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Daily Drama 57

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Daily Drama 57

Blogging is not a priority for me this month. Dobby is participating in NaNoWriMo, otherwise known as National Novel Writing Month. The Prince has decided to write his autobiography. You might think this has nothing to do with me, but it has resulted in a lot of encouragement, research, consultation, and plain old butt-kicking from ye olde Farm Manager. He wants to do this very much, but he hasn’t the discipline or skills to go it alone.

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Sonya’s sketchbook

Fortunately, my illustrator, Sonya Reasor has stepped in to help Dobby on this worthy project. It’s inspiring to see Dobby come to life on someone else’s sketch pad for a change. 

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Breakfast is served! At the bowl: Carmen, Emilio, and Tony. Beyond: Ping, Shamrock, and Sal.

My mornings are busy, and in addition to the usual chores, leaves are falling onto the wire netting that secures the roof of the aviary. If I don’t pick those before it snows, the weight of snow+leaves=broken roof. We had temperatures down to freezing night before last, so I will soon be winterizing the swimming pool pump and packing away all of the freeze-sensitive accoutrements around here. Time to switch Dobby to his heavier blankets, ratchet up his heater, increase his corn ration.

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Dobby is thrilled about his new hens (in the background.)

The three new four-year-old Golden Laced Wyandotte hens have already moved from the bully pen out to the general population. I guess they have never had a roosting perch, because they roost in a huddled pile-up next to the cat food dishes. Not a big hit with the cats, but they are sweet old traditional hens. They remind me of the hens in Chicken Run. (One of the best movies ever made, BTW.) Frieda, in particular is a friendly old gal, curious about everything I do.

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Frieda watches Windy and Eartha take dust baths in the barn. They are all molting.

Princess Blur is one of a kind, and I have known quite a few chickens. She befriended my old handicapped hen, Lula, and I have to carry them everywhere together. Blur is the only hen who doesn’t go home to roost, unlike the old adage. Oh, no, she flies up into the apple tree at dusk. Fortunately she prefers a low branch where I can pluck her down and carry her to her Official, if not preferred, roost in the safe and dry barn, near her beloved Lula.

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Petite Princess Blur. Not a good climate for feathered legs, she carries a bit of mud on her slippers.

Princess Blur is so funny and tiny. My other hens don’t know what to make of her.

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Look! You can see shadows! Enjoying the sun, Blur, Conchita, Jello, and Adelita.

Dobby is waiting patiently for me to take him to the front yard. The grass is nearly gone, but he still finds greens here and there. The bamboo is spreading like wildfire, but he eats it all winter long.

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Dobby looks a little shaggy this season.


We walk through this storage area when we go to the front yard. We have had record rainfall and the ground is saturated. My entire yard is a mudhole, and there is an inch of standing water over most of the front lawn.

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Dobby stops in a mud puddle to scratch on his way to the front yard.

Dobby wants everyone to see his feet.

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That’s good organic mud, black and gooey like crude oil.

Dobby’s preference is to have his grazing catered so that he can enjoy a snack with his friends. I used to provide a cracked corn snack in the afternoons, but a gang of mallards keep crashing the party. Seriously, 30-40 mallards fly over, land in Dobby’s pool, and present vouchers for drinks and bar snacks as if they were entitled. I have been weaning them of this indulgence, but there is still a core group of half a dozen mallards who know their way around here and go into the aviary where the real duck food is available. Scoundrels.

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A round of cracked corn and bamboo-in-a-bucket. Carmen, Norman, Boondock, Boxcar, Cubicle, Dobby, and Ping.

For some reason, I cannot take a decent photograph of my silly little white duck, Ping. Today she sat and gave me the stinkeye while I administered medication to a dove. Yesterday, Norman and the flock was antsy at the end of the day. Turns out Ping forgot how to come around the apple tree fence, and was left behind, frantically pacing when Norman brought everyone else into the aviary for the night.

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Ping keeps an eye on me.

It isn’t much different indoors. Rats, it turns out, are little beggars. Fortunately, they are eternally grateful even for stale graham crackers.

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Yuki will eat almost anything, though she balks a bit at carrots.

We are all devastated at the death of our little old guinea pig, Carl Sagan. No one felt the loss more than Stevie Ray, who kept vigil in his special observation post long beyond necessity. He gazed longingly at the former location of Carl’s cuddle cup, and rather ignored snack time unless I handed him the treats. Fortunately, Squirrel was ready to be introduced into Stevie Ray’s spacious cage, and after nightly floor time on neutral territory, the big day arrived.

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Squirrel the maniac, and Stevie Ray, a sadder but wiser gentleman pig.

