minions are enthralled with me.

Visiting season has arrived and Dobby is in big demand these days. He and Sonya are writing a book, and she stopped by to kick his butt encourage him. His book is still on track for a summer release.

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Sonya Reasor and Prince Dobalob

Jeff Vandermeer galloped through the neighborhood signing books. He and his wife Ann took a small break from their book tour to say hello to Dobby.

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Jeff Vandermeer and Dobby (Dobby looks like a bear, doesn’t he?)

Finally, Ginger and Daryl Shekell dropped by on their way to join an Alaska cruise. Dobby kissed her pant leg so now she has capybara slobber on those pants for the whole trip. So adorable, that Dobby!

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Ginger Shekell

Dobby has his ups and downs and we keep tweaking his meds. His rear passenger side leg is very weak, though, and we will start laser therapy next week. We have several other options to pursue here in Washington State. He is an herbivore, after all.

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It’s okay, we live in Washington State

The Bully Pen has served us well this season. I move the aggressive drakes in and out of there to give everyone a break. They still fight through the fence, though, and the day before I left for the BlogPaws conference in South Carolina, Tony tried to kill himself. He had his head stuck through the chain link and managed to catch his bill in an adjacent grid, nearly hanging himself. When I discovered him, he had those little x’s on his eyes, just like the cartoons. He recovered swiftly and that afternoon he was good as new.

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Looking smart, Tony!

Out by the front door, Mason bees continue to live in the window frames. This one has been annoying me for several years, flitting in and out in spite of the human sitting right smack dab in front of her. They also made nests in the cheapo plywood siding grooves, above the window and door trim, all across the front of the house. In this photo, you can see her butt sticking out of the tiny hole. Today I noticed that the hole has been resealed. I also have a few kinds of bumblebees and crazy looking mud wasps. The wasps are a bit much, but I look forward to the visiting bees each spring.

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My little Mason Bee

Dobby doesn’t care about the bees. He wants to walk through the house to the back yard. He has never been allowed to go through that way, but he stands at the door and begs almost every time we go to the front yard.

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The front door is Not For Dobby!

Next he nibbles on my plants. He used to eat from that planter on the little table by the front door. I finally gave up and planted edibles for him- that’s lettuce and bok choy. Now he won’t touch it. Go figure.

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Frieda takes a short-cut

I mentioned BlogPaws, didn’t I? It’s an organization for pet bloggers, and this was the 6th conference I attended.

BlogPaws, typical attire

FANCY dogs, not the ordinary kind

There are dogs and cats everywhere, lots of swag (free samples), but never enough “exotic” pets. Snotface the ferret attended again this year, and there was a therapy rat, too. I should have taken Princess Blur, but our group had a guinea pig to feed on the table. that’s always fun.

Bobo!

Bobo is such a gentleman.

Patterned after prayer flags, honor flags commemorate the lives of our absent pets.

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Guinea pig honor flag

Sadly, there were capybaras to add to our flag this year. Chico passed during the conference, putting a damper on the weekend.

Pet Capybaras

ROUS Foundation honor flag

There are fabulous give-aways in addition to the swag. I won a VW bus! Melanie won the whale.

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My new VW Bus!

Here we are!

BlogPaws 2017 Gang of Four

Melanie, Angela, Stacy (me), and Becky!

Daily Drama 62

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Daily Drama 62

I am tempted to proclaim April as Veterinary Care Month. Last year we had the disastrous fractured incisor incident, and I’m not at all certain that Dobby didn’t fracture his vertebrae at the same time. It took me quite a while to recognize his stumbling swagger as a constant, increasingly frequent miss-steps. We have had him on pain meds, calcium supplements, and UV lamps since December (six months) with no perceptible improvement. In fact, his stumbling is even more pronounced, and he walks like his old Farm Manager, with her sciatica. With that information and consulting with three veterinarians, he has been on gabapentin for a week. Yesterday, I upped his dose, and this morning his swagger is more controlled, back legs not buckling so often. He has good days and bad, so it will be a while before we have his dosage adjusted properly.

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I am a professional Landscape Architect. 

Deck repairs are delayed until I am certain we don’t need ramps. Killers during freezing weather, ramps are slick as snot when it rains, too, so they aren’t a great idea in this climate. Meanwhile, an attractive assortment of anti-skid devices still decorate the deck surfaces with the most traffic. They are incredibly effective and I am thinking of submitting this theme to Sunset Magazine for their consideration.

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“I put my foot over the readout because I am embarrassed about my weight.”

I had also lowered Dobby’s bed but the chambermaid has complained that the new surface is extremely uncomfortable on her knees as she crawls in daily to straighten the blankets. Out of deference to her advanced age, I ordered a thin memory foam mattress topper. The bed is still very low, but she is no longer complaining, and Dobby probably likes it, too.

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Dobby and I both have funny hats.

The back yard is a mud hole, but tufts of grass did survive the winter. Now I am looking at Dobby’s huge but useless swimming pool as potential pasture area. Even if he was able to climb up the straw bale steps to dive in, I am not at all certain that he could scramble up the interior steps to exit. Swimming Pool #6, the most expensive pool by far, may be obsolete. I’ve set up another wading pool, larger than his hot tub, which is the puny baby-sized unit. He hasn’t been in the bigger wading pool, and I’m not at all sure he can step up into it. He reaches in and molests the toys that are floating in it, but that’s all. (You can see the blue pool at the far left in the feature photo.)

