Bird breeder's thoughts on whatever…

08-20-18 Despair — August 20, 2018

08-20-18 Despair

I remember watching an episode of “Everybody loves Raymond” where Deborah wanted to be alone to have a good cry. The premise was that this was a good thing… a release. I’ve heard others say they felt better after a good cry. To me, “good cry” is an oxymoron. I have never felt better after crying.

My current situation, as I have been told by a good friend, is a “process” and very much ongoing and changeable. Truer words were never spoken. I have days – sometimes several at a stretch – where I feel good about things. I can do this. I will end up better off when all is said and done.

Then there are the days when I burst into tears out of the blue and feel like my life is just such a mess and will never be normal again. The despair that hits me is like a big, dark cloud that covers me from head to toe and threatens to blot out all light and swallow me into the darkness. And back to the “good cry” – it doesn’t exist for me. The more I cry, the worse I feel. Not only does it put me into a horrible place emotionally, it physically drains me. I feel like I could just curl up in a ball and do nothing but wallow in self-pity. The puffy eyes and blotchy face and inability to breathe don’t exactly help matters.

How to escape the pit of helplessness? I will check my ever-present list of things to do and then busy myself. I got so much done last week when I was feeling like “I got this!” If I get anything done today it will be because “I DON’T got this!” But I can get something accomplished anyway, and hopefully take my mind away from the black fears that are blotting out the light. Maybe by the time I am done with the first task, the light will come flooding back and along with it the hope that things will work out. Not just the hope, but the certainty that things will work out and everything will be okay.

Then I will go out and look at the mountain and marvel at the world God made for us. I will see and hear the birds outside and smile at the beauty all around. And I will thank Him for all the good things, and ask Him to help me get through all this and to the other side.  And I will go find my dog, buried under the covers of my bed, blissfully happy and dreaming doggy dreams, and I will hug him and tell him I love him, just to see his tail wag and the look of joy on his face.  And I will be okay.


The New Normal — August 15, 2018

The New Normal

I just finished mowing the lawn.  I thought the saying was “third time’s the charm.”  Well this was the third time, and I was just as nervous and shaky as the first two times.  It’s a riding mower.  Isn’t that supposed to be easy?  So why do I get so scared on the hilly bits – and there are a lot of those – and why do I feel like I’ve run a marathon when I’m done?  Not that I’ve ever run a marathon or would run a marathon, but it’s how I imagine one would feel.  The irony that I’ve protected my skin from the sun for most of my sixty-two years only to be forced into the sun to mow the lawn is not lost on me.

This is the new normal.  It’s what happens when a marriage dies.  Thirty-four years together and I always thought that it was forever, till we were old – ok, older – and gray – ok, grayer.  A month ago I never imagined this.  And that is how quickly a new normal can come to be.

So now it’s mowing lawns and trying to remember what shuts off the water should something blow and getting used to being alone at night.  The last is the easiest, except for the quick terror when the dog looks at the window when it’s pitch black outside and growls and barks like he’s seen the devil out there.  Lots of outside lights and a gun erase that momentary panic fairly quickly, though.  Other than that, being alone is not so bad when you don’t mind your own company, and I don’t.  I’ve never been one to be bored either, and in fact could never understand how anyone could ever say they are bored.  I feel I have never had enough time, and still feel that way.  So many things to do that I already know I love, and even more to try.  The worst thing of this new normal is the fear of what the future holds.  Or more precisely, not knowing what the future holds.  Clearly that was an illusion all these years anyway, so what has really changed?

It would be easy to just curl up in a ball and give in to feelings of despair.  And there were times initially, when I was alone, that just a quick thought of what was happening would make me cry.  But you know, despair is overrated.  Fine to cry and carry on for brief spells when you just can’t do otherwise, but I think despair just makes you more miserable.  So I’ve been forcing myself to do things that are out of my comfort zone.  A visit to the senior center just to meet a few people and see what it was like.  Applying for a job (it’s been thirty-four years).  Using an ATM for the first time EVER.  A road trip to pick up a couple of birds.  I know – none of these are earth-shattering accomplishments, but every time I force myself to do something out of my comfort zone it is an accomplishment.  Setting small goals and actually doing them does wonders for your self-esteem and self-confidence.  I used to be fierce, oh so many years ago, and I want some of that back.  I need it back.  And I’m getting it back.

