Bird breeder's thoughts on whatever…

8-11-15: Rough Day — August 11, 2015

8-11-15: Rough Day

When you open the soft margarine in the morning to butter your english muffins and it looks like soup, you know it’s not going to be a good day.

We had plans today, hubby and I.  His were to finish washing and painting the floor in his new secondary shop, and mine were to go to the bank and then do a bit of shopping.  Instead we had a stressful day that ended about $1100 later with an almost exact duplicate of the old fridge in its place.

Once we came to grips with the fact that the fridge was not working, we debated what course of action to follow.  A short debate to be sure, as food was quickly warming.  We ended up calling the Whirlpool help line (hahaha, good one, Whirlpool!) where they tried to sell us a service plan and eventually conceded that the earliest they could send a repairman was the 21st!  So the plan of action now became one of let’s replace the fridge ASAP.  I had to get the birds done, so quickly rushed through that, as well as feeding the babies.  While I did that, Scott spent the time filling four coolers with as much of the fridge contents as possible, along with the meager supply of ice cubes and frozen blocks we had on hand.  The freezer was still cold, so we left that stuff in place.  Then we were off.

Had to stop at the new shop Scott is setting up, because we had to pick up the trailer and a dolly.  Then off to Lowe’s.  They had an almost identical model to ours, only of course it was over $200 more.  When you realize that we bought the other one LESS THAN FOUR YEARS AGO – yes, that’s right, we got it on Christmas eve morning of 2011 when the one before that suddenly decided to die – the fact that it was $200 more for something we didn’t even get four years out of seemed a bit outrageous.  They don’t make anything like they used to.  Those of us born in the 50’s or earlier remember a time when an appliance like a fridge or stove or washing machine would last 20 years, easy.  Now the warranty on the fridge is ONE YEAR.  Doesn’t it seem you should get at least a five year warranty on something costing over a grand???  Apparently I live in the past.  I don’t care; it was more pleasant then.  🙂

OK, so we were hemming and hawing over the basically identical model or a bigger model for an additional $300, when the salesman comes by and tells us that the entire row of fridges that had the more expensive one were totally sold out.  He sold 3 of these yesterday, 5 of these the day before, blah blah blah.  Since when is there a run on fridges in August?  I guess maybe since they only last four years before dying.  OK, we’ll take the duplicate model.  Present the card, load it up.

Stressful is watching the outside mirror all the way home, willing the refrigerator to remain upright.  Yes, it was practically cocooned in ratchet straps, but still.  Turns out the worst part was the last four miles up the twisty, windy Halls Brook Road leading to home.  But we made it, and the fridge was still upright.

Now for the fun part.  This fridge, though identical to the broken one, was different in that it was affixed to a wooden pallet at the bottom, which required the removal of four bolts that went up through the bottom to secure it.  Have I failed to mention that today we were in the midst of a monsoon?  Well we were.  Finally the wooden base is removed.  And then guess what?  The thing is too wide to fit through the front door.  Now the upper and lower doors have to be removed.  Oh, and the dolly had one wheel that was flat, so any time the load was tipped to move it, it would lean to the side with the flat wheel.  Such fun.

Fridge is finally in the front door, on what we call the “upper deck” area.  The door from the upper deck into the dining room is also too narrow, so now Scott has to dismantle that completely.

While Scott is working on the door-frame, I go feed the babies again and then begin to empty the rest of the fridge, which was mainly just the freezer area.  I cram what I can into the big freezer and into the rest of the four coolers.  Stuff and cram, cram and stuff!

Finally the door-frame  is dismantled, and the old fridge is wheeled out.  It was not nearly as easy as that, however.  Scott is soaked and exhausted by this time, and there is always just barely enough room to maneuver the damn thing.  Crash!  There goes a chair.  Bang!  Into the wall.  You get the idea.

Bringing the new fridge into the kitchen was not without its drama.  Same issues of there being barely enough room, coupled with the fact that by now Scott is really tired and soaking wet.  I’m not much help.  When I’m supposed to watch the edges of things I tend to miss one that ends up hitting something.  I was told to “pull it back” my way a bit, and managed to slice open two fingers on something sharp on the back of the thing.  So I then bled all over the place.  LOL.

