Friday, November 26, 2010

You should probably read this.

I've always had a pretty good idea of what my limits are. But sometimes you have to cross the line to know where the line is. I don't know what I was thinking, when I crossed the line, but it was probably something along the lines of "well, if I turn around here, I'm just a wimp." Yeah, guess what.

I'm not a wimp.

But I went from working 0 hours a week to 50-60. Plus being at the shelter. One of my jobs is extremely physically demanding, and my other job demands a lot of patience and focus, and I have to transfer from one to the other almost instantly [I have about 20 minutes to change and let my hair down]. I don't like complaining about having to work, because everyone has to work, and I don't respond well to sympathy. I hope that very soon I will not have to work more than perhaps 35 hours a week between both jobs. Until then, though, I won't be able to do much posting. And I am re-vamping my etsy shop. The focus will no longer be on custom items, and for the time being I've discontinued the piggy pads. I do hope to bring them back soon but I need to work on the design a bit. Few things are perfect the first time.

One last thing. I've stumbled upon a blog that is hauntingly similar to mine [formatting, writing style, topics, etc]. I'm not naming names, because I have more class than that. I just wanted to say that it's pretty childish to play copycat, and this borders on plagiarism. I don't understand the motivation behind it, but no matter.

I realize I'm not the first person to blog about cavy care, but when I make a blog post I like to think it's original. I don't take an existing post of someone else's, cleverly re-word it, and slap my name on it. Please stop being lame.

That's about as whiny and petty as this blog is gonna get, folks. Prepare for my upcoming post about our piggy first aid kit at the shelter, and at the yellow house.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


This blog seems abandoned!
I'm really sorry; I have been up to my ears in excuses for why I haven't written. I've had to make some major changes to my lifestyle and my etsy shop. I am working on a post at the moment, and I hope to have it done by the weekend. Please stay tuned.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Contest Winners!

The contest is over and I've chosen the winner and runner-up. I would like to thank everyone who entered, I got some really adorable photos and I have uploaded all of them to my Flickr account to be enjoyed by all. See them here.
If you submitted more than two photos, I chose from the first two that you sent me, since the rule was only two per person. The way I chose these was by having my roommate open al of the files so I didn't know who sent what. These photos were chosen based solely on their snuggle/cute-factor.
Now, on to the fun.

Congratulations to Emmy and Heather!

Emmy is our winner, with her photo of Pippin, seen here.

And Heather is our runner-up, with her photo of "baby rats," seen here.

Like I said I got a lot of really great photos, and it was tough to choose from all of them. So I have also chosen the top 5 photos [besides Emmy and Heather's, of course,] and I would like to offer the takers of these photos 10% off their entire next purchase at my shop. This does exclude shipping but there is no time limit, and I do ship all over the world.

How does this all work? For our winner and runner up, simply choose "other" when you get to checkout. If you purchase more than your $25 or $15 worth of stuff [remember, shipping included], I will invoice you via paypal for the remaining balance.
If you're in the Top 5, you can Convo me in Etsy and tell me what you'd like to order, I'll make a custom listing for you with the 10% taken off. Be sure to mention that you were in the Top 5 for this photo contest!

What about the sale? I did mention that I was planning a sale shortly after this. Unfortunately though I am too darn busy with my two jobs do stock up for it right now. But I do have something planned, don't you worry.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Photo Contest Reminder

The photo contest is supposed to end tonight but I am extending it a day because I'm really not going to have time to look at the photos until Saturday.

Please send your submissions to SilverBeatShop [at] yahoo [dot] com. Remember, Winner gets $25 worth of goodies from my shop, Runner up gets $15 worth! This does include custom items AND shipping.
For more info, see this post.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Guinea pigs at the CNYSPCA.

I am now *officially* the girl in charge of the cavies at the CNYSPCA in Mattydale, NY. Which means a lot of changes in care, diet, grooming, and cleaning will be made.

The pigs are being kept in fairly small cages in an ex-storage room in the back of one of the cat rooms. Basically anyone who wants one can have one, for the $35 adoption fee. They're kept on newspaper bedding, changed daily, which isn't great but the fact that it's changed daily is definitely a plus. It's better than keeping them on shavings. They are on a diet of Sweet Meadow pellets [which I provided] and a handful of hay a day. They get veggies whenever I get in there to give them veggies, so a couple of times a week.

