Tag Archives: Carl Sagan

Daily Drama 57

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Daily Drama 57

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

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Sonya’s sketchbook

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Dobby looks a little shaggy this season.


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

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

Dobby wants everyone to see his feet.

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

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

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

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

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Ping keeps an eye on me.

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

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

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

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

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

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Fat Bonnie snuggles up to a plush piglet.

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

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Daily Drama 56

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Since my last post, I have welcomed two incoming farm residents, heard of a surprising demise, racked up expenses for several veterinary visits, and I am considering renaming Carl Sagan the Guinea pig “Methuselah.” The new washer has astonishing capacity, making Dobby’s daily washing a breeze, and his gigantic blankets drop into it like the Enterprise entering a black hole.

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Squirrel, the nutty Guinea Pig

Squirrel is my new Guinea pig, and working him into the Dude Ranch is exciting. He came from a nearby rescue and had not found a permanent home. Until his well-pet check, he lived quietly in his own cage. He’s a friendly boar, leaning out of the cage, interested in anything coming in through the door. Digging through his vegetable dish, he runs off with the carrots. Eventually he tastes everything and then the dish is empty and he’s back to begging.

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Squirrel, foreground, in his isolation cage. Dude Ranch behind, Carl barely visible in a pigloo.

The veterinarian agreed with my age estimate of 2-3 years, well under the 5 years I was quoted. This means he is still young enough to neuter, and that little surgery took place last week. He’s so over it, raring to go again. Because, you see, this one is a maniac. I don’t know where that quiet one went that I adopted, but I don’t think he’s coming back.

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“You’re going to surgically remove my WHAT?”

Once Squirrel was deemed healthy, I took the next step of partitioning the Dude Ranch in order to introduce him to the herd. Ancient Carl is too fragile to live with anyone new, but eventually, Stevie Ray will appreciate a companion. They can live side-by-side until I am certain they will get along. So I put little Squirrel into his side of the Ranch, and he went wild! He grabbed the partition with his teeth and shook it until all the water sloshed in the bottles and food started to fly from the food bins! Wow! Stevie Ray and Carl both came over to investigate, and I realized how close their tender little ears were to the toothy fury that was their new neighbor! Out Squirrel went, back to his old cage. It was quiet again.

I put a double divider in, a space between them, a demilitarized zone, so to speak. Squirrel went back in, the fury ensued, the cage shook, the boys came to investigate, and Squirrel was airlifted into his old cage. Wow! I continue to maintain that I am smarter than a Guinea pig, smarter than a capybara, even. Because if I’m not, I can’t do this. So I thought about it overnight and the next day I implemented my solution: I lifted the wire cage top off of Squirrel’s cage, plopped it into the dude ranch, thrust him in with his food dish and hay box, and stood back. He calmly walked around his familiar territory and started begging for vegetables.

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Squirrel is in the white cage-within-a-cage at the far end of The Ranch.

The Bartender glanced in as he passed by.

“He’s in jail!”

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I’m still smarter than a Guinea Pig. Squirrel completely calmed down within his familiar enclosure.

Yes, I suppose so. A couple days later I lifted his wire cage jail out of the Ranch, and Squirrel barely noticed.

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“It’s all cool, man.”

I left the demilitarized zone in place, though. Carl is now too fragile for even indirect contact, even though Squirrel has calmed down a bit.

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Stevie Ray and Carl are still safely separated from the maniac, though Squirrel hardly ever rattles the divider any more.

Blur the banty hen came to me as the result of a failed backyard chicken experiment. Her buddy was taken by a raccoon and her owners threw in the towel. She was too noisy: lonely for chicken friends. She is absolutely minuscule, about the size of a pigeon, and I can hardly wait to see her eggs. To tell you the truth, when I saw her I was concerned that my bigger hens might not accept her, or that the cats might take an unhealthy interest in her. I put her in the infirmary with my handicapped hen, Lula, and they have bonded and are nearly inseparable. While Ping (the tiny new duck) was sequestered in the bully pen, they spent their days with her. They shared the safety of the apple tree pen during the afternoon garden parties. Now that Ping has been integrated with the other ducks, Blur and Lula continue their friendship wherever they are. Princess Blur seems to feel she is in charge, and knowing the routine runs over to be picked up when we are changing venues. She can walk, but Lula can’t, so they both have to be carried everywhere.

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Lula (black) and Ping (white), Dobby the capybara, and tiny Blur just behind him, in the apple tree pen.

“Honestly, if ever I was tempted to bring a hen indoors, it would be little Blur.”

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Princess Blur, the banty Mille Fleur hen. She might be 6″ tall.

