It rained today. It rained yesterday. It rained the day before that. It rained for the two weeks before that. And if the rain wasn’t bad enough on its own, the sheep got indoor recess again today. Read the rest of this entry
In the Pacific Northwest, indoor recess is de rigueur from November to March. At least. The Garden Party at the Funny Farm still happens every afternoon, rain or shine, but enthusiasm ebbs during the winter. Even Princess Blur goes out each afternoon to play chicken for an hour, but she’s eager to return indoors well before dusk. That’s 4:15 PM in December.
When the outdoor hens decide to stay in the barn all afternoon- indoor recess- I don’t take Princess out. If they aren’t going to come out into the garden, it’s probably too cold and wet for a tiny hen with a heart murmur.
I thought that sheep from the Shetland Islands would be okay with rain, but no. We built a nice roof over their pen and they hang out in there when the rain is overwhelming. Bev, a Muscovy duck has been inviting herself in, too.
Have you seen Hamish and Bev’s video? Slightly off-topic, but I’m not sure it didn’t start when Bev went looking for shelter from the weather.
We thought the incessant rain was bad and then it snowed. And then the temperatures plummeted.
We have hummingbirds year round here, so it becomes a nightly game called “Will the hummingbird feeders freeze tonight?” If I take the feeders in at night, I need to take them out at dawn, when the hummers start to feed. When it’s cold out, they pouf out downy feathers over their feet to keep warm, like they are wearing little tiny down slippers. If I manage to get a photo of that, I’ll quit my day job.
I have ten doves outside. They are very tough but they get hungry when it’s cold. Of course, their water freezes overnight. Years of experience have taught me to be careful where I toss the ice. If it doesn’t thaw for a week, I can end up with a treacherous pile of ice shards that make it hard to walk around. Ice maintenance seems like an awfully fussy consideration until that morning when I can’t open the gate past a hasty midden pile of ice.
The heat lamps emerge with the snow. They all love them, but heat lamps are inherently dangerous. That’s how fires start in barns and finding charred wood near a lamp is scary. I have friends who have had the fire department out. So I only bring them out when the animals are cold enough to actively use them. I’ve had two going this year, already.
The sheep love the snow. They eat it, they cavort and gambol, they do everything but roll around in it. They have deep, dense fleece. I can stick my hand up into it nearly to my wrist. It’s warm and dry in there. I look at those skinny velvety legs and marvel at how they stay warm. After poor snow-hating Dobby, and worrying about frostbite, this is a welcome change.
The snow reveals other wonders. Look at the tracks in the snow, above. That’s a cottontail rabbit track in the center. Tiny tracks, solitary: did he drop from the sky? I have only seen one bunny in the front yard, long ago. Dobby loved that bunny, but he only hung out here for about a week. Or so I thought. Is he still out there? I have seen them next door, so I shouldn’t be surprised that I have (at least) one here.
What is going on with my hens? On snowy days they stay in the barn, jockeying for position under the two heat lamps. Rainy days they prefer to cram themselves under this kiddie slide. Five chubby hens must generate enough heat to make it nice and toasty under there. These are the days– barn days and under-slide days– when Princess Blur has a treat in her living room pen and gets marched upstairs to go to bed right after her afternoon meds. They are the days when I hide in my little greenhouse and pretend it is warmer in there.
True indoor recess occurs when I give up and let the sheep rampage through the aviary. I have to put up the chicken food and heat lamp hazards, and the ducks glare at me, but it’s a big treat for the sheep to be able to explore in there. If the weather was good enough for me to be in there taking photos and making videos, there would be evidence of this excitement. Maybe if we ever have a summer storm. Meanwhile, I am afraid to look: they’ve got access to the aviary now. My only hope for getting them out of there at bedtime is that they are fools for saltine crackers. Anything for a saltine!
So, the snow is long gone, but the rain has returned with a vengeance. The sheep are hoping for more snow. I am hoping for summer. Take a look at my poor basement. That’s six inches of water. Sigh.
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Did you know that Prince Dobalob is featured in a book you can read for free? Before you get too excited, the book isn’t finished, yet, but it’s close enough that I am putting it up serially on Dobby’s website. Check it out!
In the Pacific Northwest, winter seems to drag on and on and on. Summer is simply a brief, shiny, and distant memory. We have four more months of very iffy weather before “summer” which is unreliable until after Fourth of July. For now, I feed the ducks and chickens in the morning, then wash and dry my rain-soaked jacket in time for the afternoon Garden Party. It rains ALL THE TIME, there is slippery black mud everywhere, and even the ducks are wet. Dobby, supposedly a rainforest animal, refuses to do his “business” out in the cold, windy, relentless downpour. It’s just not right. Lots of fun coming up before summer, though. The ducks are starting to joust and I’m wondering how soon the Bully Pen will have to open for business.
My fabulous volunteer, Jillian, needs to adjust her schedule around tennis practice. I still can’t believe she offered to come on Guinea Pig Cage Cleaning Night! We were able to clean The Dude Ranch plus the two rabbit boxes in a New York minute! It’s so nice to have help for the “less fun” tasks! Unfortunately, we forgot about Dobby’s extra Jillian Corn, and when she went to say goodbye to him, she noticed that he had registered a complaint IN HIS POTATO BOWL. Ugh. Sorry, no photo.
Part of the aviary fence is slowly rotting, as everything does here in the Pacific Northwest. Between the time when I counted rotten boards and showed my friendly neighbor where to install the new ones, another very suspicious hole had opened up. We hastily gathered up some plywood to patch the holes from the inside, and he can now replace the boards at his leisure. One week later, the suspicious hole resurrected itself, this time through the plywood! I set a 2×4 on the stringer and braced it with a CMU half block. Very late that night as I was readying Dobby’s kitchen area for the morning onslaught, a possum sauntered by, so close to the glass door he nearly brushed against it! So, yes, a suspiciously possum-sized hole. I kind of wondered why egg production had dramatically dropped off the last couple weeks. Thank goodness he didn’t go after the hens. And that reminds me I better check the hole from the entry-side of the fence, and maybe store a few rolls of chicken wire there. I’ve already directed the neighbor toward my stash of sheet metal.
My little hen Lula, who has been on Metacam just over a year now, is looking better day by day. Miraculously she has feathered out beautifully and seems to be putting on weight. Last night I found her roosted way up high with the other girls. I never thought I’d see her back up there, she has been roosting on a low laying box for months and months. The sun came out for about 5 minutes last week, and I saw her standing tall and enjoying it. It won’t be long before she’ll be joining the others for the Garden Party.
It has been a while since I heard from Honey Bunny’s owner, and so it goes. I really don’t like to take “fosters” because they are exactly as much work as full-time residents. I’m glad I was realistic about Honey’s future here, but she is probably the most “spirited” bunny I’ve known. She would be a more suitable guest if she’d refrain from leaping up to the bookshelves, but it’s hard to stay mad at a bunny doing figure-8’s around your legs!
Rainfall yesterday was unexpected. As you can see, we got 1/2″ of peanut shells.
Dobby was unusually helpful this morning.
The mud must have felt cool on his feet. Wipe your feet off!
I brought around 3 planted buckets that have finally established enough that Dobby can munch on them.
He has been cranky every morning for days. Was it the penguin blanket? REALLY? Spiderman was well-received and Dobby was a Happy Boy this morning. There’s also a pink ballerina blanket under there.
The weather has been nice, so he has only a couple of light blankets.
Before I had a chance to finish this blog post, Dick asked me to bring my camera out to the kitchen.
Why is this rabbit smiling?