I am drafting a daily care/feeding schedule and a list of acceptable pellet foods for the shelter director to post to the kennel staff. Right now I personally am okay with them being on paper bedding. They're not going to love it, but I will make sure that it gets changed daily. Veggies will be my responsibility to get to them, which isn't a huge deal for me. I have also been told that I am free to set up a "floor time" space for them whenever the bunnies are out, which will be awesome.

My long-term goal for the guinea pigs is to move them out of the cat storage room and into the rabbit room. I am working with "the rabbit guy" [Bob] on designing a cage setup for the bunnies and the piggies that is affordable, large, sturdy, easy to clean, preferably mobile [on wheels], and easy on the eyes.
I am also collecting all of my fleece scraps and will be making the pigs some patchwork piggy pads for their swanky new cages.

Right now we have three single pigs- Jamie, Tyler, and George. They appear all to be female. And we have one pair, Lucy and Ethel [female as well]. I will be posting updates about my experiences with the shelter pigs and whatnot.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

What's Going On?!

Hi Everyone!
Life is busy these days in the yellow house. Some big decisions are being made, some big paychecks are being earned, and some big time-budget cuts are being made.

It looks like Rocky is a keeper. He is very old, that's for sure. He's probably lived his whole life alone, and lord knows how long he's been dealing with this impaction problem, but even with a big cage, a HAFF [Hay and Fresh Foods] diet and regular cleanings, I have to "squeeze" him at least once daily. My vet said that neutering him would have little if any effect on his chronic impactions. He is obviously uncomfortable, and I just want him to be comfortable and happy for the rest of his life.
Because I don't have the money right now to get Laika and Ferdie spayed, and because I'm not sure if I even really want to put them through that procedure unless absolutely necessary, AND because I do not want to mess up the "dynamic" of the sows' cage, I have decided that I am going to adopt a buddy for Rocky. Probably an older male (3-4). I would love a Peruvian if I had the choice.
Rocky's QT period is over, his URI has subsided and his infected rump is growing fur. He is moving into the girls' room for now, And I will work on building him a C&C cage and getting him a buddy within the next month.

Winnie and Milo.
Winston and Milo are doing very well at my mother's daycare. I call them my "satellite" pigs. The kids love them and are learning a lot and my mom is warming up to them. I will get some photos and do a special write-up about my take on guinea pigs in day cares, classrooms, and children's rooms someday soon.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Photo Contest Reminder

Hi everyone! Only 19 days left to enter my "Snuggle Up" Photo contest! I have only gotten a couple of submissions so far...

*The photo does not have to be of a guinea pig. It can be any animal*
*I am now going to allow up to 2 entries per person*

Here are a few examples from my own collection [click the image to view the large version]:

View the photo contest rules and how to enter here.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Introduction: Rocky

Phew! The past week has been utter insanity. So much running around, moving this, saving that, dropping things off and picking things up!

Let's start from the very beginning.

Saturday when I was at the farmer's market, I asked the farmer I buy my greens form if she would please bag up some of her scraps for the piggies at our local shelter. Later that day we went to the feed store for a bale of hay and to deliver some composting worms, and then headed to the shelter.

While we were doling out the greens to the shelter bunnies, Bob, a volunteer at the SPCA who worked with me and a few others on the swamp rescue, met up with us and told me about a guinea pig they had who was down on his luck. He had been at the shelter for a few weeks and had "something wrong with his butt." We went to see what was up down there and it was immediately clear to me that poor "Rocky" was impacted... pretty badly. Unfortunately I didn't have any experience dis-impacting piggies and the last thing I wanted to do was do it wrong and make a bigger mess out of the situation. I promised Rocky I would come back for him, and set him back down in his cage.
I went back on Monday, after a doctor's appointment, to meet with the vet tech there and do the deed. I was shocked to find that not only was the mass no longer sticking out of Rocky like a cork, but there didn't seem to be any obstruction when I poked around with q-tip after q-tip. At any rate, Rocky was in poor shape and I had already made up my mind that I wasn't leaving without him. I left all of my contact information with the tech, got some kisses from her three-legged pit bull and headed home with Rocky in tow.

Driving down the main road near our house I saw a little yorkshire terrier trott
ing down the sidewalk. He had a collar and tags but no leash and no person. It had begun to rain. I told Scott that I would 'scoop him up real quick and be home in five minutes.' Since this is Rocky's introduction I'll make a long story short, suffice it to say that I was not home in five minutes. I spent nearly two hours in the rain with this dog, until finally he let me drape my handkerchief over his face, pick him up and tote him home. He had recently been re-homed to our area and escaped from his yard, he was very scared and very obviously lost, but we contacted his owners and got him home safe.

