Thursday, September 29, 2011

Being Destructive

Bertie began chewing apart the cuddle cup this morning.  This is the first time she's ever been destructive with the bedding.  Either she's peeved at me and venting her attitude, or she's in pain and taking it out on the furniture.  Regardless, this is not a good development.  Tricky Vicky was my only other pig that ate her cozies when she was feeling unwell from a bladder cystitis.

Bertie's weight continues to fluctuate, flip-flopping between 910-930g.  I wish she could reach and stay above 960g.  I think the high dose of baytril is taking a toll on her digestive tract.  No doubt that is contributing to her inability to gain;  I also wonder if the infection is clearing up. 

I am giving her acidophilus once or twice a day, mixed into a bit of Critical Care and squash baby food.  It helps a bit, although getting it into Bertie is a challenge.  My boyfriend fed her the other day and I think there was more Critical Care on the towel and all over Bertie's fur than got into her stomach.  Bertie is a master squirmer when she wants to be.  Hand feeding is often a battle of wills.

One more week of antibiotics.  If the weight doesn't come back, we'll be in for another round of tests.  Nobody is happy about this!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Back in Business!

So shiny!
The canister in my ice cream maker bit the dust during the first ice cream churning of the season.  It sprung leaks down the side seam.  Salty ice cream.  Ick!  My coworkers and I were so bummed out.  It was a bad omen for my summer.

I discovered that four-quart White Mountain canisters come in a variety of dimensions.  Older ice cream makers, like mine, take a taller, narrower canister than the newer models.  Repairing it turned out to be a bigger deal than I expected.  The first place I went to didn't want to touch it for fear that attempting to fix the seam would require rebuilding the canister.  He referred me to the Antique Metal Restoration Center.  This guy would have done an amazing job restoring it back to mint condition, but the cost would be about the same as replacing the whole ice cream maker!

I figured I could work a better deal and eBay came to my rescue.  After a five week search, I manged to place the winning bid on a newer-style canister of the correct dimensions.  The new canister isn't like the old one:  the metal is thinner and it doesn't have the heavy cast pivot point on the bottom.  However, the seams are smoother than the old style and it doesn't have a speck of rust on it, so I am hoping it will last for many years.

Pasteurized custard base
Ice cream making is a team effort.  I mix up the base (which is technically frozen custard, not ice cream, because it has eggs - whatever) and pasteurize it the night before our ice cream social.  Coworkers supply ice, rock salt, bowls/spoons and whatever ice cream toppings they like.  We churn at noon.  Those that churn can have a taste of the ice cream when the dashers are pulled out.

Then we wrap it all up again with more ice and salt and let the ice cream ripen for a couple of hours.  About 2:30 or so I unpack it, we make our ice cream sundaes and enjoy our hard work.  It's a great way to break up the work day.

Today's maiden voyage was a total success.  We love the new canister!  Churning was so much easier than with the old canister (to the point we weren't sure if the ice cream was freezing).  Look at that beautiful ice cream.  It was delicous. 

Added bonus:  I managed to bring home a pint of leftovers.  Yum!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Ups and Downs

I occasionally wonder if my vet thinks I suffer from Munchausen by Proxy.  Bad guinea pigs can do that to a person.  And Bertie has been doing her best to both worry me and make me appear like an overwrought pet owner.  Bad Bertie!

I'm just sweet and innocent
After having her teeth filed in early August Bertie gained some weight, but the highest she weighed was 970g.  I brought Bertie back the vet in late August, and was told she was doing fine and not to worry.  So I felt like an idiot, brought her home and tried not to worry.

Since then, Bertie has been eating without any noticeable problems and mostly acting fine (a little more timid than usual).  Two days before I'm to leave for a week, she drops to 897g and has a bit of eye crust.  So not cool.  I hand fed her every day, trying to fatten her up and hoped for the best while I was gone.

I get home from vacation and she's back to 932g.  Amazing!  Then this weekend she sounded congested and dropped weight again.  That's it.  I don't care if I look like an idiot.  It's time to haul her back to the vet.

Dr. Holmes thought Bertie sounded fine (of course she stopped wheezing by today), looked fine, but obviously weighed less than her normal weight of 1060g.  She decided to x-ray Bertie, just to be thorough.  I could hear the scream of protest from down the hall:  Unhand me!  And to make matters worse, Bertie had to have the x-rays twice because the first set didn't develop correctly.  Bertie returned from her x-rays rather sullen looking and sulked in her carry case.

