Nothing changes much around here, including the fundraising, to my surprise. Give Big 2020 was as successful this year as it was last year! It’s especially gratifying to have so many repeat donors. Once again, we had a number of totally anonymous donors, so if you mystery guys are reading this, thanks! Or maybe it should be thanks again! Read the rest of this entry
Charlie and Hamish are one year old! Read the rest of this entry
I know, I know, the song is Who But a Fool (Thief into Paradise), not (Sheep into Paradise). But now that I have heard it that way, it will forever be a song about Charlie and Hamish. The joke is, this is hardly paradise right now. Read the rest of this entry
The ducks need a new pond. It was so bright and shiny when it was new that Dobby refused to swim in it. He was thoroughly disgusted by it.
Because Dobby was a Prince, he received a very fancy new swimming pool. My son and a couple friends were invited to help move the old tin can pool into the aviary. Because it was capybara-sized, it didn’t fit through any of the gates. You can read about that adventure here.
But it’s dead, now. The side that was set into the slope totally rusted out. It created a dabbling area that the ducks liked, but the jagged rusty edges were hard to look at.
This time, we decided to think it through. The new improved but slightly smaller duck pond rolled right through the gate. Of course, last time, it wasn’t destined for the aviary. But this time it was, and so look at us, now! So simple.
Now, to drain the old pond. It’s too big to roll out the gate. It’s full of fish and sludge. Our thinking cap was still on. Cut that sucker into smithereens. But drain it first.
I know these fish. Eight of them. Four with IQ’s below 100. Four with IQ’s above 100. I have spent hours trying to net them. This time I will wait until there is hardly any water and make them beg to be netted.
I can usually get the first four fish without too much trouble. It’s trying to net the ones smarter than I am that is the problem. Can you say “Try to hide in that sludge, sucker?”
The last four fish cried uncle and swam into the net. They all went to Dr. Pepper Turtle AirBNB for a week.
Time to bring in my top wrangler, Connor. He’s the one who deftly lifted the tree off the top of my barn and house last summer. You should all be so lucky to have a Connor next door.
I am always surprised when the neighbors don’t look over the fence, or phone, or ask a few days later. “What the hell were you doing over there on Sunday?” After twenty years, they expect this craziness.
Well, actually, Connor is one of those neighbors. He is usually the one over here making a gawdawful racket and having a great time. It was his birthday present to me, getting this old tin can pool outta here. I think he likes doing this stuff.
The Bartender helped, of course. The project was timed to occur prior to his (second) shoulder operation. In case anyone wonders why he needed a shoulder operation. Come to think of it, I have had a shoulder operation, too, but not as serious as his. I guess Connor is next.
Connor and The Bartender cut and yanked and pried that old pool out of there. We were astonished to discover that the bottom of the pool was still in perfect condition, no sign of rust. Shiny and new. We tried to think of a repurposed use for it, but Connor’s trailer was going to the dump the very next day, and I looked around at all the other junk I never found a use for and the pool bottom was cut up, too.
The hens retreated to the far edge of the aviary and cowered. The ducks were even farther back, out of sight. None of them were terrified, they are used to the Funny Farm shenanigans. It’s much worse in winter.
I was so excited about the rooster tail of sparks that most of my photos have a fingertip in the corner of the photo. Some of us are slow learners. I should have had fishes number Seven and Eight take the photos.
Most of the cutting was finished, but there was still some more pulling and more yanking to be done.
Connor tried to leave, but I made him stack up the steps. Some of my elderly ducks have trouble getting in and out of pools. Then I filled the pool.
You might think big bright fish would be easy to net out of a little turtle tank but, no. There are still two in there, clearly smarter than I, and I may never be able to net them, unless I drain the tank. Heh heh heh. But six of them are back into the new duck pond. The six dummies, anyway. A couple days later, the bravest ducks were swimming in the new pool. And six of the the fish are in there, tickling their feet.
The neighbor’s tree started it. A rotten alder next door leapt across the fence in an attempt to reach my house. It crushed my pigeon loft, a former chicken coop donated by a fellow who dropped off his two elderly hens, Angel and Coffee Bean. The pigeons had moved in, nested, and hatched a baby before I had a chance to remove the egg during a catastrophic snowstorm. They were now loose and Phoenix gleefully greeted me at the gate when I entered the aviary that morning. The tree had rested on the top of a fence post, sparing the fence structure and panels. It touched the dove cage without marking it and reached the roof of my house, sparing the barn beneath by suspending itself neatly between the fence post and roof. Only one rebellious branch poked through the barn roof. It could have been worse, but the strategic placement of the suicidal tree meant that the bulk of the insurance check went toward tree removal. The insurance check that I received within a week of the catastrophe. Thank you. (Most insurance companies do not cover farm buildings. Does yours?)
