Showing posts with label animals. Show all posts
Showing posts with label animals. Show all posts

Friday, 28 April 2017

Meet Primrose the Rainbow Lorikeet

Primrose, or Prim for short

Way back in January some time we had a text from a friend who had been approached by someone with a baby bird who needed care. Of course our friend contacted us straight away, because we have become known in our area as the repository of lame ducks, flightless birds and white elephants. Of course we said to bring the baby bird over and we would see what we could do, because we are in fact the repository for all creatures great and small in need of help.

Our first report said that this baby bird was a rosella, so we emergency bought a huge bag of granivore mix (for seed eating birds like rosellas). Feeling very prepared and organised, we set up a nursery cage with soft fabric as a nest and hot water jars for heat.

Our first sight of Prim

This is what a baby rosella looks like (from a bird raising site)

When our friend delivered this baby bird in a shoe box, we had a peek inside and felt a lot less prepared; she was obviously a Rainbow lorikeet (the blue head is a dead giveaway), luckily the people who rescued her had been feeding her organic baby food (fruit and vegetable mush) which is fine for either species. If she had been fed granivore mix she would have had a very upset tummy and would possibly have died.

We had some nectivore mix (for birds that eat nectar and pollen, like lorikeets and honey eaters) in the cupboard for Barry (the Blue faced honey eater) so we fed her that for a few days until we could get some nectivore mix especially for baby birds. She was in very good condition, not dehydrated or thin at all, so her transition to humpy living was relatively easy.

Apparently she had fallen or been blown from her nest into a mud puddle in a storm, then picked up by a large dog who took her home to his place. The people who rescued her (from their dog) had just put her in a warm box and fed her, so she was still covered in dried mud and dog slobber. We were also worried that the dog may have hurt her, although after two or three days in her rescuer's hands she had not shown any sign of injury. As it turned out she had no injuries. Our first move was to give her a warm bath to remove the mud, which was causing her some irritation, as were her feathers as they grew in.

Yes, this is the 'baby in the bath' photo
It took two baths to remove the majority of the mud and Prim herself groomed the rest off. She was fed and changed just like a baby for weeks after that and just like a baby she cried at night and had to be fed on a four hourly basis. Needless to say nobody in the house got much sleep until she gained enough weight to sleep through the night. Luckily my eldest daughter took on all of the child rearing duties (making Prim a grand daughter I suppose), she feeds her, changes her cage and keeps her amused for hours at a time.

After a week more of her feathers had come through and she looked like a bird not a dinosaur

She loves to groom hair

She loves to groom herself

She sleeps on her back a lot of the time

Prim is a delight to have around, even if she is a bit naughty. She learned to fly very young and flew out the window into a tall gum tree, where she stayed for two nerve wracking days. She couldn't work out how to fly down and kept calling to us for food but not understanding that we had no way to get to her. Eventually my daughter and I took an extension ladder out to the tree and my daughter climbed up as far as she was able then coaxed Prim into trying to fly to her. Prim launched herself into the air towards my daughter, who leaned out as far as she could from the ladder and snatched Prim from the air, everyone concerned let out a startled squawk and Prim was safe once more. It was decided to clip some of her flight feathers to slow down her development a little. This is not something we usually do as it can be really hard for birds to develop flight muscles if they don't do it young, but she would have starved on her own as she was only just beginning to learn to feed herself.
Prim has become my daughter's closest feathered friend since she lost her galah George last year but we all love her and delight in her antics. She has  taken to screaming what sounds like "Up yours!!!" at my partner when he gets home from work (I don't know where she got that from) but she loves him and will make her way across the furniture, floor and sometimes dogs to get to him for a play as soon as he is sitting down. She supervises the cutting up of fruit and vegetables to feed all the birds (galahs, cockatiels, budgies, miners and a crippled finch) in the mornings, bouncing up and down on the shoulder of whoever is doing the cutting and screeching advice. She watches movies with us and loves to snuggle down to snooze in my knitting (all birds love knitting it seems) or in someone's hands. She sings along with music and really love the Hilltop Hoods, but isn't so fond of M&M (I found that strange as she often sounds like she's swearing). The joys of opening your house to creatures in need are many, they make all the work worth while. Prim will be popping up in posts for a while from now on, until she decides it is time to join the wild flocks and find herself a life.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Our dog pack

