So two days ago, I got a call from Gene at work that I never would have seen coming. Apparently the Animal Control officer found a poor, sad, starving ferret walking down the street, and it came running up to him. Since it was obviously someone’s either escaped or abandoned pet, for some reason he called Gene. Gene then called me, and barely got the words, “Hey, you want a ferret?” out before I was shrieking, “Sure!” Gene came home with Raphael, two hammocks, a play tube, smell-good spray, treats, chews, ferret chow, designer food and water bowls, and litter.
Raphael also came with a cage, but I discovered the next morning that Raphael could come and go as he pleased just by walking through the bars. Naturally I used that as an excuse to head to Petco and purchase a Luxury Ferret Condo, which is five floors of tastefully appointed luxury living. I also got him some toys, backup treats in case he didn’t like the treats Gene picked out, and a litter box. Since we wanted him to feel like he’s found his forever home, we put his cage right next to the kitchen table where we can take him out and play with him whenever he wants cuddles. So far most of his time is taken up by sleeping, drinking water, and eating. He was so thin you could see his ribs, so I think he was probably outside for awhile. Raphael loves to ride around in the back of my hoody, and snuggles up in my arms and peers around.
Ceri is absolutely entranced with him, and Raphael must have come from a home with cats and dogs, because he isn’t fazed at all by all the stares and sniffs he’s getting. Since he’s the same shape as Ceri’s favorite chew toy, Blue Beastie, he only gets well-supervised forays out of his cage. Ceri keeps bringing her squeaker toys over to him and seems to want to play. He fits right in to our crazy indoor zoo. The best part is that now that Gene brought home a rescue ferret, he can’t say a word when I waltz in with a rescue tortoise!
Our outdoor zoo is doing well too, although collectively everyone but the ducks is tired of the rain. Our backyard flooded again, this time even deeper, and the ducks are ecstatic. Unfortunately, the alpaca cabana flooded, so Gene has to build a subfloor and install it tomorrow so Woolimina has a dry place to bed down for the night. Shy Shy uses the cabana occasionally, but he seems to prefer sleeping in the woodline. My guess is once Gene finishes building the custom floor unit, he’ll use it every night.
Now that it’s completely dark by five pm, I’m under extra pressure to make sure everyone has an array of delicious treats to distract them from the miserable, dark weather so characteristic of November in this lovely damp state. Wilco had a sale today (2-for-1 Happy Hen Treats – yay!) and I bought a Flock Block to put in the winter enclosure. It’s basically a compressed square of everything I offer in separate feeders in the coop. I bought two huge bags of discounted apples at QFC, and Ritz crackers were on sale as well, so naturally I bought two boxes of those. I should be good on treats for at least a few days.
Even though it’s raining constantly, I decided to move the latest batch of chicks to the big coop. They were getting testy and fighty, so I figured they needed more space. The transition went smoothly, and they’re already roosting on the bars with the big chickens.
Winston, the newest rooster, is already macking on this newest flock in hopes of recruiting a harem. The poor injured chick that was living in a hospital box inside the brooding box definitely needed more space, which is another reason the other chicks needed to vacate. Since nothing is more sad than a lone chick in a huge brooding box, I hopped onto craigslist to find her some friends. I got in contact with a really nice lady who had Lemon Cuckoo Orpington chicks crossed with a chocolate Orpington. The chicks, which they dubbed “Locolates”, are adorable, and now two of them are keeping the injured chick company. The injured chick’s surrogate mother, a Welsummer, is broody again so I’m also letting her sit on a clutch of eggs. I timed it perfectly, too, since they’re due to hatch on the day of my next (and hopefully last) surgery — I’ll have something cute to come home to! That also leaves Gene about three weeks to build an outdoor nursery area, since I don’t want another young one getting injured by cranky adult hens.
Other than the migration to the big coop, not much is going on around here. The high point of my week was when I won a long, drawn out battle with a huge evil wasp. The wasp hitched a ride in on a log for the wood stove, and of course I didn’t discover it until like one in the morning, when I saw three of our cats batting around an extraordinarily large bug. I didn’t realize it was a wasp until I’d zoomed in on it with the camera (cuz guess what’s cuter than a picture of cats playing with bugs? Nothing!) I’m not normally up that late, but I’d spent the day cleaning and was just going to bed. When I discovered what it was, I immediately wrapped about half a roll of toilet paper around my hand and tried to squish it. Not only did I hear the furious buzzing, I actually FELT it through the wad of paper. When it pushed itself out from under my hand, I scattered kitties, tp, and unfortunately the angry winged insect all over the room when I reflexively jumped ten feet in the air.