The biggest goal now is to try to stay here.  I am a homebody.  I love my home, my pets, my stuff.  I have lived here for almost thirty-three years, and I love this spot.  It’s peaceful, quiet, and beautiful.  Right now I don’t know if I will be able to stay or not, but I know I can make it through till spring, and after that I will reassess my options.  A lot can happen in the coming months.  Who knows what may come from this new normal of mine.

I was reminded this morning of an article I read once.  They did studies and found that when you are happy, a smile is automatic due to your brain.  I believe it was that the chemicals released by your brain when you are happy just trigger the smile.  Something like that.  The point of the article was that it also works the other way.  If you plaster a smile on your face – whether you are feeling it or not – that will tell your brain that you are happy.  If your brain thinks you’re happy, those same chemicals will be released and then you WILL be happy!  How perfect is that?  The old “fake it till you make it” has a real basis in science.  So I’m vowing to be more aware of my expression, and wear a smile as often as possible.  Besides, it’s a great fashion accessory and it’s cheap.  And it goes with everything.


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05-19-18: The Nightmare of Windows 10, aka I Hate Change — May 19, 2018

05-19-18: The Nightmare of Windows 10, aka I Hate Change

I’m not a complete idiot when it comes to my computer.  I mean, when I have an issue I can usually manage to search out the fix.  But Windows 10…  you can’t see, but I’m shaking my head in disgust.  I miss the days of Windows XP when things were simple.  Why is it that so often when things are supposed to have been made easy, they are so much harder?

Windows 10 didn’t seem that bad initially.  It’s the constant pain in the butt updates that always seem to mess things up.  Every time it has one of it’s major updates – and there have been too many to even remember – it messes up the settings.  Previous Windows didn’t have that issue.  Now, every time it updates and is improved – HA! – I have to redo certain things.  Like the ability to right click a picture file and preview it.  Can’t do that without going to settings and associating photos yet AGAIN.  (What, you say using capitals means I’m shouting?  I KNOW.)

So we had this huge update two nights ago.  Took forever. Today I had to redo my associations.  Then I plug in one of my cameras and even THAT is messed up.  It has to reinstall the device, then it wants to know how to deal with it.  Here is where it gets dicey, because I bear some of the blame.  I accidentally clicked on something other using your basic File Explorer.  In the old days, you could write click and say OPEN WITH and change your mind.  Can I do that now?  Heck no!   I uninstall the camera.  Plug it back in and it needs to install the device.  Perfect, right?  No, because once it does, it goes back to opening some program I didn’t want opening my files and there seems to be no way to get around it.

I spend the next hour trying to solve the issue, including searching for fixes.  I finally discover that if you right-click on the window icon and select Device Manager you get some slightly different options.  After that it’s kind of a blur, and though I *think* I solved the problem, I’m not really sure.  Frankly, I’m a bit afraid to try plugging in the camera again, as it would not surprise me if my “fix” has disappeared, along with my tolerance to Windows updates.

Other than fighting with Windows 10, I’ve been spending a lot of time handfeeding baby birds.  Budgies, budgies, and more budgies!  I have 6 kids left from the first clutches, all weaned and ready to go.  I’m handfeeding Daffy’s 4 kids, plus 4 of Cinnamon’s current clutch as well as 2 of Cleo’s last clutch.  In Cinnamon’s nestbox are her youngest 5 plus the youngest of Cleo’s kids, and these 6 will be pulled and added to the crowd either Monday or Tuesday.  It feels like my current motto should be “All Budgies… All The Time”.

We have an incubator with 14 banty eggs inside, and 12 of the 14 appear to be fertile and developing nicely.  I checked them a few days ago, and could see a few of their very active heartbeats.  It was pretty neat.  I have never seen the heart beating like that before.  If it’s any indication, these kids appear to be doing really well.  They should hatch anytime from next Sunday through Tuesday.   It’s always so exciting to watch them hatch!

It’s raining today, which we really need.  It will be good for the ground and also help to knock the pollen down.  The black flies have come out in full force and I’m again very thankful we have a screened in porch.  Very nice to have things greening up and all the plants and trees coming back to life.

