….and back to swimming

IMG_1039I thought the universe and I had an understanding, but apparently not. The sunshine, which lasted maybe a day, has once again been drowned out by relentless rain. At least the predicted February Snowpocalypse never materialized, at least around here (seriously? They invented the “high impact/low probability” winter storm warnings just to mess with me. It probably won’t happen, but if it does, it’s gonna suck to be you.) The poor Guinea hens spend the day underneath the deck, chirping and shrieking disconsolately out at the rain. Pretty much the same thing I do all day, I just happen to do it from the couch. Ironically, the worst thing that can happen is when it stops raining just before dark. When that happens, Dimsworth decides he wants to sleep outside on the goat milking stanchion, which isn’t covered. Then when it starts pouring again around ten o’clock at night, I feel compelled to wade outside with a flashlight and usher him into the goat shed to sleep next to his smarter, dryer brother.  Gene says I’m profilenuts, and that he’s fine outside, but when I went to put up the ducks one night, I shone the flashlight on him and he was shivering in the rain. That first night, I tried picking him up. Fatty’s up to about fifty pounds, I swear. And you know what smells worse than a wet turkey? Nothing. (Except perhaps the fertilizer we put on the living room avocado tree, because it was dropping leaves at an alarming rate. But to be fair, it’s pretty much the same exact smell, and I don’t sit on that couch anymore, cuz damn, that be a stench.) At any rate, that particular night I was glad to be wearing Gene’s jacket. Now I just gently push at Dimsworth until he jumps off the stanchion and waddles into the shed of his own accord.

But it’s not all gloom and doom around the homestead. In my greenhouse, it’s spring. photo2The nectarine tree is already blossoming, and the fig trees have green shoots on them. The luffa gourds and giant pumpkins are already so big I had to put them into bigger pots, and most of the seedlings are taking off in the starter trays. I haven’t seen the frogs in awhile, but I know they’re in there somewhere. I can’t wait until the preying mantis egg sacs come in at the garden store, because I really miss Esmeralda. (It’s sad that mantis’s come with such a short expiration date – they only live about 8 months.)

photo (4)Whenever the rain gets to be too much, and I’ve already spent hours in the greenhouse, I cheer myself up by giving the critters treats. The quails love kale, which I give them once a week. (Lately I’ve been on a kale chip kick, since they’re so much better for you than potato chips. About once a month, I’m tempted to eat salt right out of the shaker, and they totally satisfy that craving. Mmmmm, salt.) The ducks and chickens love rice, and the bunnies of course have their Wheat Thin addiction. I haven’t found a treat that Shy Shy loves, besides his grain.  I’m sure it’s out there, I just haven’t found it yet.

See? Whining pays off!!!

chick nap 2I would like to thank the universe for listening to me rant about the incessant rain and providing me with two sunny days in a row. For my next whine, I would like to submit the following: ENOUGH WITH MY NOT WINNING THE LOTTERYJACKPOT ALREADY!!!!!. Your move, universe. At any rate, all the critters were luxuriating in the sunbeams today, and everyone came down with a case of the spring crazies. I walked into the backyard with a takeout container, and was promptly mobbed by chickens, turkeys, and ducks. It’s been awhile since everyone was out of the coop at the same time, so the sheer numbers were a tad overwhelming. Especially considering Dimsworth is smart enough to go for the source of the deliciousness, rather than fighting for morsels with the rest of the riff raff.

Gene and I went out this afternoon to repossess one of Cinnabun’s offspring after bunnyreceiving a somewhat frantic phone call that Bunny Boo Boo (their name, not mine!) was eating everything, up to and including computer cables, carpet, and the walls. I specifically remember warning the family when we dropped her off that chewing wires was a rabbit’s go to move when bored, and that free ranging her throughout the house wasn’t the best idea. We had initially thought that Bunny Boo Boo was a female, but when we got there and learned that she was particularly interested in getting with their kitten, I thought I better check out her equipment before putting her back in with Cinnabun. Good thing I looked, because she’s not female. Not by any means. (This is why I’m crystal clear when re-homing the bunnies that I can’t guarantee the sex when people want them just after weaning, it’s really hard to tell. And you can’t stare at bunny bits for too long trying to decide before you start to feel really weird and uncomfortable about it). Since you can’t put two sexually mature males in the same Bunny Ranch together, Abigail inherited a new bunny by default. She’s open to new name suggestions, so comment away! I lobbied hard for Mini-Bun, but that’s more of a girl’s name. (Same problem with Ivanna Kitty, which I thought was witty given the circumstances).

Let’s all go swimming (in the backyard)!

duck bucketSeriously, enough with the rain. Even though my Number 1 resolution was to stop whining about the weather, whatever form it happens to take, ENOUGH WITH THE RAIN ALREADY. Our backyard has turned into a mud bog. Literally, ankle-deep mud. And that’s where there isn’t a pond. The ducks have a new creek flowing through their fenced area, so at least they’re happy. I watched them from the kitchen window for about half an hour today, swimming around and happily cavorting. The water in the way back of the pasture is deep enough for them to do their signature diving move – the one that leaves their feet kicking frantically up in the air. There’s even enough depth for underwater swimming. Sigh. They’re probably chasing salmon, there’s that much water. One of the ducks, though, isn’t obsessed with the newly soggy terrain — she loves her a bucket bath. Nevermind that she’s choosing to lounge (and worse) in the turkeys’ drinking water, and that she can’t actually get out on her own, she just wants a nice relaxing soak. When she’s had enough, she’ll start honking and fussing, prompting me to put on all my raingear to go fish her out.