Rocky was a sneezing, wheezing, shedding mess when I got home with the pup. I called the vet immediately and jammed him in for an appointment on Wednesday. I suspected he had mange mites--due to a bald patch on his hind end--and a URI in addition to his impaction.
At the vet today we were relieved to learn that rocky did not, in fact, have mites. He has a bacterial infection on his rump, a URI, and the vet was able to dis-impact mister Rocky in one fell swoop. The pig who had been silent since I got him home let out a shriek so loud that all the dogs in the kennels began barking and some even howled! Poor boy.

Our doctor thinks that his impactions may be chronic, but proper diet will definitely improve his condition. We're also thinking he may be a bit older [3-4+], since he seems to have limited control of his muscles back there.
The little man is safe and sound now in my big 2'x4' quarantine cage. He had a pretty poor diet at the shelter [where I am now a volunteer] so he is enjoying his hay, veggies, and seed-free pellets!

Is he a resident? It's not official yet, but my mom is taking Milo and Winston for a "test run" this week, to see if they like living in the day care, and if she likes having them there. So far all looks well. We have set them up in the "quiet" room, so if need be, they can be closed off from the kids. Their cage is just high enough that the kids can look, but not touch, and we've attached a crib bumper to the outside of the cage so no-one bumps their head accidentally.
If my mom likes Milo and Winnie, I'd be perfectly happy letting them be permanent residents of my mother's in-home daycare. And if my vet thinks that having Rocky neutered will improve his condition, or at the very least not make it any worse, there is a distinct possibility that he could be a permanent resident.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Number Eight.

More on this story as it develops.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Yummy New Fabrics

I went to Jo-Ann's last night after picking up my CSA goodies, and bought sooo much fabric. Mostly flannel prints, as I really need more selection in my shop. I bought a lucky 13 flannel prints, and I believe I got 5 new polar fleece prints. I do plan to go back, but I only had so much cash on hand. You can see my selection of flannels here. I was so excited... It's been a long time since I spent more than $40 in one place that wasn't the farmer's market or the grocery store. Special thanks to Chris, the nice cutting girl who was patient with me and talked to me about her guinea pig while her co-workers looked on in horror at the mountain of fabric on the cutting table.

More things to be happy about... I have secured two jobs, and neither one is going anywhere anytime soon. Eeeee I'm so happy! This dreary rainy gray day can suck it!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

"Snuggle Up" Photo Contest


I am planning a sale for November and I'm in need of some cute photos.
This is the first contest/giveaway I've done, so here goes:

1.] The theme of this photo contest is "Snuggle Up," please take that into consideration when entering.

2.] Entries must be e-mailed to SilverBeatShop [at] yahoo [dot] com.

3.] No more than two photos/entries per person.

4.] Brownie points if your photo also features one of my products.

5.] No Stealing! The photo you submit MUST be your own.

6.] Entries will be accepted until 12:00AM [Midnight] EST, October 21, 2010. That gives you a whole month!

7.] The winner and runner-up will be announced October 23, 2010.

8.] The winner will receive $25 worth of goodies from my etsy shop. The runner-up will receive $15 worth of goodies from the shop.

9.] The photos of the winner and runner-up will be used in my newsletter (join by emailing SilverBeatShop [at] yahoo [dot] com, with the subject "subscribe), shop listings, etc and the photographers will be credited. Please include a website, if you have one, when you enter.

10.] Ready... GO!

EDIT: I am just feeling so darn snuggly today, I made a treasury.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Vet/Emergency Funds

Hi everyone, happy Sunday! I'm writing to you today about having a Vet/Emergency fund for your little ones. This applies not only to guinea pigs, but any pet. It is always a good idea to have extra cash set aside so that, no matter the circumstance, you can give your friend the care he/she needs.

This is the first question you need to address when starting a vet fund: How much should I be saving up? The answer varies, depending on how old your animals are, how many you have, what kind are they [cavies or chow chows? rabbits or rhodesian ridgebacks?], and other questions. This is definitely something that you need to sit down and brainstorm on your own, but I will give you the guidelines I came up with way back before I adopted my bunnies.

