Tag Archives: Farm

Daily Drama 48

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Daily Drama 48

It’s so cold out that I consciously zip up my jacket and put my gloves on before I open the door to go out. What that means for the Funny Farm is ICE MANAGEMENT. Some of you are already rolling your eyes or nodding your head or both. The rest of you have a big question mark hovering over your head.

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This is a 3″ (7.5cm) ice spike or spicule in one of the cat water dishes.

I didn’t think I would ever appreciate the arctic engineering course I took, but this week’s weather is decidedly Alaska-ish. Parking lots in Alaska need to include “snow storage” areas, because, as you might imagine, constant snow plowing means huge mountains of snow building up from October through April. Similarly, cracking ice out of Funny Farm water dishes (delicately, so the dish doesn’t break) results in a pile of ice blocks that partially melt together before they re-freeze together overnight. If you have a week’s worth of freezing weather, you soon have a half dozen frozen ice mountains deposited throughout your pens. Do they block a gate? Are they in the main pathway? Are they placed where the sun can melt them or cause them to sublimate, or are they north of an object where they will take a week to go away? Similarly, I check all the gate swing areas and excavate so that the build up of hoar frost doesn’t eventually freeze me out of the aviary.

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Analog rain gauge, not quite up to the task. More of the ice has sublimated than has melted, resulting in a leaning cylinder of ice decidedly narrower than the gauge.

I think weather is fascinating, and I am proud to say that the Funny Farm now has it’s own weather station! It’s connected to the Weather Underground, so that everyone can check in and see how truly miserable little Dobby is. The mallards show up in huge flocks for the afternoon garden party. It’s eery to see a turtle looking up at you through thick ice. The hummingbirds pouf out down to cover their tiny feet as they hover at the feeders. Funny Farm ducks, geese, even the hens take it pretty well, though I do have heated kennel pads for the cats. I also set out one heat lamp in the barn, but only Dobby seems interested in it.

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The Prince’s heat lamp. It’s hung high enough so that he can’t rub his morrillo on the bulb.

When I ask him if he wants to go to the front yard, he holds up a paw to let me know it is too cold for his feet today. For a while I was cutting him a bucket full of bamboo, but it is totally frozen now and he won’t eat it. Hay and lettuce will have to suffice.

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Too cold today!

This is his sixth winter, so he knows the drill. He hangs out in the kitchen during the day, and enrichment becomes important. Unless he is napping. Maybe I’ll finally get that video of him snoring: so far I have filmed several tedious hours of him sleeping. Guests feed him extra corn, he does tricks to get my attention, and he gets a little silly.

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Bucket-Butt

I have a special big quilt I spread out for him at night, and special indoor Disney Princess slumber party blankets. I hang an insulated curtain around the bird cages in case Dobby drags a blanket out that sticks the door open all night, weather hovering around 20°f (-6.5°c). If the temperatures fall that low, his heated outdoor pen can’t keep up and his blankets freeze stiff. That’s where I draw the line and bring him in to sleep.

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“My milk bowl is empty!”

Normally, The Bartender mops Dobby’s kitchen area every night, all the blankets and rugs get washed, the milk bowl gets scrubbed and ready for morning. None of that happens when he is inside 24 hrs a day. If he leaves for a moment, I grab a rug or blanket and wash it, but eventually I give up and everything gets dank and a little bit ripe. It’s always about then that the guests arrive.

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Dobby the sun worshipper. (Sun Worship, explained, but not in a family friendly way- Rated R.) Also note that you can see the weather station on the deck railing, stage left.

The sun doesn’t seem to work any magic at low temperatures, but Prince Dobalob, the sun worshipper, never gives up. Plus, there is another kind of sunshine that always works. Dobby has lots of friends, and one of his visitors sent him this fabulous drawing!

Dobby loves visitors!