We picked up 9 banty chicks at Tractor Supply back in March, and they turned out to be 5 white Silkies and 4 Golden Sebrights.  One of the Sebrights is a rooster and has the cutest, squeaky crow right now.  I imitate his squeaky crow to him, and he answers me.  I took a little video of this and put it up on you tube, here.  Scott says one of the Silkies is also trying to crow, but has a deeper voice.  I haven’t heard him yet, but I’m looking forward to “communicating” with him as well.  🙂

Till next time,


Nita’s Nest

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01-08-18 Laundry Woes — January 8, 2018

01-08-18 Laundry Woes

I have barely gotten used to thinking of myself as middle-aged, though it’s unlikely I will live to be 122, but still, the mind and the body are not really in agreement here.  And truth be told, the mind is also no longer nearly as quick as it once was.  The right word is often elusive, to the point where it will come to me hours – even days – later, totally out of the blue, and I will triumphantly exclaim, ” Huey Lewis!”  in answer to a question that may actually no longer come to mind either.  But I digress (as is often the case). Give me the whole “middle-aged” thing and I will get on with my thought.

At this point in middle-age, is it really necessary for me to check every pocket before I do the laundry?  And by “every pocket” I clearly am not including MY pockets.  They are never the issue.  I mean, sure, if you have a five-year-old or even ten-year-old in the house, it’s wise to check those pockets.  But must I check the pockets of a man very nearly at the same state of middle-age as I am?  In fact, a mere spring chicken, or rooster, being fourteen months younger than I.   Apparently the answer is yes.

Said man, who shall remain nameless though you all know who he is, is prone to carrying paper towels in his pockets.  Sometimes these paper towels will go through washer and dryer intact – a nice clean, warm little bundle presented to me in the same pocket when laundry is being folded.  How charming, I think.  Okay, I don’t think that, but I could.  Other times, upon opening the lid of the washer, it is apparent immediately that some small riot has occurred during the laundering process.  Clearly bits of paper towel have chosen sides in a massive paper towel war, determined to obliterate the opposing side.

Like today, when what met me upon opening the lid was at least a hundred bits of paper towel, firmly attached to everything from jeans to t-shirts as if by glue.  The number may be a bit of an exaggeration, but it certainly seemed to be that many, if not more.  Wouldn’t you think that a gingerly shake of a t-shirt would dislodge a piece of paper towel?  How about the vicious thrashing of a pair of jeans?  Nope.  Twas not to be.  Instead I had to pick pieces off by hand, which was quite hard to do given the thick blue air surrounding me which seemed to emanate from the rather colorful language escaping my lips.

Funny, I had no problem remembering those words.

In the grand scheme of things it was maybe twenty minutes or a half hour of time wasted.  And it did get me fired up enough to finally open my blog, so there’s that.

Oh, by the way, Happy New Year!


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11-17-17: Giving Thanks for an Early Christmas Miracle — November 17, 2017

11-17-17: Giving Thanks for an Early Christmas Miracle

I had some final shopping to do before Thanksgiving.  I also wanted to be sure I picked up a couple of the super bargain frozen turkeys for thirty-nine cents per pound.  What a deal!   So it was off to Hannaford for the specials.

The bin with the frozen turkeys made me realize how bad my arthritis in my fingers is.  I could not pick up the turkeys.  A very nice lady helped me, for which I thanked her profusely.  Another kind lady pointed out that I had dropped something from my pocketbook.  A tootsie pop.  God knows how long it’s been in the side pocket of my purse, but I like to be prepared for the possibility of breaking down in a snowstorm and having a tootsie pop in my purse to keep me from dying before I’m rescued.  OK, so I don’t go out if it’s snowing, but still.

Anyway, got the specials in my cart and checked out.  The wind practically blew me out of the parking lot, but finally I had the car loaded and headed next to Walmart, for the antihistamines that keep my dizziness more or less at bay.  Walking to the store, I see something out of the corner of my left eye, and reach up to my glasses to see if there is something there.  Yup.  I feel something.  So I pull off the glasses and realize it is the screw to the frame that holds the lens in place.  It’s backed out almost all the way.  I hold the glasses cupped in my hand and go into the store and immediately head for the Optical department.

Luckily they were not busy, so I approached the two clerks and asked, “is it possibly you could help me with my glasses?  The screw has backed out.”    One of them holds out her hand and I deposit the glasses.  She said, “Do you have the lens?”     WHAT??????   I couldn’t believe I didn’t notice the lens was now missing!  Crap.  Panic.  I see dollar signs flashing before my eyes.  I told them I never noticed the lens was gone and I must have dropped it on the way into the store.  So she said she’d hang onto my glasses while I went to look for it.

I retrace my steps back to my car.  Nothing.  Checked inside the car, just in case it had fallen out inside.  Nothing.  Retrace my steps yet again, all the way back inside and to the optical shop.  I told them I had not found the lens and she said she would tighten the screw for me so they at least stayed together.  I took my one-lensed glasses and left, after first stopping in at customer service to leave my name and number in case someone turned in the missing lens.

