Honestly, I don’t know what’s up with the turtle any more. Dr. Pepper hibernates half the year, then he suns himself for a few afternoons, and he’s gone again. He’s Mr. Mysterious. Read the rest of this entry
I wasn’t busy enough, so I am now officially not retired. Sixty-four is an odd time of life to start a new career, but my volunteer status no longer adequately describes my activities, so I have been hired. Coincidentally, my wildlife photography, my non-stop blogs, and my stunning cinematography have been derailed. The dramas have no respect, and continue to unload at an alarming rate. Currently, the blog-waiting room at the Stacy’s Funny Farm Station is taking numbers, but all of the clerks are out to lunch.
For instance, there is still a rabbit at large in the guinea pig room. I am losing confidence that Honey Bunny will be reunited with her owner in the near future, but she is a lot of fun for now. Other than the fact that she has started to mark the carpet. My own Bonnie Bunny has previously attacked a rabbit- her own sister!- so I don’t dare introduce them.
Snow White, the dove, is finally perking up. I had brought her inside and she did well at first but then languished. I still don’t want her to have direct contact with her daughter, The Pirate, until I am certain she is healthy. For the past four days, I have been wheeling her cage into the kitchen so they can “flock,” and they are eating together (from afar) and Snowy is suddenly showing signs that she will completely recover. Next I will let them interact, supervised, and determine whether they want to share a cage. Snow White probably thought she was doomed to flock with guinea pigs. Oh, the horror of it!
In fact, the guinea pigs are a fine little herd. Carl’s eight year old legs still scurry with the youngest of them. He honestly doesn’t seem any older than the other dudes. Speaking of old dudes, my antique cockatiel, Jorge, still occasionally falls off his perch onto the padded cage floor. I’m beginning to think he is a LOT older than the sixteen years I know about. I’m his third owner, and he’s been
annoying me here for ten years.
The new hens are settling in, laying eggs, begging and underfoot. The flock dynamics are fascinating: little Bianca is now shunned by the two hens she arrived with, and old Jello seems happy to have her as a new companion. And yet, the roosting positions vary from night to night, with Bianca randomly sleeping near the two and then Jello. Little Lula sleeps below, but still manages to get off the ground. She has been on Metacam for a year, and if she ever dies we might discover what her problem is. She is a sweet happy hen, comes when I call her each morning for her medicine.
We had 11″ of rain in January, almost 1/3 of our yearly rainfall. Even the ducks are sick of it. Norman’s feathers are in poor condition, and the Muscovies look pretty bad on wet days, too. They have a heat lamp and whole wheat and cracked corn treats, but we’d rather have some sun.
Quasimodo the turtle has been out a few times this winter. He’s been here since 2009, and each winter I wonder whether I should bring him in or let him hibernate. In this photo you can see the bulge at his right cheek, a calcium deposit he’s had since before he came here to live. I feed him when I see him, but he really isn’t interested in eating during winter. Dr. Pepper has emerged a couple times, too, but not for long.
The crazy wild mallards are proliferating. There were 26 one afternoon last week, right at the time of day my flock generally emerges for the Garden Party refreshments. A couple of the mallard ducks march directly into the aviary, turn right at the turtle tank, enter the barn, and help themselves to the poultry food! I now have to make a sweep for mallards before I secure the gate for the night. One morning last week, a drake surprised me by flying off the roof onto the ground in front of me as I walked out with the breakfast treats. Entering the aviary I was greeted by a female mallard, merrily swimming in the duck pond. She was reluctant to leave, though her drake was mighty relieved to have her released.
My tomcats vacillate between boring and completely frustrating. Grover has decided to discover whether it is possible to actually perish from hairballs. Kitty Hawk is easy enough to handle that I occasionally grant him the privilege of walking the circuit around the house. Those days are over as he apparently strayed across the street. I figured that out when I heard the distant cat fight- who could that be?
Dobby, my precious angel, has been saving “gifts” for me, letting loose in the kitchen as I return home for school. He’s so thoughtful. I keep telling myself it’s the weather. You might think a rainforest animal would like the rain, but no. He seems to disapprove of rain, though honestly, in winter he disapproves of almost everything except corn-on-the-cob.
There has been a tiny visitor at our front door, and I have almost stepped on him twice. The second time I brought him in for a photo shoot. It’s spring when wooly bear caterpillars appear, right? Summer is surely coming!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Dobby is eager to return to the back yard. I wonder why.
Wiley Wabbit has declined to attend the Garden Party this afternoon.
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.
Bonnie Bunny prefers cold weather to wet weather and is taking advantage of the situation.
Meanwhile, the Large Rodent is steaming.
All of the pets are wary of Dobby.
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.
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.
The guinea pigs don’t know winter. They do know vegetables.
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.
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.
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?
Go for it, Dobby! It’s going to be a long, messy night!
Madonna would like to announce that she laid an egg today. I took a video, but it was too annoying to post.
Dobby has had a new visitor to the back yard, but he is very shy.
The squirrels are nuts these days. Can you see all three? I have five resident squirrels, but it is hard to catch all five in one photo. Rusty’s babies aren’t out yet. Except the one that fell out and we put back in, that is.
Pepper the red-eared slider, a non-native pond turtle, came to us from the Seattle Animal Shelter. I’m still trying to get some history on him, but he had his vet checkup on their nickel. That’s a nice adoption gift.
To check for pneumonia, Pepper got to go swimming in nice warm water. He loved it.
Pepper doesn’t look like he’s been outside much, and he’s fearless. He loves people! Seriously, he checked everyone out.
You can put your finger right up to his face and he doesn’t hide! Doesn’t bite, either! So he has probably spent time around nice people that he trusts. He’s in good condition now, but has had a tough time in his past. His carapace is very rough and flaky.
In other news, Spike would like you to see how he helps out on cage cleaning night! You might recognize that spot as Dobby’s daytime hang-out by the heat vent. Gee, why is cage cleaning done after Dobby’s bedtime?
You’ll be happy to hear I did NOT stop to take a photo of yesterday’s first event. Dobby’s swimming pool pump has two filters, one in the pool and one just in front of the pump. The one by the pump has a clear plastic dome and I was surprised a couple days ago to see an orange flash in there, but decided it was a reflection off my shirt. I clean that filter out only occasionally because the entire pool tries to empty out through that opening when you pull the filter basket out. Fortunately, I decided to clean it out yesterday and, yup, there was a fish in there! I quickly tossed him into the pool (no photo!) but he was in there while the pump was on for 4 hours the night before, spinning like a top! This morning there were three dummies in the POOL filter basket. I’ve never had even one in there before. Must be the season when goldfish migrate.
There is a Turtle Story coming but it is to complicated to go into right now. Anyway, here is poor little lonely Quasimodo, enjoying a sunny moment. The tiny goldfish I got him are not the same as having a turtle friend. Maybe another one will need sanctuary here some day.
That large wilted gray-green stalk on the ground was a beautiful tall upright sunflower on Tuesday. It managed to sprout and grow and survive until then. Dobby doesn’t really go into that area. I have it fenced off so the rabbits can go in there without him bothering them. So what happened to my beautiful sunflower? It was almost ready to bloom!
Dobby never fails to amaze me. I was in his pen, scooping equipment in hand, looking around for something to scoop. Like guinea pigs, capybaras are prolific- big eaters for sure, but more seems to come out than goes in. So as a capybara owner, nothing to scoop could mean digestive problems or even a blockage. Oh, look! There it is, IN HIS WATER BOWL! Maybe he finally noticed that those are fire hydrant decorations.