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Upstairs, downstairs

In other veterinary news, the newer of my two muscovy hens, Beverly, took a beating at the Spring Mating Festival. The vet removed a hardened mass from the site of the damage, and with 6 stitches on her head, she has been unhappily detained up in the infirmary. From there, it’s easier to grab her twice daily in order to toss the penicillin tablets down her throat, and the stitches have had time to heal in a somewhat clean environment. She’s out of there, now, but the drakes are relentless, so she has been spending her days in the back yard with Princess Blur. Without whom, no Daily Drama is complete. Blur still prefers to be carried everywhere. It keeps her foot feathers clean.

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“I’m ready to be carried to the back yard.”

While Princess and Dobby are grazing (Blur’s the only hen with Front Yard privileges), I’ll tell you about Snow White the dove, and the rest. Snowy’s still not flying, so she’s back on antibiotics. Spitfire the Budgie is through with her round. I found Stevie Ray the Guinea pig in distress about six weeks ago, and again late Wednesday night. He was fine the next day, but no younger. At 6-1/2 years, every veterinary visit is approached with caution. At the risk of the inevitable “Yes, he’s old!” diagnosis I took him in for an exam. We’re treating him for invisible mites, just in case, and his buddy Squirrel also gets treated. However, Stevie Ray has some sort of abdominal mass, a tumor, and that explains the weight loss and general malaise, so it’s a good time to pamper him. I had sequestered him at one end of their cage, and now that I have partially opened it again, both pigs have moved into his tiny apartment and are enjoying the new setup. Seriously, they are both holed up in that little area every time I peek in at them. Maybe I should decorate it with palm trees and gold draperies.

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Harness malfunction: that strap is supposed to be between his legs, under his chest.

Dobby has trouble on stairs, so to discourage him, I have been setting out buckets at the bottom tread. That means that when I forget to place the buckets, he interprets that as a signal to immediately go up. Oy vey. It’s painful to watch him come down, but he’s very slow and deliberate. In spite of that, his left heel has a little booboo from hitting the riser on the way down. He tends to scuff the top of his back feet, on the knuckles, on the way up.

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“I would like to return to the back yard through the living room, please.”

The wild mallard ducklings are having a tough time this year. I see ten, then two, then one, then a lone mama, all in the space of a couple days. I have watched two hens have their broods decimated like that. Last year there were dozens, including the half dozen who sat outside this very door with their mama until I finally let them walk through the house to the back yard. Who needs to travel to Memphis to see the Peabody Hotel parade?

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Grover, on the left; some headless zombie cat on the right, maybe Kitty Hawk

The cats are still miffed that the newest hens prefer their favorite spot at night, instead of roosting like authentic chickens. I optimistically set up a similar space for the hens, but the cats moved in. Whatever. They are barely earning their keep. I had one rat tunnel under the fence until it found a rusty hole in the security flooring in the dove cage. I noticed the activity in time and wired on a hardware cloth patch. I now have a greater appreciation for vets who have to suture up a live being from the outside. It’s not as easy as sewing, where you can generally approach from both sides. Then there was the cute baby rat, a fancy black variety our neighborhood is famous for, found asleep on Dobby’s little Harry Potter bed (it’s under the stairs). Oops, not asleep, but not quite dead. I left Little Black Rat in a bucket overnight, under a bench, to expire in peace, but mostly so it wouldn’t crawl under the deck to become a week-long stink-bomb. He was quite dead in his bucket morgue this morning, but disappeared while I did a few more chores. That means a crow managed to spot Little Black Rat Corpse, get it out, and it’s half eaten “up there” somewhere, waiting to drop down onto something . . . or someone.

That’s better than stepping on a full-grown one, though. Years ago, I stepped onto a LIVE rat, at the bottom of the stairs, right next to Dobby’s Harry Potter bed. It was a big one, running by at dusk, and his timing was not good. I stepped right onto him, and, as you yourself would probably do, I shrieked and jumped back. Unfortunately, I didn’t step on him very hard, so he jogged, and when I returned to earth, I landed right on top of him again, this time with gusto. I knew from the sound and sensation beneath my boot that he was a goner. I went directly indoors, not looking back. I don’t remember if I threw out the boots, but I sure don’t recall cleaning them. I’m pretty fearless, but I asked The Bartender to wait a couple hours “to be sure” and then remove it. Please. He’s such a good sport.

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What the squished rat probably looked like: Fat Bonnie

Fat Bonnie still takes over Dobby’s area each evening. She isn’t usually this relaxed, but maybe after three years, she is finally feeling secure indoors. She is the most timid rabbit I’ve ever had. Timid or maybe just dumb. She is capable of a couple tricks, though, and turns a circle for a dried blueberry. She stands up for a rabbit cookie, too. She almost allows me to pet her. At least she’s relatively well behaved, though I prefer a dynamic but naughty pet to a shy one that snubs me. And that’s generally what we have here at the Funny Farm. Bad animals.

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Hoping for a summer 2017 launch!

When I’m not sewing up holes in Dobby’s blankets at midnight, I have been writing. Sonya and I have been producing all sorts of goodies that might indicate that we are nearing the finish line. It won’t be long, now!