Repairs kept us hopping. Connor had the tree carefully lifted off the farm buildings and house within a day or so of the disaster. Remik was out here the day I called him and repaired the roof the following day. The Bartender helped me construct a level foundation of concrete pavers for the new chicken coop I am using for a pigeon loft. Meanwhile, in order to discourage the rats living below the dove cage, I spread 17 bags of ready-mix concrete to make a new floor. Icky vermin had discovered that the wire sub-floor was rusted and disintegrating, providing easy access to the scattered seed the doves thoughtfully provided throughout the cage. I have a new handy source of cat poop to drop into the rat holes, and now I see the poor scavenger scurrying hither and yon, possibly homeless. (If I have cat poop, where are the cats and why aren’t they doing their job? Keep reading . . . )
Most of us have seen how goats jump up onto everything, so that’s one reason why I got sheep, instead. I didn’t want goats on the roof of my house. Sheep, as I have discovered, are jumpy, too. I started “target training” by having Charlie and Hamish “turn around.” They immediately caught on and Charlie continued to twirl long after the saltines were gone. A couple days later, I decided to try a new trick, but I was in the front yard and had no “target” handy. Training in the back yard had been so successful that I decided to throw caution to the wind and try it without the target. I asked them to stand up on their hind legs, holding the saltine aloft. They dutifully stood up, one after the other, and then the enthusiasm grew and suddenly they were jumping up for the cracker, and then jumping up on me, and then jumping up on each other, snapping at my hand and then the package of saltines tucked under my arm! The beauty of the target, you see, is that the focus is on the target, and not the hand holding the saltine. We won’t be doing tricks without the target, ever again. Hah! A couple days later, a repairmen was out to the house (a recurring theme around here) and, of course, he wanted to see the sheep. I decided to see if they would do a trick and reached for the saltine package. Before I could grab the target, they were jumping all over the place, all over me, as the repairman slowly backed toward the kitchen door, feeling behind him for the doorknob. He let himself in the door, vaguely mumbling something about how they are certainly well trained when I finally snatched up the target and re-programmed them to turn circles. Next, I’ll try something easy, like getting them onto a scale so I can weigh them.
Princess, my beautifully behaved House-Hen (she has a heart murmur and receives meds 3x daily) has started jumping, too. She sleeps in the bathroom, but no longer in the bathtub: she jumps up to the edge and perches where she can more easily keep tabs on us during the evening. Earlier this year, we moved her to a day pen in the living room where she is nearer the kitchen flock, though she has never admitted that she is a mere bird. I am not efficient enough for her, so if I am delayed, she will choose a new bedroom for the night. Atop a curtain rod, on the
capybara rabbit barrier wall, maybe the kitchen sink. The pet-sitter once found her in the fireplace. Once she is in the bathroom for the night, she generally stays put. Princess hardly ever jumps onto my shoulder when I am brushing my teeth, for instance.
She’s still sick, but stabilized, so I let her out with the
other hens for Garden Party in the afternoon. Charlie the sheep quickly discovered that she would shriek and pop into the air if he put his face down at her level and took half a step forward. I had a stern talk with Charlie and he doesn’t tease her any more, though she’s still wary of him. It will be a while before they are sharing birdseed out of the same dish.
Do guinea pigs jump? Of course they do, it’s called “popcorning.” It’s like a miniature Doofus Dance. That’s not really jumping, though, is it? I’m talking about capital J-Jumping, like when one guinea pig catapults herself over a barrier into the other guinea pig cage. Sigh, it’s contagious. I have been working with
Daniel Danielle since February, in hopes of moving her in with lonely Squirrel. She was too exuberant for mellow Squirrel, though, and she didn’t really get along with Brutus and Cookie Monster, either. But Danielle was was outgrowing her smaller separate cage. I finally gave up and divided the Dude Ranch into three adjacent pens: Brutus and Cookie Monster kept their section, Squirrel donated a portion of his oversized space to Danielle. My volunteer and I continued to give them floor time in neutral territory, and Cookie Monster’s “Date Nights” with Squirrel became more frequent, and we finally moved Cookie Monster in with Squirrel. I got out my slide rule, calculated the sizes of the spaces, and made adjustments to meet the minimum recommended standards. One big C&C cage divided with more wire grids. It allows them to communicate and eat together without controversy. One day last week, I went in to deliver snacks and discovered Danielle in with Squirrel and Cookie Monster. They were all milling about without concern, but I pulled her out and replaced her to her section and distributed the snacks. In the morning, she was back in with Squirrel and Cookie Monster, snack uneaten. She had jumped back over before I was down the hall. I removed the divider and Squirrel and Cookie Monster quickly investigated their new enlarged territory. I’ll recalculate the areas and fine-tune the divider between Brutus and the Three Musketeers to give Brutus a scosche more space and snug that divider up. Nobody trusts Brutus with other guinea pigs, though she is a sweetheart with people
My mother always said “You always worry about the wrong thing.” My cat, Grover, passed away a week ago. Not the diabetic cat, Kitty Hawk, but the other one, his good buddy. I had no idea anything was wrong, but then I had him 6 years before he would let me touch his tail, though he finally did a “nose bump” with me most mornings, lately. Apparently, FIV+ ferals often succumb to dental disease, and so went poor Grover. No wonder there was increased rat activity this past couple of months. I jumped right into it, though, and got Kitty Hawk two new feral buddies from the Seattle Alley Cat Project. Larry is a dumb but pretty feral FIV+ female, so skittish she may never tame down, so another Grover-style kitty. Half-Stache has a white spot on half his upper “lip” and he’s feral, but not FIV+. He’s not adoptable due to his distinctly outdoor-only toilet habits. So Kitty Hawk has two new charming kitty friends, caged for introduction purposes. I’ll keep you posted.