I decided I’d better snap it up and go back to Hannaford, on the off chance that the lens might be found somewhere in the store.   I parked next to my original space and searched the ground.  Nothing.  Retraced my steps back into the store, which is totally packed, by the way.  I keep thinking that even if I did find the lens, what were the odds that it would have been either stepped on or run over by now?

Retracing steps when my original trip had included several round-about searches for various items was not easy.  But I tried my best.  I then remembered having dropped the tootsie pop at the turkey bin and thought, if I dropped that, then maybe that is where the lens also fell out.  So back to the turkey bin I go, first trying to search among the gobblers.  Again, trying to move the frozen birds was not easy on my hands, but I did the best I could and didn’t see the lens.  I turned to continue retracing my steps over the remainder of the store, all the while with my eyes glued to the floor.

And I saw it.  My lens sitting just a few feet from the turkey bin, on the floor.  Just then another customer wheeled his wagon over the left edge of it!   “AAAARRGGHHH!” I said, causing the man with the carriage to stop and look at me.  “Oh my God, my lens!” I cried, and swooped down to pick it up.  The man laughed and said “wow, that was lucky!”   I said “don’t I know it!  Thank you, God!”  I couldn’t believe it was not broken.

So back to Walmart and the optical department.  Same two clerks.  They looked up at me, probably thinking “you again?”  and I said, “are you ready for an early Christmas miracle?”  I opened my hand to show them the lens.  I told them the story as one of them repaired the glasses for me.  What a relief.

The moral of this story is perhaps twofold.  One, miracles do happen.  Two, never keep your outside glasses so clean that you can’t tell if the lens is missing.  Had this happened to my inside glasses, the lack of smudges and fingerprints would have immediately alerted me to the fact that the lens was missing.  🙂


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11-7-17 What a Night — November 7, 2017

11-7-17 What a Night

I have a hard time getting to sleep so it’s often midnight or later by the time I drift off.  When I’m lucky, I don’t wake up in the night, but a night of solid sleep is a pretty rare thing.  Last night was classic.

I think I fell asleep around quarter past midnight.  Next thing I know, I’m awakened to Spot’s bark.  Sometimes he gets me up to go potty or if he’s not feeling good he’ll want to go out and find some grass to eat and throw up.  So I got out of bed, opened his crate, and made my way out to the door that opens to his yard.  I look around for Spot, and he’s no longer at my side.  I retrace my steps.  Check the bathroom, since the door is closed I think he may have gone in and been trapped.  Nope.  Check the living room, thinking he’s scavenging the remains of Mel’s (the grey) nighttime snacks on his play stand.  Nope.  Back into the bedroom, where Spot is once again in his crate, curled up in a ball.  He looks at me like “What?”   I ask him if he doesn’t want to go out and he again gives me that look, like I’m disturbing HIM.   Fine.  Go back and shut out the outside light and re-lock the door.

Back in bed and I drift back off pretty quickly.  Next thing I know, the room is lurching and it’s apparent I have rolled over only to have the sporadically recurring Labyrinthitis rear its ugly head.  I freeze, careful not to even shift my eyes, and it subsides.  Now I become a statue in bed for fear of triggering another spell.  Eventually I fall asleep again.

I am once again awakened, this time by the sound of something falling onto the floor in the living room.  Did I forget to close Mel in his cage?  Hard to believe.  I slowly manage to roll over and sit up, still worried about the lurching dizziness hitting me.   And again something hits the floor.  Now I’m wide awake and wondering that the heck is going on in the next room.  I put on my light and shield my eyes till they adjust.  I go into the living room and find an electronic thermometer unit and a small spray bottle of Lens Cleaner on the floor.  Now I’m wondering if we have a mouse in the house.  Not thrilled with the idea of that.  Still not sure even today what caused the items to fall, unless the thermometer fell off the wall because the sticky tape gave out, and maybe it hit the Lens Cleaner on the way to the floor and left that precariously balanced and just needing a few minutes to fall.  Or we have a mouse.  The latter would be a pretty odd occurrence, but I suppose it’s possible.  Back to bed for more statue sleep and waiting for the alarm to go off.