During the Monday Mayhem otherwise known as Guinea Pig Cage Cleaning Day, Squirrel moved in. He was so, well, squirrely, that I wasn’t convinced it would work, but poor Stevie Ray was so despondent, that even rambunctious Squirrel was a welcome respite. The two boars are getting along nicely. Stevie Ray is eating normally again and as long as the carrots keep coming, Squirrel will be happy!

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Fat Bonnie snuggles up to a plush piglet.

Dobby goes out to sleep in his night pen every night. Fat Bonnie takes advantage of this and hops around to his side of the wall where we set up toys and treats for her. She would like it better if we didn’t also let the birds out for an evening flight. They like to land on her blanket and tease her. It’s not nice to tease dummies, but she is smarter than I thought! Not only does she “stand up for a cookie” but she also “turns around for a blueberry!” I never thought I’d see the day when Bonnie could do a trick!

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Daily Drama 56

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Since my last post, I have welcomed two incoming farm residents, heard of a surprising demise, racked up expenses for several veterinary visits, and I am considering renaming Carl Sagan the Guinea pig “Methuselah.” The new washer has astonishing capacity, making Dobby’s daily washing a breeze, and his gigantic blankets drop into it like the Enterprise entering a black hole.

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Squirrel, the nutty Guinea Pig

Squirrel is my new Guinea pig, and working him into the Dude Ranch is exciting. He came from a nearby rescue and had not found a permanent home. Until his well-pet check, he lived quietly in his own cage. He’s a friendly boar, leaning out of the cage, interested in anything coming in through the door. Digging through his vegetable dish, he runs off with the carrots. Eventually he tastes everything and then the dish is empty and he’s back to begging.

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Squirrel, foreground, in his isolation cage. Dude Ranch behind, Carl barely visible in a pigloo.

The veterinarian agreed with my age estimate of 2-3 years, well under the 5 years I was quoted. This means he is still young enough to neuter, and that little surgery took place last week. He’s so over it, raring to go again. Because, you see, this one is a maniac. I don’t know where that quiet one went that I adopted, but I don’t think he’s coming back.

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“You’re going to surgically remove my WHAT?”

Once Squirrel was deemed healthy, I took the next step of partitioning the Dude Ranch in order to introduce him to the herd. Ancient Carl is too fragile to live with anyone new, but eventually, Stevie Ray will appreciate a companion. They can live side-by-side until I am certain they will get along. So I put little Squirrel into his side of the Ranch, and he went wild! He grabbed the partition with his teeth and shook it until all the water sloshed in the bottles and food started to fly from the food bins! Wow! Stevie Ray and Carl both came over to investigate, and I realized how close their tender little ears were to the toothy fury that was their new neighbor! Out Squirrel went, back to his old cage. It was quiet again.

I put a double divider in, a space between them, a demilitarized zone, so to speak. Squirrel went back in, the fury ensued, the cage shook, the boys came to investigate, and Squirrel was airlifted into his old cage. Wow! I continue to maintain that I am smarter than a Guinea pig, smarter than a capybara, even. Because if I’m not, I can’t do this. So I thought about it overnight and the next day I implemented my solution: I lifted the wire cage top off of Squirrel’s cage, plopped it into the dude ranch, thrust him in with his food dish and hay box, and stood back. He calmly walked around his familiar territory and started begging for vegetables.

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Squirrel is in the white cage-within-a-cage at the far end of The Ranch.

The Bartender glanced in as he passed by.

“He’s in jail!”

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I’m still smarter than a Guinea Pig. Squirrel completely calmed down within his familiar enclosure.

Yes, I suppose so. A couple days later I lifted his wire cage jail out of the Ranch, and Squirrel barely noticed.

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“It’s all cool, man.”

I left the demilitarized zone in place, though. Carl is now too fragile for even indirect contact, even though Squirrel has calmed down a bit.

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Stevie Ray and Carl are still safely separated from the maniac, though Squirrel hardly ever rattles the divider any more.

Blur the banty hen came to me as the result of a failed backyard chicken experiment. Her buddy was taken by a raccoon and her owners threw in the towel. She was too noisy: lonely for chicken friends. She is absolutely minuscule, about the size of a pigeon, and I can hardly wait to see her eggs. To tell you the truth, when I saw her I was concerned that my bigger hens might not accept her, or that the cats might take an unhealthy interest in her. I put her in the infirmary with my handicapped hen, Lula, and they have bonded and are nearly inseparable. While Ping (the tiny new duck) was sequestered in the bully pen, they spent their days with her. They shared the safety of the apple tree pen during the afternoon garden parties. Now that Ping has been integrated with the other ducks, Blur and Lula continue their friendship wherever they are. Princess Blur seems to feel she is in charge, and knowing the routine runs over to be picked up when we are changing venues. She can walk, but Lula can’t, so they both have to be carried everywhere.

