Friday, June 26, 2009

empty nest -- not quite

My apologies that this entry is a bit dashed off. We have to go get the year's strawberries picked and processed and Ronan and her friends have a sailing lesson with Dean in the afternoon.

We did get an aviary of sorts rigged for Peach. Just in time for the big fundraising party we held for Megan (The party was a success, allaying my fears and exceeding my expectations. With the additional benefit of a lot of left over beer in the keg that I enjoyed giving away almost as much as I enjoyed drinking it.) Peach's aviary is in the back bedroom that I am planning to make into a pantry. She took to the room right away. Even put herself to bed in it one night when we were up past her bedtime playing a board game called Wildlife. After a considerable time spent playing T-Rex with the plastic figurines, she settled down to thieving money from the bank and defacing the currency. (Again, that's my girl! No respect for the value of money.) She also helped me annoy my fellow players in a closely contested game by taking the money due them from the bank out of my hand and delivering it to anywhere but the hand of the other party. Then, just as Ronan won one roll before I really should have, Peach disappeared. I found her on the wire shelf unit she prefers as a perch, all sleepy and meditative the way she gets after dark. Several days ago we opened the window in the aviary room and took the screen out. Ever alert to novelty, Peach flew to sit on the windowsill right and sat there looking out for some time before flying back into the rest of the house to ask for food, steal pencils, and harass me when I'm talking on the phone. Although she's a sub-adult now, Peach regresses to a toddler when I'm talking on the phone. Hopping from hand to foot, pecking at toes and fingers and the phone receiver, fussing and screeching. Ronan, who has been experiencing some silbing rivalry and jealousy with Peach, has taken on the job of doing predator practice with Peach, chasing her around the house and trying to catch her. It helps Ronan relieve her frustrations about her spoiled little sister (who is now older than her), who messes with her things and appears to have cached an accessory to one of Ronan's Pet Shop toys that she had only just bought that day with her chore money. She hasn't hidden that item in any of her usual spots, either. These days I have to check my shoes before I put them on for stashes of blueberries or rocks and sticks. Matt in particular has to protect his ears from being used as convenient holes for caching mealworms. Anway ... on Wednesday evening Ronan chased Peach into the aviary room. This is "base" for Peach so Ronan broke off the chase right away. Soon Peach went to sit on the windowsill again and after a few minutes of thinking about she flew out and into the cherry tree. For the next hour or so while I made dinner Peach sat in the cherry tree basking in the sun, often with her eyes closed, her beak open, and her wings held open and drooping. I occasionally called to her from the open windon so she would be sure to know how to get back, but she acted like I wasn't there. We had dinner. I fretted but figured this had to happen someday and still thought she might come in at roosting time. After dinner I saw Peach explore the ticket the cherry tree is in and find her way up to the top of the holly tree where the nest she had fallen out of probably still is. I'm not sure if she had an encounter with her biological parents but as I was sitting outside talking with my housemate, Pat, Peach flew into the workshop and let us know she was back, and ready for dinner. I got her some food she flew up to the upstairs balcony so I went in the house and out onto the balcony. Peach came to my shoulder and I took her back in and she's been ignoring the open window ever since. For now. Rather like sister Ronan, Peach is a thoughtful person who prefers to study new situations and then ease into them rather than fly off half cocked. More on the sibling rivalry: Ronan likes to steal Matt's tobacco pouch out of his shirt pocket. Peach clings to his suspenders while she works at liberating pencils from his pocket that she night then stash in his shoulderbag. Both kids are picky eaters and both make quite the fussy at being given something they don't want or no longer like, but only Ronan gets bent when I make a point of how much the other sister likes my lasagne, or pancakes, or bread.

Pictures: Peach on the teapot - all grown up. Peach checking the dirty dishes for yummy treats. Peach working out String Theory. Last picture is Peach messing with (and on) her friend and admirer, Jay Seeley.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Wind turbines: they won't just kill birds and bats

Having my own much more happy goat and bird adventures over the last few weeks, I just now got a moment and enough memory to look up this article. here it is for interested parties. Thanks go to my parents for telling me about in the first place.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Peach: The Teen Days

Peach is a full-blown teenager now. I'm doing the best I can at my usual style of mostly child-led parenting.

Peach graduated from the basket nest to a cage a week or so ago and now doesn't want to be in the cage. I've laid newspaper down under her favorite roosts (she loves Matthew's clothes-drying racks) and let her play when the cats are away.

Like most teens she wants to get around on her own, now. No more perching on shoulders (much). We concerned parents (all three of us) let her. We cringe as she heads for a parking spot and just hope she doesn't crash. When she does we fish her out from behind the couch and she's off again.

