Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter!

In this household, Holy Saturday is almost as good as Easter itself:  it's Candy Making Day.  It's a day reserved for making trays of sweets with the help of several good friends.  After five hours of hard work everyone goes home with the fruits of their labors.  Yum!

Rolling centers, making nests and getting ready to cut paves

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Magic of Critical Care

The icky stuff and the good stuff
Pinniped has ongoing issues with bladder sludge.  We're pretty careful with a low calcium diet, but occasionally, due to what's available or how her body decides to process with it, I'll find white spots on the fleece.  I've been dosing Pinni with shilintong off and on for a couple of years.  It's a Chinese herb associated with bladder health.  I give her a half tablet a couple of times a week when I start to see the white spots.

None of my pigs have liked the taste of shilintong.  I have tried to trick them into eating it a variety of ways:  hiding it in a piece of banana or melon, grinding it up and mixing with water and syringing it.  Willow had this amazing knack of eating all of the banana around it, then spitting out the tablet.  Oi!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Snuggle Buddies

When Pinniped and Cannoli first met, they had stuffed themselves into the hidey house at Nevins Farm.  I thought it was a fluke due to the stress and the surroundings.  I haven't had guinea pigs voluntarily occupy the same spot since Athena and Vicky.  But even as these two were working things out, I would find them close together.  I didn't think Pinni would approve of all this togetherness, but the snapping at Cannoli has started to wane.

This photo was taken on Saturday.  It makes me chuckle:  just look at Noli adopting the same chill-out pose as Pinni.  She wants to be just like the big pig.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Work in Progress

The long ride to Nevins and meeting must have been terribly stressful for Pinniped, and I'm sure the little one was overwhelmed with the drive home and the new surroundings.  It was only 6pm, I was exhausted, and I still needed to set up the travel cage and get them situated in it.  But before doing that, I wanted to continue the neutral-territory meeting a little longer.

They both spent the entire ride hiding in their cozies, so I set them down on the kitchen floor, cozy and all.  And no one budged for a full 30 minutes.  Not even lettuce enticed Pinni out of her cozy.  I needed to move things along if I wanted to get to bed before midnight, so I extracted the two of them from their hiding spots.  Even exposed, it took them a few moments to start moving about the area.  But once they did start exploring, things continued very much like it had at the shelter.  Pinni's behavior became a bit more aggressive, now that she was on her home turf.  There was some yawning, some mutual humping, and a few bites from Pinni.  But the little one took it all in stride.  She was entirely unfazed by Pinni's actions, and would sit there quietly when Pinni declared herself as Boss Pig.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Search and Rescue

Pinni and a new friend
After we lost Bertie, I knew that Pinniped needed a friend.  Achieving that turned out to be more of a task than I had anticipated.  Pinni seemed quite content on her own and did not pine for company like Vicky or Willow.  This was good, because there almost no guinea pigs in the shelters at the end of the year.

As some guinea pigs appeared on the scene early in the new year, it turned out I wasn't ready for another piggy.  Added to that was an upcoming vacation and my desire not to subject my pigsitter to the potential upheaval of two pigs sorting out their social order.  So I waited:  I perused while Pinni got bored (and received more squeezes on a daily basis than she really wanted).

Several sows were listed on Petfinder in early March, and I found myself considering adopting one of them.  I had been hoping for a single adult sow near Pinni's age, but many of the older rescued pigs in the area were bonded pairs.  My trio experience has been less than stellar and the thought of dealing with two cages for several years was not appealing.  Then I saw that Nevin's Farm acquired more than a dozen guinea pigs, all part of a breeder dump.  There were several sows, and although they were younger than what I was looking for, they were not all paired up.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Lentil Kielbasa Soup

I came across this recipe last month and thought:  lentils... kielbasa... that could be good.  I usually have a bag of red lentils on hand, but I need a break from dahl (as good as it is).  So this looked like a nice alternative.

The recipe was written for a crock pot.  Our crock pot sits as decoration above the fridge.  I like my dutch oven so much better.  Rob's not big on carrots, and I had a yam sitting around in the fridge - so I sort of doctored the recipe and threw whatever looked good into it.  We also probably doubled the kielbasa because it seemed like the thing to do (mostly Rob's idea).  It called for a dash of pepper flakes.  I wasn't sure what size a "dash" was, so I added a pinch of red pepper flakes.  It could have used two pinches.  Next time I may have to be a little crazy and add three pinches of pepper flakes!  But we both liked the final result.  I'll have to make it again and tinker with it some more.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

All Pinned Up

I finally finished piecing together the backing over the weekend.  Adding a star to the back of it altered the panel sizes, so it took a bit more work than I had anticipated.  But it's done.  Yay!

I had to rearrange the living room furniture to create enough space to spread out the quilt.  The border and the backing decided not to lay flat.  At least the batting behaved.  I spent a lot of time crawling around on the floor smoothing the bumps and puckers, much to Rob's amusement.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Fully Fleeced

Pinni in her all-fleece cage
I've been watching the dynamic between cage size and the number of enclosed guinea pigs over the last few months.  I first experienced this a decade ago when I ditched my store-bought cage in favor of a C&C cage:  the larger the cage, the less cleaning it required.  This time, though, my observations come from a single pig in a large cage, and it's been dramatic:  the cage stays bone dry for a long period of time (and Pinniped is a leaky pig).  I decided this would be a great time to switch to an all-fleece setup.