A night of interrupted sleep is not too restful.  This morning I felt slightly nauseous, due I’m sure to the Lab.  I knew I needed to get an antihistamine into me as soon as possible.  Years ago after the Lab had first him me, I actually had a doctor then and she confirmed it was Labyrinthitis that I’d had.  She is the one that told me I should have come in and she would have told me to take antihistamines to keep it manageable.  She also reassured me that most people only get the Lab once.  I’m not most people, and actually have learned of many people that DO get it periodically, but not to the same debilitating degree as the first time.  So this morning it was a dose of antihistamine for me, and now, almost three hours later, I’m feeling the effects in that I could close my eyes and pass out in this chair quite easily.  However, I can also move my head without feeling any lurching, so I’ll suffer through the tiredness.

Not a great night or morning, but it gets worse.  I went in to feed the baby gouldian only to find him on his back, dead.  He still had food in his crop, so he died in the night, maybe a few hours after his last feeding.  I am only guessing that he aspirated.  He had been getting a lot more lively and flopping onto his back was not unheard of, but I think that can also contribute to aspiration in one so small.  I should have known when I posted a video of him that I was just asking for trouble.  It’s as if fate conspires once I finally feel a finch is going to make it, to strike them dead unexpectedly.  I’m trying to look at the positives.  I got more experience feeding a tiny, stunted little finch.  Not much of a positive, but it’s all I have.

I hope you are having a better day!


Nita’s Nest

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10-24-17 Blog? What Blog? — October 24, 2017

10-24-17 Blog? What Blog?

It has been way too long since I’ve written a blog.  Honestly I’d kind of forgotten all about it until about a month ago, but then this past month has been very busy for me and I just haven’t had time.

We had a bird show on the 14th of this month, but for the month or two before that I was busy making Welcome signs to bring.  I was also fortunate enough to have a fellow bird breeder request a total of twelve of the signs, sans the Welcome part.  He breeds quaker parrots and wanted a variety of his favorite mutations painted.  I do them on basswood slices and, if I say so myself, they come out pretty good.  Anyway, I was busy making the Welcome signs – both in pet bird types as well as native birds – and interspersed with those were the custom signs for the breeder.

The show was last weekend.  I delivered all of the breeder’s signs and I’m happy to say he was pleased with them.  I sold a few of the others I had made as well as a few bird toys and swings.  I had brought very few birds and none of them sold.  So they came back home again and now I have to quarantine them, so that’s a pain.  Not long before the show I had also bought a yellow parrotlet hen so she’s under quarantine in the bedroom.  Three very young gouldian finches also came home from the show with me, as I really need some more females.  These were uncolored and sex was unknown.  One looked like the little bit of belly coloring was rather light so I thought that one was a hen.  The other two didn’t show any signs of being males yet, so I figured I’d just take a chance.  I don’t like buying gouldians that are not colored in (nor will I sell them at that stage) because I feel they may be a bit more fragile then, but on a positive note you are SURE they are young.  So those three are also part of the quarantined crew.

A few days ago Scott and I were sitting at the table in the dining room and I was watching these three new gouldians.  One began doing the hopping bit that the males do.  Rats!  I had put different colored plastic bands on their left legs when I got them home initially, so if I did see any signs of one being a male I could tell which one it was and make note of it.  So Purple Band is a male.  Next day, another was hopping!  So two of the three are for sure males.  Bummer.  I only have a couple hens left of my own, but plenty of males, so now it’s crucial that I breed mine and then pair the kids up with these kids.

Once the show was behind us, I had to add all the new product I’d made to my etsy shop.  That necessity gave me the push I needed to redo my old pictures as well, because I wanted to have plain, light backgrounds.  It took me all of last week to get this done.  I finished on Saturday night about 7 PM.  Everything seems to take longer than what you assume!  The backgrounds could still be better, but they are a LOT better than what I had.

Next up was to figure out what the trick to getting noticed on etsy entailed.  Luckily there are a couple ladies, gurus of the homemade world, that do seminars online.  I have taken advantage of a couple of these free seminars before, and they just offered one on SEO, which stands for Search Engine Optimization.  I’ve learned a lot these past few days, and was up till after midnight last night redoing my titles, keywords, and tags on my etsy products.  Re-tweaked them again today and I’m comfortable enough with it now to let it go for a bit and see what happens.  Check out my etsy shop to see the new stuff and updated look.

I signed up to do a local craft show in December.  It’s in the next town over, so even if I’m handfeeding some kids at the time I will be able to have Scott come down and take my place while I rush home and feed the kids.  So now I have a bit MORE product to make, because I want to try something new.  Never-ending, but I do enjoy creating things and feel like someday something I make will be THE thing that clicks and works.