Peach has become a picky eater. Before she was just a gaping, squeaking hole that accepted any nutritious offerings. Now ... Peach turns her head as the food is coming towards her so she can get a look at it and scoots away if she doesn't want what you've got. Soaked cat food is o-u-t these days. Cooked egg yolks are not favored. She still likes whites sometimes. She likes my bread a lot. (That's my girl!) Soaked in goatsmilk, please. Also fava beans and raspberries.
Earthworms are great when she's hungry. When she's not hungry but just yelling for no good reason she takes whatever you give her and holds it in her mouth. Last week she would spit it back into my hand but this week the cheeky bugger looks askance at my hand, sidesteps down the branch (or dowel) and then spits it onto the floor as though to say, "Don't even think of giving me that again."

Peach is learning to use her bill. For all kinds of stupid things. Like humans teenagers she believes that mouths are for oral fixations, parents are for food. Last week she would peck on anything that did not look like food: the rod she was sitting on. The wooden arm of the chair. Her feet. the metal wire of the cage. Today for the first time after several session of foraging practice that seemed to go nowhere and while I was ignoring her, Peach flew to the dining room table and instead of asking for food she started gulping down the rice and crumbs I hadn't cleaned up off the tablecloth yet. An untidy house can be a help in raising a jay.

Sometimes when I would be watching Peach try to eat the armchair or not know what to do with a worm that wasn't perfectly positioned in her mouth for her, I would think, am I a failure or is my kid slow? But then I would hear drifting in through the kitchen window all the shrieking teenage demands coming from the top of the holly tree and I would know that the other jays weren't faring any better at getting their teens to seek gainful employment. At least I'm keeping up with the Joneses, in Jayland.

You may be thinking "What happened to the aviary idea?" Well, it pretty much went out the window. Along with the some of the other advice online at bird rescue websites, such as "feed your baby scrub jay chopped mice". Forget it. I'll dig worms and buy her mealworms but I am not catching and chopping mice for her. An aviary was going to be a lot of work keeping her happy in it and cleaning it up afterward and I got to thinking about how we raised Webster and Eggbert - they just hung around with us until they took off for longer and longer periods and then forever. I guess I'm going for the improvise-as-it-comes method.

Peach has gotten way better at flying in the last few days: she showed off a tight aerial u-turn just this morning. She may soon be able to hold her own against a cat, even in the house, should she encounter one. We're still keeping the species separated, though, because Peach spends an unnatural amount of time hopping about on the floor yelling at passing feet, especially during "hoppy hour," which is around eight o'clock in the morning and again at eight at night. While her desire to perch and observe from on high is a demonstrable jay trait (her parents spend a lot of time hanging out on the disused TV antenna on top of our house, getting a break from the kids, no doubt), this floor thing doesn't seem like anything a real jay could get away with. Considering how active Peach has been, I really don't understand how the jays in the holly are learning to fly without winding up on the ground. Although maybe that is what is keeping jays from running the world.

Raising Peach has been a fulfilment of one of my many lifelong dreams. I always wanted to have a corvid, if only temporarily. They're so smart, chatty, and (so I've found) fairly laid-back and easy to take care of. I am also cured now of wanting to find a baby crow or a raven. Once Peach hit her adolescence, she got pretty prickly. Her claws were no longer comfortable on my skin, but a thin shirt was sufficient as a buffer. Not so with the claws of the larger corvids. One would have to deck oneself out like a falconer for those guys.

I have some nice pictures of Peach begging for food at the dining room table and wrestling with a hanging thread on a throw, but for some reason my camera is not speaking to my computer today. Maybe later.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


The word of the moment is "gazingstock". I wanted an obscure word for "miracle" to post as the next "word of the week/month/whatever" and this is what I found. The "stock" part only made it more appropriate since O'un is our gazingstock.

O'un is doing grand. She is alpha goat again. Not quite as obnoxiously pushy as she often was before. When she rams another goat out of her way, you can see that she's not putting her whole heart, soul, and weight into it.

For anyone wondering where the "Fujiko" in "Fujiko Farm" comes from, here is a picture of Fujiko with thunderheads. Fuji
ko is also the mountain (hill, really) pictured on the blog's header when you are at Fujiko's real name on a map is "Shortridge Hill" but I think that name is dull and the mountain is peerless. There is a way to write Fuji in Japanese - as in Mount Fuji - so that it also reads as "no two" (without peer). Because my hill is little, especially in comparison to Fuji, it gets the ending "ko". To me this all adds up to mean "Little Peerless One." If you click on the picture, though, it should get a little bigger for you.

I'm still pretty scatteredbrained from the last few days. So I'll just close this by saying Ronan's favorite snack food of the moment is a glob of honey wrapped in rose petals from the scented roses. She would probably suggest you try it, but she's at school today. O'un's favorite food today is Japanese knotweed. We have not yet remembered to get some knotweed when it is young, but it supposed to be very good food for humans, too.