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Lula (black) and Ping (white), Dobby the capybara, and tiny Blur just behind him, in the apple tree pen.

“Honestly, if ever I was tempted to bring a hen indoors, it would be little Blur.”

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Princess Blur, the banty Mille Fleur hen. She might be 6″ tall.

The Bartender looked a bit panicky when I said that out loud, so I won’t mention it again and we’ll see what happens.

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Ping the duck and Cubicle the goose are friends. Shamrock is just beyond the top swimming pool step, and Carmen Miranda the muscovy is beyond him.

Ping, the little white duck, has settled in with the flock and follows the drakes everywhere. I’m not sure why they haven’t noticed how cute she is. She and my goose, Cubicle, have long amicable conversations, and I think she is getting some good advice. Or maybe she’s hoping to interest Ping in Shamrock, the relentless drake who shamelessly follows Cubicle everywhere, to the annoyance of her mate, Norman.

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Dobby plays hide and seek in the front yard.

Romeo, who went to the most fabulous pond imaginable, had a good month there and then suddenly wasted away before there was time to see the vet and he’s gone. Our ten cent diagnosis is hardware disease, a peril I have lost several Muscovies to. I feel badly that he probably ate some ugly junk here only to die of it at his new home. We will never know, but I guess it’s time to sweep the farm with my magnets again.

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Pouffy Man. We’re working on a new trick. Do you think he can get pouffy on command?

Carl Sagan (Methuselah) has again made it to his birthday month of October. Born in 2006, that makes him – YIKES! -ten years old! Sadly, he looks all of his ten years, and he is fading fast, but his appetite is youthful! He is my last goodnight, and the little pet I check on first thing every morning. In Guinea Pig years, he’s about 100. You are a champ, Carl!

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Stevie Ray and Carl Sagan. Ha ha, can you tell which end is which?

In other news, Dobby’s presidential campaign has stalled somewhat. He is bitterly disappointed that he wasn’t invited to the first debate, but is now complaining that he was unable to prepare due to an unexpected nap computer glitch. Maybe he’ll get off his throne and do some campaigning, maybe not. We’ll see.

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Dobby takes a selfie.

Duckling Days

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A couple days ago, the first thing I did was look out the bedroom window to see if there were any ducklings out there. I had seen some the day before, but I was astonished to actually see them again, on the driveway, glowing and backlit from the morning sun! What a great way to start the day!

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You have to imagine the glowing. I’ll never get a photo of that.

They live next door, to the south. I can see them from my deck, and from the window right next to my desk. I can hear the peeping, too!

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There is a little ball of ducklings in the very center of this photo.

I’ve never actually seen ducklings in that little pond before this year. Maybe that’s because their cat is now gone.

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Decisions, decisions.

Dobby’s little stream drops into a culvert, goes under my driveway, and into the little pond. There is a hole under the fence where the culvert dumps out. There is a little slope at one side that ducklings can negotiate. They don’t have to jump.

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The ducklings hesitate at the drop-off at the edge.

Sometimes they come over to play in my little waterfall and look for bugs in the quagmire next to my driveway.

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Heading around the fence this time.

When I saw them glowing, they were leaving my duckling playground, heading home the long way around the fence. There is pretty good cover that direction, even though they have to go near the street. It’s a dead end with hardly any traffic.

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There are plenty of puddles to play in between here and there.

I feed the mom all year long, so she doesn’t mind me following her around. We’re good friends.

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Almost home

I have been tossing out cracked corn for her. The ducklings prefer bugs, but there’s not a whole lot I can do about that.

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They have trouble getting over that curb!

Their little legs go pretty fast, but they aren’t so good at jumping! They’ll grow big enough to hop that curb by next week.

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Home sweet home!

The neighbors are helping to watch out for them, too.

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Ducklings in the pond next door to the NORTH, too!

If that isn’t enough cuteness, there are ducklings on the big pond to my immediate north, too! I was seeing ducklings all the time there, and then I noticed that there were two moms, two broods! I’m tossing cracked corn over the fence that direction, too.

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Ducklings on the north pond, viewed from my aviary.

This is the view that my tomcats have. Kitty Hawk and Grover are pretty interested, so I won’t be letting them out at all for a while. I relocated a wild turtle from the street to this pond last summer, but I haven’t seen him this spring.

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Sometimes they just look like this, under mama’s wings.

