We have two bluebird boxes on our property. One faces east and is in our backyard, one faces south and is on the north side of our property. The north box is outside my craft room window so I see the activity. There's always a lot of it in the spring. The birds that typically check it out are the downy woodpeckers, chickadees, titmice and the occasional carolina wren. The house sparrows are usually the first to claim the box and a male will give chase to anything that shows an interest in the box. The house sparrows are a real problem because once a male focuses on a box, he will not leave it alone even if he makes a nest elsewhere and raises young. He will go so far as to kill a sitting female bluebird or chickadee and/or destroy the eggs and young. People who encourage bluebirds to nest on their property or monitor boxes on bluebird trails have tried lots of tricks to keep the sparrows away even going so far as to trap and dispose of them. A new technique is to trap and clip the wings of male sparrows. They can still fly but scientists discovered it takes away their sex drive - go figure.
Our bluebirds have been to the north box a dozen times since late February, today they spent quite some time at the box. We tried a trick this year that's been tested other places - boxing the hole with hooks and wrapping fishing line around the hooks in a square pattern. House sparrows fly to the hole with wings outspread and the fishing line upsets them when it hits their wings. Bluebirds fly straight into the hole so the line doesn't affect them. I'm keeping my fingers crossed but so far the house sparrows have kept away from the house. We aren't into true nesting season yet, it's still a little cold, but so far so good.
The wrens have not arrived from the south yet. They will be another impediment to successful bluebird nesting. They will claim all the nest spots, fill them all up with twigs and introduce the female wren when she arrives to all the wonderful nest spots he's found. She will pick one and fill in the nest hole with soft grasses before she lays eggs. But he will keep up all the other sites. That includes the bluebird box. In order to claim that box, the male will carry the bluebird eggs out of the box and drop them on the ground. Often we don't know that's happened until we see the eggs. The wren is a protected bird, we can't harass it in any way so we grit out teeth and hope the bluebirds will re-nest. Our only recourse for the wrens is to make sure no boxes they can use are close to our house. We've put up wren boxes in the trees in the back of our property to encourage them away. We've done all we can do so we just wait for our female bluebird to make a nest and lay some eggs. Stay posted....
It seems like I spend six months getting ready for a craft show and it's over in ten minutes. Saturday was a fine day, cool but bright and sunny and it started out really slow. I didn't have a customer from eight until ten-thirty and was really nervous about making my 'rent'. But it turned out to be a super day and I'm already planning on my next craft show on October 15.
I literally have thousands of sheets of 8.5 x 11" paper. All colors, stack and stacks and stacks of it. When I discovered a really good A2 envelope svg file for my Cameo I thought, 'aha, I don't have to buy envelopes any more' and I started making them - put a sheet on the mat, load the mat, load the print program on the software, press start, wait for the cutting to be finished, unload mat, peel off the envelope, and start all over again. Jeez, at this rate, I can cut 10 in an hour. You know that light bulb that appears over the heads of people? Well, mine was 400 watts. I have a Big Shot Pro....AND...an A2 envelope die I've never even opened....AND....it cuts four envelopes in one pass. So, ok, I may get tennis elbow (wish it was electric) but...four envelopes at a pass. One ream of printer paper is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay cheaper than a box of A2 envelopes. Note to self: don't evah buy A2 envelopes again.
With three dysfunctional cats, one of the first things we do every morning is check litter boxes. I need to know who did what where. For the last two mornings we haven't found any poop in Sassy's puppy pad boxes. We also didn't find any anywhere else. We wondered if perhaps she decided to use a regular litter box (and wouldn't that be nice?). Today Carl discovered she'd been using the cat house. So, he cleaned it up and we put on the odor remover we got from Stanley Steemer. We may close the door to the cat house when we go to bed, also. She only does stuff like this at night when we can't see her. When we're awake, she always uses her boxes.
We're finished with Twitch's ear medicine but now his head is all greasy. I tried to clean him up yesterday morning but I didn't have enough soap on the rag (I didn't want to get it in his eyes). I will try again this afternoon. Petting him is like running your hands through the hair of a 60s greased head.
Sadie pretty much stays in her room now, although she's venturing out more. I try to make it a habit to get in there several times a day to pet and play with her. I also give her treats and try to brush her. Twitch is still new so she may adjust. This will be our last cat so there are no more surprises for her.
Since we covered the pond with net we've had some glorious days in the 70s. Somehow the frogs find their way out from under the net but, of course, are too stupid to find their way back so they sit on top of the net. We scoop them up with the big net and put them under the pond net but the next day.... One of these days they'll be caught outside and it will get cold. So, we watch carefully. We wouldn't like to kill any wildlife just because we are too lazy to scoop leaves.
We've had Twitch several weeks now and it seems like he's always been here. He's very sweet most of the time considering he's spent so much of his life at the no kill shelter and doesn't have a lot of one on one time with people so he's clumsy and sometimes annoyed with us. We're still learning his rhythms. He's so much more curious than our other two. Sassy and Sadie have NEVER been seen on the tables or counters. They like their window seats but they've never been where they're not supposed to be. Twitch, is on everything, in everything. Open a door, bam, he's there. He wants in the cabinets, the closets, the fridge. He loves to watch the water run in the sinks and is fascinated by a flushing toilet. He sleeps with us every night and even likes to get under the feather duvet. We've never had cats sleep with us before, so that's new for us. It's hard to turn over at night without rolling over him.