A lot of people have a dog or dogs; where we live most people have at least three. Many years ago I met a man who had a beautiful blue heeler, she was a young dog at the time and was very friendly. He told us we couldn't pat or talk to her as she was being trained, so we didn't. He used an authoritative manner with her and often spoke roughly to her, he never hit her in our presence and I don't believe he did out of our sight either. He was very proud of the tricks she could do (sit, lay down, roll over, climb a ladder, etc), but never praised her for them. She had to stay in the car when at our place because she attacked other dogs. That blue heeler was later put down (by her owner) because she bit a child. This was a lesson for me as I had watched her go from a social, friendly pup to an antisocial, insecure, watchful dog. I know heelers can be nippy and often have social issues, but I believe her problems were caused by lack of socialisation and not being secure in her place. I took this lesson to heart and changed the way we live with our dogs.
We don't 'own' our dogs, they belong to our pack (or we belong to theirs); we all live together and have our roles to play within the family. People are often surprised that our dogs don't fight with each other or cause trouble among the other beings that live in and around our humpy. They assume that we must have a training program and keep the dogs (who are after all predators at heart) under strict control. The truth is far stranger and less exhausting than that; we simply treat them as part of the family (because they are). They are supported by the other members of the family and have the same expectations placed on them, they have to contribute to the well being of our home and they have become used to cross species co-operation. The rules in our humpy apply to everyone and are fairly vague, in general boiling down to the simple phrase 'do what you want as long as it hurts no-one'. We don't make rules about dogs on furniture, they sleep where they want, but they are not allowed to chase any living thing with the intention of harming it. They are confined to the yard unless we are with them, which is a rule designed to keep them safe, however they do come for a wander through the bush when we go walking. They can socialise with anyone who visits the humpy (and I take special note of those they choose to avoid), whatever the species.

We have three full time dogs and a part time dog in our pack. They are part of our family and help us live busy and fulfilled lives (sometimes by creating the work that makes us busy). They each have interesting life stories (well, interesting to me) which I would like to share.

First we have Jessica,

Jess...our one obedient dog.

Jess is a rescue dog...with a twist. One morning, many years ago when my kids were small, my youngest daughter came to me and said she had dreamed we owned a dog who was black with white around the neck, short hair and a white tip on her tail, her name was Jess in the dream. The day after this one of my good friends text me and said that a dog had wandered up her driveway in a terrible state. This dog was very thin, had hair missing and a wound on the back of her head like she had been whacked with a pipe or something. She was looking for a home for this dog, when I told her about my daughter's dream she said that this dog matched the description. Of course we set off to meet her and see if my daughter somehow had the ability to dream things into reality (and if so to implore her to dream up a Lotto win).
When we got out of the car the dog, who was very timid, poked her head out from around a corner. My daughter called softly "Jess?" and Jess trotted over and sat on her feet. After this miracle we naturally took her home, fed her up a bit and treated her head wound. She came with some fairly serious neurosis though.
Jess is a compulsive eater, we think because she was starved at some point in her life (perhaps all of it); she can't go past food and will eat until she is sick, then come back for more. This has led to her becoming very over weight. Before she joined the family we fed our dogs from one central bowl which was kept full at all times. People would ask us why our dogs didn't fight with each other and I would point to countless David Attenborough documentaries about pack feeding habits; in the wild the alpha dogs will eat first followed by the betas then the pups. That's the way our dogs fed...all lined up to wait for their turn at the bowl. After Jess became dangerously overweight we had to change to individual feedings so we could limit her food intake. She also chews wire fences, gets obsessed with individual beings (a guinea fowl was the main one until last year) and is allergic to preservatives in her food (her hair falls out). We love her though and she is the most loyal and best behaved dog in our family.

Then we have Spot.

Spot...the dementia patient.

 He joined us 17 years ago when the people we sold our TV to said they would pay our asking price if we took the last puppy from their litter. We said yes and a tiny bundle of black and white shaking fur arrived the next day. He has been my elder daughter's closest friend for such a long time. In his long life he has been dressed in doll clothes, pushed around in a pram, made to complete obstacle courses and been the companion of many a long walk. Now he is old, he has lost most of his sight, can't hear much and mostly forgets to go out to pee. People sometimes ask me why we keep him in the house when he makes so much mess and needs to be led wherever he goes, which is a lot of extra work. My answer is always; "Would you make your grandfather live outside just because he's a lot of work?". Spot has given us his whole life and I believe he deserves to be loved and treated with respect for the rest of it. He is still always the first to eat and barks at random stuff just like the other dogs even though he has no idea what he is barking at.

Bandit is the final full time dog in our family.

Believe it or not his parents were both black.

 His family line has been with us since we became a family. My partner thought that buying me a $10 miniature poodle puppy who had been rejected by her mother and had to be fed every two hours with an eye dropper would be a romantic gesture, he was right. Gizmo (as that pup came to be named), grew up and got pregnant to a local Silky terrier named Ambrose and had Pucky who in turn grew up and got herself in trouble with a Chihuahua cross Pomeranian named Chopper (who dug under the laundry foundation to be with her). The result of Pucky and Chopper's union was Busy, who lived with us for 16 years and had one puppy with a friend's dog (after a proper wedding arranged by the kids), that puppy is Bandit. He is the smallest and the loudest of our dogs, he is very sweet about taking Spot out to the toilet; he walks in front of him and leads him out the door then waits for him to be finished and leads him back in.

Our part time dog is Val, the product of a marriage between Spot and Jess arranged by the kids.

