Tag Archives: duck

Daily Drama 58

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Daily Drama 58

Winter is here and it’s awful. Those of you who live in a cold climate know about hauling water out to the flock in the morning. You know about “ice management.” That’s when you toss the ice out of the frozen waterers strategically, so that the shards of ice don’t create a hazard if they don’t melt within the next couple of days. You know about hoarfrost, and dig out around your gates so it can’t build up and shut you out of your pens. Winter water bowls are re-stacked so they aren’t frozen together when you need them. Food and meds are brought indoors so they don’t freeze. Ugh.

Dobby sleeps indoors, in all his glory, because frozen blankets are a drag. I have to wear my mud boots to walk through his section of the kitchen, because, you know, he’s “living” in there. In his seventh winter, Dobby takes sleeping indoors in stride. He even “goes” outside during the day. Sometimes. He has also learned to tolerate staying indoors, and not go in and out the door all night, leaving it ajar in twenty degree weather. Right next to the bird cages. He did decide to go out at 3AM last night. It was 28 degrees out there, his bedroom heater usually keeps it 10 degrees higher, so 38, and the blankets were probably pliable. I still had to go down and shut the door behind him, bird cages. Go back to bed and fall asleep, fretting. If Dobby wants to go out, there’s no keeping him in. He eats the door jamb trying to get out. Another response to the question “It’s kind of like having a big dog, right?” No. It’s not.

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November 21, 2016 issue, The New Yorker magazine.

For those of you who continue to ask, “Why capybara?” I offer this cartoon. I learned to walk by dragging a hamster cage around for balance. That means that this little joke is really the story of my life. It doesn’t explain the ducks, though.

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Vinny performs the Donkey Honk, a drake display move. Ping is not impressed.

Most freezing nights, the ducks keep their water open by swimming in it and dabbling in it. That means there is always drinking water for the hens and cats, too. It was iced over this morning, a thin sheet easily poked, one drinking hole still open, so they are doing a good job.

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The doves sit high and dry in their separate pen.

The doves are captive, though, and can’t get to the “dabble-hole.” I take out gallons of hot water to unfreeze their waterer. They have a bathing dish of water ice, and hop right into the warm bath water I take out in the morning.

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Beverly on the first day, contemplating her sudden loss of freedom.

Beverly is in jail, and has to keep her own dabble hole open. She’s brand new, rescued by a human Bev (the name is a coincidence) who befriended her at a nearby park. Muscovy ducks are from South America, not native here, so she’s probably an escaped pet. They aren’t as cold-tolerant as our indigenous ducks. Bev was able to pick her up and bring her to me, verifying her tameness, and I easily nabbed her for wing clipping. Now that she’s safe, we don’t want her flying away.

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Beverly’s first few nights here were cold, down to 18f degrees (-7c).

She spent a few days in quarantine, ye olde bully pen. She was desperate to join the flock, though, and looks very happy today, her first day mingling with the general population. Norman isn’t letting her get too close, but no one else seems to mind her.

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Freeloading Mallard hens

There are way too many Mallards, and when I open the gate in the afternoon for the Garden Party, they make a beeline for the feeder.

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Norman cleans house

The photo above should be a video. Norman the flock Manager, is at the back, beyond the gate, a pale blob above and to the right of Dobby’s hanging yellow and green soccer ball. He is marching toward us, honking, and all of these mallards, 17 I think, marched out in front of him. He chased them away from his feeder! Go, Norman! Geese are so cool.

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Carmen registers a complaint.

I was so pleased that I gave in and treated them to cracked corn out in the yard. That’s Carmen Miranda facing me, madder than heck at me for giving them HER corn. Note the stool on Dobby’s swimming pool steps, which are falling down in slow motion as they rot. They usually last a year, these were new late last summer.

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Front row: Shamrock and Vinny, Crowd scene behind: Cubicle, Tony, Sal, Norman, Boondock, little Ping and Emilio, Boxcar behind, and Carmen Miranda far right

The mallards left, and my little flock finally enjoyed their treat of cracked corn.

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Mr. and Ms. Mallard, posing after a synchronized skating exhibition. She’s the one who brought her children to the front door and then through the house to the back yard last spring.

Remember the stool on the swimming pool steps? This is another reason why it is there. Dobby isn’t doing much swimming these days, and he probably can’t mount those raunchy bales, but he won’t climb past the stool. These are the resident Mallards, the ones who have been hanging out here since before Dobby got here. I suspect that the unruly mallard crowd is their offspring.

