Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas 2010

Christmas has once again come and gone here at Sparrow Haven. The ground was white, the air crisp, not overly cold, and all but one day was gloomy and over cast. In other words, perfect.

We had a nice turkey dinner for the first time in several years. I now remember why we stopped cooking turkeys. There are only two humans here and we can not eat a whole turkey in under two weeks. We gave it a good old college try but in the end we put six sandwich bags of turkey in the freezer, have two lunch servings set aside for PeterC to take to work, and ate turkey and dressing every day since Dec 25th.

The nicest part of our dinner was the cheesecake. I love a good cheesecake but the stuff you buy in the stores around here is nasty. As a sweet surprise PeterC made a New York style cheesecake for dessert. It was the best thing I've eaten in a very long time. It was creamy, smooth, slightly tangy, and delicious. We finally finished it last night but I could easily have eaten it for another few nights, it was that good.

Freya is fitting in nicely. She has made friends with a couple of the cats who enjoy playing tag with her. We have had to "ferret proof" the house. She is obsessed with rubber and will do anything to get at it and chew it to little pieces. Of course this is very bad for her so everything with rubber on it, like remote control buttons, pencil grips, etc, must be put away after each use so she can't get at it. She and PeterC have hit it off beautifully and she will play tag with him for minutes at a time. If you know anything about ferrets you know that is a very long time for a ferret to not get distracted.

Gifts were simple this year. PeterC bought a nice point and shoot digital camera for me. I love the pictures he can take with his camera but all the options and buttons confuse me. Now I have a much simpler camera for me to use to take pictures around the house and yard when I want instead of waiting for PeterC to get his camera out.

PeterC decided he wanted a tattoo for Christmas. He still hasn't gotten it done but only because he hasn't found the right design. He wants something Celtic, horsey, and medium sized for this shoulder. He has at least figured out where he is going to get the tattoo done, once he finds the right pattern. Of course I feel bad that he didn't have anything under the tree this year but he said Freya was under the tree more often than he could count so he did have something under the tree.

With a sigh and whisper 2010 is slowly sliding out, making way for the new year. I wonder what the next year will bring. What sorrows, what joys, and what adventures? It will be a surprise each and every day. May your New Year be full of joyful surprises.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Yule Traditions

Every family, clan, and homestead have some form of tradition for the Holy Days. Sparrow Haven is no different. We have an annual tradition that almost always involves us bringing home a new furry family member. This year was no exception.

Our tradition always follows the same schedule. On the last Sunday before Christmas we get up late and decide to go into town to eat breakfast and go to the mall. When we arrive at the mall we always go to the pet store first, then the book store. While at the pet store I gaze longingly at the rats, mice, kittens, and this year the puppies. They had some lovely German Shepherd pups this year.

Once I have failed to get sympathy from PeterC, and thus fail to acquire a new furrbutt, we go to the book store. We shop for new books in our favourite series, choosing 2 or 3 for our holiday reading pleasure. While we are shopping I am thinking very much about the animals I saw that really tugged at my heart strings. This year it was the puppies and PeterC admitted that he wouldn't mind a new puppy to chase Dunny around the yard. Book purchase in hand we headed back to the Pet Store.

We arrived at the Pet Store and took a longer look at the puppies. I liked the German Shepherds. PeterC liked the Black Labradors. Neither of us liked the fact that there was a 99.99% chance that these pups were the product of a puppy mill. This supposition coming from a CBC Marketplace investigation last summer about pet store puppies in general. We decided that we would take a look around at local ads and see what we found.

On our way back home we bandied about the idea of going to the local OSPCA shelter, but being Sunday we expected them to be closed. Imagine our surprise to see they were open. We debated for maybe 30 seconds, if that, before deciding to go back and take a look at the pups...and the cats, and anything else they had in house.

Of course I went to see the cats first. So many babies needing loving homes. It was an act of will power to not take them all out of their cages and take them home right then. I did take one lovely little girl out of her cage and give some pets and kisses. She was very quiet, very friendly, and very kissy. I love kissy cats. In the end I did put her back though I must admit I can't stop thinking about her even now. Maybe I'll find a kitten in my stocking Christmas morning.

We left the cat room and entered the dog room. Every cage had an occupant. Mostly the dogs were all terrier, mop dog crosses, and well into their adulthood. There was a very cute miniature collie, who I would have gladly gotten to know if his tag hadn't said adopted. Good for him! In the last cage there were two puppies that looked to be boxer/ beagle crosses. Very friendly and must have still been quite young as they had all their baby fat and didn't seem to have all their teeth yet. Quite cute but neither PeterC nor I made that instant connection that means we have found our newest family member.

Back in the lobby we found several rabbit cages and what we originally thought was a chinchilla, based solely on the items in the cage. We peered through the bars to get a good look at the "chinchilla" only to find a very sleepy, very young, silver coloured Marshall's Ferret curled in a tight ball in one corner of the cage. She was on her back and her belly fur blended quite well with the shavings in her cage.

We picked her up and there it was, that instant connection. So we are now the proud parents of a lovely, sweet, female ferret. Meet Freya.

From her size, we are guessing she is only a few months old. She is not descented, is not spayed, and according to the guy at the OSPCA was living in the wild and is "most likely sick and probably should be put down."

Hah! Those are fighting words to me especially when the little beastie is as polite and loving as you could ask for. We're currently looking for a vet to give her a good once over, her shots, and of course spay her. She may be terminally ill but she'll have a good, happy, fun life for whatever time she has left on this world.