My son and his fiance came up this past Sunday and we carved pumpkins.  That’s something Alex and I have done together almost every year since he was a little kid.  I think we may have missed one or two years only, and he’s 31 so that’s pretty cool.  I did two big pumpkins and Alex and Kristy each did one.  They came out great and it was a really nice day.  Spotticus is still behaving very well with Kristy.  It’s amazing!  She’s the only person he’s ever accepted other than his little family unit.  It will make the holidays much nicer without having to worry about that!

So that pretty much catches us up to date.  I will do better with blogging.  OK, I will try.  🙂


Nita’s Nest


08-07-17: I’ve Got Those Doggy Black and Blues — August 7, 2017

08-07-17: I’ve Got Those Doggy Black and Blues

I know my way around birds pretty well, having kept and bred them for over forty years.  I’ve never claimed to know much about dogs, however, especially when it comes to training them.  This was never more apparent than yesterday, and today I have the bruises to prove it.

Spotticus is pretty much the best dog I’ve ever had, though he certainly has his issues.  For one thing, he hates everyone but his immediate pack.  That would be me, hubby, and son.  Recently he surprised us by allowing our son’s fiance to buy her way into that elite club by way of many, many treats.  If you’re thinking well of course, any dog can’t be bought with treats, you’d be wrong.  Many have tried with Spot, and many have failed.  So it’s a very small circle of humans that Spot will accept.  Let him catch a glimpse of the neighbors across the street or a UPS truck entering the driveway, and all hell breaks loose.

Another little issue we have with Spot is that he really does NOT mind us.  OK, sure, all you people that know how to train your dogs are thinking that’s not HIS fault, it’s ours.  I agree.  100%.   As I said when I started this, I don’t claim to know how to train dogs.  I’ve read several books.  Didn’t help me.  Normally life is pretty much a routine, and it’s not really an issue.  Normally.

So this is what happened yesterday.  Scott and I and Spot were on the back porch.  Scott and I were going outside for a minute.  We don’t let Spot out there without a leash because he will not come on command.  He has designated yards outside that are fenced and secure, but the backyard as a whole is off limits to him.  So I step out and Scott is following behind me.  Spot suddenly decides he is fast enough to just weasel out past Scott’s legs.  And he’s FREE!

A chihuahua may be small, but they can run like the wind when they want to.  He no sooner got off the steps and he was off and running.  My immediate thought is of course that he’ll run into the road and get hit by a car or he’ll run into the woods and never be seen again.  Panic!

We scream at him to come back.  He ignores us and runs like a maniac.  We run after him and try to head him off.  He was doubling back and headed my way.  I bent over ready to grab him and he changed course at the last minute.  I lunged and missed and fell on the grass.

When you’re a kid and you fall, no big deal.  When you’re 30 and fall, still not such a big deal.  When you’re 61 and out of shape and fall, it hurts.  And when you try to get right back up, you may find your equilibrium is now off kilter so YOU FALL AGAIN!

Then when you get up you find you are a bit shaky and your leg is bleeding from the not-so-soft grass that is actually full of little sticks and things, and parts of you hurt that you aren’t even sure you hit.  And then you look over at the door and find the little monster is calmly standing there, looking around like innocence personified.  Not being up to another go-round, it was then that the lies and sweet-talking came out.

“Spot, you want a biscuit?  Come on, let’s go in and get a biscuit.”   He followed me in, where I promptly shut the door behind him.   Then the swearing began.

This is the same dog that when I have to go out on the weekend, Scott and Alex have both told me that Spot is clearly distressed the whole time I’m gone.  He whines and will not relax.  And once he hears my car when I return, he howls and carries on like a loon.  He loves his Mama to pieces, except for coming when she calls!

So I guess I should consider myself lucky that I managed to housebreak him and he’s never had an accident.  Of course I also had four poms and NONE of those were properly housebroken, so maybe it’s less about my skills and more about the dog.  I know my limitations, and I also know my black and blues.  I have plenty of both.



06-25-17: Foot Toys — June 25, 2017

06-25-17: Foot Toys

Foot toys can be a very important part of a pet bird’s life.  If you are unfamiliar with what a foot toy is, it can be any small toy that can typically be grasped in a bird’s foot.  It might be as simple as one wooden block or ball with a piece of rawhide through the middle and knotted on either side.

The foot toy should be sized appropriately for the bird.  I use smaller beads for smaller birds, as well as thinner material going through the middle.  Thin rawhide, twine, paper rope,  and “Paulie” cord are all suitable materials for the smaller birds.   For the larger bird, you can use a larger block or bead as well as the thicker rawhide or Paulie cord.  I often add some smaller plastic beads on either side of the main bead as well.

