Mister Charlie had the blahs last week. He’s usually a little devil, a scheming opportunist, always angling for another saltine, or perhaps a clandestine foray into the aviary to evaluate the chicken food supply. He had his checkup only a couple weeks ago, but I called the vet. They couldn’t send anyone out that day but I signed up for a next-day appointment and spent the day staring at him for clues. Read the rest of this entry
Category Archives: Volunteers
Daily Drama 96 – Once in a Lifetime
About one hundred and twenty years ago, I had some pets. Little rodents, mostly, eventually some birds. People brought me their sick pets, their inconvenient pets, pets in need of babysitting, and wild things one-step-above roadkill. I was an animal magnet. How did I become a non-profit? Read the rest of this entry
Daily Drama 87 – It’s All the Same Day, Man
Nothing changes much around here, including the fundraising, to my surprise. Give Big 2020 was as successful this year as it was last year! It’s especially gratifying to have so many repeat donors. Once again, we had a number of totally anonymous donors, so if you mystery guys are reading this, thanks! Or maybe it should be thanks again! Read the rest of this entry
Daily Drama 83 – Deconstructing the Pond
The ducks need a new pond. It was so bright and shiny when it was new that Dobby refused to swim in it. He was thoroughly disgusted by it.
Because Dobby was a Prince, he received a very fancy new swimming pool. My son and a couple friends were invited to help move the old tin can pool into the aviary. Because it was capybara-sized, it didn’t fit through any of the gates. You can read about that adventure here.
But it’s dead, now. The side that was set into the slope totally rusted out. It created a dabbling area that the ducks liked, but the jagged rusty edges were hard to look at.
This time, we decided to think it through. The new improved but slightly smaller duck pond rolled right through the gate. Of course, last time, it wasn’t destined for the aviary. But this time it was, and so look at us, now! So simple.
Now, to drain the old pond. It’s too big to roll out the gate. It’s full of fish and sludge. Our thinking cap was still on. Cut that sucker into smithereens. But drain it first.
I know these fish. Eight of them. Four with IQ’s below 100. Four with IQ’s above 100. I have spent hours trying to net them. This time I will wait until there is hardly any water and make them beg to be netted.
I can usually get the first four fish without too much trouble. It’s trying to net the ones smarter than I am that is the problem. Can you say “Try to hide in that sludge, sucker?”
The last four fish cried uncle and swam into the net. They all went to Dr. Pepper Turtle AirBNB for a week.
Time to bring in my top wrangler, Connor. He’s the one who deftly lifted the tree off the top of my barn and house last summer. You should all be so lucky to have a Connor next door.
I am always surprised when the neighbors don’t look over the fence, or phone, or ask a few days later. “What the hell were you doing over there on Sunday?” After twenty years, they expect this craziness.
Well, actually, Connor is one of those neighbors. He is usually the one over here making a gawdawful racket and having a great time. It was his birthday present to me, getting this old tin can pool outta here. I think he likes doing this stuff.
The Bartender helped, of course. The project was timed to occur prior to his (second) shoulder operation. In case anyone wonders why he needed a shoulder operation. Come to think of it, I have had a shoulder operation, too, but not as serious as his. I guess Connor is next.
Connor and The Bartender cut and yanked and pried that old pool out of there. We were astonished to discover that the bottom of the pool was still in perfect condition, no sign of rust. Shiny and new. We tried to think of a repurposed use for it, but Connor’s trailer was going to the dump the very next day, and I looked around at all the other junk I never found a use for and the pool bottom was cut up, too.
The hens retreated to the far edge of the aviary and cowered. The ducks were even farther back, out of sight. None of them were terrified, they are used to the Funny Farm shenanigans. It’s much worse in winter.
I was so excited about the rooster tail of sparks that most of my photos have a fingertip in the corner of the photo. Some of us are slow learners. I should have had fishes number Seven and Eight take the photos.
Most of the cutting was finished, but there was still some more pulling and more yanking to be done.
Connor tried to leave, but I made him stack up the steps. Some of my elderly ducks have trouble getting in and out of pools. Then I filled the pool.
You might think big bright fish would be easy to net out of a little turtle tank but, no. There are still two in there, clearly smarter than I, and I may never be able to net them, unless I drain the tank. Heh heh heh. But six of them are back into the new duck pond. The six dummies, anyway. A couple days later, the bravest ducks were swimming in the new pool. And six of the the fish are in there, tickling their feet.
