Tag Archives: Norman

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 55

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Daily Drama 55

Writing a blog is easy when there is so much to write about. Sometimes, though, the material piles up so fast and furious that there is no time to write! Taking a vacation creates a windfall of material, but if taken correctly, induces a predictable and even desirable stupor. The school year aspect of my life (that I don’t write about) creates an artificial deadline which looms like a cliff of doom to rodent aficionados. So while I have a couple blog posts in the works, why not start and finish a third, and really confuse the heck out of everyone?

As a sanctuary (also called a LOFT, Live Out Full Term facility) I see many animals through to their last days. Older pets aren’t as adoptable and often find their way here. Some have just been here a hella long time. Carl Sagan the Guinea pig is one of them.

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Bath and blow-dry time for Carl Sagan

His brother, Ankhsheshonq, left us long ago, complications due to dementia. Carl will be NINE* TEN years old in October, but he is having some issues with right rear axle paralysis. He’s perky, doesn’t seem to be in any pain, still interacts positively with Stevie Ray, and races to the treat bowls on cue. Still, he has no strength in his hip and leg, and flops over as soon as he is stationary. Because he isn’t as active, this gets fairly messy, so he has been getting baths, as needed. He likes the extra attention, and the older I get, the more sympathy I have for these old pets. I hope Carl makes it another year, to TEN ELEVEN years old, but in case he doesn’t, I have located an older boar companion for Stevie Ray, who remembers when the Dude Ranch was 5, not 2 dudes. You will be hearing about him in a while.

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Fat Bonnie attempts to explore the living room. Watch out, Fat Bonnie! The wood floor is LAVA!

Fat Bonnie Bunnie seems to be making an effort to overcome her fears, and we have started to let her into the living room for romps. She doesn’t seem as fearful there as she is in the kitchen, such nonsense. Her sister and litter-mate, Helen, was so joyous and playful, I know Fat Bonnie had a nearly identical history. I am reading some of Temple Grandin‘s fine work, and thinking maybe my little fatty has some brain anomalies, but whatever the problem, the treatment is the same: minor adjustments, one at a time, to her daily routine until she responds positively to something.

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If he performs outdoors, that is one big help! Thank you, Dobby!

Dobby continues to be a big help around here. He eats grass from my bucket, apples from the raked up pile, bamboo that sticks through the protective fencing. He marks my tool handles, my jackets, and surprisingly, he now marks Kitty Hawk the tomcat!

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Grover (Cleveland) and Kitty Hawk

He’s back up to 116# but that’s still below his pre-veterinary visit weight of 117.5#, and well below his previous 125#. He has gained weight during apple season before, so we’ll see. His big secret is that he’s writing his memoirs, but I’ve seen it and if he wants my help publishing it, he’d better tone it down a bit.

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Dobby taste-tests the bird seed. Is it okay for the hens to eat?

I can tell you that a capybara that falls off his bed- it’s a pillow on the floor!- during a nap doesn’t have a lot of wiggle room in the dignity department.

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Seriously, he fell off this bed.

In other Dobby News, he has a couple new-from-Florida wind chimes, and a beach ball that he despises!

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“My mom and dad went to Florida and all I got was this cheesy beach ball.”

The wild animals around here are out of control. A mother raccoon and three babies peered in at me while I was feeding the chickens- during the day. I had to pick the bumper crop of grapes, too tart to eat, but rats in the arbor are not as adorable as they sound. These aren’t my cute Wistar rats, no they are the other mangy kind, and they don’t look so hot this year. 

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There are rats up in the apple tree, too. [No rats in this photo, use your imagination.] Go ahead, walk right under this arbor. Don’t cheat and look up!

And Dobby had 28 visiting mallards yesterday, prompting a brisk recall of the cracked corn appetizer I put out for Happy Hour.

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Only a few Mallards here, but my little flock is still too timid to chase them away from the treat bowl. Imagine this scene with 16 in the pool, the remainder distributed in the yard. Too many freeloaders!

Enough is enough.

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Mrs. Mallard is the only one brave enough to swim with Dobby. She’s been hanging out here (pre-pool) longer than Dobby has, 8-9 years.

At least the hummingbirds are satisfied: my garden blooms for them all summer and I can ignore the feeders for a while.

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Ping the duck! She has angel-wing and is tiny, but she’s very spunky.

I was contacted by a Facebook friend of many years, and we made a very satisfactory duck exchange. Her little Ping is small, white, and has angel wing, and probably wouldn’t thrive in the natural environment available to her there. My thuggish Muscovy drake, Romeo, has not mended his ways, and my little hens have been living in fear. Norman the goose isn’t too fond of him either.

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Dobby checks out the new duck. Ping is that little white blob beyond him, keeping her distance.

Romeo’s hen-directed activities are inappropriate, but he is friendly to people and ducks, and he is a big drake, able to take care of himself. So we traded, and while we are still watching to see how it goes, I think we both came out ahead. Just yesterday I noticed how quiet it is around here. Romeo himself was quiet, but he had a way of stirring things up, and it is nice not to hear Norman honking at 2am!

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Dobby says it’s time to return to the back yard, asking to go through the front door this time. He’s right, it’s closer, but oy vey, the cleanup as he trashes his way through the living room! Never again!

UPDATE: I stand corrected. After talking to Carl Sagan’s owner (Carl is a foster guinea pig), I am stunned to report that Carl will be 10 years old in October. He’s doing great, and I honestly think he’s going for 11!

Daily Drama 39 | The Roundup

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Daily Drama 39 | The Roundup

Today I rounded up all the bad boys and set up the bully pen. At a certain point, Norman the goose takes his job much too seriously and works the graveyard shift, too. When I can hear his supervising honks all night long, it is time for action.