Meanwhile, icy morning chores include shlepping gallon jugs of hot water out to the aviary. Putting the hummingbird feeders back out at dawn and going back to bed. Filling and re-filling the bird feeders and re-attaching squirrel guards to the suet feeders. Hot tub after hot tub for my super-sized semi-aquatic pet. Looking up at the sky and hoping it doesn’t snow on him.

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Must remind The Bartender to peel his oranges in single spiral so they look nice in the photos.

We’re past the solstice, now, so summer sunshine is coming. Isn’t it?


Check out the Stacy’s Funny Farm Weather Station!

http://www.wunderground.com/swf/Rapid_Fire.swf?units=both&station=KWALAKEF13

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Daily Drama 38

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Daily Drama 38

The dramas are coming fast and furious lately, and that’s my excuse for not writing. I could write every day, but I’m a little hung up on having photos to go with the stories. Would you rather have funny stories almost every day, even if they don’t have photos? Or do you like the photos best, anyway, and oh, by the way, stop talking so much?

 

About a month ago, baby spiders were hatching everywhere. So cute! Now they are much bigger, webs everywhere, at, oh, I guess FACE LEVEL describes it. I try to brush them out of my hair before I cook dinner. It’s so distracting to watch them lower themselves down from my hair, right into the frying pan! I put them outside because I can’t wait until they are big enough to make a dent in the fly population around here.

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Future Flycatchers

Prince Dobalob is being his usual klutzy self. He was limping around last week, and also lost some fur on his cheek. No cut or abrasion but he must have smacked himself pretty good to lose fur in the process.

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Hole in his head

Any kind of damage is good for getting the Royal Treatment. The grass in the front yard is long and lush and makes a nice treat.

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The front yard grass is greener, especially when it is served up special.

The weather has been very summery and all the animals have been flaking out, mid-day. Bonnie Bunny misses her bunny-buddy but she still enjoys her garden party time. She scampers on back to her pen when I go in to put out food and fresh water. Yesterday I heard her hippity hop up the steps behind me, but when I turned to give her a special treat, I saw she was still out in the garden! I’m convinced I heard Wiley Wabbit’s ghost coming in for his treats!

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Bonnie relaxes in her Dobby-resistant garden

Dobby has a new bed for the deck, so the old one can stay under the steps in the shade. This is my view from the kitchen window.

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The new bed seems to be a similar flavor to the old one. Why must every new item be subjected to The Taste Test?

Grover and Kitty Hawk are even lazier now that summer is here. I gave them the penguin blanket that Dobby hated so much. Of course, now that it is a cat blanket, he tries to pull it down every time he walks near it.

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Grover, Kitty Hawk, and the hated penguin blanket

The drakes are very, very aggressive this time of year. I have had to lock up Emilio every night, because when he attacks poor Sal, the geese honk at him. All night long. When I let him out in the morning, he races past the food and water to locate his victim. I’m trying a new strategy that I am hoping will work. I am penning him up with some drakes he actually likes, who have sequestered themselves away from Sal’s buddy, Tony, who attacks poor old Fabio. they only get out for the garden party, but already there are fewer daily altercations. Of course, we are past the solstice, and they should settle down, now, anyway.

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Solitary Confinement

He does get out once in a while.

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Cubicle and Emilio go skinny-dipping

Dobby spends a good portion of his day in his grubby little wading pool. The water heats up nicely in the sun. As an added bonus, the ducks and geese muddy the water up to a very nice brownish color. Of course, none of that mud is placed there by Dobby!

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Dobby’s fur is reddish this time of year.

Sometimes Dobby just goes back to bed after his morning milk.

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Prince Dobalob’s Boudoir

Dobby also has a new hiding place behind the swimming pool. Bonnie Bunny hides back there, too, but not when dobby is there!

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Camouflage

Dobby’s pool was clean for a few days. The swimming pool pump/filter just can’t keep up with the amount of mud he carries in from the wading pool.

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Dobby the Seal

A couple weeks later . . .