In the video, you can see three dads to the far left, watching over a mom with babies. The property next door has nearly 10 acres of wetlands, so there could be more than two broods there.

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One last look.

Daily Drama 34

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Daily Drama 34

The dramas keep coming and at times I think I am surrounded by a$$holes. The squirrel hanging off the bird feeder in the photo below, for instance, should be glad I didn’t take the time to grab my telephoto lens. Cover up, dude!

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You didn’t really want a close-up of a naked squirrel.

Dobby can look so innocent, so calm and placid. Day before yesterday, Connor was on the roof cleaning the gutters, and unclogging the downspout to the diverter that fills Dobby’s bathtub. In other words, he fixed my “rain barrel.” Dobby barely tolerates having people on the roof, but he is getting used to this particular neighbor, even though he doesn’t stay on the ground very much.

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A photograph of sublime innocence.

Yesterday afternoon, I accompanied Dobby to the front yard. That, apparently, was the signal for the weatherman to turn on the sky sprinklers. The pressure reducing valve failed and the subsequent gullywasher was even too much for Dobby, who is, after all, a rainforest animal.  He was through grazing in the front yard, already totally drenched and he finally gave up on the great idea of going in through the front door. We were both on the narrow path to the back yard when I was suddenly knocked flat into the mud from behind! At the same time I heard the front gate open. I looked up and saw Connor standing there! Nobody expects a neighbor to visit during a downpour, and it scared the heck out of Dobby! Between the three of us, I’m not sure who looked most embarrassed! Dobby certainly looked unhappy about knocking me down!

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You should see the jacket and pants!

A couple days ago I noticed that Dobby had pulled out the birdseed and dumped it out. He does love him some birdseed! However, the message was more complex than “I’m hungry for bird seed.”

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“Except that I actually WAS hungry for birdseed. Want to try some? Its pretty good!”

He couldn’t eat his potatoes because there was poop in his potato bowl.

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“See, I lost my appetite for potatoes, and that’s when I noticed the birdseed!”

It’s a good thing I have guinea pigs. Even at their worst, they are still adorable. I have never had one knock me down.

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Who could be sweeter than Carl Sagan?

Stevie Ray is a handful, but once you get him away from the others, he forgets to be macho and loves to cuddle. Most guinea pigs don’t like being on their back, but Stevie Ray loves to be held tummy-side-up like a baby.

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“It’s all lies!”

Fred usually comes over to be petted but quickly realizes how undignified that is and runs off with the others.

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“I’m busy customizing this window.”

 

I’m still transcribing Georgia Dee’s Diary. Every once in a while I realize I have a piece of jewelry someone gave her 70 years ago. I even have the fountain pen she used to write in the diary! I’m up to November 4, 1944, but I’m stuck for now, because I know what happens on the next page. I’m not ready to face it, though it happened long ago and I’ve known about it for 50 years. So, I’m relieved to be leaving town for a while. I’ll turn that page and finish transcribing when I return.

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Georgia Dee’s 5-year diary and artifacts

Gift shop sales are going well, but the shop will be closed for a couple weeks while I am away. I’ll try to post some more jewelry when I return. I also want to sell some true “garage sale” items like my S&P collection or maybe I’ll just pull some boxes out of the closet and sell everything I find in there. There are a lot of boxes in my closets. On the bright side, there’s a reason why I still have some of my Mom’s stuff from 70 years ago.

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Shipping by Mr. Woody Slug

 

So I have switched into my Alternative Writing Mode. The pet sitting instructions are seven pages long. I slipped out last night after dusk to take a photo of Dobby’s heater. It hangs up on some s-hooks, and sometimes he knocks it off one of the hooks, so I thought I’d give the petsitter a photo of what it is supposed to look like. But, DANG! The heater is hanging and it is plugged in, but the kennel pad has come unplugged! I didn’t expect to see that!  The kennel pad is actually more important than the wall heater, so it’s a good thing I saw it before I left home.

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Unplugged!

 

So I locked him out and plugged it back in. (Take my word for it, you don’t want to be molested by a 125# rodent while you are trying to plug in a heater.) So, just one more thing to worry about while I’m gone. Other than that, I have a hen in the infirmary (She laid an egg today!) and the turtles seem to be coming out of hibernation early.

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Plugged!

This year, the bartender and I are going to Maui! My orchids at home are ready to bloom in anticipation! This was a test and it looks like my camera has decided to focus. Cameras do have an uncanny sense of when to go wonky, but let’s hope it keeps working throughout the trip!

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Aloha!

Capycoppy and SuperCapy will be reporting in when I return!