The Bartender looked a bit panicky when I said that out loud, so I won’t mention it again and we’ll see what happens.

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Ping the duck and Cubicle the goose are friends. Shamrock is just beyond the top swimming pool step, and Carmen Miranda the muscovy is beyond him.

Ping, the little white duck, has settled in with the flock and follows the drakes everywhere. I’m not sure why they haven’t noticed how cute she is. She and my goose, Cubicle, have long amicable conversations, and I think she is getting some good advice. Or maybe she’s hoping to interest Ping in Shamrock, the relentless drake who shamelessly follows Cubicle everywhere, to the annoyance of her mate, Norman.

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Dobby plays hide and seek in the front yard.

Romeo, who went to the most fabulous pond imaginable, had a good month there and then suddenly wasted away before there was time to see the vet and he’s gone. Our ten cent diagnosis is hardware disease, a peril I have lost several Muscovies to. I feel badly that he probably ate some ugly junk here only to die of it at his new home. We will never know, but I guess it’s time to sweep the farm with my magnets again.

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Pouffy Man. We’re working on a new trick. Do you think he can get pouffy on command?

Carl Sagan (Methuselah) has again made it to his birthday month of October. Born in 2006, that makes him – YIKES! -ten years old! Sadly, he looks all of his ten years, and he is fading fast, but his appetite is youthful! He is my last goodnight, and the little pet I check on first thing every morning. In Guinea Pig years, he’s about 100. You are a champ, Carl!

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Stevie Ray and Carl Sagan. Ha ha, can you tell which end is which?

In other news, Dobby’s presidential campaign has stalled somewhat. He is bitterly disappointed that he wasn’t invited to the first debate, but is now complaining that he was unable to prepare due to an unexpected nap computer glitch. Maybe he’ll get off his throne and do some campaigning, maybe not. We’ll see.

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Dobby takes a selfie.

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 47

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Daily Drama 47

Oy vey, December was full of glitches. The month is nearly gone and and in spite of all the schmoozing, or maybe because of it, the blog posts are just not happening.

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Prince Dobalob supervises Norman, the Flock Manager

The Funny Farm has its ups and downs but still provides sanctuary for about 50 animals. A couple are pets, like Dobby, but most are rescues. I don’t think I need any more actual “pets” with so many second-hand pets in need of homes.

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Cubicle is glad that the Prince of Schlock is out of the aviary for a moment.

The story of Leonard the Koi is still unresolved, and I don’t know whether he will ever come here or not. Or when. Once he is settled, the goldfish will come here. I’m not holding my breath, but nothing surprises me any more.

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Carmen Miranda poses, Romeo flashes his crest, and Lula takes refuge under a bench.

Winter can be rough but at least Romeo, the putz, behaves himself. Lula hen has been on Metacam for almost a year now, and is much improved since last winter. The vet isn’t certain what ails her, but the meds are effective for all of the possible diagnoses, and she doesn’t kvetch about it. When I call her, she comes over to get her medicine. We can’t eat her eggs, but she doesn’t lay many any more.

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Kitty Hawk (face in food bowl) and Grover, showing off their tipped left ears.

The tomcats, Kitty Hawk and Grover, are busy and happy. Unfortunately, the vermin they chased from my aviary had the chutzpah to take up residence in the crawl space of my house, and were checking out the basement and attic, too. That is a fun holiday project I would rather not have to deal with.

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Prince Dobalob strikes a pose.

On the bright side, Dobby has new hens! They arrived at dusk so they went straight into my infirmary. He got pouffy every time he saw them for the first few days.

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Behind the fence: Conchita, Adelita, and Bianca. This side of the fence: Jello.

The bully pen is available this time of year, so the hens spent their first few days in there. Jello the hen was not nearly as impressed as Dobby.

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A little bit pouffy about the new hens.

Seriously, The Prince was very excited about his new hens. They haven’t really noticed him yet, though he’s hard to miss. They will soon discover that he is a klutz and will become more wary.

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Bianca likes to sleep UNDER Adelita and Conchita!

One evening I discovered they had decided to perch on the fence, in the rain, within stranglehold distance of the overhead screening. Raccoon bait.

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Dobby loves his hens.

Back to the infirmary for the night. I didn’t get the door quite shut and found them wandering around the barn in the morning, sticking their schnozzes into everything.

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Trio of trouble.

Nobody was paying any attention to them so I decided to leave them out with the general population.

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Fearless Bianca

Bianca is a banty Americauna and lays these crazy blue eggs. She was very quick to discover the laying boxes and kick-cleaned them out for future use.

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The eggs are a pale robin’s egg blue.

