Thursday, January 26, 2012

House Bunny Colony Update

     So it's been awhile since I set up the Bunny Room. Sapphire and Misty live together loose in my mud room, ruling their own world. I worried they wouldn't get along at first, but they have become extremely bonded. 

     There are some pitfalls to bunny colony living. Mainly, keeping them entertained. Because if not they will make their own entertainment.

     Sapphire loves to dig the litter out of the box, then pee on the floor. "I'm doing to right! The litter is all around me!" More litter boxes made the problem much worse, as she dug out more litter and Misty peed on the floor too. For the record, Misty is the good rabbit. Misty is just happy to be here, she requires no effort. Sapphire believes I should be showing her my full-time awe and servitude. Misty is very clean, Sapphire is not. Misty is always in the litter box. Sapphire is not. Misty is always polite and cute. Sapphire is... Sapphire.

     So at first the solution was to sweep the floor at least daily, twice preferably. But that eats up a lot of my life, and if I didn't get the floor swept that day, it was now peed on and required mopping as well. So instead, Sapphire needed an appropriate place to dig.

      This area is sectioned off with a 2x4 so that the hay does not go EVERYWHERE. Because the hay also started becoming a potty, I added the food bowl and give them their treats and treat sticks there. This discourages the clean freaks from making it a potty.

     So now Sapphire regards digging in the litter box about the same way we would look at swimming in the toilet. She is at heart not that kind of rabbit. She plays in her hay most the day. She is totally queen of the pile.

     She digs through there like there is some treasure she has yet to find. You can hear her in the middle of the night, *chit chit chit* digging and playing.

     In the summer I am already planning an outdoor play area. We have a local fox, so it will have a top and either a full wire floor or one the extends 1' inside, with the middle left open for digging. They would only be out when I was home and outside, but it would still give them a change of scenery, some grass, and a chance to be dirty.

     Providing lots of toys also helps with boredom. I think of rabbits who live in little cages, maybe have one toy that never changes. People call them dull, stupid, and boring. But no! I can give these guys all kinds of toys, hay, things to destroy, and they are constantly at work on them.

     Sapphire loves the little willow balls you can buy, branches woven together, usually with a walnut in the middle. The ones at Walmart sell for $4 and she will destroy it in about 20 minutes if she's in the mood, or it may last 3-4 days first. Recently I found some heavier duty ones at Petsmart, and that one has lasted 3 days now. If I don't pay attention to her when she requests an apricot, she will pick up her ball and beat my leg with it.

     Misty on the other hand never resorts to violence. She amps up the cute. She stands on her back legs, tilts her head, gives the nose a wiggle, lets the ears flop. She'll work you until you are about to explode from the sheer level of cute, and you must give her an apricot. She then hops off to eat it on her shelf.

     Here are some of the current toys. They always have chew sticks, but those are basically neglected unless Sapphire is using it to trick Misty out of her treat stick. When I used my last trash bag I set the box down on the steps near the door on top of some other cardboard. Sapphire deftly leaned out and snatched it away, then paraded through the room like she'd found the deal of the day. I let her keep it, currently it's in about 4 pieces. It is apperantly cooler then the usual toilet paper rolls I stuff with hay for them to destroy.

     They also love the stuffed treat logs, which are an edible log stuffed with rabbit treat stick. Sapphire generally hoards these. She'll work it until the treat is far enough inside she can pick it up, then carry it around and beat me with it like she does her willow balls.

     They both love treat sticks, but Sapphire it obsessive. Often she will scarf hers, then go steal Misty's. Misty got wise to this and would then sit on her treat stick, so Sapphire couldn't get it. Once this led to a little tift and Sapphire got sprayed with the water bottle. Now she will instead go find something else, one of the wooden carrots or willow balls usually, and dance around like it is the coolest thing ever. She'll run past Misty, grunting and shaking it. She'll dance and bounce like a maniac, then go 'bury' it somewhere, usually behind the litter box or in the hay. Misty then goes to investigate this apparently amazing toy and *boom* Sapphire has her treat stick.

     But then here lately it has changed. They now are always together, always side by side. Misty usually sits on her shelf and destroys some cardboard next to Sapphire and her obsessive hay-hunting. And when it comes time for treat sticks? They share. They both eat the same half, then hop over and eat the other half.

     Proof see, Sapphire has learned to SHARE!!!! It is the most miraculous thing of them all.

Monday, January 23, 2012

I Shoed My House

     I live in a 200 year old brick farmhouse. It is decrepit and unhappy for the most part, and has a moderate breeze on any given windy day (with the windows shut). This is giving me excessive opportunity to play Ms. Handyman.

     I am very pleased with my current project. The old wooden floor was quite bad, warped, mangled, and no longer sealing the hole between the outside and the inside. So Lowes being my hero I bought 1/4" plywood to cut and lay down over the old floor, spray foam to continue sealing holes, silicone caulking for the smaller ones, and a type of trim called 'shoe' to seal the whole shebang.

