Facebook fans selected the photos for a 2018 calendar, and then I couldn’t find a good, cheap way to publish it. So, here is a FREE calendar! You have to print it yourself.
Here’s a pdf:
2018 SFF calendar 1.5mb
Or you can print one month at a time:
Facebook fans selected the photos for a 2018 calendar, and then I couldn’t find a good, cheap way to publish it. So, here is a FREE calendar! You have to print it yourself.
Here’s a pdf:
2018 SFF calendar 1.5mb
Or you can print one month at a time:
No, I haven’t been slacking off, and I’m not out of material to write about, either. It’s just that I can only find time to write when I’m between disasters, and today qualifies. Right now the only problem is the dead microwave oven. I’m re-discovering the joy of steaming and I will soon perfect re-heating leftovers in the new toaster oven. At $50, it was a bargain compared with replacing the built-in microwave. This is the third microwave I’ve had perish here over seventeen years.
And then there is the IRS audit. We’re all paranoid when it comes to fat envelopes coming from the IRS, aren’t we? Our Tax Compliance Officer reassures me that we are not being audited due to any action, lack of action, or violation. When I submitted our initial application, I used the fabulous new 1023EZ form instead of the old 1023 long form. She said that, unfortunately, there has been “public outcry” regarding the EZ form, and that it isn’t thought to be thorough enough. The IRS is now evaluating a random sample of the organizations who used the EZ form to determine whether the form should be amended. Lucky us. I am honored to have been selected to verify the validity of the EZ form, and hope future users of the abbreviated form will appreciate the week I spent helping them out.
Time to get the drainline reamed out again. It’s cheaper to snake out the drain every six months than replace the 50′ of pipe between this basement drain and the outlet by the driveway. There is a discontinuity in the seventy year old sectional concrete pipe, caused by groundwater rearranging the substrate and allowing the sections to relocate. Underneath the basement floor and driveway. Don’t worry, everything stored down there is waterproof or up on little planks. It’s important stuff: all my spare cages, equipment, and supplies. The water has to rise another three inches to begin flooding the downstairs, but don’t worry, everything down there is waterproof or up on little planks, too. And anyway, it has been fixed now, and should make it through the season.
In stark contrast to recent disasters, our Jewelry Manufacturing Centre is up and running! New board member Briana Bell has dedicated herself to creating some exciting new items for Georgia Dee’s Gift Shop. We are specializing in earrings this year, by popular demand. You will start seeing new inventory . . . soon! Watch this space!
Little old Stevie Ray left the Dude Ranch in mid-October. He had been diagnosed with an abdominal mass in April. At seven years old, surgery was not an option. He rallied and had quite a few good months before he decided to check out and that was that. I miss his silly antics and his good looks, and so does Squirrel, his cage-mate.
Waiting in the wings are Brutus and Cookie Monster. They were thoughtfully referred to me by Stevie Ray’s veterinarian as potential future companions for crazy Squirrel. They were recently spayed and are in the process of being slowly introduced to Squirrel, after occupying a nearby-but-separate space. Rushing the process rarely works and these spoiled girls are first class prima donnas. Fingers crossed!
Conchita had her final veterinary checkup (Apparently Dobby had issued instructions regarding how to register a complaint.) and moved out to the infirmary as a first step toward reintroducing her to the flock. Now that Samantha has joined the flock, Conchita has advanced to step two: navigating the Bully Pen (a separate enclosure within the larger aviary). Her broken leg has healed but she’s got an uneven gait. Mostly, she’s got to re-negotiate her position in the flock. Pecking order is no joke.
So, who is Samantha? Samantha, otherwise known as Miss New Hampshire, is an older hen whose companions are no longer with her. Lately, a bobcat had been spending his afternoons staring at her through the secure fence that surrounds her coop. She was lonely and so now she’s here. Introducing a new hen can be challenging, but the flock has been very cooperative. She started out in the Bully Pen. Norman the Goose magnanimously accepted her without controversy. It wasn’t long before Eartha befriended her and joined her in the Bully Pen.
It wasn’t long before Samantha was accepted by all and she is enjoying her new friends and her new home.
The hens molt (get new feathers) this time of year. It isn’t always graceful. Most will lose and re-feather gradually. You’ll see the feathers around the yard, but otherwise it’s no big deal. Once in a while, a hen will have a very rough molt, like Windy. She’s uncomfortable, and she’s going to kill me when she discovers I posted this unflattering photo. The new feathers emerge through the skin encased in a waxy substance (How else would you push a feather through skin without mussing it?) that she’ll pick off as she fluffs up the feathers. The intact new feather shafts look like little toothpicks on her neck.
Remember Turkey the duckling who grew up in my bathtub and was released? Here she is! She’s the female with a mostly orange bill, more slender than the others. I’m serious: she’s in that crowd somewhere.
Lord Dobbington, as he was referred to recently, always steals the show. The weather turned cold, so I jokingly got out his old halloween pumpkin costume. He seemed glad to see it again, so I found this rubber ducky rain slicker on sale, free shipping. He would wear hats and clothes when he was a baby, but refused during his haughty teen years. Now it seems he has discovered the practical side to jackets. Hats, not so much.
Dobby is kind of a goofball, possibly a spoiled one. Grazing time is short, and pickin’s are slim, so he often has Uber deliver a bucket of bamboo to the kitchen. “Someone” has knocked over this bucket and spread out the bamboo for inspection. “Someone” is also demonstrating that his milk bowl is empty.
October’s most time-consuming effort was the publishing of Dobby’s book. Rewards were autographed and shipped out to the Kickstarter backers (Thanks, again, everyone!)
Prince Dobalob’s book is available online as a print-on-demand paperback, so any “not available” baloney you may see on Amazon is simply not true. If you have trouble buying your copy, please contact me here and I’ll try to figure out what’s up. I’m also collecting links to international sources, so let me know if you find it abroad, especially in Asia. The eBook will be available as an ePub edition soon, and I’ll update this post with a link here when it’s up and running. Sorry, no Kindle version: it doesn’t like graphics and it loads up sorta goofy. We haven’t given up on Kindle, but don’t hold your breath.
Gotta get this published before I am interrupted by any more baby pigeons coming in! It’s always something!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
She is very well-behaved. Quiet and dignified, there’s none of that annoying non-stop peep-peep-peep-peep-peep nonsense.
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.
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.
There’s no duckweed in my own pond. the pond scum is thick and brown. Oh, oops, that’s Dobby!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
That’s all for now! Once Dobby’s book is launched, I’ll be back to my irregular but more frequent blogging.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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!