An emergency could be a one-time visit, a couple hundred dollars and everything's fixed, or it could be a long drawn-out process. You really should plan for either. I recommend at least $500-700 per guinea pig, depending on your average vet bill/ER bill. To give you an example, the vet I see regularly is $45 per visit, but my emergency vet (Cornell) is nearly $200 for a fairly small emergency.
For rabbits, it's a good idea to have at least $700-900 on hand The reason that number is slightly higher is because folks are more likely to have 2+ guinea pigs, compared to one or two rabbits [not true for everyone, of course]. But if you have three guinea pigs, and one gets very sick, you have at least $1500 in care funds for it. Whereas, if you have one rabbit and it gets very sick, you only have $900 in care funds.

There is no set amount, no limit, to how much you should have saved, but the numbers I've given should cover you for basic emergencies. In five years keeping rabbits and guinea pigs I've only had to go to the ER vet once for Benner [Newman's brother] about a week before his death--he wasn't eating and his regular vet was on vacation--the only other emergencies I've had was Sophie-Mo and Olive's emergency spays [$240 each], and Newman's upper respiratory infection, which went downhill so fast after I noticed it that we couldn't get him to a vet in time.

It's best to have a vet fund before you adopt your friends, since almost no vet these days will accept a payment plan. [many do take Care Credit though, which is worth looking into if you have a lot of animals and no vet fund]. Some vets will work out a payment plan if you have a particularly hefty bill and you've been a client for a certain amount of time. My vet allows this for me, and I usually have my balance paid off within a month. I do this so that I don't have to take money out of our emergency fund if I don't need to.

It's also very important that you register with a vet before an emergency arises. Our emergency vet requires a $60 registration fee for each animal, so for my 9, that's $540. Do I have all of them registered? No. Three of my animals are registered there though, one of whom is still living; and the vet knows me from the House Rabbit Society. Some clinics, however, provide emergency care only to registered clients, whose animals have already had one routine check-up with them. Our regular vet clinic is one of these clinics, but our exotics vet doesn't do emergency care regularly, so we have to have a back-up.
The moral of the story being, have a vet fund and a vet before you need one.

I may add to this later, but for now I'm filing this in Cutting Back and HDYDI.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Social Sunday No. 6

Hey folks. I hope your month's been good.
Quick little updates....
+ I have installed a "how to navigate this blog" page at the top left column... you should all check it out.
+ My etsy shop now has a mailing list. I will be using it to notify folks about sales, new products being launched, etc. I'm only going to be sending out probably 1-2 [no more than 3, ever] emails per month. You can join by emailing silverbeatshop [at] yahoo [dot] com
+ Due to more insanity than I've dealt with in a while, I'm jobless. Again. It's making me really moody.
+ The other night I accidentally deleted 25 comments. My apologies.

Now, onto the creamy nougat-y center.

What's one change you've made recently that you're super proud of?

My Answer: I cleaned out the garage and it makes for a really great storage space. I've got all of my old kennels and cages in there, plus 4 bales of hay, extra towels, my vermicompost bins... soon to add more!

WELCOME NEW FOLLOWERS, Please do join the fun!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Fleece Bedding Breakdown.

This post, as the title suggests, is a breakdown of the ins and outs of fleece bedding. As a newbie I found the GPC Forum post to be wordy, long and a little confusing. So I have taken the main post, plus the more helpful of the replies, and boiled them down to this user-friendly post.

What is it?
Polar fleece is a 100% polyester fabric, made from recycled plastic bottles. It's super-soft, doesn't rip easily or fray, and once it has been "broken in" [by tossing it in the washing machine a couple of times] it wicks any liquid from the surface, which makes it ideal for small animals such as guinea pigs, ferrets and rats, who have bare feet and carry their bodies so low to the ground and thus are particularly vulnerable to urinary tract infections.

Where can I find it?
You can find polar fleece at Big Box-Marts, thrift stores [fleece throw blankets], fabric and crafting supply stores such as Jo-Ann Fabrics and Hancock Fabrics. Fabric supply stores and some Wal-Marts have many colors and patterns of polar fleece available for purchase by-the-year. All you need to do is let them know how much you need. Most bolts of polar fleece are 60" wide, so for, say, a 2x4 cage [28"x56"] you'd only need 1 yard [36"x60"]. Most places that offer by-the-yard cuts will also have fleece throws available, which come already cut and hemmed; I find these usually work perfectly for a 2x3 or 2x3.5-sized C&C cage, or a similarly sized cage. If possible, you should get anti-pill polar fleece, as it will last longer than just regular polar fleece. It's also best to get two sets of fleece and whatever you'll be using underneath it [towels, etc], for an easy cage cleaning.