The wasp disappeared behind a framed picture, but squishing the picture against the wall didn’t kill it, it just pissed it off more. I brought out my biggest gun, in the form of the Hoover with the hose attachment. After chasing it around the bedroom for a bit, lugging the vacuum behind me, I finally sucked it up in the hose. I could still feel it pinging around in it, though, because something is wrong with the hose attachment and it doesn’t have much suction. I didn’t want the wasp to escape, so I finally ended up Scotch taping the hose shut, and dragging the vacuum out on the porch for Gene to deal with when he got home. In my defense, he said it was still alive when he untaped the hose, but he did say reports of its size were greatly exaggerated. He also said one piece of Scotch tape would have sufficed.
Ever wonder how to get a doctor to laugh uproariously at you when you visit the Urgent Care? Tell him you got attacked by a vicious, vicious rooster. Seriously, he laughed! And not just him, the physician’s assistant AND the receptionist thought it was hysterical. The receptionist was the worst – she asked me why I needed to be seen, and when I explained that Marley the rooster had impaled my leg a few times, she started to snicker. Then she tried to cover it by coughing, then gave up and started guffawing. It probably didn’t help that I couldn’t explain it with a straight face, but still. It also didn’t help my cause that Gene was sitting next to me in the room, scrolling through the photos on his cell phone and showing the doctor pictures of every other critter that’s ever bitten me. The doctor managed to contain his laughter until he saw the picture of the giant fluffy bunny.
I’m not sure why Marley got so stabby on Wednesday; I definitely wasn’t doing anything out of the ordinary. In fact, I had just dispensed Happy Hen Treats, which made what happened next quite ironic. If I had to hazard a guess, I would attribute Marley’s increased aggression to the fact that the gold-laced Wynadotte rooster has finally found his crow, and thus announced to everyone that he is, indeed, a rooster. Marley must feel like he has to reaffirm his place on the pecking order, a list on which I’m apparently near the bottom. Abigail was there when he attacked, and she said he moved so quickly she didn’t even realize he’d impaled me. The best part was when King Julian came flying out of nowhere and went all MMA on Marley – knocking him down and kicking his feathered butt all over the pasture. Of all the critters, King Julian is the only one who has my back. Marley managed to stick his spurs into my knee a total of four times before King Julian knocked him out of the air, causing enough damage that I could barely walk that night. When the puncture wounds started to look all red and inflamed, I put aside my embarrassment and went to the doctor. Thanks to Marley, I walked out with antibiotics and a tetanus shot.
Other than that drama, things are pretty calm around here. We had our first hard freeze of the season, so I spent this morning chipping ice out of all the waterers. Not my favorite time of the year. All the goats have grown in their shaggy winter coats, and if the amount of shag is any indicator, we’re in for a cold winter this year. I love watching the chickens roost up for the night when it’s cold, because they sleep in piles of cuddles. It’s the cutest thing in the world. I’m putting off relocating the brooding box chicks, since I’m not sure how cold it gets in the big coop. I went to check on them this morning, and panicked when I only counted 13 instead of the usual 14. After searching the garage, I finally moved one of the empty feed bags to see if the chick was hiding behind it. I was totally unprepared for the inside of the bag to erupt in a frenzy of movement. It was strong movement, too, like the kind that a rat could generate. I want props for actually opening the bag and peering in after screaming and jumping five feet in the air. Apparently the chick thought she could roost on the edge of it, and fell inside. Not what I was expecting to find just after dawn.
The chickens are ecstatic because I’ve been winterizing the garden, so they get to come inside and root around to their hearts content. They spend most of the day in there, attacking the rotting tomatoes and helping themselves to bites of rainbow chard. Harvey has yet to discover the open gate in his wanderings, but I’m sure it’s just a matter of time. I particularly like when Marley goes in there, because I can slam the gate shut and taunt him through the fence. I have to redeem myself somehow, because when he’s outside the fence all he has to do is look at me and I run and hide between King Julian.