The dynamics in the house have changed. Sadie used to live in our bedroom, coming out to go into the cat house, eat and use the litter box. Now she lives in the spare bedroom and rarely ventures out. We've added a litter box and her dry food with a water bowl. Carl takes her wet food there in the morning because she's still taking her pill. He's cut that down to 1 every 3 days and this morning she actually purred for me. She really doesn't do that much. We'd much rather see her traveling the house and interacting more with the other two but whatever makes her comfortable is ok with us.
Sassy actually spends more time searching for, running away from and being close to Twitch. They play chase and I've even seen them bat at each other and not in a mean way. Twitch loves to play and so does Sassy so eventually they may even become friends. They do not sleep together. Sassy has been really good about using her litter box with the puppy pads as long as we are diligent about keeping it clean. In fact, after we clean it she can't wait to use it so usually we have to clean it twice in the morning. We've added a new litter box to the laundry room for Twitch so we're actually up to seven boxes although not all are used everyday. We've had the carpets cleaned and blocked off the living room so she can't get to her favorite spots to poop. As long as the gate is up, she's good with her litter box. Twitch can jump the gate but he's got a litter box in the living room which he uses on occasion. We're hoping sometime soon we can remove that box and the one in the dining room for good but we'll still leave the gate up until we feel Sassy has lost her fixation with the living room. Eventually we hope to be down to 2 in the laundry room, 1 in the basement and 1 in the spare bedroom (the rule is 1 more box than cats).
We took Twitch to the vet yesterday. He was due for shots in early November but he's got some hair loss around his nose and up by his eyes. He's so pretty, it's distracting and we didn't know if it would get worse. Twitch does not like shots. It took 3 of us to hold him. He's 9lbs, 8oz and long and lean. I called him 'sissy pants' all the way home. Sassy just lays there for shots, Twitch not so much. The vet examined his ears and face and prescribed an antibiotic for both. We need to squirt stuff in his ears twice a day and massage them to take care of the mites. He doesn't like it. The antibiotic is liquid and he needs it once a day. I'm doing ears (for seven days) and Carl is doing his antibiotic for twenty days. If there is no improvement in the hair loss the next step would be to anesthetize him and scrap the skin so they can tell just what's happening with him.
Last night we were having a family dinner so all of us were at the dining room table eating chili when Twitch nonchalantly jumps up on the table between my daughter and SIL - just like he belonged there. Luckily, when we put him down on the floor he doesn't try again. Maybe in time he will learn 'that's not his space'.
It seems like forever since I've posted here so let me bring you up to date:
A new family building in our subdivision has a 9 year old that apparently has decided on a life of crime. She's been stealing from the neighbors, from school and last week she brought a plastic bag and walked off with our best fish while trying to destroy our pond. Suffice it to say, I was bummed. One of the fish she took was a 6-7" fantail, the last of three we purchased. Police were called but I've heard nothing since the officer talked to the father. Apparently the fish were given to a construction worker and are long gone (why would you steal something and then gift it to someone?). Since then I can't walk by a window without glancing down to see if she's back, this incident put a dent in my tranquility.
My sister-in-law from California is visiting a friend in Quincy and has stopped by our house for several days. Reminds me of a George Carlin routine where supply lines are getting longer and harder to maintain. She has stuff in California, stuff in Quincy and now she has stuff here. She and her friend, Charla, are leaving here today for Quincy and taking my husband with them. He'll be gone several days and while he's away....
I plan to adopt another cat and will pick him up on Thursday. Three years ago we adopted Sassy, our Persian. As I was walking by Twitch's cage, he reached out both paws and grabbed my arm. I promised him I would be back for him and have thought of him often. He's five years old and I know he's been at the A.R.K. for at least three. I am fixing up our bedroom for him, litter box in the master bath, toys, cat tree and a screen door between him and what could be his harem, Sassy and Sadie. Fingers crossed that they not only get along, but that Sassy and Twitch become friends. Sadie doesn't seem to need them, but Sassy loves to play and I'm hoping he will too. And while we're on the subject of cats, we had all our carpets shampooed last week and removed all the litter boxes from the formal living room. Since we hang in the family room, the living room is filled with spare furniture, Carl's desk and cat stuff. We had six litter boxes, three lined with puppy pads since we discovered Sassy has a real problem with litter. Now, we have two boxes with puppy pads, one in the foyer and one in the laundry room. We have two litter boxes, one inside an end table and one in the basement. Sassy has been really good about her boxes, using them exclusively since last Thursday and we are sticklers for keeping her boxes clean. Sadie likes the one in the basement. Life with cats is good now but we're following the 'trust but verify' rule and leaving up the gate to the living room for a while. And all bets are off when we (I) bring Twitch home.
For those of you following the Wookiee, he's mostly finished. He's been trooping (he gathers crowds everywhere he goes) and my daughter is starting new projects, specifically a Cousin Itt using the same techniques she used on the Wookiee. People are actually asking her to make costumes for them and they have money in hand so I suspect she's going to be busy for a while. In addition to her incredible sewing talent, she's becoming a terrific photographer, often taking pictures of the 501st when they're out doing what they do. She embellishes the photos into works of art. She's my kid and I'm really proud of her.
There you have all the news that's fit to print. The nights are getting cooler here, the sun is rotating on its axis, the garden is slowly going to sleep and I'm gearing up cardmaking for an October craft sale in Chillicothe, IL. All is well in our world.