Sunday, April 26, 2009

Farewell to Ben

Jerry left for India last week - not his favourite place but needs must. In his absence the dogs managed to kill the agouti. Having grown up with birds, it wouldn't occur to them to touch the feathered creatures, but small furry ones have always been fair game, which is why we always vowed never to have any. I'm trying to be philosophical about it, but truth is I do actually miss the annoying little pee-machine. Jerry is devastated; Ben was his baby. Although conscious of the fact that dogs don't understand grudges and sulking, I managed to make my 'I hate dogs' mood last the whole day, and amazingly enough they got the message and slunk out of my way when they saw me coming. One night's sleep though and all is forgotten - they are back to their usual ebullient, clueless selves. Doggie brains don't retain a whole lot of information. Bit like some humans I know...

Rat-murdering apart, it's been a busy couple of weeks on the bird front. We have received 7 parrots and an injured aricari, and we finally got around to building the new parakeet aviary. It should be ready for occupation on Tuesday which will be a big relief as velociraptor number 1 is getting rather too proficient at buzzing a bemused Milo, a furious Chili and any unsuspecting humans. He's also far too fond of his over-sized cousin; Milo seems to enjoy the attention, but one can never be too sure. Roll on Tuesday.

As if our 'man verses beast' lifestyle needed reinforcing, on a recent stroll down to the chicken-house I witnessed my favourite blue heron with an almost full-grown chicken flapping around in its beak. Mystery solved as to where they are all disappearing to. "Just a couple of strings, they can't step over them, simple as that" they say. So, armed with drill, string and wire I set about proving the theory. Satisfied, I retreat for a beer and watch through binoculars as the heron swoops over my wires and gobbles up another chick. Okay then, I guess I need to put some higher up. Finally I have horizontal strings decorating the hen-house from floor to ceiling. Beer number two, chicken number three and aghast as the heron flattens himself out to fly neatly between the strings. Ok-aay, I guess some vertical strings are required... Anyhow, several chickens later and a long story short, we now have the equivalent of a football goal surrounding the chicken house, with a bungee-cord door for us. I am now an expert net-weaver and the heron finally got the message and has given up. See - still the smarter species. Yes, I know it would have been quicker with chicken-wire, thank you very much.

On a final exciting note, some very reliable eye-witnesses have reported a mountain lion in the area. How likely is that, I wonder? Still, if the mountains are devoid of food and habitat, why not head for the valleys. Maybe the rat's days were numbered anyway: cold comfort, I think they call that.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Deer Walkers

We are turning into the sort of odd-balls that make other people shake their heads and tut. Not that I care - tut away. We finally bit the bullet and let the deer out. Bambi & Thumper resplendent in his & hers collars now accompany us on our daily walks with the 5 dogs and a parrot.

Ben (the agouti) has her own rat-flap; a hole in our bedroom fly-screen. We only really see her when she's hungry or it's too hot outside. Even then we don't actually see her; we just hear the grunts and squeaks - vaguely reminiscent of a chipmunk trying to imitate a gorilla - as she gnaws her way through the door frames and book cases.

One of the parakeets has got a thing for Milo, the Moluccan cockatoo. Not a great idea given the size difference. Milo seems to enjoy the attention, but it seems somehow perverted so being spoilsport humans, we tutted and brought Milo outside.

The parrot shower is operational - just in time as Mother Nature recently turned up the thermostat in her Belize oven. The hydroponics, however - is not operational. Nag, nag, nag...

This week, I am not proud to announce that I helped perpetuate the illegal trade in live iguanas. I purchased 4 lovely specimens that were hitching a ride over a villager's shoulder. Overcharged, I spirited my prizes back to the farm, only to find that hog-tying iguanas involves snapping the middle claw of each foot, pulling the legs behind the body, tying the tendons in a secure and effective knot and digging the dangling and bloody claws into the body - just in case one of them were named Houdini. Somewhat sickened, we released the unfortunate maimed creatures to an uncertain fate. Cultural, you cry? Bollux say I.