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Capybara, Mallard, and green water

That is a wild mallard swimming with Dobby. She hangs around most of the day. Sometimes she brings friends. She comes onto the deck and begs at the kitchen door if I am late with her cracked corn.

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Mrs. Mallard, the perfect guest

Don’t forget to take the poll. Or just write to tell me what you would like to see here. Then hold your breath until I decide what to do next!

Daily Drama 35 (by Dobby)

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Daily Drama 35 (by Dobby)

blah blah blah

^ See that? I’m leaving it there. Stacy wants me to write this Daily Drama for her because “she is too busy” but she told me I have to use this template, and I think it is kind of insulting the way she set it up. She also said I had to write about the wild mallard drake getting stuck in the aviary. What a LOSER! He tried to fly out, instead of walking out the gate, which is how he got in, of course. And I’m not allowed to mention my harness malfunction this afternoon.

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She’s got a lot of nerve.

So, she abandoned me for about a week, and left me with the pet-sitter. I tried to get rid of him, but he is extraordinarily persistent and annoying. He doesn’t let me into the kitchen, he doesn’t straighten my blankets every day, and there is no Garden Party with the chickens and ducks in the afternoon. It’s a miserable existence.

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My eyelashes went white! Just kidding. That’s a feather.

The first day she was home, I spent almost all day in the kitchen, snoozing, lolling about, and generally reclaiming my territory.

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It’s all mine, and I’ll do what I want with it.

I must say she brought home some nice weather, but it only lasted a couple days.

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Pouffy in the sunshine.

Now that she’s home, I can go to the front yard to graze, again. Here is a picture of me in the front yard:

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WAIT A MINUTE! I WASN’T READY!

She is relentless with the camera, which is why I am stuck writing this blog: she took so may pictures of that island she went to that it is going to be a couple blogs, or maybe one great big boring one. There were NO CAPYBARAS AT ALL.

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This is more like it!

I actually lost five pounds while she was gone. I had more than enough to eat, I just wasn’t very hungry. I got a little dehydrated, too, even though I had hot tubs all the time, and an entire swimming pool full of water to drink. Lula the chicken has improved, though, and even left the infirmary a couple times, but she’s still a little bit weak. Everybody else is about the same.

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A bit thin, a bit dehydrated.

Now that I can migrate to the front yard again, I am an eating machine. I had some good bamboo while she was gone, but there’s nothing quite as satisfying as grazing in your own front yard.

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I’m a lawnmower.

That’s all for now, folks.

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It is a funny farm.

 

Daily Drama 31

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Daily Drama 31
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The duck pool keeps freezing. I use hot water to melt the edge for them.

We skipped autumn and careened directly into winter, starting with a deep freeze in October followed by another in early November. Now that it is actually winter, we are freezing again, down to 22ºf (-5ºc) again last night. This is supposed to be a mild climate. In previous years, temperatures might dip down to 26ºf for a night or two, once a year. This year, we have gone into the lower twenties, three times already, for four or five nights in a row. And yet, it was one of the warmest Decembers recorded. We just set a new record for high pressure. Extremes are now the norm.

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Dr. Pepper, is that you in there?

This is the third time the turtle tank has frozen. I always glance in there, anyway, and today I was shocked to see someone looking back at me!

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It could be Quasimodo. Hard to tell through an inch of ice.

It is hard to keep duck water clean, and valved waterers clog easily (and then run) when ducks load them up with rocks and gravel, not to mention mud. I find it is easier to leave a hose on trickle and the water self-cleans. Not the most efficient system, but it also keeps the system from freezing, down to about 20ºf. Below that and the ducks have to worry a little drinking hole open. I have seen them take turns keeping it open. The big duck pool also has a hose dripping into it, and in that duck pool photo, Norman is standing at the overflow.

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And such an attractive setup, too! Note the black corrugated capybara protection device over one of the live lines.