How much is this going to cost?
That question is best answered here.

How do I get the fleece ready for pigs?
Make sure you have a good absorbent material to go underneath the fleece. Mattress pads, towels, puppy training pads and newspaper are all common choices. Fleece itself is not absorbent, it simply wicks liquid away from the surface. It needs somewhere to wick the liquid to. If you use fleece and fleece alone you'll be sorely disappointed.
Also make sure that you send your fleece through at least 2 wash cycles; 3 if you have a front-loading washer. In my experience, you do not need to use detergent, and you don't necessarily need to tumble-dry it between washings.

How do I set it up in my cage?
The best way to set up your cage so that your fleece doesn't become a mess is to set up a kitchen area and use a hay rack. Your pigs will do most of their "business" in this area, as an added perk.
As far as putting down the fleece, first layer your towels 3-4 layers thick, or use 2-3 layers of mattress pads. Place your fleece over the top of the towels/pads, and tuck the fleece under the towels [you'll want to leave about 4"-6" on either side of your fleece blanket]. If you find that your pigs are burrowing under the fleece you can use bricks or binder clips to secure the perimeter fleece.

This all sounds like a lot of work.
It doesn't have to be. Cute and stylish cage liners are available online in a number of places.
I make customized cage liner pads, available here. And so do a few other folks, here, here, and here.

How do I clean/care for it?
For regular upkeep you'll want to sweep or vacuum your fleece. Every 4-7 days you'll need to thoroughly sweep/vacuum/shake out the fleece and throw the fleece and towels in the washing machine. Never use fabric softener. Line or tumble dry. I prefer line drying, as the fleece always seems to smell fresher. How often you'll need to wash your fleece depends on your cage size, number of pigs, their age, and etc. For more cleaning tips, go here.

Did I miss anything? Please comment with questions/concerns/praise.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Tiny Tips no. 2: fleece care.

I am in love with fleece bedding. I have already said this, probably multiple times. It makes so many aspects of my life so much easier. But occasionally, there are bumps in the road. In this Tiny Tips post we will address some of the problems that people encounter with fleece bedding, and how to fix them.

1.] Hay sticks to it.
This is easily solved with a small hand rake, a cat litter scoop, or if you lack that kind of hardware, slipping on a latex glove and
picking it up with those wonderful things called your hands.

2.] Poop.
Hands do not work so well here. There are better tools for the job. Many people use a small handbroom and mini dustpan. If your cage is on the floor, upgrade to a regular broom and dustpan. Occasionally I throw my mini broom into the wash for a thorough cleaning, because I'm like that.
I know a gal who swears by using a soup ladle to scoop poop, and if you've got one of those little hand-held vacuums hanging around, I haven't ever tried one but I hear they work great.
When to be on poop patrol is mostly up to you. I sweep about every other day. If you have a vastly expansive cage, you may not need to sweep at all; just shake out the fleece before you do your regular washing.

3.] Laundering: fur
Cleaning the filter in your washing machine regularly can keep fur from building up in there. An alternative to this is to run a rinse cycle after washing with only water and non-chlorine bleach or vinegar, OR you can thoroughly shake out your fleece and place it in a washing bag, or a duvet cover, to keep the fur contained.
4.] Stank/cleanliness
After a few months of using fleece I started noticing a stinkyness that wouldn't go away even after a washing and line-drying. This can be tackled a few ways.
a.) When laundering your fleece and towels, run them through a rinse cycle first, THEN a full wash cycle. This gets most of the nastiness out so that you're not just shampooing and up-covering the stink of urine-soaked towels.
b.) Add a cup of baking soda or vinegar to the wash cycle, along with the detergent. Be sure also not to use too much detergent as it can build up in the fabric and irritate your pigs' skin.
c.) Sprinkle baking soda onto the bottom layer of towels when you are changing your pigs' linens. Though many people hate to admit it, animals [and people] SMELL. It's a fact of nature. By adding baking soda to your pig's towels/litterbox, you can absorb most of this unpleasantness.
d.) Line-dry your fleece and towels. Sun exposure will kill any yucky/stinky stuff in your towels and fleece and all that fresh air, sunshine and unicorn saliva will leave them smelling fresh and clean.
5.] Laundering: poop
Let's admit it, we're not perfect. Sometimes the odd poop-capsule gets into the washing machine, despite our best efforts. But luckily, cavy poop floats [count it, David Letterman]. I just let my washing machine fill up, agitate for half a minute or so, and
capture the unsuspecting victim(s) with a yogurt cup. I'm not sure if this is a problem other people have, but if so, there's my solution.