Daily Drama 73 – Mystery of the Missing Hen
Dusk is a noisy time in the henhouse. Roosting locations are allocated according to strict rules based upon hierarchy. In spite of that, last minute jostling as the sun sets is accompanied by complaints and disputes. Then there are the spoiled hens, Samantha and Windy, who require the personal touch: I have to lift them up to their respective roosts. Samantha arrived here from a residence where her roost was near to the ground and she can’t quite grasp the concept of “up.” Windy is a heavy breed, and seems to have developed a stiff little waddle rendering her quite incapable of reaching the roost preferred by her sisters. I pick up each hen and plop them up by the others and they generally stay put until morning. Fortunately, they can jump down on their own.
In the aviary I’ve got 9-1/2 hens (little princess is only half-sized and anyway doesn’t consider herself to be poultry), 10 ducks, 2 geese and the 2 cats running around. I don’t do mornings well but I toss food around and check waterers while I make certain nobody looks out of sorts or sulky, and check for holes in the protective wire netting above me. In the afternoon I open the gate for the Garden Party and they stampede for the treat dishes and dust baths. It’s at the end of the day that I perform the “head count” to make sure I didn’t leave someone out when I shut the gate for the night.
Last Saturday night a hen was missing. Windy, where’s Windy? No, not already in the aviary. I went back out the gate, did a sweep of the yard. She’s often the straggler, but not Saturday. The yard is very secure, entirely fenced, some fences are 10′ high because they are above retaining walls. Windy is a heavy breed, a Golden Laced Wyandotte, and anyway, not inclined to jump, let alone fly. I searched the aviary one more time. Sisters Eartha and Frieda were huddled together, as if to illustrate that Windy was missing. I went back out to the yard, looked under every shrub, behind every pot, poked around between fronds, called out The Bartender. We both looked but found no Windy.
In the morning, I fed my flock, minus Windy. I checked the yard again for tell-tale feather explosions or spare parts, but thankfully found nothing resembling pieces of Windy carcass. My volunteer, Dechen, arrived and we went out to the aviary. I told her about the disappeared hen, and in demonstration of how I had looked in every conceivable hiding spot, peered behind a cage into an impossibly tiny gap. Large enough for a dove, but not for a fat hen. And there was a big fat Windy hen silently peering back out at me. We pulled the cage away from the fence and got her out. She was compressed like a four leaf clover in a diary. She bravely hobbled a few steps and teetered over. I picked her back up and checked her over a bit more carefully: I do know what broken chicken legs feel like, thanks to Conchita. Windy had an abraded shin, not even worth messing with, but she was still kind of folded funny. That’s what the infirmary is for, so in she went with food and water and treats. Dechen and I pushed that cage back, jogged it a bit to the side of a post so we could snug it right up to the fence.
Thinking back, I couldn’t recall the last time I had positively seen her. Had she come out to the Garden Party the previous day? Did she come over for her morning treats? The Bartender’s eyes opened wide when I reported finding Windy. He reminded me that on Friday night (FRIDAY! It was now SUNDAY!) the hens had been cackling at bedtime to a ridiculous degree. I had already lifted up Windy and Samantha to bed, but Conchita was hollering from her roost at a volume certain to attract the attention of nearby mothers with small children trying to sleep. I had thrown on mud boots and gone back out there to check, seen nothing (“nothing” as in oblivious to the missing hen . . .) Conchita recruited her sister Adelita into the cacophany and it had taken quite a bit of discussion and admonishment on my part to calm them.
I spent the next couple of days setting up a low roost for Windy and Samantha. They still prefer to hunker on the ground, but as the weather deteriorates, they may decide to hop up 6″ to the fabulous bamboo roost I fashioned for them. Or maybe they’ll continue to squeeze under it to the darker corner.
What a fool I am. After 35 years I should have more respect for the opinions of my flock. I was lucky this time because Windy spent only one day in the infirmary. The following day, I took her out, set her down for a moment, turned my back to grab her water bowl, and she sprinted for the common treat bowls. She’s fine. She has totally fluffed out again, pouffy, if you will. And she has forgiven me.