Saturday, September 15, 2012

The best laid plans...

I had big plans for this summer. Go camping.  Train up Buddy for longer hikes.  Wander through the woods with the dogs.  Hike around the Columbia Gorge.  Go camping again.  Explore the Puget Sound.  Stay at our family vacation home up on the Washington coast, the dogs and ducks in tow.  And what did I actually accomplish?  Sadly, none of it. 

At first, the slow start to summer waylaid my plans - it is quite difficult, I have found, to get excited about camping if it means hunkering down with three wet, muddy dogs as we listen to rain dripping onto the tent for hours on end.  There goes May and half of June.  By mid June it was finally clearing up and I was attempting to set up a camping expedition or two with my sister, a person I had always loved spending time with, but - long story short - she was being rude, condescending, and self-absorbed and I was tired of putting up with it.  We have not spoken since the end of June.

July was taken up with keeping the Unfarm running while my parents went on various trips, and designing and building a new chicken coop to house the Littles, who were out growing their temporary housing in the living room.  We have a coop for the Ladies, but the size difference is too big and the Ladies tend to pick on the Littles, so shutting them all up in one coop overnight seemed too dangerous a prospect, especially with Penny the Attack Chicken on guard for the Ladies.

August - surely now I can find some time to go camping with my pups.  Apparently not.  August got taken up with time spent manning the Unfarm while my parents went camping (lucky them) and then one of my cousins came down from Washington to stay with us for a week. We spent most of the time hanging out with the animals, doing some arts and crafts, and going on a couple tax free shopping sprees.  By the end of August there was light at the end of the tunnel - I might finally get to go camping. Or not. Buddy the wonder dog got out into the front yard and, somehow, he managed to injure his leg. 

This happened, as these things always seem to, just minutes after our vet had closed for the day.  He spent the rest of the evening favoring that leg and by the next morning it had swollen up to a huge lump around his wrist joint and he wouldn't stand at all.  We carried him into the vet and several x-rays later we got the verdict: he had dislocated a bone in his wrist and torn the ligament.  We still don't know how he managed to do that - he had only been outside for 2 or 3 minutes.  Apparently, he does everything fast: run, eat, play, and dislocate his wrist.

The vet wrapped his leg in a huge green-striped cast - which gave him the appearance (and feel, no doubt) of having replaced one leg with a large watermelon - and sent us to the orthopedic vet.  A few days later (they wanted to wait for the swelling to go down a bit) he went to the vet's office for surgery and an overnight observation.  It was the first time he has ever been away from all of us overnight and I don't know who was more distressed - him or myself.  We both survived it and news from the surgery was good: he had dislocated his wrist but had not torn any ligaments, which the vet was rather surprised at and said that was hard to do.  Finally - something goes our way at the vet's office.  And here we were convinced that we were single handedly responsible for supporting the entire veterinary profession in our state.

However, even with the good news from the vet Buddy was still put into a cast that he will have to wear for at least 6 weeks.  In addition, he has to be kept quiet and prevented from running, playing, jumping on or off of furniture, and going up or down stairs.  All of which he does on a regular basis, and continued to do as if nothing had changed.  The sedatives they gave us might as well have been placebos for all the good they did.  In addition to the sedatives, he is also on thyroid medication, pain medicines, and antibiotics which he must take two to three times a day.  But that is another story.

We are about two weeks in now and by the time he is back to his regular routine it will be cold, and wet, and dark and much too late to consider camping.  

Normally I could handle this disappointment but this year is particularly hard because Kita has always loved camping and I don't know how many summers he has left.  At 15 he is already elderly and his arthritis gets worse every year. A depressing thought, I know, and I usually try to keep this blog lighthearted but death is an unfortunate part of life on the Unfarm at times.  I suppose I could spare myself the pain of losing my little ones by not having pets, but then life would not be nearly so worthwhile.  And besides, it would be incredibly selfish of me to not provide a safe and loving home for an animal simply because it causes me pain when they go.

Signing off for now - time to give Aspen, Buddy, Kita and Maia their medicines.  Between all of them I fear we may be in danger of wiping out entire pharmacies. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The curse of being an artist

We all know that hobbies come with supplies. Whether you collect stuff, build model airplanes or create art, you need supplies.  Especially if you do art.  Which I do.  And not just one kind of art - I dabble in pastels, felting, fiber arts, watercolor, acrylic, quilting, and mixed media.  