Have you ever hit a snag when it comes to fleece bedding? Got a tiny tip to share? Need a solution to your problem? Please post in the comments--with or without a Blogger ID. :)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Milo and Winnie are back together!

And better than ever! After another buddy bath and an exhaustingly clean and odor-free cage, my two boys have decided that they can live together without tearing each other apart.

More posts to follow, as I was informed yesterday that I'm not working this week. For now, I don't have a problem with it. I can get my home life back in order.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Cute Story for You All

Hi everyone!
Right now is a busy time for me-- I am working two jobs [finishing out my last two weeks at my old job and starting my new one] and sales in my etsy shop are picking up, which I'm very happy about. I'll soon be listing a lot more products, including C&C cage-sized Patchwork Piggy Pads, pre-made hammocks and snuggle bags, and soon, some solid-colored Piggy Pads, which will be less costly because there is much less time involved in making them.
Even though this blog is about guinea pigs, I'm sure most or all of us here are animal lovers, and I wanted to share a cute [and true] story with you.
Lately I have taken to eating supper on the front porch of the yellow house. Last night was no different. Just as I was sitting down to dinner, I heard the jingling of ID tags on a collar. I shot up out of my chair and looked out the side window. A black lab was in our driveway, sniffing at my tomatoes. I threw on my shoes and went out to grab him. "Hey dog. Come on, let's take you home." He trotted right over to me. And then I recognized him. A little more than a month ago I saw him hanging out on the porch of the vacant house across the street, his name is Bo. He lives a couple of blocks away.
I led him across the busy main road and up the hill to his home. He is very street-wise, and stopped immediately at the corner until it was safe to cross. On our way to his house, we passed a garbage can he had terrorized. When his owner opened the door she recognized me and asked me inside so I stepped in. It turns out she wants me to babysit her two school-age girls! We didn't talk extensively but she seemed to want me to babysit several days a week. She is a single working mom.
That dog got me a babysitting job. I could have just hugged him right there but he was busy stealing a roast beef sandwich off the table.

New posts soon to come this month:
How Do You Do It: Veggies part II
How Do You Do It: Organization
Tiny Tips: Emergency kits

I would also like to say welcome to all new followers! I hope y'all like my blog :)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Social Sunday no. 5

Hey y'all. I hope you've had a wonderful week. I am in a bit of a rush so this month's Social Sunday is gonna be pretty quick and dirty.

For those of you with C&C Cages... How long have you had a C&C cage setup and how many times have you rearranged the cage? [added a loft, made it bigger/smaller, changed the shape, etc]

My Answer: I have had C&C cages for as long as I've had cavies, and for my bunnies as well [four years now]. I have changed my pigs' setup more times than I'd care to think about... but here is me thinking out loud:
1st cage: 2x5 L-shaped cage for Sophie-Mo + Olive,
-->added a loft soon after building
2nd cage: 16.9 sq foot odd-shaped windowseat cage for Mo and Livvy, which they later moved back to with Tasha, Milo, and eventually the babies [and not Milo]
3rd cage: 2x8 divided into three sections: one housing Livvy and Laika, one with Milo and Winston, and one with Tasha, Mo and Ferdie.
4th cage: 2x6 for the girls, 2x3 for the boys
---> added a 1x6 loft to the girls a while after building
5th cage: 2x9 for the girls, my first floor cage
---> added a 2x3 flip-up loft, attached to a 1x4 windowseat loft recently.

There is a more detailed post about my cages coming soon.

***For those of you without... what cage setup do you have?

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Cutting Back: Episode 5: Hay part II

This is a follow-up to my first Cutting Back post. I have some additional information to share with you all.