Jess had 14 pups but we could only afford to keep one. It broke my heart to have to find homes for the other 13 pups, and I often wonder if they are OK. Val is my eldest daughter's dog and lives with her most of the time. She still visits now and then and lives with us when my daughter is working or away.

Out in the yard

These two are good friends.
 Our dog pack works like any pack; we have an alpha male (Spot) who thinks he's in charge and an alpha female (Jess) who is really in charge, we have two betas (Bandit and Val) who just try not to get in trouble. We have no fights and very few behaviour problems (aside from Jess' issues) despite not having a training program or being in total control. What are your dogs to you? family pet, or just plain family.

Friday, 3 June 2016

Finished my degree- now on with life

Well...not quite. I still have the matter of a ten week intern-ship to complete (trying not to stress too much), but the academic part of the degree is finished. It has been a long four years of study, most of it enjoyable, some of it torturous (maths units spring to mind) but all of it educational.

By the end of 2016 I will be a fully qualified, card carrying Primary School Teacher.

The last four years have been spent largely either working or studying, with little snippets of craft or building squeezed in around them. Now I plan to spend some time....

Building the garden;
Building a new cover over the trailer bed and replanting.

Refurnishing the Hugelkultur beds and planting.

Crafting with fibre;
Making fulled bags

Spinning cotton and wool


And more knitting

Dyeing homespun yarn

A lot of homespun yarn

Building my business;

Trying to attract more customers

Adding new products...both hand made and....

Naturally harvested.

Learning new skills

Increasing my stock

Building a house;

Well...maybe I'm dreaming.

Spending time with my animals (and family and friends);

Also...enjoying the finer things in life;

Like unravelling old jumpers by the fire...with wine

And watching sunsets...with wine.

It has been a long, life changing journey so far, I wonder what will happen next?

Friday, 1 January 2016

Goodbye Shaun the sheep

It is with much grief that I am writing this post. On New Years Day we lost two very important beings in our lives; our close friend Geoffy, and Shaun.

Geoff died after a short battle with lung cancer; he never did things by halves that man. Having discovered he had lung cancer he shortly thereafter discovered a brain tumour and bone cancer, so his illness was short. Geoff was a surrogate father of sorts to my daughters when they were growing up, he was there for all the important events in their lives; birthdays, Yule, graduations, driving lessons, first boils, first boyfriends, first break up. He provided a sounding board for ideas and a release valve for venting, all mixed up with a wicked sense of humour and bourbon. We will miss him deeply.

The story of losing Shaun is a cautionary tale...
After his adventure in the wild he seemed his usual self, helping me about my daily business; following to the chook pen, around the garden, sitting by me as I spun, begging for rice crackers, but he was a ticking time bomb.
Several months ago we changed wormer from white to clear (there are three types of wormer for sheep; white, clear and organophosphate), we have been worming as usual but didn't realise we had clear drench resistant worms in our herd. Three of my girls were underweight, but we put that down to them feeding babies. When Nut died, I attributed it to mushrooms, but I now believe that was worms as well.

Shaun and Spot begging for rice crackers while I try to spin.

Shaun didn't eat breakfast on New Years Day, by that afternoon he was looking very sad and we decided to take him to the vet (always on a holiday). We got to the vet at about 8 O'clock, Shaun looked very sick by then and couldn't stand up. The vet wasn't hopeful but agreed (in the face of my tears) to try anything possible for him. He rang the next day to say he had died through the night. I am currently drenching the remaining 5 sheep once a day for three days with a new brand of white drench and hoping this will break the cycle, I can not cope with any more loss at the moment.

On the way to the vet, looking very sick.

If only I had thought of worms.

My heart is breaking; I have lost three close friends in the last two weeks and feel incredibly guilty about not picking up the worm problem sooner. On top of all that (yes...there's more), Big (one of our old roosters) got beaten up by one of his sons, one of Book Book's babies (our little frizzle hen) is not well, Spot (our 16 year old dog) hurt his shoulder and needs to be carried to the toilet and back every hour or so, and just because I like a degree of difficulty...a White faced heron baby has come into care (he eats live food, so I am catching fish and tadpoles in the dam for him three times a day).

Big getting his injuries documented for litigation (possibly)

Book Book's baby not feeling great

Spot, on doggie pain relief

Our new baby...a White faced heron

Spot ans Shaun.

No, I'm not complaining...I love my life and giving my heart to every animal that comes to the door ends in tears more often than not, but if I don't fall in love with them I miss the magical part of caring for them (without the magic it's just poop and feeding). I will fall in love with the next being who comes to the door looking for help's who I am.

Monday, 21 December 2015

A new spy camera

Recently (well two months ago) we lashed out and bought one of those motion sensor, infra red, weatherproof cameras so we can take photos of wildlife around the humpy without having to disturb them too much. So far I have only set it up around the yard in a few locations to get the hang of using it. It has managed to capture some fun shots which I thought I'd share. So here is a series of photos from our spy camera;

As you can see, this corner of the yard is a busy place. Where should I set it up next?