Eventually the thing was in place and we both sighed in relief when it sprang to life after being plugged in.  Although you’re supposed to wait till it cools to fill it, things were getting too warm for that.  As it was, I had to throw some things out.  Others we are playing Russian roulette with in hopes that they have not gone bad.  I remind myself of the the way my mother thawed meat on the counter when I was a kid or left a hot casserole out all night to cool and figure it probably won’t kill us.

I stuck a thermometer in the fridge a while ago and it was about 42 degrees.  Almost there!   Rough day; thank God it’s almost over.

8-8-15: Banty Move-In Day! — August 8, 2015

8-8-15: Banty Move-In Day!

The banty chicks are three-and-a-half weeks old and pretty much all feathered in.  Hubby got the small coop finished this morning, including the electric fencing to ward off foxes and other critters.  It was officially time to move them into the coop!

I had bought spiral plastic numbered bands for them, and we put them on the chicks as I took pix of each one.  For a look at each one, you can check out my website, THIS page. Scroll down a bit and you can see pix of each of the 14 chicks.  They are really pretty! Hubby had a great idea that we should take pix of each one in a couple months so we can do a side-by-side comparison.

So we took pix, banded them, and then released them into the small coop in two groups.  There is a light in the coop for some heat, and they are free to hang out under it if they so choose.  So far they remain huddled in a group, no doubt wondering what the heck is going on!


The coop itself came out pretty good, too.  It should work out well for growing out chicks and also for segregating any Roo and hen(s) from which we want to get fertile eggs.  It fits the area well – better than the original coop because it’s not as tall so we can see the flowers and yard behind it better.


This has been quite an experience.  Granted we got eggs last year (Ebay) and hatched them, so we’ve been through that, but we had never gotten fertile eggs from our own flock and hatched those.  We’d still like to try letting a broody hen hatch some eggs, too, and care for the chicks.  That would be very cool!   We think next spring maybe we’ll segregate a broody hen in this coop and give her half a dozen eggs and see if we can make it happen.

8-7-15: Cleaning, cleaning, cleaning! — August 7, 2015

8-7-15: Cleaning, cleaning, cleaning!

Yesterday the twelve parrotlets graduated to a cage.  This is a good thing, and something highly anticipated when the kids are still in the aquarium brooder.  They start out with me keeping them in plastic tubs in the brooder with  paper towels lining the containers.  Every feeding (they start with six per day) means changing the paper towels.  I go through TONS of paper towels, especially in a case like this where there were twelve kids and three containers.  Eventually they graduate to being loose in the brooder with a couple inches of shavings under them.  With that many kids, the shavings get damp quickly.  So the shavings must be emptied out at least twice a day.  I then wipe out the aquarium with an antibacterial wipe and add more shavings.

You can probably imagine why I said that moving the kids to a cage is highly anticipated.  However, that has its own drawbacks along with the advantages.  On the plus side, the grate keeps the kids from coming in contact with their own poop.  On the minus side, just because they can’t reach it doesn’t mean I can just leave it there.  So, once a day, the bottom of the cage must be cleaned.  The kids are in a Vision cage.  If you are not familiar with them, they have a deep base which has clear plastic around the sides, going up maybe 6 inches or so.  The purpose is to keep mess inside the cage, and it works quite well on that score.  However, there is no pull-out tray.  Instead there are two clips, front and rear, that you must flip up to release and then lift off the entire top section of the cage.  Then you can clean the grate, remove it, and empty whatever you use in the bottom pan and replace it.  Not as fast as pulling out a tray, but you get the thing totally clean which is a good thing when dealing with babies.

Along with graduating to the cage, the feedings also decreased by one so that we are now down to four a day.  What I do is get the formula ready along with a medium size Kritter Keeper.  I shut the door to the workshop and to Alex’s old room (now my craft/sewing room) and crate Spot.  I don’t believe in tempting fate.  I pull a baby from the cage, feed him, and then put him into the Kritter Keeper.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  When all twelve are fed, if it’s first thing in the morning, I then clean the cage, including the water dish and any other dishes that may need it and, when done, each baby is then replaced into the now clean cage.