Buying hay locally
I have found a few more websites that connect you with hay sellers in your area:
Internet Hay Exchange has listings in all 50 states and allows you to post wanted ads if you can't find what you're looking for in the sellers' advertisements, plus a hay price calculator and other neat stuff.
The Hay Barn, though most of its listings are here in America, is an international website that works basically the same way as the Internet Hay Exchange, allowing sellers and buyers to post ads and search by state. Personally I think it's easier to navigate, even though it has fewer listings.
Lastly, the Texas Department of Agriculture has a Hay Hotline on their site, which lists hay for sale in not only Texas, but many other states. It is worth a try if you are really having trouble finding hay in your area. It allows you to search by type and quality of hay, and you can narrow it down to organic/not organic as well.
Farm Fodder is a site for Australian farmers, with several listings for hay.

Storing hay
If you are having trouble wondering how you're going to store an entire bale of hay [usually around 40"x24"x24", 40-50lbs] in your house or apartment, I have some more ideas for you.
This website and this one sells hay bags which, though costly, are easy to tote and contain a lot of mess. The first website also sells half hay bale bags, among other things.
You can also share a bale of hay with a friend. You can use a chainsaw to chop a bale of hay in half, or you can remove the bailing twine/wire and break it up into flakes--a bale usually consists of 8-10+ flakes, depending on how your hay was baled.
I didn't mention this in my first post, but garages are a great place to store hay, so long as there isn't a lot of direct sunlight or any leaks, you can put a pallet down [often free at places like feed stores or home improvement stores, even from local barns] and put up hay like you would in a barn. I plan to do this for the coming winter, since I just renewed my lease and my roommate suckered our landlady into giving us the garage she was renting out separately.

If you have any tips to share, please post them here!
All of my hard work has finally paid off. I got a new job. And, my etsy shop is donating $10.15 to the Oswego County Guinea Pig Rescue. It's not much but it's a start. For those of you who do not know, 15% of all my proceeds [before paying any etsy fees, etc] goes to the OCGPR and this is my first month of doing it. I will be donating to those fine swine indefinitely, so don't be bummed if you couldn't help this month. A clean slate starts tomorrow, and my goal for the month of august is $25.00 or more!
New stuff in, or coming soon to, my etsy shop includes Patchwork Piggy Pads, Double-Decker hammocks [great for peegs because they provide cover and multiple exits/entrances] and made-to-order all-fleece or all-flannel hammocks.
I am also hoping to make some listings this week for donations of goods at wholesale prices [40% off] to reputable rescues. But more on that later.
It is starting to be a real pain in the butt not having my own computer. I haven't been able to do much online lately because my roommate is doing a huge project for a memorial service for his grandmother that requires both the computers, the PS3, a portable DVD player, two VHS players, my camera and a tiny fan. Plus some other stuff that cost $500 that I don't know that it is. Technology.
But! He is out of the house all night so I will be posting a follow-up to the Cutting Back: Hay post and making a ton of listings on etsy momentarily. Jut wanted to let y'all know what was going on.

Monday, July 26, 2010

coming soon!

Hi all, a few things.
1.] I am changing Social Sunday posts. They will now be the second Sunday of every month, instead of weekly. I think that will give a chance for more people to read and respond to them, instead of them getting buried.
2.] I have spent all day today modifying the girls' cage and have just finished. Tomorrow and Wednesday are my days off so expect some serious posting, I have a lot of stuff to share.
3.] Sophie is back with the girls and standing up for herself. Her weight had gotten all the way down to 1lb. 3oz, and in just two weeks she is back up to 1lb. 8oz [her norm is between that and 2lbs]. She is displaying a lot of confidence and not taking guff from anybody.
4.] My pigs are finally back on fleece, after 60 straight days of newspaper bedding that I had to change every day. I have never seen so many zoomies, popcorns, lap-running... Natasha even laid down and rolled in the fleece like a dog.
5.] Winnie and Milo are about to be re-united after being apart for two weeks. Winnie's wounds and ego have healed completely, his appetite is good and he's more than ready to be out of the quarantine cage. I am building him a special loft that Milo can, but probably won't want to, get to. Then I am going to spray down the cage, change the bedding, buddy-bathe them and see what happens. Hopefully this works.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Introduction: Bella

Yes, yes, I know. a.) I said I would introduce you to Milo this week and b.) Bella is not a guinea pig!
But know this, please: Bella is not only not a guinea pig, she's also the supreme ruler of the yellow house and a huge part of my life. Plus you got to meet Newman! He's not a guinea pig! So hush up and listen to my story about this little bunnydragon.
Actually though, I need to take photos of Milo and I haven't done that yet. So, dragon it is.