And there's the rub: mixed media.  It means that I can find a use for almost anything, which, of course, means that I need to add it to my collection of supplies.  Even stuff that most people would pass up, I see inspiration in.  Old dominos? I could use those.  Second hand dictionaries, one english and one french? I could use those.  Mountains of small formica sample tiles?  Better stock up.  Samples of laminate wood flooring?  I could use those as a base for a mixed media piece: cheaper than canvas, and it's recycling!  Partially used spools of thread?  I would hate to be in the middle of a project and run out - I should probably get at least seven.  Bags of yarn from the 1980s - for FREE?  I'll take as many as I can fit in my car.  Piles of small boxes?  I'm sure I'd find a use for them the minute they drive off in the recycling truck, so I'll just hold on to them for now.  

And then there are the legitimate art supplies.  Those pads of scrap booking paper that Michael's occasionally offers for sale at 40% or (gasp!) 50% off?  How can I pass that up?  Stamps?  I'll need alphabets in several different fonts, as well as nature prints, and flowers, and swirls, and shapes, and... Of course, you can't stamp without ink pads, so I'll need one in every color.  Canvas?  You bet - some small, some large, some medium, and a few more small.  Colored pencils, crayons, paints, brushes, pastels, beads, fimo clay, wire and glue.  Each item in itself is not much of a problem, but when they add up, you get this: a room scattered with fabrics, papers, stamps, boxes and books in an attempt to "organize."  Somehow, whenever I organize, things always seem to get worse before they get better.  

In this case, things have been "worse" for a few days now as I attempt to fit all my supplies into one room in an orderly manner.  Add to this the complication of sharing this room with the ducks, my office supplies, and three rabbits and all their supplies.  It's not looking good.  At this point the only thing I can be grateful for is the fact that at least the rabbits are not artists.  They seem much more interested in destruction than creation, as evidenced by the shredded phone book that Clover is, at this very moment, ripping up and tossing around his cage, and the numerous pads of carpet that I have had to replace once they are reduced to 1/3 their original size and a pile of carpet fibers strewn about their cages.  

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The grass is always greener...

It would seem that the old saying is true: the grass is always greener on the other side, or perhaps I should say, the food is always better in the other bowl.  We seem to be forever playing musical food bowls here on the Unfarm.  

The dogs, for instance, are constantly on alert for any opportunity to get into the cat food, or worse, the sand cookies (our term for what shows up in the litter box after the cats have digested their own food.)  Minna has mastered the art of sneaking under the gate and waddling into the chicken run to eat any food the chickens have left behind.  The rabbits appear to have no particular desire to eat anyone else's food, but Maia considers bunny berries (aka rabbit poop) a delicacy. (I don't see the appeal either, but there you have it.)  The chickens are equal opportunity snackers, eating not only their own food but any scraps we toss their way (they are particularly fond of corn cobs and melon rinds) whatever crumbs they can glean from the kitchen floor and duck food.  

Not only are the animals getting into forbidden fruits on their own, I think they may have enlisted help.  I suspect that one or more of the animals may have formed an alliance with the squirrels.  The chickens and ducks can often be found sitting under the squirrel feeder, catching bits of corn and seeds that the squirrels "accidentally" knock off the feeder while searching for the ultimate prize: peanuts.  In addition, I am quite sure that the dogs and ducks have a longstanding agreement - the dogs are forever nosing open the bunny room door (where the ducks spend the night) thus allowing the ducks to waddle down the hallway and into the kitchen where they proceed to splash in the dog's water bowl, making a mess that I must then clean up.  I can see what the ducks get out of the arrangement but I am still unsure as to what's in it for the dogs.  Perhaps they simply think it's funny to watch me chasing ducks around the house.  

Speaking of ducks, Maggie has recently discovered the dog's food bowl.  She will often sneak a couple mouthfuls while I'm busy chasing after Minna, trying to wrangle her into her diaper.  (If you have never seen ducks running, let me assure you that they are by no means slow animals - they can cover considerable distance in a hurry when they want to.)  For the most part, the cats seem to leave the other animals food alone - I expect they consider it beneath them to stoop to eating dog food and the grain and hay the other animals eat holds no appeal for them.  They do, however, flock to the kitchen whenever a can of tuna or salmon is being opened, and Aspen has insisted on milk at least once a day for the entire 16+ years we have lived with him.  If you decide that you don't want to get him milk until you are done, say, eating breakfast, he will help himself: he jumps up onto the table and sticks his head in your bowl to drink your milk.  

I would attempt to come up with a clever, witty ending to this post, but ironically, I can hear Maggie scarfing down Kita's dinner in the kitchen so I'm off to chase down two incorrigible ducks.  Until next time.