Some birds really enjoy chewing on wood, and there is nothing more satisfying to those birds than a block of wood that can be reduced to splinters.  For that reason, some birds should be given pine or other soft wood that they can destroy.  Some birds are more drawn to chewing on the cord that goes through the middle.  Rawhide (only vegetable-tanned, please) is usually perfect for those birds as they can get a lot of chewing enjoyment out of it.  A plastic bead or other shape with rawhide passing through and knotted on either side will be a long-lasting foot toy for those birds.  Although all birds may have their preferences, probably a variety of different foot toys is best.  It’s important to avoid boredom in your pet bird.

In addition to having foot toys for the bird’s enjoyment when playing alone, they are invaluable as diversions for a bird that is apt to bite.  Many young birds will go through a period where they get a bit “bitey” and seem to be testing the limits.  I always tell people that it’s much better to use diversion as a way to avoid a bite than to try to correct it after the fact.  You don’t want to spend all your time earthquaking your bird, or doing whatever method you use to deal with bites.  It’s not fun for you OR your bird.  Instead, keep an appropriate foot toy at the ready – next to you or in your pocket – at all times that your bird may be interacting with you.

Often we can see a bird begin to get antsy and that often will precede a bite.  Time to bring out that foot toy and bring it up to your bird for him to check out.  I should also mention here that if you are going to give it to the bird, rather than holding on to one end of it, you’d better have two or more toys at the ready because chances are that first one may get tossed or dropped.  However, if you see the bird is grabbing the foot toy and tossing it immediately and ready to grab another, it’s probably not a good time to be interacting with the bird anyway.  You’ve got to learn to read their moods.  It’s a rare bird that is always in a good mood and never cranky.

With the little birds, like parrotlets, they can go from sweet to cranky rather quickly.  I keep a foot toy handy when dealing with them.  Usually they are fine on my hand for a period of time, but I can see when they are starting to get antsy and may nip.  That is the time to offer them the foot toy.  I like the ones with twine going through them for these little guys.  Parrotlets can rarely resist chewing on the twine  when you present that end to them.  Diversion accomplished!

Birds alone in their cage will often enjoy playing with foot toys, too.  One of our timneh greys would lay on her back on the cage grate and kick a foot toy up in the air repeatedly.  It was the cutest thing to watch.

So don’t overlook the value of foot toys.  If you’re making them, just be sure to use safe materials.  I am now offering small as well as medium-large foot toy 5-packs on my Etsy shop.  Check them out!


Nita’s Nest

Etsy Shop

06-07-17 The Gardening Blues — June 7, 2017

06-07-17 The Gardening Blues

I know there are actually people who enjoy gardening and becoming one with the dirt and plants.   I’m not one of them.

This had been a tough “spring” – and I use that term lightly.  There haven’t been more than four days in a row that we haven’t had to fire up the woodstove.  I know, this is New England.  Wait a minute and blah blah blah.  That’s no excuse.  We had more snow fall at the beginning of what should have felt like spring than we did all winter, culminating in a few inches on Mother’s Day.  Mother’s Day!!!   Then less than a week later, or maybe it was before – it all blurs together at this point – we had a day of 96° heat!  That’s insane even for New Hampshire.  After that came the rains.  It was all fine and dandy when we were still in a drought.  Then, hallelujah, the drought was over.  We were even again.  But did the rain stop?  Of course not.  It’s supposed to be April showers bringing May flowers, not May and June torrential downpours.  Not balmy downpours, either.  Let’s not forget that 40-something-degree  chill-you-to-the-bone crap.  The rain stopped last night and now they are predicting more of the 90 degree stuff in a few short days.

We have a modest garden every year.  As we get older, we are both less thrilled about it.  This year, with the impossible weather, we managed to find ourselves a full week into June with nothing yet planted.  It’s already a short season here at the southernmost tip of the White Mountain National Forest area, which is pretty much a stones throw away.   Hubby normally does the tilling and puts down the weed barrier, and I plant and pick the goodies later.   I’d like to say I also do any weeding, but last year I did none of that at all.  No elves came in the night to do it either, so even with the weed barrier the garden areas looked like jungle.  The only thing worse than gardening, is reaching into a garden rich with weeds – where snakes and God knows what else may be lurking.

Did I mention that last year’s garden was the most disappointing ever?

