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11-29-16: Once in a Blue Moon — November 29, 2016

11-29-16: Once in a Blue Moon

Apparently that is how often I write a blog now.  Once in a blue moon.  What can I say?  I have good intentions but life seems to be way too busy most of the time.  The people that say “if I stayed home all day I’d be bored to death” are totally insane in my book.  I find myself wishing each day was twice as long.  However, I am here and determined to write.  I have given this no forethought, so we’ll just see where it takes us, shall we?

Last month we did the BOAF (Birds of a Feather) bird show in Manchester.  I had spent several weeks preparing our products  in terms of making new tags with a lot more info.  I also made more bird toys.  I have an etsy shop where all this stuff is offered, so making the tags and more toys was not strictly for the show.

The set-up for the show begins at 7:00 and the doors open at 9:00, so we plan to get there at 7:30.  I have everything else ready the night before, but some things have to be done in the morning.  It’s a good hour and a half drive, so I get up at 4:00 AM so I have time to feed and water the birds plus pull the birds we’ll be bringing to sell and put them in the small cages we include with each of them.  Scott gets to sleep an extra hour.  We have to be out of here by 6:00 AM.  It’s a long day.  Alex (our son) comes up to spend the day dog-sitting.

We did ok at the show.  I sold all the gouldians I brought, but not the 3 canaries, so those had to come back home and be quarantined.  I was also given an English budgie at the show, so that also had to be quarantined.  Quarantine is a necessary evil, but I really hate it.  It means odd cages in the house, wherever I can stick them, which means extra cleaning and more work as part of the daily bird maintenance.  I’ll be glad when it’s over!

The rest of October was uneventful.  November started out that way as well.  The weather has been nice – certainly nicer than years past when I recall Alex trick-or-treating in a winter coat and leaving footprints in the snow!  Whether it’s truly global warming or just the cyclical weather pattern, we’ve definitely had warmer – and longer – springs and falls than we used to, and I’m loving that.

So all was going along fine until November 11th, when Scott came home from work not feeling well.  He went to bed really early, and it soon became apparent that he had the flu. For years and years we had gotten flu shots and never gotten the flu, but in the past several years the paranoia from hearing all the tin hat conspiracy theories about the flu shots had convinced us not to get them anymore.  So of course, Scott gets the flu.  And boy did it hit him hard!  He spent almost the next two weeks in bed, miserable.  (Thanks to a friend that had told us his doctor said it was safe to take four when needed, since it was the only thing that finally gave Scott some relief from the pounding head that was keeping him from truly resting.) I went through almost two full cans of Lysol spray, constantly spraying down every surface where he’d been!  I have birds to take care of and just can’t afford to be sick like that.  For what it’s worth, the Lysol must have worked because I did NOT get sick!

I should mention here that while he was sick as a dog, my Timneh African Grey pair hatched out chicks on the 13th, 14th, and the 18th.  It’s unusual for them to hatch three, so this was great.  They appeared to be taking great care of the kids as well.  I planned to pull the kids around the end of the month, since I was hoping to get the youngest to about ten days old first.

By the beginning of the week of Thanksgiving, Scott finally started to come around.  He was able to spend some time upright, which was a nice change.  He’d lost twenty pounds over the course of this flu!   It was also during this recovery time that he had been sitting at the table, with a piece of toast in front of him and his four ibuprofen when disaster hit.  No need to gross you out, but let’s just say the ibuprofen didn’t go down well.  Or at all.  We’ll jump ahead to Scott in the shower, cleaning up, and a pile of clothes on the bathroom floor.  I gingerly picked those up to throw in the laundry, but first deposited them on the floor by the washer to check the pockets.  (I have washed many a paper towel in my life and frankly there are any number of things I’d rather do than pick off millions of pieces of paper towel from all the clean clothes.)   At this point, there was one shirt left on the floor.  Spotticus comes trotting in, grabs something from the shirt and CRUNCH CRUNCH CRUNCH immediately eats it and leaves the room.  Oh no!  Spot no doubt has found the missing ibuprofen.

I run to boot up my PC to see if ibuprofen will hurt a dog, and of course find it is highly toxic.  This reminds me that I believe this happened on Sunday, because I knew the vet would not be open.  OK, so I now need to make Spot throw up to get this out of him before it destroys his kidneys.  More searching.  Hydrogen peroxide will make a dog throw up.  One teaspoon per ten pounds of dog weight.  Spot is 11 pounds.  I grab the hydrogen peroxide and grab Spot.  Easier said than done.  I’m panicking totally at this point and he senses something is up and is NOT cooperating at all.  But finally I grab him and dribble the stuff onto his lips and he is forced to ingest it.  Nothing happens, except for him giving me a look which killed me.  Like, Mama, why are you forcing something horrible into me?

Back to the PC.  The hydrogen peroxide may take 20 minutes to work. If it doesn’t you can dose them up to 3 times.  So 20 minutes go by and I grab him again.  This time the look he gave me was just horrible and made me feel so bad.  He’s my baby.  😦     But I do what has to be done and five minutes later I see the familiar signs of a dog ready to heave and let him outside where he promptly empties his stomach.

I spent the rest of the day and the next several days watching him like a hawk to make sure nothing was amiss.  Thankfully, I got him in time and he was OK.  I hate to think what could have happened if I hadn’t seen – or heard – him eating that pill.

By Tuesday Scott was able to eat a bit more.  He wanted cereal.  Rice Krispies.  Go figure.  But up till then he’d been eating mainly yogurt.  Again, go figure.  With me, anything with milk would be the last thing I’d want!  So I went to the store and got a variety of soups, more ginger ale, and cereal.  I had looked in at the timneh chicks and taken the daily picture and all was well.  Things were looking up!  Wednesday that changed.