     Cutting the board was a royal pain, and required the procurement of three differant jigsaws. I cut all but the last piece with the help of my Head Fiber Cat, Daisy. My boyfriend came and helped with the last piece, and this is likely good because there is a very good chance the house would have been lit on fire before I finished cutting out all the little pieces of trim the stupid thing had to fit around.

     Here is Ms. Daisy helping with construction, mainly by shouting instructions and sitting on the heating vent.


     So after it was all cut and down I had a brilliant carpenter I know come out with a nail gun and tack it all down.


     From there I began my shoeing. First I had to spray foam like mad, which is rediculously good fun and very messy. Then everything required caulking, which is very easy, fun, and not nearly so messy. The trim had to be cut to size and the ends cut at a 45 degree angle with a miter saw. This was actually remarkably easy and I had fun doing it, besides that there is no longer a breeze in that room! I'm now ready to start shoeing the whole house!

     Check out that corner. You'd think someone who actually knew what they were doing did that! But no, it was me! (and Daisy, but she really did more 'getting in the way of the saw' then she did helping)

     So there are my pictures of my now shod house. Next is painting the floor, I'm going to start on the trim today. Pictures of the finished product will come later. I was vetoed repeatedly on Electric Blue with Neon Green trim. So instead I had to go with something more subtle, but still very me.  

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

My Etsy Store

     So, shameless plug. I started an Etsy store to sell some of my drop spindles, fiber, and yarns. Etsy is a everything-handmade online store, sort of like Ebay but without the bidding and Chinese junk. So far I've been listing drop spindles mostly, and I've even sold one which was very exciting.

     The store is Blue Dog Fiber Arts, which means Zak takes the profits since his name is on the door. I have put a link box on the right hand side of the screen, shows some of the stuff I have and will take you directly there.

     If nothing else go to and just look at some of the really cool artwork on there. People are making amazing things. I have found a little needle-felted turtle I feel I must have, and some handpainted rovings that I adore. There are awesome handmade dog tags too, quite cheap for what they are I think.

     I'm starting to dye some yarns and roving to put on there, and listing some of my handspun. I started making "art yarn" the other night to list, some lumpy, fuzzy, curly, funky yarn out of Lincoln Longwool locks. I hope to have a pretty good store built at some point. So now you know where you can get your next fiber fix and support Zak's toy and treat collection at the same time!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Crooky Salamander

     One day about the middle of October, I was feeding the horses and when I bent down to pick up a feed bowl, lo and behold there was a salamander. In October! He looked dead, all crooked, skinny, and not moving. I picked him up and he twitched just a bit, so I immedietely cupped my hands aorund him and started blowing warm air on him. It was way way to cold to be a salamander outside, I'm amazed that alone didn't kill him.

     My boyfriend puts it as "instead of doing a normal thing like giving it a fling into the cornfield", I set up a little aquarium, heated some dirt with hot water, turned a light on it, and set the little fellow in a 'salamander heater'. By that time he had warmed in my hands enough to be up and around.

     He was starving, his tail was a string behind him. He's blind in one eye and crooked. His spine has a permanent bend. When he gets scared he runs in circles or flips over. It's sad. But I set him up in a 10 gallon aquarium with a heat light, and he eats like a pig now.

     He is really getting quite fat as you can tell.

     He's not huge yet, and he quite likes me now. We've been working on conditioning him to a clicker, which he understood in 5 crickets over the coarse of two day. Pretty damn smart for a little crooked salamander! Eventually I want to teach him a few tricks, just to be able to say I have.

     A bit blurry, but look at that smile! How could anyone resist that face! Next step I'm working on setting him up in a 40 gal. salamander paradise in my office. That will give him enough room to walk sideways and run circles to his hearts content. He's no longer scared of me, now he peeks his head out of the dirt and gives me the one-eyed, "Give me crickets" command. He's training me much faster then I'm training him. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

It's COLD!

     Ack, the first cold days of winter. Yuck yuck. 18 degrees out currently, colder last night. With the wind too, I'm not thrilled. The dogs are not even going out to feed with me, they are staying under the covers on the bed.

     Cody and Zecilly are bundled up in their coats. Honey and the alpaca's are even thinking the barn is good to get out of the wind. The ducks and chickens are staying in, huddled together in the straw.

     But then there is Sonny. Mister Died Hard Winter Lover. He's totally yak-ed out with winter hair, and loving this. He's out, face into the bitter nasty wind, breathing that fresh air. The other two horses are picking their way across the frozen miserably rough ground, and he's striding out, trotting even, "This isn't bad terrain, there isn't even 6 foot of snow you pansies!"

     In the 40-60 MPH winds we had the other day, he was out in it for most the day. Willingly. Despite my efforts to convince him otherwise. Cody was cuddled up in his stall, Honey in the barn, and Sonny was out all by himself napping in the "sun" with all the nastiness. He's certain the weather is just getting nice and fit for a Fjord.

     The good news is if I can handle this ugly bitter cold, I think I've got a excellent winter riding horse.