Tag Archives: duckling

Daily Drama 69 – April Goes Wild

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Daily Drama 69 – April Goes Wild

Even without Dobby and the rescues, it would be wild and crazy here, especially in April. The songbirds are singing, the hummingbirds have migrated from the feeders to the flowers blooming in the yard, and I listen for peeps that might mean an imperiled duckling.

There are at least a couple hundred geese in this flock. They are probably Snow Geese on their way up to Mount Vernon.

Distant honking caused me to look up at the kitchen skylight in time to see a flock of geese flying back north. I have seen a few “V’s” fly by, but this is an entire flock.

Click on the photo if you can’t see the three deer. Our World Famous Mailboxes are stage left, out of frame.

Half an hour later, my neighbor knocked on the door. (WOW! I have forgotten what 9 months pregnant looks like!) She saw three deer walk out of my yard, and knowing how wild it can be here, wanted to make certain they weren’t escapees of mine! (Note to self: invite her over, let her boys feed the guinea pigs, give her a tour and a dozen eggs.) The deer were down at the end of the street, and I’m sure we have all seen better deer photos than this, but after 18 years here, I am stunned at the idea of deer wandering through. Over the fences. Eating Dobby’s grass and maybe even his bamboo!

Not the boot print, silly! The deer hoof print. This is on a narrow Dobby-trail in the front yard.

Sure enough, deer hoof prints all over the yard. There are other prints, too, out at the street by the garbage cans. Who was this?

Guess now, and I’ll let you know who I think stood around here in the mud.

We have coyotes, raccoons, opossums, squirrels, songbirds, hawks, owls, herons, and six kinds of woodpeckers. And ducks. Mallards are common, but I have had a Wood Duck drop by in the winter. A Bald Eagle swooped through here a month ago. No Mountain Beavers yet, but I keep hoping. I think it’s too flat and wet here.

There were two aqua eggs in the nest when I checked. The duck nest is the brown swirl of junk, lower middle of photo.

This is a mallard nest by my front door. I watched her drop from the sky and scuttle into this nest. It looks the same whether or not she is in it, her camouflage is so perfect. She abandoned this nest, leaving two pretty blue eggs. She’s been hanging in my back yard for maybe 12 years now, before Dobby came. She’s brought her brood into the house, taking the front-door to kitchen route that Dobby craves when he begs by that door. Everyone knows that route exists, like the Northwest Passage, but only Mrs. Mallard has had the privilege of using it. No wonder Dobby is jealous!

Proud Mrs. Mallard with six ducklings

This year, I can see her next door with her precious brood. You can count six in this photo. There used to be seven, and I chased “seven” back to her more than once when I found the little explorer in my creek. Alas, nature does not reward the babes who stray. No ducklings survived here last year, and neighbors later told me that Bald Eagles got them all. The angst can destroy you. Take a deep breath and do what you can, let the rest go. Yesterday she had only two ducklings. I’m afraid to look today.

Mr. Mallard is never far away.

I put out cracked corn: proper poultry food gets sour and moldy the moment it touches ground. Wild bird seed attracts “undesirables” and it is available in my back yard for “Ducks In The Know.” The food I put out is mostly for the momma ducks, anyway. The babies just mess around. They ate their proper baby duck food already. It’s called “duckweed.”

Western Redback Salamander (Plethodon vehiculum)? Can anyone confirm this?

I suppose they eat other stuff, too. Connor was here today and carefully moved some wood in the front yard. Sure enough, there was a salamander under it. In this neighborhood, life lurks in out-of-the-way corners, and you might as well anticipate it. Inches away, the Creature From the Black Lagoon watches us.

Pacific Mudback Capybara (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris pacifica)

Dobby has a mucky wallow in the front yard. Sometimes it’s a little pond, sometimes it’s a mud hole. It depends upon the groundwater, which, in turn, depends upon the rainfall. It suddenly dried up today. He was so disappointed!

“Come here!”

Instead of rolling in the mud, he traipsed through it and then led me back to the Duckling Viewing Area. He used to sit back there and gaze at the pond, but he has been too busy to do that lately.

Really?

Well, how about that! Mr. Opossum is at the Duckling Viewing Area. Harumph! Move along, dude! He skedaddled to the Opossum Highway on top of the fence, and headed toward the back yard. Terrific. All my hens and ducks are out, but Norman the Goose will watch out for them. I know this guy, anyway, and all he ever catches is eggs, empty cat food cans, and occasionally he massacres a discarded corn cob overnight.

Route 66 at Stacy’s Funny Farm

Dobby and I checked on the ducks and still saw six ducklings. This momma Mallard now has two drakes watching over her and her brood. Whatever it takes, I don’t judge.

To tell you the truth, Mr. Opossum is too slow to catch a duckling. (Note woodpecker holes on the tree trunk.)

Mr. Opossum wasn’t easily deterred, and I saw him in the back yard a while later. He’s perched on Opossum Highway, but outside the aviary. There’s a bushy evergreen growing through the fence and it creates a nice little observation platform. I wonder how often he perches there, watching my flock. He’s going to be sad when he discovers a nasty wad of chickenwire jammed in there.

Those were my footprints out by the street.

Dobby is back inside the aviary, sitting in another lovely mudhole. So perfect.

Jaunty stripes courtesy of Fergus the Fig Tree

Next, Dobby went into the hot tub to get clean, with a fan club cheering him on. It’s also slightly possible that they were waiting for him to get out so they could get in.

Shamrock, Cubicle, Emilio, and Carmen Miranda

If you don’t get all the way in, and don’t scrub or use soap, bath results can vary.

Nice job, Dobalob.

Oh well, I guess he wasn’t through testing all of the Funny Farm mud holes. This one offers tender new raspberry sprouts. When he eats them, I don’t get raspberries later in the summer. That’s why I carefully fenced them off.

Nice fencing, Farm Manager.

Wait! What about the hot tub? Don’t you want to go back in before you go into the kitchen? Please don’t shake! Dobby? At least it’s only mud this time. That’s how bad he is: I’m relieved that he’s only covered in mud. If you have to ask what’s worse, then you haven’t read his book! You can also follow him on his secret Facebook profile.

There’s a capybara underneath the patina.

 

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Daily Drama 65 – The Duckling in the Bathtub

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Daily Drama 65 – The Duckling in the Bathtub

We’re hurtling through the summer at breakneck speed.

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

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

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

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

Interior decorators at work.

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

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

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

Miss Turkey takes over Dobby’s old stomping grounds.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Ding Dong can’t reach the ding dong.

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

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

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

One entire refrigerator for Dobby-food.

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

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

Shadow Rat

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

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

Daily Drama 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.