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Outside the pond, L to R Vinny, Sal, Romeo, and Cubicle. In the pond clockwise starting with Norman the Goose, Boxcar, Boondock, Emilio, and Tony at the center.

Here are a couple photos of better times, AKA fall and winter. Most of the fighting is a springtime affair, but it takes a while for everyone to kiss and make up. Norman is the big gander with the black bill. Cubicle is the smaller goose with the orange bill. Shamrock, a tall gray runner duck, is in love with Cubicle, but she doesn’t take him seriously, so Norman is okay with it.

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Around the corn, happily eating together are Vinny, Fabio, Tony, Emilio, Shamrock, and Boxcar. That’s brown muscovy duck Winky behind them near the lawn. On the grass are Norman and Cubicle, Boondock, and Sal. This photo is from last November, and nobody is fighting. Oh, photobomb by the capybara and a couple mallards in flight from the roof.

My oldest drake, Fabio, is about 9 years old. The head pouf he was named for has long gone, along with his curly drake feather. He limps around pretty well, but he’s lowest on the totem pole. Two of the Rouens (fat mallard-colored drakes), Boxcar and Boondock are very protective of him. Tony, a mostly-black duck who came here from Pasado’s Safe Haven with Vinny and Sal, despises Fabio. Tony attacks Fabio when Boxcar and Boondock let down their guard.

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Sal, the tree duck.

However, Tony is the primary protector of Sal. For some reason, my third Rouen, Emilio, despises Sal. So, Sal has become a tree duck, fiercely defended by Vinny and Tony. I have arranged a feeding station up there for them. Lately, though, Norman gets up there and helps himself to lunch when he’s in the neighborhood. Nobody messes with Norman. Except Romeo, my muscovy drake. He nearly put out Norman’s eye one spring, but for some reason, Romeo hasn’t tried to kill him this year. I suspect the muscovy ducks, Winky (disliked by ALL the poultry) and Carmen (loved by all), are keeping him busy. 

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Emilio has been a prince about getting penned with the cats every evening. Or maybe I am an exceptionally experienced Duck-herd.

With Sal in his tree, and Emilio locked in the cat pen at night, it has been quieter. We have passed the summer solstice, and they will slowly quit fighting on their own, but to accelerate the process, I have separated the four worse offenders into the bully pen. This should break the bond between the aggressors and the under dogs more quickly than if I allow the aggression to continue. I’m also concerned about poor Sal and Fabio, for whom life has not been lovely this summer. I’ll continue to watch for bullying- often one of the others will rise to alpha with the bullies gone- but it should settle everyone down pretty quickly. Last year, I had to separate them much earlier and for much longer, so believe it or not, this is quite an improvement!

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Sir Poopsalot, gatekeeper to the Bully Pen.

Welcome to the bully pen, Emilio, Tony, Romeo, and even Shamrock, who doesn’t pick on anyone in particular. He’s just a jerk.

Stay tuned, and I’ll let you know how it goes.

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 — Dobby Style!

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Dobby the Capybara has been asking for it- so I let him write another blog. I told him he had to write a little bit about the Funny Farm and he protested, but finally agreed to write a bit about the ducks. Sure saved me some time! Here’s what he wrote:


Let’s take a walk out to the aviary.

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Lula the hen, and Winky the Muscovy duck share a nest.

Look at these silly girls! They are sitting on . . . a nest. No eggs, just a nest. Lula gets hauled out of there to get her medicine every day and Winky complains about nothing. Personally, I think they are just lazy.

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Carmen examines the plank blocking her cave.

Our other Muscovy duck, Carmen Miranda, has laid eggs in several places so far, but her newest place is UNDERNEATH this old storage unit, in a hole. She can get way under there, which makes it hard to know if she’s even there. Does she think she’s a badger? I bet she’ll have that wood dragged away from her entrance by this afternoon.

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Sal, the Tree Duck

Every year our drakes bully each other. We usually have to separate them, but this year, Sal is trying out a new strategy. This is a brush pile over an old stump, and he perches up there. Vinny and Tony hang out up there, too and the other ducks don’t bother them.

Old Fabio (he’s 9) gets bullied but he has two buddies who stand up for him. They have claimed the bully pen area and everybody leaves them alone. Romeo the Muscovy Drake doesn’t seem to be as dedicated to murdering Norman the goose this season, and everything is fairly orderly out there this year.

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Penguin is the black one.

This is our very sad story. Our oldest hen, Penguin, was found dead at the first of the month. This photo was taken the day before, and she looks fabulous, doesn’t she? She had a slow winter but had been laying eggs, so we suspect Fowl Play, but it really doesn’t matter, now. She was a good hen. Now we are left with Lula the sick one, Jello the naughty one, and Madonna the intellectually challenged one.

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Momma Mallard with ducklings

The ducklings have dispersed but we still see this little group. The six are now five, but they are fat and happy.


And that’s what he wrote about the Funny Farm. Personally, I think he should have been more respectful of his friend, Penguin the hen. She was nearly as old as Dobby, and I know he was especially fond of her.

The big news wasn’t really about the Funny Farm at all. Dobby has every right to be proud, though, because he made the cover of Guinea Pig Magazine! An exceptionally fine publication, he was featured in a magnificent six page section of the magazine! You can order your very own copy of the magazine – or subscribe! – here!

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That’s little Dobby at the bottom left corner.

If you want to read Dobby’s blog, here is the link:

http://petcapybara.com/2015/05/15/my-magazine-debut/