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Frieda. She’s a little different.

Eartha, Windy, and Frieda are my newest hens. Frieda follows me around like I’m a busted feed bag.

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Dobby loves the barn. Sometimes he spends the morning out there, bothering everyone and eating their food.

I hate heat lamps, but this year I’ve got three out there, plus some heated pads for the tomcats, and of course one for Sir Dobbykins. He loves the barn. That’s the infirmary behind him. Lula is in there, but the door is open so that her companion, the inimitable Princess Blur, can come and go as she pleases.

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Princess Blur, displaying typical attitude, and her pet hen, Lula. Lula is handicapped, and Princess adores her.

A couple days ago Princess did too much going. She was missing when I went out in the morning. Blaming myself, I figured I had missed her at the nightly lockup. I walked the neighborhood. I put a notice on Next Door. I drove the neighborhood. I knocked on doors. And that afternoon when I went to open the gate to let everyone out for Garden Party, guess who was first to run OUT the gate? Today I discovered she has skritched out a hollow between the barn wall and a bale of straw. She can really hunker down in there. She’s so bad.

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Jello, Conchita, and Adelita on the roost. Princess Blur, in the background for once.

This was just before dusk, and the hens were ready for bed. These girls have been here a couple of years.

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Eartha and Windy, here since late October.

Here are the three new hens. Hmmm. They are finally settling into the evening routine. Where’s Frieda?

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Frieda, Kitty Hawk, and Grover

Frieda sleeps with the cats. Whatever. They aren’t as excited about it as she is.

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Dobby Burrito

Bedtime for The Dobster. He usually sleeps outside, but when he’s indoors, he likes his bed, his white rabbit rug, and his pink princess blankie. Goodnight, Dobby Boy.

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They’re coasters!

A very wonderful friend created and donated these tiles to the Funny Farm! They are raku fired ceramic tiles, backed with cork so they may be used as coasters. They feature the footprint of Caplin Rous, the World’s Most Famous Capybara! He was also Dobby’s big brother.

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Each one unique!

The glaze has a coppery iridescent sheen that doesn’t photograph to advantage because it changes from different angles. Right now they are mine, all mine, but I should probably sell them. They are available at Georgia Dee’s Gift Shop.

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Shanghai teens!

I will be incommunicado for about a week at the end/beginning of the year. My son is teaching at a high school in Shanghai, China and I can’t pass up the opportunity to visit. Don’t worry, The Bartender is gamely staying behind to care for Prince Dobalob and his subjects!

 

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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!

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.

Arizona Down Under Exotic Petting Zoo

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Arizona Down Under Exotic Petting Zoo

One of the highlights of my trip to Phoenix was visiting Arizona Down Under Exotic Petting Zoo, and finally meeting Sherry and Chris Pietilainen! Melanie was there, too, because of BlogPaws, and our new friend Jessica joined us. I knew that Chris and Sherry had an interesting collection of animals, but seeing so many unusual rodents in one place was a real thrill!

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Back to front: Chris, Sherry, Jessica, Melanie’s Hat

I hadn’t seen a Paca since my trip to Panama, where they were so elusive. They are very sweet animals and very friendly, as you can see!

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Jelly Bean

They are perfectly pet sized and seem to be pretty well behaved. Like many wild animals, though, pacas have proved to be challenging in captivity.

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Cuniculus paca, Lowland Paca

It’s tempting to say “Oh, I definitely want one!” but I am willing to let experienced professionals like Chris and Sherry work with them first.

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Oscar, showing off his zygomatic arches.

The males have a wider face due to a bony jaw extension, supposedly used to amplify vocalizations, which we did not hear. Oscar has kind of a pouched-up hamster look, doesn’t he? And what do they sound like? I will let you know if I find out.

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This is Oscar’s second home, and he is settling in nicely.

There are more Oscar and Jelly Bean photos here.

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Nibbles and Nugget, the agoutis

There are about a million agoutis in Panama, and there is a park in Rio de Janeiro with about a trillion of them! They are so adorable, and I was so excited when Chris got his! They get pouffy in a funny way when they’re excited: just the back half of them gets sticky-outy fur! It’s very silly looking, like fancy pants.