The only other Yule tradition is sleeping late on Christmas day and having breakfast at home. Otherwise this is shaping up to being a Merry Ferret Christmas so far. Ah Yule. The time of year when we settle in next to the fire and our family grows, almost every year. Maybe I should lock myself in the closet next Christmas.

UPDATE:

We finally found a vet in another town, 70 km away, who was willing to take on a ferret. We took out last night and the vet gave us some really good news. Turns out there is a tattoo in this girls ear that indicates she comes from an actual Marshall's Ferret Farm, is descented, and spayed already. Also it turns out Freya is full grown and appears to be between 1 and 5 years old. What I thought was baby fat is actually the sign of a well cared for and slightly porky ferret.

The other bit of good news is she appears to be in perfect health, other than a little extra weight. Her curiosity was up, she was moving normally, her eyes and ears were clear, and all her internal noises were normal. The vet has never heard of a test for Lyme disease in ferrets so she is going to do some research and schedule another appointment when she knows what to look for and how to treat it.

I'm guessing this little lady was someone's beloved pet who managed to get out of the house and promptly get lost. I wish I could find them to tell them she has been found and has a new family that loves her dearly. Well, everyone except Cassie who has gotten quite irritable with other cats and now Freya. Regardless, she is loved and we are going to do our very best for her.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Chickens and Weather

The weather has turned nasty and apparently it is my fault. The chickens tell me this every time I go out to feed, water, or collect eggs. They are particularly upset about the 2 inches of snow that fell Monday and Tuesday this week. They don't like rain and are uncomfortable in the wind, but the snow is unbearable and therefore they must complain about it constantly if I am within earshot.

The chickens are pretty funny to watch in the snow. Normally, the chickens will meet me at the back door regardless of the weather but not if there is snow on the ground. Instead, they will stand pathetically just inside or outside their covered run and make jungle bird calls as I approach. Even the effort of stepping three feet to their feeder is to much if there is snow on the ground.

Once I have shovelled a path between the porch and their run they will slowly venture up towards the house, especially if they see me doing something in the mud room. If by chance one of them should wander off the path and into loose snow they will freeze, squawk, and begin flapping their wings in vain attempts to fly out of the situation. I'm not talking about huge snow drifts. A layer of loose snow only an inch or so deep will cause this reaction.

Of course the complaining is only part of it. Chickens are quite adept at withholding their affections and their eggs if they feel their needs are not being taken seriously. I must be diligent in my duties of feeding, watering, and especially path clearing or I will hear no end of grief from these spoilt, feathered beasties. Just another way chickens remind me of cats.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Hermit

I've always been drawn to the life of a hermit. I used to fantasize about living in a cave or cabin in the mountains with just myself and the animals to keep me company. Living day to day, off the land, with no contact with another human being.

As I aged this fantasy moved into the background, especially as I attended college and began working in the corporate world. The idea of living a quiet and peaceful life away from other humans was always there but it became less important as I tried to fit into the world around me. When I met and married PeterC I thought I had finally left that childhood fantasy behind for good.

Many years and miles later, the fantasy is just a fond memory but the personality that spawned it is alive and well. I'm not into crowds and get stressed if I am in a group of more than one or two people, even if they are friends. This weekend really brought this fact home to me.

PeterC and I were entertaining a friend of his from the horse world. A fellow horse lover, a professional farm manager, and and up and coming horse trainer. He drove all the way from New England to visit us for the day. He is a nice young man and quite intelligent even if our, his and my own, interests are in different areas of life. By all accounts he is a pleasure to be around, for a little while.

We took him out for breakfast and I truly enjoyed chatting but after a hour I found myself fidgeting. Nothing unusual there as I usually start fidgeting when at a restaurant and our meal is finished. We chatted a little longer and I suggested we head out. We went home, fired up the wood stove, and chatted some more. The whole time I kept hoping PeterC would take him out to see the horses and show him some of the Parelli training he has been working with.

Being the polite host PeterC was waiting for our guest to indicate that he wanted to go see the horses, which he never did. So around supper time I suggested we go out to eat, as we had originally planned. We all agreed and headed into town for a nice sit down and eat meal where we enjoyed the food and the company for quite some time. As the restaurant got busier it became harder and harder to talk so I suggested we leave, and back home we went.

PeterC and his friend settled in to chat but I found myself getting more and more tense. I chewed all my fingernails down until they bled, something I haven't done since I became a stay at home wife and online business owner. The noise of the cats and dogs, the fans, and even the crackle of the wood stove irritated me tremendously. When the conversation reverted back to the horses and Parreli I told them to go to the barn and see the horses. Thankfully they did with no complaints.

My relief was almost immediate when they left. It was as if an enormous pressure had been lifted from my head and shoulders. Even my ears felt lighter and less tense. The cats and dogs seemed silent and I was able to relax in the peace and quiet of my arm chair. Eventually I turned on the boob tube, melted into the monotanous tones of the pablum they spill out on most TV shows, and began to think.

I came to realize that I am, and most likely will be for the rest of my life, a very solitary person. I enjoy being with other people only in controlled doses. Even PeterC, whom I consider my soul mate, can only be tolerated for a few hours at a time. With him though, working in my studio or on another floor of the house is enough to keep the stress and tenseness at bay. But I also know, from hard experience, that I don't like being completely human contact free for more than 2 or 3 days. Specifically I don't like being PeterC free for more than 2 or 3 days.

So instead of a hermit living alone I know I want to be more like Grizzly Adams, from the old 1970's TV series. I want a cabin in the woods with my animal companions, but a close friendship with one or two other people who are also of a solitary bent, and who don't over stay their welcome. Maybe I could attend the local fall festival for a few hours just to get any cabin fever under control, then happily retire to my cabin in the woods for another year.