After three days of listening to Christmas loudly voicing her opinion of the rising water level surrounding her chalet as she waded over to her food bowl, Gene and Abigail decided it was time to move her home to higher ground. After disassembling and removing her cedar A-frame living quarters, Gene hooked the kennel part of it to the Rhino’s wench, then he and Abigail pushed while his daughter reversed across the yard. I helped by standing inside the alpaca cabana, taking pictures and musing aloud about how much easier it would be to do that if it wasn’t raining so hard.
Christmas decided she wanted to live closer to every one else, so now her abode is just to the right of the alpaca cabana. She also opted for a tri-level, lofted living space, with the front of the chalet removed so there’s more room for entertaining. Her new quarters has a patio area, then a step up onto an open concept living room/kitchen area. A ladder behind her breakfast nook leads up into her lofted bedroom. I also lined her new home with flakes from a hay bale, so it should stay nice and dry.
For the most part, Christmas is ecstatic with her new residence. Her only complaint is that unfortunately Shy has picked the area directly in front of it to use as his latrine. With as much rain as we’ve gotten, his latrine has turned into a different, more stinky sort of pond so Christmas basically traded her lake-front property in for an entirely different sort of waterfront experience.
I decided to try and relocate the latrine today, since I have to wade through it every time I go to let her in and out of her chalet. I had the brilliant idea of dumping a bucket of water on it, to try and see if I could get some of it to roll downhill. I had the equally brilliant idea of wearing my cropped workout pants and rubber waders with no socks while doing it. As soon as the water left the bucket, I realized my horrible, horrible mistake. Sadly, since my boots had sunk into the “mud”, I couldn’t back up in time to avoid the stinkiest, soupiest splashback in the history of the world. The only good part is that I was wearing Gene’s boots.
Anyone who knows me has heard, at great length, exactly how I feel about rain. Especially the copious quantities that we’ve gotten in the last few days. On the other hand, I’ve always wanted to have a duck pond, so the rain has at least one bright side. Our backyard is so flooded that the ducks can actually swim around. It’s hard to be depressed, no matter how hard the rain comes down, when everywhere I look there’s a happily cavorting duck swimming and splashing about.
Christmas, on the other hand, is less than impressed with her new lakefront property. Even though the floor of the turkey chalet is elevated, the ground is so sodden that her bedding gets drenched, no matter how many times a day I put new wood chips down. Apparently the water is coming up through the wooden pallet and rubber mat, which doesn’t surprise me, seeing as the water level is up over the top of my muck boots. Now I feed her inside her chalet, so she can eat in peace (turkey chow is Woolimina’s favorite meal) and then let her out again so she can bed down in the new warm and toasty alpaca cabana. Gene is going to drag the entire turkey chalet onto higher ground with the rhino, which should be a fun process. I think it would be easier to just shove a pontoon under it and turn her abode into a houseboat.
You know the weather sucks when not even Harvey wants to venture out in it. After spending three days stuck inside the bunny ranch, I opened the door today during a break in the storm. He ventured out for a few hours, then hopped back home when it started raining again. He spent most of his time on the deck, treating my potted plants like his own personal buffet. His other favorite pastime during inclement weather is hopping through the chicken’s winter enclosure; I think he likes seeing them squawk and scatter. The chickens spend most of their time there, occasionally venturing out into the rain if they hear me come out onto the deck. Apparently their love of treats trumps their hatred of rain, because if I brave the monsoon they’ll still come running. Naturally I feel compelled to make sure I bring an extra special snack, since they’re getting rained on and all.
The inside critters, much like their mama, have spent most of their time lounging around on the couch napping in front of the wood stove. Ceri, the German Shepherd, got spayed last week, so she’s rocking a cone of shame right now. Since it’s approximately the size of a satellite tv dish, she constantly knocks over drinks, chairs, and end tables. On one particularly memorable occasion, she scooped up Charlie the kitten in it. Unfortunately Ceri quickly learned the one benefit of wearing the cone is her ability to traumatize sleeping cats with it. There’s nothing like hearing a giant cone beast chasing a herd of five cats while knocking over chairs to remind you that you do, indeed, live in a zoo.