Today I had to clip a few wings, as some of the parrotlets let me know they could fly and do it well!  It won’t keep them grounded, but hopefully will slow them down just a bit and with any luck keep them from flying up to things near ceiling level!  While loose birds do a great job at cleaning the dust from my ceilings, it’s not my idea of fun to chase them around.

As far as the other birds go, I clean cages on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, taking the weekend off for good behavior.  🙂   Normal cleaning consists of removing the cage tray, dumping it out, and replacing with new paper.  As needed, grates must be cleaned as well as the trays themselves.  Antibacterial wipes are wonderful things!  On a daily basis, each water dish is scrubbed in the sink and then refilled with clean water.  Food dishes are dumped and refilled.  Dishes go back into the same cages from which they came.  I know a lot of people that don’t clean the water dishes daily, but I try to look at it as “would I want to drink out of that?” I would want it clean!  Taking good care of the birds goes a long way towards keeping them healthy, and as they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  (I wonder if young people even know that expression???)

Currently there are 23 cages housing birds right now.  That’s a lot of cleaning.  The birdroom gets vacuumed daily, but the days when cages are cleaned means the house also gets vacuumed, because at the moment, along with the big dining room flight, there are also a couple cages in our bedroom as well as the parrotlet kids in the kitchen area.  Cleaning the cages inevitably results in feathers and seeds spilling out onto the floors, hence the need to vacuum.

Then there is the eggfood.  When there are babies, giving eggfood to the parents is a necessity.  At the moment, there are some baby finches in the big dining room flight.  I don’t know who they are, but they sound like gouldians.  There is a pair of society finches in our bedroom that were given some owl finch eggs.  I hear some faint peeping in that nest, and my fingers are crossed that they are owls but could just be societies.  Either way, it means eggfood, not only with their first food of the day but also at several intervals throughout the day.  I have to make sure they have soft-food to feed back to those babies!

Last but not least, there are the banty chicks.  Fourteen of them in a plastic tub makes for even more work!  I went from shavings to newspapers, because the shavings would be damp within an hour or two but the newspaper actually stays pretty dry.  It sure gets soiled, though, so that requires changing out twice a day.  Their food dish needs refilling at least twice a day, and their water even more often.  Again, if I wouldn’t want to drink it, they shouldn’t have to drink it either!

Babies make for busy times!

08-05-15: Foxy Loxy — August 5, 2015

08-05-15: Foxy Loxy

Almost 9 PM and, like clockwork, the front light comes on and the alarm sounds, and we see Foxy Loxy make his way across the driveway and out to the road.  Foxy has quite a routine here.  We often have him pass through three or four times in one night, and a couple times during the day.  The game cameras have caught him so many times it’s no longer anything to get excited over.  Often there are two.


Spotticus is not happy about the critters that pass through the yard.  When the alarm goes off and he sees the light in the TV we have set up for viewing the driveway, he goes on full alert.  Ferocious little beast, he is!  Protecting his home and his people.  Of course that is also his MO even if someone we consider a friend comes to visit.  I guess you can’t have everything.

8-4-15: All My Shirts Have Bird Formula On Them! — August 4, 2015
8-4-15: All My Shirts Have Bird Formula On Them! —

8-4-15: All My Shirts Have Bird Formula On Them!

Hubby’s line of work is screw machines, which means he works with oil.  I’m in the habit of checking each piece of laundry before I toss it into the washer, and pre-treating with Shout.  I should own stock in the company.  I’d be great for a commercial for them, because I swear by this stuff.  This morning I began my usual pre-wash examination and noticed something.  Every single shirt of mine had bird formula on it!  Every one!  I feed the kids at the kitchen counter and, yes, they sometimes make a mess.  OK, they always make a mess. Apparently I’m wearing part of that mess.

I remember years ago going to the store and realizing after I’d gotten back home that I not only had a feather stuck in my hair but bird poop on my shoulder.  Back then I think people might have actually noticed and wondered what was up with this crazy woman.  You’ve seen the pictures of the Walmart-ians?  I suspect even if I were covered in feathers I’d not get a second glance nowadays.

Time to start wearing an apron while handfeeding again.