When I check the babies, Ziggy (the mom) is generally covering them  and I can’t see anything.  If I talk softly to her and back up a bit, she will usually back up off of the kids and let me take a look (and a quick picture) and then go cover them again.  She moved off and I see the three kids have empty crops and are sitting on the bare wood floor of the box.  The shavings had been moved away in that area, probably by her or perhaps Paco, the dad.  Either way, the chicks now were in danger.  The little one, in particular, looked bad.   So I exited the birdroom but watched from outside the door.  Within minutes Ziggy exited the box.  I rushed in and grabbed the kids and left.

I hadn’t planned to pull them this soon, so the brooder was not warmed up.  I put the kids into a Cool Whip container with shavings and put them into the brooder and cranked up the temp.  The temperature was up to 86 degrees within a couple of hours, and once the kids were nice and toasty I took them out to weigh them and try to feed them.

A few numbers here…  oldest chick was 10 days old and weighed 46 grams; middle chick was 9 days old and 32 grams; and the little guy was only 5 days old and weighed a mere 10 grams.  I was really concerned about him.  His down was not fluffy at this point and he was kind of an ashen gray.  Also there was not a lot of movement from him.  The other two didn’t look that great either, but they had some size on their side.  I started out feeding every hour, and just trying to get a few drops into the bigger kids and even a single drop into the little guy.  Let’s just say it was really touch and go for several days and it would not have surprised me at any time to find the little one dead.

As I said, this was on Wednesday, so interspersed with these feedings every hour I was also making pie, homemade rolls, and parfaits for the holiday.  Scott was doing a lot better, though still sleeping most of the day.  At some point in the afternoon I had all the goodies made and had just fed the kids when I figured I had time to set up the Christmas tree.  I bought a really nice tree last year from QVC.  An Ellen DeGeneres tree that has LED lights that you can set to morph from  white to pastel to bright colors.  Love it!  Plus it’s in 3 sections that have a contact system inside the pole part so there is no plugging them together or any of that.  Once the next section is inserted it automatically lights.  It worked great last year.  It is also so full that we had said then that it would be gorgeous even without decorations.

So I get the bottom section in place and it’s beautiful.  Lights right up.  Can you see where this is going?  I put the middle section in and …. nothing.  OK, pry it back out, try it again.  Nope.  No lights.  Put the top section on and THAT lights.  Middles section, no lights on. I am not a happy camper.  Why can’t things just WORK like they are supposed to????

Of course I have the original paperwork, plus I go on my PC and find the original order info and print that out.  I find the number of the company that makes the tree and call them.  I am on hold for many, many minutes, listening to too-loud Christmas music while they periodically tell me how important I am.  Finally I get a human and explain the issue.  He had me try plugging the middle section into the plug at the base of the wall outlet plug, which showed us that the section DID work that way.  I must say, he was a nice guy.  He said he’d had one other customer with this same issue, but apparently it’s not that common.  He asked if I had the warranty card there.  I did.  I’m efficient that way.  🙂  I found it interesting that he had me read one of the lines from the card in order to verify I had the card and was entitled to the warranty.  Rather odd because I was able to register the tree online and not send in the card.  Good thing I’d kept it.  Anyway, a new middle section is on the way and in fact should be arriving today.  Better still, he was able to tell me that if I unscrewed the cap from the end of the light string at the top of the tree and could plug the middle section into that, it would all work till the new section came.  I had to unravel the lights on one branch in order to get the plug to reach, but as he pointed out, that section will be trashed anyway so who cares?   So it worked.  And we were right last year – the tree IS pretty enough even without any ornaments!  I didn’t want to decorate it because I want to be sure it works correctly with the new middle section when it arrives.  Then I can decorate it.

We had a nice Thanksgiving with Alex.  It was like the old days since Alex is single this year.   Had a great meal and then watched holiday movies, beginning with our classic favorite, Home for the Holidays.  If you haven’t seen this movie, find it and watch it.  We watch every single year and I swear I find some new little nuance every year.  That was followed by our other classic, Christmas Vacation.  It’s just not Thanksgiving without those two movies.  Of course every hour we had to pause while I fed the kids!

The kids finally began to improve to the point where I was cautiously optimistic, especially about the youngest one, on the 26th.  They began to gain weight and all three were fluffy and nice and pink.  Yesterday they were really doing well and I think we are out of the woods now.  The littlest one weighed 24 grams yesterday!  That was a total gain of 140% since I had pulled them five days earlier!   Today they are 16, 15, and 11 days old and weigh 72, 56, and 28 grams respectively.  They have a diary where you can watch their progress, too.

That pretty much brings us up to date here.  My my, I do love to talk, don’t I?  Amazing how carried away I can get.

Oh, one last thing.  Someone asked me last week if any of the angelfish I’d been trying to raise had actually made it or not.  We ended up with one survivor out of the first spawn, and when I say “first” I think it was actually the third spawn, but the first one where I kind of knew what I was supposed to be doing and where I finally was having some luck in raising the baby brine shrimp the fry needed to eat to survive.  From the next spawn we had eight survivors!  They got to be about nickel-sized before I moved them into the 29-gallon community tank and are doing great.  The angels spawned again (they are like rabbits!) at the beginning of November, and there are currently close to twenty fry still alive.  Bear in mind that I’m only using a five-gallon tank for the kids, when they would be doing so much better in a bigger tank.  I just don’t really have the space.  If there was a definite outlet for kids I might be inclined to try a bit harder, but I don’t really relish the idea of a half dozen aquariums crammed in here just for a return of maybe a dollar per fish!  However, the whole experience has been really cool and I’m so glad I kept at it till I got it right.

NOW I think we are caught up!  And a timer is telling me it’s again time to feed babies!