Wednesday, July 31, 2013

On the Green

The view from my desk, and the girls enjoying the grass
We've finally had some nice weather and I let the pigs out for the first time in the new place.  Their initial reactions were pretty funny.  Pinniped hadn't been outside since last fall and this was Cannoli's first experience with the great outdoors.  I had to lift them both out of the basket and onto the grass because they were too scared to hop out on their own.  Pinni, true to form, started to eat the grass as soon as her nose touched it, even before I had managed to put her feet on the ground!  Cannoli approached the whole thing in classic guinea pig style:  scared to death, but if there's any chance of dying, she'd prefer to die eating. 

I can't comment on the taste of the grass here, but it certainly looks a lot more lush and heartier than the stuff at our old place.  Although it was new grass and new sounds, Pinni quickly recognized this as outdoor time.  She lounged and ate as she pleased, and seemed quite content.  Cannoli was calm enough to eat as long as she was safely under cover, but was obviously wired when I tried to bring her back in the house.  I suspect it may take a few more outings before she adjusts to outdoor life.  I'm sure all of the sights, smells and sounds were a bit overwhelming.  Overall, it was a good first excursion.  I'm looking forward to having them out more often.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Rounding Rodent

Cannoli has hovered just under 1kg for a few weeks, but this weekend she hit 1021g.  She's not the little flyweight she was when we brought her home four months ago.  Our little pig has lost some of her swayback appearance now that she's filled out a bit.

It's hard to tell how much more Noli will grow.  I'm guessing she's not quite a year old, based on size and the shelter's guesstimates.  I believe Bertie and Pinniped hit their adult weight at about 14 months old.  Regardless, Cannoli has a couple hundred grams to go if she's going to rival Pinni's 1250 grams.

Noli has made a lot of progress adjusting to her new life since we've moved.  She often lets me reach in and pet her without running away and no longer hides in the shadows when treats arrive.  She's a good girl and no longer tries to break free of my grip when returning to the cage.  I was afraid the first few months that she'd hurt herself taking a flying leap from my hands.  She's still not quite sure what to make of lap-time, although she fidgets far less than Bertie or Pinni ever did.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Newbury Blueberries!

I headed up to my parent's house on Saturday to pick blueberries.  They have a single massive blueberry bush in their back yard; it must be 8 or 10 feet tall.  It produces a ton of berries each year.  They're tiny, like wild blueberries, and very flavorful.  They're great for cooking.  I try to make the pilgrimage for Newbury blueberries every year.

Top: Frozen berries, ready to bag
Bottom:  Bucket o' berries, and the last tray ready to freeze
My mother and I spent part of the early afternoon picking berries.  I brought home over ten cups of them.  Woot!  I can make lots of blueberry cakes and muffins from that.  After picking over the berries a few times, I spread them out on cloth-lined cookie sheets and froze them.  Once they're frozen, I stored them in Ziploc bags.  I'm all set for better baking weather (hmmm... maybe tonight!).

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Outdoor Cooking

Ziti Lasagna on the back deck
It was too damn hot last week!  I didn't want to cook anything while the air conditioner was running.  But I had plans to make Gumbo Biscuit Bake and ziti lasagna.  I cringed at the thought of firing up the oven for either recipe. 

We don't have a grill, so that wasn't an option.  But we do have a crock pot.  I had used it once in the four years I've owned it - in attempt to bake bread.  I recalled the post mentioned using a crock pot outdoors in warm weather.  Perfect!

I dug out the crock pot and read up on adjusting recipes for slow cooking.  The gumbo recipe was delicious (I baked the biscuits in the toaster oven) and the ziti lasagna recipe worked out really well, too.  It was terrific not to have my oven battle against the central air.  Rob was concerned that slow cooking on the deck would attract the wildlife, but both days the crock pot was left unmolested. 

I may be using the crock pot a lot this summer if we continue to get warm weather like this.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

A Handful of Tomatoes

My tomato plants are doing well and seem to be surviving the heat.  I picked a handful of the ripe ones on Wednesday night.  The grape tomato is going nuts!  At least twice this many are just about ripe and more on the way.  The other plants have a few little ones that are starting to turn.  Ooh, yum!  I love the snack-sized tomatoes (although I'm still looking forward to the full-sized ones from the CSA.)

Friday, July 19, 2013

New Pig Skirt

The new stylin' pig cage
It was time for a change.  The red skirt around the base had served well for the last decade.  But it didn't look right in the living room.  Just before we moved, I had been given yards of this flowery material (I have no idea what to do with most of it), but I thought it would make a good replacement.  Isn't it cheery?  I love it.  It must be a chick thing:  the guinea pigs and men in this house could care less.

One of my favorite things about it is the the front panel isn't attached to the sides, so it makes it so much easier to pull out the boxes of extra bedding and hay stored underneath.  So it looks better and is easier to use than the old one.  Coolness!

Now that the sewing machine is set up and ready to go, I need to work on my quilt if I'm going to have it ready to enter it in the Topsfield Fair.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Keeping Cool

Sunday was hot, but there was a breeze, so I didn't turn on the air conditioning.  However, even with the circulating air, it was really warm in the house.  I cleaned the cage that afternoon and left an ice pack wrapped in a cozy on the floor.  I fully expected Pinniped and Cannoli to ignore it.  All of my guinea pigs have avoided cold packs like they were something scary.  Cannoli surprised me by using it as a pillow.

