Since I’m one of those people who need sunshine on a daily basis, and tend to be somewhat melancholy when deprived of it, I naturally project those feelings onto the critters. Or at least, that’s how I rationalize buying more exotic, expensive treats during the rainy months – the poor things are depressed! How can I pass up Happy Hen Treats when I walk down the aisle? Harvey and Christmas found themselves particularly uplifted this week after I happened upon presliced, pre-packaged apple slices at QFC. A five-pack was on sale for fifty cents at QFC, so naturally I loaded up. I didn’t even worry about the rapidly approaching expiration date, given the population of our backyard. Christmas has already learned what’s coming when I reach into my pocket and she hears crinkling. It’s a little disconcerting when she tries to get the package while I’m trying to open it, but I figure she’s just extra hungry. I have to confess that while dispensing her apples treats the other day I had one of those blinding flashes of insight when I realized I’ve become a certified crazy bird lady. It hit me as I was biting the apple slices into smaller pieces (to compensate for her beak size) and spitting them into my hand, then dumping them into her bowl. Since I’m basically regurgitating her treats for her, I might as well do the chicken dance around her food bowl while screeching ca-CAW, ca-CAW. But she really does love apples, so you know I’ll keep doing it.
I really need to find a treat the ducks love, because they’re starting to quack jealously when everyone else is grubbing on Wheat Thins and they’re standing around with empty beaks. The only thing I’ve found that they come running for is watermelon, and that’s out of season. Gene won’t even consider having some specially flown in from California, no matter how many times I remind him that I don’t ask for much. I’ve tried frozen peas and carrots, bits of bread, canned corn, and apple bits, but so far they just spit those morsels out and quack sadly. They love Wheat Thins, but I’m worried the sharp edges will hurt their little throats, since they don’t have teeth to chew them. And I don’t care how far I descend into my crazy bird lady persona, I refuse to pre-chew a cracker. That’s just wrong. Maybe I’ll try bran flakes. I’ll have to add that to Gene’s shopping list.
I’ve also added a critter to my personal list of must haves, which if you’ll remember includes quail, peacocks, and pheasants. And this new obsession is Abigail’s fault, because she knows how quickly I fall in love and she’s the one who took me to the Bug Museum in Gorst. While she and her three-year-old daughter looked around at all the critters on display, I spent my time gazing longingly at Cecil the Sulcata Tortoise. After a long chat with the museum curator, I learned that Cecil will live approximately 100 years, he’s a vegetarian, and he’ll grow to about 150 pounds. His demeanor is calm although he loves to pace, and his poo generally takes on a log-shape form. (I ask all the important questions right up front). I’ve already drawn up plans to convert the Bunny Ranch into a duplex, with the new tortoise taking up the fully enclosed, heated, sun-roof equipped lower level, but Gene said he simply insists on getting The Installation – aka Garage Brooding Resort – finished first. I asked him when he planned to get started on it, but he was so focused on thinking about the project that he didn’t answer me. At least I’m the only one who left the Bug Museum empty handed; Abigail bought a fire-bellied frog for her 8-year-old son’s new bedroom. The frog came in a neat aquatic habitat consisting of a clear acrylic lidded box filled with about a half inch of water at the bottom. A little plastic island was floating inside, with a palm tree glued to it. The island was a little disconcerting, both because it is clearly one of those styrofoam trays that small portions of raw hamburger meat come packaged in, and also because it had a fake ceramic frog glued to it. I tried to convince her to get two frogs, but she wanted to do some research first. Mostly to make sure she wasn’t doing the equivalent of putting two Siamese Fighting Fish in the same bowl, I think.
In less exotic news, Fiona and Shy have come to a somewhat uneasy peace, at least during meal times. I’ve mentioned before how this farm seems to have a bad epidemic of grass is greener syndrome, because Shy is now convinced that the goat grain is delicious, and Fiona loves her some alpaca chews. Shy is slowly emerging as the alpha critter, in that he now shoves his head in the goat feeding station and chows down on grain, totally ignoring Fiona’s protests. If she gets too annoying, Shy will take a particularly large mouthful of grain, lower his head to about a foot off the ground while looking up at her, then blow chunks of it all over her face. I’m so gonna try that next time someone gets pushy at the buffet.