The next night I shlepped the hens into the infirmary to roost before they could do anything foolish. Dobby was fascinated by the roundup and helped me out by laying right smack dab in the most inconvenient location possible.

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The Dobster is serious about his hens.

The following day, Bianca cleaned the shmutz out of a box for Conchita. Cleaning up is her shtick.

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Conchita

Conchita and Adelita are Welsummers and lay chocolate-brown eggs.

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Milk chocolate, not dark chocolate

I finally figured out that Adelita has been laying her eggs way over there → away from the boxes in a hard-to-reach spot but I’m onto her now.

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Jockeying for pole position on the favored roost

Suddenly the next night, the three new hens decide to roost up with Jello the hen. There are several configurations possible, though Jello (aka J.Lo) prefers that they roost way over there ←. It seems to change every night but they aren’t out on the fence in the rain any more.

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Kick it out, Bianca!

When I took my volunteer out to show her the new hens, we discovered one of the doves at the bottom of the cage. She is a weak bird, Pirate’s mother in fact, and spends a lot of time on the ground, but seeing her there, I realized I had not seen her up on a branch for a couple days. I tucked her into my jacket, and as we finished up outdoors, I went through my spiel on why new birds are put into quarantine.

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A couple of doves

Sure enough, once I brought her in and looked at her with my glasses on, she went straight to the dusting bin. One week later, she is looking pretty clean. She is still not recovered enough to kibbitz with her daughter, though.

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Ms. Snow White

Snowy dove shares upper space in the guinea pig room, while another transient shares floor space.

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Handsome Carl, Fred in the box, and Stevie Ray playing turkey in the straw.

Honey the bunny is staying with us while her owner is in transition.

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Honey, uncharacteristically at rest

Unlike my own Bonnie bunny who is afraid of her own shadow, Honey excitedly examined every inch of her space, tasting, digging, and testing the traction of the carpet. I followed her around, securing barricades, tucking away wires, and strategically locating new toys.

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Honey poses between her litter/hay box and her night cage.

Honey is friendly and trusting. She has very tidy habits, and quite a healthy appetite! Maybe that’s because she was once a feral stray.

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“Excuse me!”

From the first day she would run straight up to me, begging for treats, and she still runs around my feet when I am in her space. Now that the novelty of her situation has passed, she is just as likely to flop over and stare away from me in the standard rabbit mode of disapproval.

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The flop

Will Honey bunny ever meet Bonnie bunny? Bonnie has a history of aggression toward other female rabbits, so I just don’t know yet. Honey is only here for a short while, but you never know, do you?

Daily Drama 45 | Carl Sagan, Birthday Boy

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Daily Drama 45 | Carl Sagan, Birthday Boy

Hey Carl! Come over here! Let’s do an 8th Birthday photo shoot! We don’t know the exact day, but you were born around Halloween.

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“Corn is an extra special treat. Surely you don’t need me NOW?”

Okay, we can wait a couple minutes. I’ll get the camera set up.

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“I got dressed up in my favorite t-shirt!”

Very cute, but I had something fancier in mind. I do appreciate that you picked out a nice orange t-shirt to match the pumpkins.

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“Orange is my favorite color.”

Ha ha, nice. But everyone has already seen that costume. Don’t you have something else?

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“I’m getting seasick. Urp.”

Ah, yes. The hat I brought you from Venice. You make a very cute gondolier!

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“Oy vey! Oops, I mean, OLA!”

And here’s the sombrero I brought you from Zihuatanejo, Mexico! That is a great color on you, Carl.

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“Yes, I’ll have another pina colada, thanks for asking!”

Where did you find that lei from Hawaii? I don’t think that belongs to you. You’re right, though. It’s way too small for Dobby.

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“I do like these cowboy hats. After all, I live in a Dude Ranch.”

Now we’re talking! Sheriff Carl Sagan and his horse. Wait a minute, is that Capycoppy?

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“Now we’re just getting silly. Can I get back to my corn?”

Taking your dog for a walk down to the mailbox? Looks like you dodged the rain.

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“From bad to worse. I’m in a police lineup here. Aren’t we finished yet?”

The best costume of all is actually being a cute guinea pig, isn’t it Carl? Those friends of yours certainly have better manners than Stevie Ray and Fred!

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“I am NOT hanging around for a mugshot. I’m outta here!”

That’s right, Carl. You are INNOCENT! Happy Birthday!


[Carl absolutely LOVED the attention, but not all guinea pigs tolerate costumes. I also had an experienced volunteer on hand for the wrangling. Use good judgment if you decide to dress up your pet. Make sure it is fun for everyone involved.]