I had introduced Cannoli to the cold pack the previous night.  I wanted to sit with her for a bit, but it was too hot to snuggle with her.  So I compromised and sat her on a wrapped up cold pack, so we didn't have to share each other's body heat.  Maybe she remembered it wasn't such a bad thing?  Perhaps.  Regardless, it seems that if the temperature rises to 85F, cold packs aren't so scary.  Since I try to keep their room no warmer than 80F, it was the first time we hit this threshold.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Pigs in a Basket

When I took Pinniped and Cannoli outside to take photos in the corn husk pile, I transported them in the nearest container I had handy.  Guinea pigs in a basket - it's always a cute combination.

Pinniped was her usual curious self, but Cannoli was freaked.  No surprise.  This was her firs time outdoors and her instinct was to hide under Pinni.  Come on, Cannoli, it's not that scary.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Awkward Superman Pose

Rob walked by the cage the other night and asked what was up with Pinni.  I peeked in and found her like this:  both feet out front, in a Superman pose, while in the hammock.  It was so uncomfortable looking.  Actually, it was downright freaky looking, because it appeared that her front feet were coming right out of her mouth.  But Pinni seemed happy enough because she didn't budge, even after I snapped a few photos.  Guinea pigs can be so strange.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Big Help

How long does a move last?!?

Four weeks into the new place and we're still shuffling things around.  It's close.  (I suspect I'll be saying that for another month or two.)  I got these neat ladder bookshelves on Craigslist so I could unpack all of my tea cups, books and knick-knacks.  That was another 10 small boxes unloaded and gone.  Yay!

The latest rearrangement was moving the little chest freezer out of the cellar.  I was trying to figure out how to attach feet to the freezer when Rob grabbed the camera to take a few action shots.  This isn't the first time that he's grabbed the camera to "help."  We were rearranging the living room three weeks ago and I managed to get myself stuck while straddling the entertainment stand.  I had asked him to help me out, but he found it infinitely more diverting to grab the camera and take photos of my predicament. 


He figured it was important to capture these moments for posterity, especially how I managed to get myself stuck against the wall like that.  He also said I'd get more traffic with the gam shot.  Right.  I'm not sure I believe any of that, but I do have to admit, the photos make me chuckle.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Making Hay

It's corn husk season!   The time of year that crazy guinea pig ladies (and guys?) go diving into the corn husk bins at the local supermarket.  I'm thrilled that my local Stop & Shop allows husking at the store.  Over the last three weeks there's been one or two big trash cans next to the stacks of fresh corn.

Drying on the deck
When I started diving into the barrel on Saturday morning, I got the usual questions:  What are you doing?  What do you use the husks for?  After watching me for a moment, I got a new question:  What parts are their favorites?  I explained that I like to remove the outer husk since it's tough and probably has pesticides on it.  Besides the pigs love the inner pieces and the silks.  Before I knew it, I had three strangers husking their corn to my specifications.  They pulled off the outer few leaves, then handed me the clean inner husks and silks.  How cool is that?!?  I had a bag full in no time.  One woman was so amused by the whole encounter, she said she was going to post about this on Facebook. 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

A Bit of Green

My mother and sister showed up to help me move with three tomato plants and a pot of basil in tow.  I initially put them on the back deck with plans to find them a better spot.  Turns out, though, that the deck gets full sun most of the morning and afternoon.  It makes for some very happy plants.  It also keeps them away from the little groundhog I've seen tooling around the yard.  So there they've stayed.

Since then I've added some rosemary, thyme, oregano and a couple of marigolds. I have a ton of grape tomatoes on one of the plants.  The first one is just starting to turn color.  Mmmm.  I can't wait!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Lazy Bones

I was all set to get some good floor-time photos, but all I got was this: two blobby pigs.

Pinniped and Cannoli had been bickering in the afternoon.  I figured some floor time could help.  The wood floor is nice and cool.  There's lots of space; I put out hay and toys for entertainment.  The air conditioning was on, so it was comfortable.  We sat down to watch the floor show and were disappointed.  All that prep, and they did this for two hours.  We watched TV instead.

They've been on the floor here a few times, so it's not a new and scary place.  But after an initial tour to determine the water bottle's location and check out the edge of the grids, the girls headed back to home base and flopped out.  I can't really blame them.  That's how we spent the evening as well. 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Girls at Work

My in-a-meeting pose
(snapped before the warm weather!)
My new office setup is so very different than it was in the old house.  I used to have a room to myself, upstairs and overlooking the street.  I was separated from Pinniped and Cannoli by three rooms and one story.  Now, I share my office with the living room, the kitchen and the guinea pigs.  Such a different setup!

The view behind me
First of all, Pinni is a noisy drinker.  I kind of knew that, but now it's really obvious.  She loves to rattle the bottle when I sit down for my morning standup meeting.  Makes it kind of difficult to listen to everyone else.  I've also discovered that there's more bickering during the day than I thought.  I hear Cannoli yell and scramble to another part of the cage a few times a day.  It's partially Pinni's fault, because she's ousting Cannoli from some spot or another or otherwise being mean, but as I watch the more I think Cannoli's stubbornness is a big factor.  She does not have the personality to fight back, but she flat out refuses to move until Pinni has hit her pretty hard.