The cats love their barn and heated kennel pads. Hawk is always under foot, but Grover is getting more friendly, now. He has initiated a Good Morning Nose-Bump with me. He is incredibly shy.

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Get out of the way, Kitty Hawk!

I take warm water out to the dove cage, fill a couple bowls (their waterer is frozen out of commission), dump the shallow purple bath and fill it. I’ve seen a half dozen of them in there at once, but not when I have my camera out. You can see the previous days’ frozen water outside the cage. Stashing the frozen bits where they don’t impeded access, create a hazard for duck feet, and melt quickly takes experience.

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Kitty Hawk, go away.

I have a hen and dove sharing an infirmary cage, and today, Kitty Hawk leapt over my shoulder to gain access while I was cleaning their water. He has been especially crazy lately. He likes me to take him for a little walk, and I have to hold his tail like a leash.

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Doves looking down at Kitty Hawk.

It wasn’t easy to get Dobby to the front yard today. Look at that frost! It is like snow! Yesterday’s corn cob is frosty, too.

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Frosty the Corn Cob

Dobby is eager to return to the back yard. I wonder why.

Wiley Wabbit has declined to attend the Garden Party this afternoon.

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“You can refill that bowl while you’re here, Lady.”

Dobby has been spending a lot of time in his fancy hot tub. I have a hot water tap and hose right next to it.

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“Needs bubbles”

Bonnie Bunny prefers cold weather to wet weather and is taking advantage of the situation.

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This little garden area is Bonnie’s favorite. The gate in the foreground is meant to keep Large Rodents out, but it barely slows him down.

Meanwhile, the Large Rodent is steaming.

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“Why is she talking about rabbits?”

All of the pets are wary of Dobby.

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“Rabbit? What Rabbit? Show me a rabbit and I’ll get rid of it!”

When temperatures drop to the low 20’s, Dobby gets to sleep indoors. He used to hate it, but this is his 5th winter and he is more experienced. I truly think he understands about the seasons, and knows his frozen world is transitory.

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Apparently, only the back 1/3 of him enjoyed the hot tub today.

It doesn’t look too bad in this photo, but his area gets pretty grubby when we can’t get in there to mop and wash the bedding every night. Corn on the cob makes a sticky mess, and the kernels stick to your feet and end up all over the house.

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“You say grubby like it’s a bad thing!”

The guinea pigs don’t know winter. They do know vegetables.

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“Yes, we do know Winter!”

Dobby used to wander in and out all night when I tried to keep him in. He would drag out a blanket and the door would stand open, letting Alaska inside to chill the birds. I put a heater in there, now, and he also doesn’t wander out so often.

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“I sleep right here!”

I cover the birdcages with an insulated curtain. Dobby thinks the curtain is a chew toy, just like the cage ruffles he has taste tested.

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“These guys are the noisiest room-mates!”

Most of the time, I remember to bring in the hummingbird feeders. Am I the only one who wakes up at 4am, remembers the hummingbirds, and sneaks outside in my pajamas to bring in the feeders to thaw? And then wakes up again at 7am to take them back out?

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Bucket of bamboo, this time. Sometimes it is a head of romaine lettuce. Might be an apple hidden at the bottom.

Go for it, Dobby! It’s going to be a long, messy night!

Daily Drama 19 (Tree Time)

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Daily Drama 19 (Tree Time)

The trees at The Funny Farm have been misbehaving. Actually, they have a disease that is causing the upper branches to die and break off. You can see what this does to my aviary top netting in Daily Drama 13.

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There shouldn’t be big bare twigs at the top of those trees.

There are some band-tailed pigeons that like to perch up there, though.

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I can’t get them to come to my bird feeders, though.

Dobby wants to tell part of the story.

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It’s not me. The crows chase away the pigeons.

A LOT of branches have been falling, though they don’t all make holes when they fall.

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We’re not talking about little twigs, here.