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Common agouti

Agoutis are the perfect example why we let professionals check these guys out first. Chris had told me that they stink, so I quit thinking about pet agoutis long ago. Now he tells me why: when you give them a morsel of food, they scurry around, bury it, then urinate on it! What an adorable habit! It’s also disconcerting to see them easily bite into a Brazil nut. I usually have to open those with a jackhammer! So, agoutis are cute, but not for me.

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Sheila and her little Joey. JoJo, the dad, is not shown.

The little marsupial Bettongs represent a special part of the “Down Under” portion of the petting zoo.

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Baby Brush-tailed Bettong, so tiny!

The Pietilainens have three breeding pairs of Brush-Tailed Bettongs! (JoJo & Sheila, Sydney & Dundee, Wego & Izzy) They were resting quietly when we were there, and I didn’t dare disturb them, so these are Chris’s photos.

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Not surprisingly, the tail has a brush at the end!

The Bettongs are critically endangered and the Pietilainens are part of a program that is trying to help the species survive even though they will never be able to recover their natural habitat. They have placed 9 pairs so far and know of at least 4 babies from those pairings.

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Darby and Blue

Chris and Sherry started the rescue about a dozen years ago and the zoo evolved from the rescue. Today it’s more of a sanctuary than rescue. Like my sanctuary, many of the animals that come in now are not adoptable due to their age. They are nice relaxed animals for a petting zoo, though!

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Cheerio!

There is a growing need for rabbit and guinea pig sanctuaries. Chris has already taken in more guinea pigs since my visit!

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What else has been in the living room?

Don’t we all have chicks in the living room? In most homes, these little guys would be getting all the attention, but we walked right past them, because Chris was already outside talking to this guy.  There’s one in every crowd, and Chris let Alfie know we wouldn’t be putting up with any of his shenanigans.

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“We have guests, so behave yourself!”

The Patagonian maras, on the other hand, were eager to meet us!

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Jessica and the mara.

And then there was this guy, a ring-tailed lemur. His large cage was right outside the door.

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King Julien

He looked very dignified until Chris fed him. He sure gets into his food!

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We picked a glorious week to visit Phoenix. It hadn’t been under 110º for days and had measured 120º just a few days before our visit. Quite a few of the animals kept to the shade by the house, but there were plenty of adventurous guys out and about.

Arizona Down Under Exotic Petting Zoo

The Patagonian maras are Amy, Rudi, Cody, Layla, Mia, Lanie & Lonie.

The maras were all over the place, and the chickens proved how spunky they are. This little white duck refused to live with the other call ducks, and was all over the place. I wanted to bring her home, but I was still trying to figure out how to sneak Cheerio into my pocket.

These guys had their own outdoor air conditioning- see that big red fan? There’s a reason why they’re all huddled around it! I wanted to join them!

Arizona Down Under Exotic Petting Zoo

The Fan Club

Wait, who is that way over there? Well, it’s Addy! It’s a capybara, of course, and amidst all these fabulous animals, you know the capybaras are what I came to see.

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Addy the capy, getting some “space”

Chris! What are you doing over there with Becky the Emu? We need to see the capybaras!

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Rebecca the Emu (Becky) getting some TLC.

So here’s Collett, posing, and looking very colorful in a coating of DRIED MUD. Nice.

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Pretty Collett

How about these guys, tussling through the fence over who is to be Lord Of The Rake! Dobby does the same thing- guys just like tools, and all of my tools must be properly marked.

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“It’s MINE, you fool!”

There’s nothing quite like a proper mudhole when the thermometer keeps going up!

Arizona Down Under Exotic Petting Zoo

Scrappy, Collett, and Chris

Chris has been breeding capybaras for a while. He’s working on a couple special breeds. Here’s one he calls “Hood Ornament” with a classy duck front and center.

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Standard Duck Hood Ornament

Here’s another that is sure to become popular, the “Two-Toned” model. Available soon, at a pet shop near you!

Arizona Down Under Exotic Petting Zoo

Two-Toned Scrappy

Daily Drama 53

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Daily Drama 53

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

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A consolation photo of me playing Scrabble while Dobby grazes.

A fanfare for the next topic!

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

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

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

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

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Banished, for the time being

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

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It was still in the pocket of my winter jacket.

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

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

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

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Three hoses to siphon out, three reversed to refill

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

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

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

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

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Mr. P.

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

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

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

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