So as I was saying, the rain stopped last night.  I was determined to plant the garden today.  Scott had put down weed barrier on the 8 raised beds that measure 3′ x 3′, but the long row on the hill where I intended to plant bush beans needed weed barrier laid down, as did the old asparagus bed that has now become our tomato area.  We had no more of the good stuff, so I was going to double-up the crappy stuff we had.  It was 10:30 by the time I got the birds finished and was ready to gather up all the stuff and go plant.

Let me also say here that bugs, they love me.  I must have skin that screams out tenderness or something, because if there is one bug out there, it will find me and create massive bumps and itchiness galore.  It was already in the low 60’s but despite how I hate the heat I decided I’d wear socks, pants, and spray bug spray on my lower half.  I did wear short sleeves, but I even sprayed the Deep Woods stuff all over my arms.  Then to top off my protection, I found a baseball hat, sprayed it with Off, and put a mosquito net over that!  I was ready to rock and roll!

Three trips later I had all the stuff I needed and started on the hillside row.  Within five minutes a huge horsefly was biting my arm.  “Owww!”  and I slapped it with my dirt-covered hand.  Yuck.  Dirt all over my arm now, and the welt was already rising.  I did kill him, though, which pleased me immensely. I won’t repeat what I said aloud, but suffice it to say it was a warning of sorts to the other winged demons in the vicinity.

Half hour later and the beans were planted.  On to the old asparagus bed.  Apparently Scott didn’t have time or the inclination to rototill this raised bed.  I went back and got my long-handled  three or four pronged digger.  Swung that like an axe and quickly found that it just wasn’t going to work.  Now I’m sweating and my baseball cap is no longer sitting where it was supposed to, but instead sliding down my sweaty forehead.  I reached up under the netting and pulled it off and turned it backwards, realizing my hands were covered in dirt which was now on my forehead as well.  Plus without the bill of the hat in the front, the netting was now ON my face.  Wonderful.  And here come the black flies.

Deep Woods Off is supposed to be great stuff. I hate bug spray.  I hate the way it feels and smells and feel the need to take a shower the whole time it’s on.  But I used it, and still they were on my arms and biting.  And another horsefly, for good measure.  Now I’d had my share of this little nature excursion and just wanted to be DONE.  Since I couldn’t till up this entire bed, I settled for digging six holes for the tomatoes.  Putting down the weed barrier I found it was not really quite wide enough.  Close enough!  Doubled it over and held it down with the U-shaped wires.  Cut through to the holes I’d made and planted the tomatoes.

I didn’t mention this before, but it really completes the picture of my gardening foray.  We had a bear out here two nights ago.  A good-sized one.  It triggered the driveway alarm and we saw it leaving the driveway on the driveway cam.  So the whole time I’m down in the garden area I’m thinking the bear could make an appearance.  A few years ago, hubby and I had thought that bringing down an air horn in case the bear appeared would be a good thing to do.  Well the bear made an appearance then, about 75 feet from me, and I blasted the air horn.  It damn near gave me a heart attack and I knew it was coming!  The bear never flinched.  And didn’t leave.  Since then, I’ve been cautious going out in the yard.  So I make noise.  Bears are supposed to give you a wide berth if they see and hear humans.  Supposed to.  Hoping it’s usually true, I make noise.  This means singing or talking to myself, like an idiot, punctuated with the occasional HEY or off-key whistle.  And I look over the fence frequently.  The fence would not keep a bear or anything else out if it wanted to come in – and they have – but it will often be enough of a barrier that animals will follow along the outside of it.  I always just hope it would give enough of a barrier to slow something down a bit.

So I’m singing Heartbreak Hotel (it was the first thing that came to mind down there) and trying to hurry.  Tomatoes done.  Now on to the eight small raised beds.  I planted five with pumpkin seeds and three with Magda squash.  The latter can be used in place of eggplant, either in slicing and frying to eat that way or if you go further, to be made into “Eggplant” Parmesan.  Done.

I was now a sweaty, hot mess.  I know there is dirt all over me.  Bug bites welting up all over my arms.  I turned on the hose and tried to wash the dirt off.  Filled the chickens’ water dish and came inside.  12:30.  Two hellish hours.  The shower never felt so good!

Why anyone would enjoy that is really beyond me.  Just getting the dirt under my nails (ick! ick!) is gross, never mind the bug spray and the bug bites.  Yuck.  I do enjoy actually harvesting things from the garden, but clearly I was meant to have a gardener, not to be one.


Nita’s Nest