Tuesday, May 26, 2009

water and 24 hours of cuddling

That's my t-shirt slogan: "Water and 24 hours of cuddling will fix almost anything." It's been proved right for the second time. With Peach here, pictured on her second day with us. (No, I have not made it into a t-shirt yet and probably never will get around to it.)

The first time this axiom bore out was when Sophie, back when she was our new dog, mistook an escaped gosling for a chew toy. I thought Webster was a goner and was trying to ratch up the courage and stomp on her when Ronan woke up, found out what was going on and - of course - disag
reed with my intended course of action. I was feeling weak and willing to let her try to save her despite that I thought Ronan's efforts were most likely going to prolong her suffering. We forced water down Webster at regular intervals and wrapped her up on old shirt so that she could be strapped to Ronan's chest for warmth. For most of the day she looked terminal. We had a Cottage Grove fashion show to go to at Centro del Sol and Gosling-in-a-Sling went with us. She was a sideshow sensation at the event and was starting to look a little better. By the next day I figured that if she'd made it 24 hours without snuffing, then that was a very good sign. Soon after she was eating and drinking and making the usual waterfowl mess. Later she rejoined her brother pestering people on the porch by gnawing on the edges of their book or begging from their plates and supervising any job that involved power tools. Those two geese would come running whenever a chainsaw, drill, or even a jackhammer fired up. Our only guess about this behavior is that a migrating flock of geese must make a LOT of noise if your up their amonst them with the wind in your feathers.

Then on Thursday morning one of the kid's next door dropped off a baby bird hoping that Ronan could save it. He'd found it inside the house, so a cat must have carried it in - an action that usually involves some crunching down on the body. Ronan was having a sleepover with her friends in a tent and before they came to take over I looked at the baby bird, saw it was a scrub jay, and thought that at least it was a good species although it didn't look much better than Webster had. Ronan and her friends worked on rehydrating the bird and naming it Peach (this last was a longer process than it sounds). And that was about it. But after a day of being fussed over by Ronan, Vesta, and Hazel, I was taking the bird around with me on errands in Cott
age Grove while Ronan was at gymnastics class and the little thing ate some soggy cat food and then shoved its butt up to the top of the knitted purse she was sitting and started wagging it fast and hard over the side. I was mentally prepared for the little green sack of poo that ma and pa scrub jay are supposed to be able to grab in their bills and fly off to drop somewhere away from the nest, but ... I fumbled the toilet paper. Now I can tell you that the little mucusy parcel comes pretty well wrapped and can be picked off a hand towel folded in the bottom of basket without breaking and squishing shit all around. But the main point to telling you all that was that we had achieved poop! Yay! Stuff was going in Peach and it was coming out! Her chances of surviving just went way up. When Ronan got out of gym, I made the announcement "We've got poop!" and she grinned and clapped her hands.

We're now on our sixth day with Peach and she is starting her practice flights. Mostly from shoulder to finger. She has her knit purse (knitted by Vesta) for short trips, but most of the time her kn
itted nest is in a larger basket that contains her diaper kit and food bowl. Jays are hardy things and not picky eaters, thank goodness. Peach has been dining on worms; soaked cat food; hard-boiled eggs; defrosted berried; homemade bread with toasted pumpkin, sunflower, and sesame seads soaked in goatsmilk; and a little bit of buffalo - supplemented now and then with a sprinkle of powdered nettles, kelp, and nutritional yeast. She sleeps a fair bit, which is great. We've learned that bird parents have more spare time that we might have thought (she eats every half hour), but we're still kept hopping. I am really glad she is a slacker species. Barn swallows get up at 4:00 a.m. and are the last birds to go to bed at night around here; you can hardly tell them from bats sometimes. I've heard its pretty hard to hand raise barn swallows. Whereas our jay will sleep in until six or so and is ready to snuggle up for the night at eight.

Peach has been a fledgling on the go. She been to town couple of times, been to the pub, and gone on a hike on the Martin Flume Trail out past Bryce Creek. If we can keep any cats from eating her as she continues her practice flights and moves outside to a halfway house (an "aviary" made out of a tent with newspapers spread in the bottom and some bushes dragged in) and them from there back to the great outdoors and the open sky, she may stick around to be a garden pest (so Matt thinks) for years to come.

(Sorry it's been so long since the last post. It's been very busy here. I have so many posts in my head I could fence a good-sized pasture: Cleveland's Lakeview Cemetery and the Hazerot Angel, shampooing goats, making pasta, the rest of the kidding season, picking my spot on the hill for a four-day vision quest in July that I've been preparing for sinc elast year, and all the posts about writing (rather than rural living) I've been meaning to write. This is not the best time of year for writing - a thing which can sometimes make me rather frustrated and blue. And now I need to go see what needs watering...)

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