I've tried an all-fleeced cage a few times in the past.  I first attempted it with my store-bought cage, and the results were laughable - it was wet and stinky within a day or two.  I never tried that again.  I continued to use shavings when I converted to the C&C cage, although I have fleeced the upper levels for years (and have been using a mix on the lower level for a year or so).  Fleece is also my bedding of choice when traveling; it is much easier to pack than traditional shavings and combined with the grids, makes for a very quick and clean setup.  

Pinni has a cobbled together fleece setup, as you can see from the photo.  I don't have any fabric cut to size for the entire first level of the cage.  Lucky for me, Pinni is not a burrower, because there are plenty of edges for her to get under.  The fleece is less messy than my half-shaving setup, although Pinni manages to drag the hay all over the first floor when she has a mind to.  I have to regularly remove the poo, instead of just sweeping it to the shavings-side of the cage.  But overall, it has worked well.  I suspect that the current setup is not large enough to accommodate two sows - I will either need to expand the cage or return to my half-and-half mix as I had before when I find Pinni a friend.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Two Ingredient Cookies

I had seen this recipe for two-ingredient cookies after it popped up on a Lifehacker post and friend of mine posted it on Facebook.  The original poster raves about them, so I was intrigued.  I have friends that are allergic to both dairy and wheat, so maybe I could make these cookies for them?

I happened to have two medium-sized overripe bananas this week, so I gave them a try.  I don't have quick oats, so I food-processed a skimpy cup of old-fashioned oats so they were a bit finer.  I threw in a handful of chocolate chips, a handful of raisins, and just a bit of cinnamon and nutmeg.  It made about a dozen cookies.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Corn Husk Update

It's been over six months since I dried my big batch of corn husks for storage.  They have lost all of their green, but according to Pinniped, they're still delicious.  I mix in some of the husks with her hay in the hay rack, and she'll spend hours picking out all of the husks.  When I get home in the evening, there's not a piece of corn husk to be found, and still plenty of hay in the rack.  Obviously she appreciates the husks.

I will have to try this again in the summer.  I'll no longer be working across the street from the farmer's market, so I'll need to find a new corn husk supplier.  At least I know that Pinni will appreciate my continued efforts.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Happy Piggy Giveaway

Sculpey doesn't make pig-pink; I have to blend the color.  I had some extra pink from my ornament, so I made another pig.

I initially sculpted it to be an ornament, but when I got the body together, it was small enough to work as a magnet. Then I needed to figure out what paraphernalia to give him.  Hmm... piggy on a fridge?  A hot-fudge sundae seemed appropriate.  I even made a cherry for the top.  You may not see it in the photo, but he has a big smile under that snout.  The only drawback of making him a magnet is that he doesn't have a curly little tail.

I already have a ton of magnets on my fridge.  Goodness knows he'd be a perfect addition, given the way I raid the freezer for ice cream.  The plan was to give the magnet as a gift, but I fear this poor little pig could be misconstrued. 

So - free to a good home:  2" tall magnet, strong enough hold itself to the fridge and one sheet of paper.  Please leave a comment (here or on Facebook) or email me if you're interested in welcoming this happy little pig into your home.  If I get more than one response, I'll pick a winner on Monday, March 11th.  Congratulations Martha! 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Not a Cranberry!

Is that really a cranberry this time?
Pinniped loves cranberries.  It's too bad they're seasonal.  But it turns out Pinni is quite happy with defrosted cranberries, too.  I bought a few extra bags of cranberries during the holiday season and froze them, so she gets defrosted berries on occasion.

Pinni was begging for treats on Saturday afternoon, so I pulled out the cranberries.  On a whim I grabbed a blueberry, too.  I've heard some guinea pigs love blueberries, but in the past, Pinni has been less than impressed by them.  It suits me - I love my blueberries and am disinclined to share.

Pinni's nose was hanging over the edge of the grids, eager for her goodies.  She had heard the fridge and the rattling of the cranberry container.  I gave her the blueberry first.  She snatched it, backed up, and performed her "victory wave" before she settled down to eat it.  That's when the confusion set in.  Pinni dropped the blueberry, then sniffed it.  I could hear her thinking:  It's round, like a cranberry.  It's dark like a cranberry.  It's the same size as a cranberry.  It must be a cranberry.  She bit into it again and immediately spat it out.  This is not a cranberry!  How can that be?  There had been the telltale sounds of fridge and cranberries.  She tried it again.  Nope.  This is not a cranberry. 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

This Little Piggy

This time the topic is oinking pigs, not wheeking pigs.  Although, I suspect this little pig neither wheeks nor oinks (nor even cries wee-wee-wee all the way home).

I never know when I'm going to get an idea for my next ornament.  This time I was inspired right around Christmas time.  I haven't had a chance to sit and work on it until now.  I know it's way early for next Christmas, but sometimes I gotta work when the spirit moves me.  Unfortunately for you, it means I won't publish the finished work for another ten months.  Well, maybe if you ask pretty please and bribe me with chocolate I could be convinced to show you some finished photos.

Isn't he cute?  He's got a curly little tail, too.  This is only part of the ornament.  I'll let you guess what the whole ornament will look like.