The other problem is that raccoons like to enter the aviary through holes that open at the net where the birch tree trunks go through. I have patched holes, and then patched the patches for a dozen years. Now there are so many layers of chicken wire that the leaves and small twigs pile up and hold water. The wire rusts through, and it is no longer possible to determine whether the aviary is secure at the tree trunk area.

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The patched area shows as a dark zig-zag that looks like a swarm of bees in this photo.

Because repairing the net means exposing a large area to predators, the work must be completed in one day, secured before dusk. We recruited our neighbor, Connor, to help tackle the chore. His experience with tree trimming prompted him to immediately recommend taking out the smaller of the three birch trees. It was actually a very low, large branch. That would never have occurred to us. He cut the tree branch and pulled it into the aviary through the hole opened up for the repair. Now we only had to patch around the two larger trees.

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Get in our way and we will cut you down!

By the time the tree was pulled into the aviary, most of the spiders were out of the way.

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The spiders are huge this year.

Dobby wanted to rub his morrillo on the branches, but I sent the flock out to play in the yard with him instead.

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Jello the daredevil chicken stayed in for a while. All the bugs coming down were too tempting.

Here are the two trees that grow through the aviary netting. It isn’t easy to secure the “roof” around them. You can see the chickenwire cylinders we attached. We’ll connect the roof to the chickenwire. You can also see Connor’s rope . . . and just make out Connor way up there.

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Raccoon highways into the aviary, unless the net is secure.

Connor’s second brilliant suggestion was to remove as many dead branches as possible. BEFORE they crash through the net. WHILE the access hole is still open. That’s why he climbed up into the tree.

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Dobby wants to remind everyone that Connor has been up in our trees before. He did some major trimming in spring, and now the rotten maple doesn’t hang OVER THE HOUSE any more.

Everybody moved out from under Connor’s work area, even though he was actually working with a net. Spiders.

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Cutting and yanking branches, tossing them over his shoulder into the open hole in the net below.

Don’t forget about Dobby’s corn time! He likes to take his corn off this table. If we put it on the ground, he walks away until we put it on the table for him.

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“Corn on the table, Dobby!”

More cut, yank, and toss.

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That’s a LOT of dead wood. The trees will probably die, eventually. I won’t spray them over a wetland.

Almost done. Each falling branch would have required a prompt removal and net repair, some random, inconvenient time this winter.

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Preventative maintenance

Grover hid in the aviary, but Kitty Hawk came out and Dobby hung out with him on the deck.

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Dobby doesn’t always chase him. It’s more fun to be spontaneous.

If you look at the earlier photos, you will see how much dead wood Connor managed to remove. There’s still more, but he got the big stuff.

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Not enough time before dark to get all of the dead wood.

Dobby and Kitty Hawk were underfoot. This is why none of us were IN the aviary during the tree work.

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Butt. Other end is probably chewing the top off my boots.

Compared to the tree trimming, the actual net repair went quickly with three people. This time we used 2″x 2″ wire mesh. It is big enough to let small leaves and snow fall through, but too small and too stout for raccoons to get through. It’s also flexible enough to give a little when the trees blow around in strong wind. I love cable ties, but we used a lot of wire, too.

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Raccoon-resistant, because I am not foolish enough to believe that ANYTHING is raccoon-proof.

Dobby is ready to go to the front yard, now. In this photo, and in real time, too. I need to finish my story and go outside with him.

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Waiting patiently

The trees are a beautiful sight, now, knowing that dead wood is down.

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Winky says hello, and why haven’t I mentioned her, not even once? Okay, look for Winky. She’s BROWN.

The old netting we took out? The garbage crew didn’t take it. Wonder why . . .

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Really ugly stuff. We went over the ground with a magnet to pick up bits of wire, too.

Okay, Dobby, I’m coming. But first, look at the leftover wire. We call that “cutting it close.”

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That’s not much spare wire, but we’ll never need to patch it again, right?