Then there’s the dog hair.  You know Pig-Pen of Charlie Brown fame?  The way he just emanates dirt and dust as a cloud around him?  Spotticus is like this with hair.   It seems to shoot off him like the proverbial porcupine “shooting” quills.  There is no mercy for you if you are wearing black; you will be covered in white hairs in about two minutes.  I had thought a short-haired dog would be such a relief after having the poms, but he is actually much worse than the four of them put together were!  The vet assures me there is nothing to be done about it.  He’s just “a shedder” and that’s that.

Spotless clothes are over-rated.

08-03-15: After the Storm —

08-03-15: After the Storm

I hate storms.  Thunderstorms.  Snow I can handle.  What’s the worst that happens?  You lose power.  We have a generator and a wood stove.  We can deal.  Thunderstorms, though, are a different story.  Wind is very destructive, as is lightening.  I get nervous.  I shut off things, as there’s no sense in asking for trouble.  Then I pray.

We had a good storm today.  Rained like crazy, but for only about ten minutes, and windy enough to make me nervous that the canopy on the deck was going to be ripped from it’s moorings and take flight.  It didn’t.  Nothing got hit by lightening – not here, anyway – and eventually the sun came back out.  A double rainbow, too.


Beautiful, but I still hate storms.

8-2-15: Parrotlet Games Redux — August 2, 2015

8-2-15: Parrotlet Games Redux

Remember Opal, the parrotlet hen that has not exactly welcomed a male with open arms wings? The male she has been with for a while now has made progress.  She will allow him to feed her and they have even gotten to the point where they will amicably share the swing.


That is Opal on the left, and Pete on the right.  When trying to come up with a name for this male, Palmer immediately came to mind, and those of you who watched All My Children will understand.  This male, however, is no more a Palmer than I am.  Nothing really seemed to fit, and then it came to me that Palmer’s “real” name (on the soap) was Pete Cooney.  This bird IS a Pete.  So we have Opal and Pete, and they are about as complex a couple as their namesakes were.

A few days ago I told Scott that I thought Opal wanted to breed.  If you asked me why, I would struggle to come up with a reason, but there are subtle little things that you pick up on if you observe birds.  Her quarantine period is over and I’d planned to move them into the birdroom this week sometime; I was just putting it off in hopes they would get along just a tad better.  Today after I came into the living room to boot up my pc, I eventually noticed that not only was I not hearing any squabbling, but they had both disappeared from view.  I rolled my chair over to see what was happening, and they were both on the floor of the cage, side by side, and in front of them was a lovely little egg.  Uh-oh, NOW it was time to move them!

I know, I’m already feeding twelve parrotlets, I sure don’t need more.  However, she wants to breed and with any luck this will help bond these two into a loving pair.  I’m also curious as to what the babies would be, though I have no illusions that this first clutch will even be fertile.  They are not THAT friendly, if you get my drift.  LOL.

I moved my blue pair to another cage because they had the perfect spot where a nestbox attached to their cage is easily inspected, and then moved Opal and Pete to their cage.  I also put their egg into the box.  Hopefully by the end of the day they will have checked out the box and gone in.  The blue pair is not really happy about giving up their cage, but I told them they needed to take one for the team.  Then I gave them a nice fat millet spray which immediately became their focus.  I know my kids!

8-1-15: Summer’s Almost Gone — August 1, 2015

8-1-15: Summer’s Almost Gone

Writing that title instantly filled my mind with the Doors song of the same name.  Best group ever, she said, sitting here writing with a Doors t-shirt on.  🙂  And no, summer’s not almost gone at all, but it is a bit shocking to realize we’re already starting August.

Swung by the farm in Rumney today and they had corn!  The truck was backed up to the stand so I knew it was super fresh, just picked.  Boy was it ever good corn, too!  Sweet and crisp and not a single nasty beast hiding in the husk.  Supper was corn on the cob and chicken shish-ke-babs with pineapple, onion, mushroom, and orange peppers.  Delightful!

Scott did a stroke of business on the little coop project today.


Coming along nicely and the end product is going to be perfect.

Right now he has the fireplace ready, so I’m going outside to enjoy a nice fire.  Enjoy the hot, August night, folks!