But I am so glad we did x-rays.  The vet was very surprised at what they showed:  Bertie's lungs were filled with fluid, even though she sounded fine.  We couldn't even see the heart, because the lungs blocked it out.  It was so strange because Bertie was not showing any outward signs of respiratory distress.

Huzzah!  I'm not crazy; there really is something wrong with Bertie.  Unfortunately, poor Bertie is dealing with some kind of respiratory issue.  First step:  she's on Baytril for two weeks.  I'm crossing my fingers that it does the trick!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Cape Chick Weekend V

This year's Chicks

My friends and I all look forward to Chick Weekend each year.  This year was another resounding success:  good friends, sunny weather, interesting things to do, entertaining conversation and games, yummy food and wine.  And bread (more on that, later). Oh, yeah.

Many of us take an extra day or two off from work and make a mini-vacation of it.  It's good stuff.

Chick Weekend coincides with the Eastham Windmill Weekend.  Sometimes we go to lots of the events.  This year some of us attended the car show, the craft show and the sand sculpture contest and skipped the rest.  We spent much of our time hanging out in the sun and walking the beach.

The antique cars were fun.  I especially liked a 1929 Model T that had only had two owners and had been in use continuously since it was first bought.  I believe the placard said it had a paint job and had been reupholstered, but no other major work done in all that time.  Doesn't it look fantastic?

Later in the afternoon we went to the sand sculpture contest.  There were some really neat entries (click on the photo for a larger version).  I'm split between the Tolkien-esk tower or the whimsical dog in the boat looking to play with the seals as my favorite.  I loved the seal faces!  There were a lot of amazing creations.  The "I love Eastham" sand art made me laugh.  Several entries were focused on the 50th anniversary of the Cape Cod National Seashore.

Sunday we spent lots of time playing on the beach:  just walking on the shore, beach-combing for sea glass and shells or wading between the flats catching hermit crabs.  My attempt at catching minnows succeeded only in soaking myself, much to everyone's amusement.  It's always much harder to catch them when the tide is going out.  I was vindicated this morning when I successfully caught one with my hands.  I have witnesses!

The weekend went by so fast!  The last of my friends headed out today.  A good time was had by all, and I look forward to do it all again next year. 

The bread!  There's a French restaurant in Wellfleet,  PB Boulangerie Bistro, that often has a line out the door for it's baked goods.  I'm going back for another loaf or two on Wednesday.  And another chocolate croissant.  Now that I've had a taste of a bunch of different loaves, it's going to be so hard to choose!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Bertie of the Star Toes

Bertie has this habit of standing at attention with her front toes all splayed out.  It has earned her the nickname of Star Toes. 

I have been attempting to snap a photo of her stance for quite a while.  She often bolts at the first hint of a camera or the red-eye makes her look entirely evil or she's managed to have an awful case of poo-foot.  But perseverance pays off and I managed to capture a halfway-decent photo.

Voila!  Bertie of the Star Toes.  Dopey rodent, extraordinaire.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Eggplant Curry

More eggplant, tomatoes and peppers this week from the CSA.  Add to this a bag of spinach for a meal I never quite got around to making...  once again I was looking for a recipe to use them all.

I love Google for recipe hunting.  I often cobble together several recipes that I find, picking what I like best out of each one.  I have stuck to a single recipe for my last few discoveries (e.g. the vegetable chili or my recent zucchini chocolate cake.  Yum!).  This time I stumbled across Eggplant and Spinach Curry.  I adjusted slightly to fit what I had on hand (less spinach, more eggplant and some squash), but overall, it came out pretty well.  And it should freeze well.

The girls were happy, too.  They got all of the spinach stems, bell pepper and tomato trimmings.  It's always good when mama shares the veggies!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Three Amigos

My three sows have been living separately for a little over a year.  The last time I attempted cage them together, Pinni and Bertie harassed Willow like a pair of thugs:  taking turns beating on her, chasing her away from food and ousting her from the best sleeping spaces. 

When they're outdoors, though, it's a different story.  They can live peaceably together for several hours; nothing more than the occasional tiff.  I caught all three of them snuggled together under the stool yesterday.  I managed to snap this photo of them today.  Proof!  Look!  They can all get along.  Not only are they not fighting, they're actually sitting near each other.  Amazing.

As soon as they cross the threshold, the rules change.  We accidentally put Pinniped and Willow in the same cage yesterday.  No sooner than the two of them emerge from their cozies did the teeth-chattering commence.  I snatched Willow out of there before the hair pulling started.

The outdoor pen seems to be completely neutral territory.  They don't even spend time re-establishing pecking order.  It just is.  Even floor time in the kitchen isn't like this.  I wish I could bottle whatever it is about outdoors and use it while they're inside!