Even though I don’t spend nearly as much time outside during the rainy season, I’m farIMG_1013 from bored inside. Ceri, the high-maintenance German Shepherd, has come down with another case of the severe itches, which then turned into all sorts of systemic infections within a week. The vet, who realized we dragged her in for the same reason this time last year, pronounced her afflicted with bad seasonal allergies. $350 and five medications later, including the world’s nastiest smelling shampoo, I’ve found myself with a new project. Medicating the Puppy. The ear drops are by far the worst, since she’s more protective of her ears than any dog has a right to be. Since Gene works nights, and isn’t here to help me hold her down, I’ve had to resort to the stealth approach, which involves syringing the medication into her ear while she’s sleeping. Then waiting a few hours until she trusts me again and falls back asleep to assault her other ear. At least the drops are only once a day. Her pills have to be given twice, and she’s got the most uncanny ability to separate food from pill that I’ve ever seen. I’ve tried hiding them in scrambled eggs, chunks of chicken, deli meat, peanut butter, and gravy, but at the end of the snack the food is entirely gone and perfectly clean pill chunks remain. I so wish she was more like Chupi, who Hoover’s his food so quickly I swear he’s never chewed a morsel in his life. It goes straight from bowl to stomach. Chupi loves when Ceri’s on medication, since obviously you can’t give one dog a treat and not the other (have you ever seen a Papillion sulk? It’s not pretty at all.) About three days into it, Gene came up with the brilliant idea of grinding the pills up and hiding them in Little Caesar wet food, which is like the McDonald’s of canine cuisine. It might be nutritionally void, but at least it’s working!

IMG_6513So when I’m not chasing an aggravated Shepherd around the house, or freeing a duck that’s too fat to get out of the bucket, I seek relaxation in the greenhouse. I can listen to the rain hammering the roof while I happily re-pot the three flats of seedlings I’ve already started. I can reach out and grab an orange off the tree in the corner, and  there’s even strawberries to snack on! Thanks to the heated seed mats, I can grow them all year, and they taste so good in the middle of February. Maybe I should try hiding a pill in one of those.

So much for resolutions…

stove kittyClearly my New Year’s resolutions have already gotten the better of me (write more! post everyday!) I’d like to say that I took the entire month of January off in order to plan my Superbowl menu, but even with the inclusion of a signature cocktail – containing blue curacao, naturally – it only took a few minutes to decide on hot wings and lil’ smokies. (That was my contribution, Gene made his famous 7-layer dip). Mostly I spent the month of January curled up in my couch nest, drinking herbal tea, reading, and whining about the rain. I swear my brain just shuts down due to lack of sunlight.

Conveniently, January is the slowest month around here. The chickens hide in their dimsworthhouse, sleeping on their roosts for most of the day and only coming down for the occasional snack (apparently my winter apathy is contagious, I’m greeted by a bunch of fat, grumpy chickens every time I go out to gather eggs). Dimsworth and Hawthorne, also haters of all forms of precipitation falling from the sky, spend their day inside the storage shed. Their favorite dry napping spot means I have to literally hop over them whenever I come and go, which isn’t fun when I’m hugging onto three flakes of hay and a scoop of grain. I also have to shovel out each night’s leavings in the morning before I do chores, because anything that smells so bad in that enclosed space should be visible in the air. And that’s with the door left open all night! I imagine if I shut the door, the paint would peel off the walls.

tree turkeyThe ladies, who are getting pretty big now, don’t seem to mind the rain at all. In fact, they’ve gone rogue, and now quite literally rule the roost. They sleep where they want(usually up in the trees), eat where they want (any feeder that isn’t theirs), and potty where they want (on our roof, really???? Our roof? Good thing it’s not December anymore, Santa might slip). I certainly don’t miss the nightly process of getting them into their chalet. I would open the door, prop up the “herding fence” to make it harder for them to run past the open door, then chase them in a circle around the kennel until they finally stagger inside to eat. On a good night, I only had to chase them once or twice around the chalet. On a bad night, I would race upwards of fifteen times around it, with the song “Here we go ’round the turkey chalet” going through my head over and over and over. And then I’d slip in Shy Shy’s latrine, which is conveniently located right behind the chalet, well within the turkey’s race track. The turkey revolution started the night I could only chase Temperance, Constance, and Hester inside. Prudence repeatedly flew onto whatever roof was nearby, no matter how many sticks I threw in her general direction. She finally flapped into the woodline, and I was worried enough about coyotes and such to go get a flashlight and spend an hour chasing her back into the yard. She finally settled down on the deck railing, which is where she stayed until Gene crept up on her at two in the morning, pounced, and hauled the enraged ball of squawking feathers into the chalet. The very next night, all four of them refused to come down from the roof, because if Prudence gets to sleep where she wants, why can’t they? I gave up. It’s four against one, and I don’t like those odds. snow ducks

I really do love those goofy turkeys, though. Yesterday was their first experience ever with snow, and they were not loving it. They refused to come down from the roof until after noon; I think they were afraid to land in all that whiteness. Most of our chickens had never seen snow before either, and took one look out of their coop and refused to come out, even for treats. The ducks were the only birds that had a grand old time of it, happily digging in the snow with their beaks and sliding around. Ducks are generally happy anyway, though. They take great delight in wherever they find themselves. I really try to be more like the ducks during winter.