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!
The good news is that the wasps have vacated the Little Free Library! I had a big warning sign up and thought no one had come near it for a few weeks. When I took down the BEWARE OF WASPS sign, I noticed that someone had stuffed my library full of great books! As you can see, it is much larger than most Little Free Libraries, and the donator failed to organize them properly: non-fiction on the lower shelf, Children’s books middle shelf right, hardback fiction at the top. By the time I had them all sorted out, I realized there are at least 50% more books in there than what I seeded it with! It isn’t fancy (It’s a discarded china cupboard I found on the corner with a “free” sign on it.) but it is a success!
So here’s the part about the chicken. Conchita is one of three hens dumped at a local feed store back in 2012. Adelita and Conchita survived whatever took Bonita out, and rule the coop over the four other hens who put up with them. Conchita developed a bad habit of hopping over the 4 foot tall chainlink fence that keeps the bully drakes separated from the little white call duck hussy, Ping, and her dimwitted beau, Boxcar. I found Conchita whimpering at the base of the fence with a broken leg and now she lives in my bathtub. What a klutz!
Conchita and I went to the vet where they confirmed my diagnosis, pinned her broken leg, put on a cast, prescribed antibiotics and pain meds, and sent us home. She went straight into the bathtub, leaving me to contemplate the surprise vet bill.
A week later we returned for an x-ray to evaluate her progress. Her leg was healing up dandy, she had finished her course of antibiotics, and only needed pain meds once a day. She was lonely for her friends, and I knew she would eat more heartily with the flock around her, so I took her out to the infirmary in the aviary. We were still having nice summer weather and there is a heated pad out there so it would be an easy transition from indoors. The following vet visit, they removed her cast. Of course, she couldn’t walk yet, but she was much more comfortable. And she was within conversational distance of her friends.
The next vet visit was a surprise. It was another surgery to remove the pin. With a fresh wound where the pin came out, she was prescribed another round of antibiotics and pain meds. In addition, I was given a bottle of antiseptic wash to cleanse the wound. I read the post-surgery instructions while they were settling the bill. Anesthesia, lethargy, vomiting, loss of appetite, blah blah blah. Medications 1, 2, and 3 blah blah blah, clean wound daily for 10 days. At the very bottom of the page-> Other Special Instructions: Recheck in one week Keep Conchita inside to keep wound clean
INSIDE! Really? I was crushed. She had been so unhappy indoors. The Bartender is a good sport, but this is our master bathroom. Okay then. When I considered the daily cleansing, the twice a day meds, how well she was healing . . . it wasn’t a good idea to chuck her back outdoors, even though she would miss her flock while she was back in the bathtub.
A bit more serious about her indoor accommodations, I hauled out a stack of old cage blankets so I could freshen up her pen at a moment’s notice. I had noticed that she liked to sleep on her picked-over corn cobs, so I moved in a couple of sausage-shaped toys for pseudo ground perches. Set her up with a Ring For Service bell. Made the all-day trek to IKEA and bought her an abacus (which she loves) and a baby bug mobile (which she ignores). The rest of the crew made out like bandits: Dobby got new rugs to sully and a toy box to knock around. Fat Bonnie the rabbit got stacking cups to knock over and a basket of plushie vegetables to toss. The Guinea pigs got new floor blankets and a plushie pig to abuse. Even the rats got new sleeping bags.
Conchita began to stand on one leg, using the broken one as a crutch for balance. Ever the optimist, she learned to whimper every time we approached the bathtub: “Let me out of here! Please? Anyone?” The twice daily med routine was a groaner for both of us. The cleansing was a quick efficient affair once I cleared a path to the lost laundry tub in the far corner of the cluttered workshop better known as The Dungeon.
Another vet visit, another surprise: out of the wound they pulled an exceptionally clean and solid plug of pus the size of a checker. Then they stapled her, closing the pin hole for good. Whew! All finished! But wait, another round of antibiotics and pain meds. And of course, there would be one more vet visit to remove the shiny new metal staples.
She really started walking around after that visit. Climbing the short flight of stairs to the master bedroom, we began to see a Conchita head pop up as she greeted us. “I gotta get outta here! Please?” I decided to put up a little fence around the tub. It wouldn’t keep her in if she got active, but I hoped it would discourage any escape plans. The very next night at bedtime, we discovered her up on this perch! What do you think? Tall enough fence? Maybe not.
Poor Conchita, the next day I switched out her little fence for this big ex-pen. She hasn’t been up on the perch since. To tell you the truth, I absolutely cringe at the thought of her jumping up and down from anywhere. She did hop up there today when I cleaned her blankets, but she always waits for me to lift her back down. Even that night when she slept up there she didn’t get down until I lifted her gently down in the morning.
So this is what we see every time we climb the stars to the bedroom. “Please! I’m begging you, let me outta here!” She has a vet appointment tomorrow afternoon (those staples), and even though they might say it’s okay to put her back outside, I’m not sure I’m ready to do it. We’re going to miss having her inside. It’s kind of fun having a chicken in the bathtub.
Little old Stevie Ray will be my next challenge. He used to be big and fat, but in April, the vet discovered an abdominal mass, undoubtedly the cause of his weight loss. At his age, surgery isn’t an option. She said he probably had another three months, and we discussed what that would mean for his buddy, Squirrel.
At seven years old, Stevie Ray can look a bit rough, but he cleans up nicely after a warm bath, shampoo, and blow dry. It has been five months now since he saw the vet, and he even gained a little weight over the summer. Now, he’s starting to have some old-age problems, and he’s losing weight again, but his appetite is great and he doesn’t seem to be uncomfortable.
Brutus and the Cookie Monster are young girls that came my way shortly after Stevie Ray’s depressing diagnosis. They graciously donated the ex-pen you see here to the chicken. In return, they have Conchita’s lower grid fence. They managed to escape the ex-pen once, so I’m anxiously awaiting their escape from the short, lightweight fence. If they work together, I’m sure they could shove it around. Maybe they’ll push it near enough that blue Thomas the Tank Engine step (with the IKEA pig on it) so that they can make a flying leap escape. I’ll let you know.
Meanwhile, I have this great new blog helper. Spitfire the budgie is very inspirational if you like mirrors, paper clips, pieces of string, and seeds all over your keyboard. Oops! She just flew across the room. That’s how I know I’m at the end of a blog! Bye!
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!
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!