Wednesday, October 16, 2013

I am Officially a Mother.

Yep, that's right. I'm a mom now. Not to a human baby, but to a baby deer mouse. Let me tell you how it started.

Two days ago, I was helping my Mom harvest the last dahlias of the season. My brother was playing nearby. After we'd been harvesting for about an hour and a half, my brother came up to me and said, "Look what I found." He opened his palm, and inside there was a tiny baby mouse. He said that it had been in the middle of the path and that there were no others around. I knew from experience that at this point the mother mouse was very unlikely to come back for her baby, so I decided to raise the mouse myself. I did some research and discovered that this baby was already 7-9 days old. I watched a few videos on raising wild mice, and I discovered that I could feed him plain old goat milk. We went on a quick shopping trip and picked up the things I would need, and I begun caring for him. Every two hours, I warm up a little bit of goat milk and dip an artist's paintbrush in it. I gently hold the mouse while he eats, and then I dip the brush again. I do this until his belly is nice and plump. After that, I wet a Q-tip with warm water and wash him. The whole process takes about 20 minutes, from warming the milk to placing "Mouse" back in his cage. It might not seem like much, but I have to continue doing this all through the night. It's quite tiring, but worth it. I swear that this mouse grows more every hour. If all goes well, I will begin to wean him in less than two weeks! Wish me luck. :)

Here he is in comparison to a quarter (picture taken yesterday). He's already grown!

And here's his "care station" -- the area where I feed and bathe him. Q-tips for bathing, paintbrush and baby food jar for the goat milk, bowl for warming the milk, and canning jar for warm water used to wet Q-tips for bathing.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Happy Autumn!

Well, today was the autumn equinox. Even though it is officially fall, the flower business has still been quite busy, and I've been spending a lot of my time working with Mom in the studio, making bouquets, bunching sunflowers, making boxes, and many other things. I do it to be helpful, of course, but I am also getting paid. I haven't spent my money on anything yet, but I am deciding whether I would like to buy LEGOs (so I could play with my brother), or something else. I have stopped introducing new animals to the farm for the time being, as I have quite a few on my hands already (over 50!), and I was having problems with illnesses. When I was bringing in new animals, I was also potentially introducing new diseases or parasites to my existing ones. Everyone has seemed healthy since I stopped, and I have had time to focus on my other interests. I have been drawing quite a lot, mostly mythical creatures. 

This is an entry that I drew for an online contest. It depicts Rhea, a jewel mane dragon.
I've also been branching out with my writing. I used to write only non-fiction how-to's or care sheets, but have recently been writing some fiction stories as well. I'm quite proud of my work so far. (I am not going to include any in this post, but may in the future.)

I've been seeing a lot of frogs around lately, getting ready for hibernation. I was taking flowers out of a bucket the other day when I found this little fellow at the bottom:

I dubbed him Bob of Mordor and released him in some bushes.

In other news, I have been teaching myself to use Photoshop, mainly so I can create odd pictures of dinosaurs with the heads of my family members. It has proved quite entertaining so far.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Rest in Peace, Dear Cinnamon Pi.

I would like to dedicate this post to Cinnamon Pi, who passed away today. 

Years and years ago, Cinnamon lived as a declawed barn cat on a farm near us. I and my family never really paid her much mind, until one day we heard that she was "up for grabs." We already had two cats, but poor Cinnamon (then named Snickers) had a lot to put up with. Yapping dogs that never shut up, cold nights in a drafty barn, and big predators to whom she would become lunch if the wasn't careful. And on top of that, she didn't even have claws. How could she defend herself, let alone hunt? It was on a mild summer day that we finally decided to bring the bedraggled and terrified cat home with us.

 Upon arriving home, we decided that Snickers was not a very fitting name, and changed it to Cinnamon. Cinnamon lived in our basement for a while, but she never settled in. Always on edge, the poor cat would rarely allow anyone to get near her, let alone pet her. As much a cat lover then as I am now, I would often cry over her fearfulness, desperately wishing that she would open up and allow us to help her. Weeks went by, and my family made the difficult decision to find a new home for Cinnamon in the city. Looking back, I don't think she could've ever adjusted to the country life anyway. We found the perfect place. At her new home, Cinnamon had everything she could've wished for, even a middle name: Pi. Under the undivided love and attention that her new human provided, Cinnamon blossomed. The rest of her life was full of happiness, and she was very loved. She still is, in fact. Cinnamon Pi will live on in our hearts forever.

Farewell, dear Cinnamon.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A Very Busy Summer!

Hello. As you may have noticed, I have not posted in some time on this blog, and I'd like to give an explanation for this. I have been having an incredibly busy summer. My family is involved in the flower industry, so summer is the busiest time of year for us because the flowers are blooming. On top of helping my parents out for much of the day, I am currently at an art day camp in Seattle, which will last for the week. I'll go home for a day or two to get my animals situated, then I will leave straight away for Camp Kirby on Samish Island, which lasts for a week also. This is a sleep-away camp. After that, I will be going to a math day camp in west Seattle. I'll then have another week or so prepare for the Skagit County Fair, where I will be showing some of my poultry. On top of all this, I have 4-H meetings that I have to weave into my days at camp. I have tons going on, so please excuse me for not posting regularly. I'll give my best effort to post during the fair, as I'm sure you'll be excited to hear about that.

For now, goodbye and have a great summer yourself. :)

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Rest in Peace, Dove and Taylor

I would like to post a memorial for Dove and Taylor, two of my porcelain Belgian bearded d'uccle pullets. (Pullets are female chickens under a year old.) I was given Dove and Taylor, along with five other chickens their age, sometime this April, by a friend. I soon after discovered that they were infected with coccidiosis (pronounced cock-sid-ee-oh-sis), which is a very bad and sometimes fatal chicken disease. I had luckily had these birds in quarantine (isolation), so that the rest of my flock was not infected. I contacted a chicken expert that I knew, and he told me which medication to use on them and how to go about treatment. I followed his instruction, and less than a month later the little birds were as good as new. Everything went well for the next month or so, until four of the chicks were killed in broad daylight by what I can only assume to have been a feral cat. This left Dove, Taylor, and another chick, Henrietta. Dove and Taylor stayed close to each other, but Henrietta loved (and still loves) to explore. Recently, Dove and Taylor began showing the symptoms of coccidiosis once again, only this time it was worse. Both of them went downhill quickly, though I treated them. I decided to give them both two days, and if they did not show any sign of improvement, then I would humanely euthanize them. Dove unfortunately passed away before the deadline was over, and Taylor was on her way out. We made the decision to euthanize Taylor, as she obviously wasn't going to improve.

Dove and Taylor were both incredibly sweet birds, and I will always miss them. Dove loved to sit on my shoulder, and I often fed her extra dried corn as a treat. Taylor was one of the fastest chickens I knew.

Taylor is the bird in the front. Behind her is her sister, Emily, who was killed by the feral cat.

Dove, sitting on my shoulder while I put stickers on bouquet sleeves for my parents.

 Rest in peace, Dove and Taylor. You will be missed.

Friday, June 21, 2013

So Many Babies!

There's so much going on at the farm right now regarding baby animals!

To start with, Dusty Miller's mama (Cinnamon) has been found! She was hiding under some ferns with seven other babies. We removed her from her outdoor nest, and placed her in an old rabbit cage filled with wood shavings. Then we placed Dusty Miller in with her. She accepted Dusty right off the bat, but it took a little while for the little guy to get the picture. Now, he is simply one his mama's brood. :)

Secondly (though I haven't had the chance to tell you), Some of Mo and Adelaide's eggs have hatched! Adelaide refused to go broody, but we had another hen (Ginger, Cinnamon's sister) who refused to go "un-broody". We placed a few of Adelaide's eggs under her, and 21 days later, three little peepers were born. One of these chicks was not Mo and Adelaide's, it was Ginger's biological chick. So far Ginger has been a great mama, and I just know that the chicks will turn out really well. 

There's more! Another one of my hens (Ella) hatched a single chick, which I have named Cleo. She's been a great mom so far.

Thought that was it, did you? (;
One of our ducks (Waddly) hatched a clutch of eggs, too. She had six ducklings, but weirdly abandoned them all. I cannot fathom why a bird that sat faithfully on a nest for twenty-eight days wouldn't want to raise her young. Either way, we took it upon ourselves to raise the six little ducklings and strangely, they have developed a bond with our young guinea.

There's more to come. Mama sebright (A.K.A. Merida) is sitting on a clutch of eggs as well.

As you can see, a lot of stuff has been going on at the farm, and I'm sure there will be more to come!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Tons of Tent Caterpillars!

It is sad, but our beloved "tadpole puddle" has dried up. Jasper and I went out to visit it, and found that it had been tilled in. There is a big tree that overhangs the spot where the puddle used to be, and when we looked up, we noticed that there were tons of cottony nests build snugly onto its branches. This could only mean one thing: Tent caterpillars.

Although they can do serious damage to flowers, I haven't seen a single nest on our property. (Thankfully!) Jasper and I decided to observe them, so we went back home and grabbed the camera, and old empty plastic fish tank, and an X-acto knife. We trekked back out to the tree, and began to take some pictures of the caterpillars and their cottony nests.

At the tree

A nest

A newer nest, with lots of caterpillars on it.

After snapping more than a few photos, we decided to collect some of the nests to take home for observation.

Some were too high to collect

And most we just decided to leave alone.

 After that, I took out my X-acto knife and decided to dissect a nest, for educational purposes of course.

The whitest stuff was not part of the nest, it was this cottony seed material.

I am not sure of the purpose of tent caterpillar's nests, as all I observed were two or three caterpillars inside. The majority reside on the outside of the nest.

Jasper and I took the nests we collected home, and set up a habitat for them. Here is a video of it:

Overall, I think that tent caterpillars are pretty cool, despite their ravenous appetite for foliage. They are, after all, just doing what they were born to do.