BellaMonster came to me a sad shell of a bunny. A friend of mine received a call one day asking if she wanted a rabbit. "The meanest rabbit in the world," as the woman described it. My friend said no, but she told the lady that I did rabbit rescue and gave her my number. I never got a phone call, but a few days later I got a small baby dutch bunny on my porch in a cage that had been cable-tied together. It was November of 2007.

A cage-aggressive little spitfire, she was intended to be a foster bun with the House Rabbit Society. But I could tell after a week it was going to be a while, if ever, before she would be "adoptable." Still, I worked with her every day for months--and I still do--to tone-down her cage aggression. She is still pretty darn feisty, which is why I call her names like "Bella Monster," "The Beast" and "It". And yet, she is one of the cutest little things I have ever met!

For a short time Bella lived in the front hallway/stairwell of my mother's house. Every day then I got home from school she was there on the landing by the window, waiting to greet me. It was pretty nice.

Bella loved Newman very much, his death affected her greatly. For weeks she searched the house for him. After a few days of frantic nook-and-crannying, she gave up and receded back into herself. I am now trying to bond her with a female foster rabbit named Abbey. It is going better than I thought.

Well, that's it for now. Bella's story is a short one, probably because I have told it so many times that I've been able to pare it down to a quick little anecdote.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Social Sunday #4

Greetings, True Believers. Let's get right down to it.

Our fourth Social Sunday is a suggestion by Cassandra, one of our most avid readers/commenters :) She would like to know:

Why do you have cavies/what do you love about cavies?

My Answer:
I love so many things about guinea pigs, but the thing that sealed the deal for me was the little "wheek wheek" noises they make. Sometimes these noises are not so little. Hehe.
I just love being greeted by those cheerful noises whenever I walk in the front door/up the stairs/roll over in my sleep/breathe.

I look forward to hearing your answers!

I also have exciting and yet not-so-exciting news. A dear family friend passed away recently, and his wife is now "getting rid" of some of the extra stuff lying around, so I am finally getting my own [Dell] laptop, instead of having to write to y'all from various shared computers at whatever hour I can get ahold of them, I will be able to write whenever I please [oh no], and be a lot more organized about it. I love Macs, but I'm really terrible at navigating them. I was raised on Windows.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Just a quick little update before tomorrow:
Everyone is doing great! It has been rough but Sophie-Mo's weight is increasing at an encouraging weight, and she looks happier than ever.
I had intended to stick Tasha, Livvy and Mo with Winston and Milo. I have put this group together with great success in the past. But this time I decided that Mo couldn't handle the pestering of the boys. So I put her off on her own and just left Livvy and Tasha to the boys. Bad idea. I came home later that day to bloody pawprints and a very sad Winston. He is in the hospital cage now, and Ferdie, Laika, Tasha and Livvy are back together. Winston is healing very well, he has a gash under his chin and a cut on his foot. He's not bothering his bandage, which is just wonderful.
Coming up: Social Sunday no. 4, and later this week an introduction post for Milo if all goes well, a How Do You Do It post on organization.

Also, I got my first two Etsy sales a couple of days ago, hooray!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Much-needed update

Sorry for missing our fourth Social Sunday, folks. I was busy wondering why my bed was made of diced chicken and getting angry at Neptune for stealing my bathwater. Ehm.. I had a 103F fever.
Unfortunately, things are not well in the cavy world. Sophie-Mo has been getting bullied relentlessly by Laika. She has lost a bit of weight and just today I discovered a bald spot on her from where Laika has been pulling her hair out. We have run into this problem before, but never to this extent. I feel awful for not noticing this sooner, but Sophie is recovering quickly. I put her in a separate pen for 3-4 hours a couple of times a day so she can rest and have all she wants to eat. While I am at work I leave Mo with the herd and put Laika separate, to be sure that Mo isn't getting stressed by being away from them for so long. I am going to get her to the vet to be sure that she hasn't developed any health problems because of this.
I'm not crazy about splitting anyone up but if I absolutely must, I think that Mo, Olive, Winston and Milo will get along just fine, and Natasha sure as sugar doesn't put up with any
of Laika's crap, so she, Laika and Ferdie would be fine in a trio. The next time I clean cages I will try this setup. A 2x3 is not suitable for three girls long-term but it won't hurt for a couple of days or so, so I can see if it'll work between the boys and Livvy and Sophie.
That's what's happening in my neck of the woods. After a couple of doses of rice-water and honey, my fever/nausea/vomiting/headachey/hallucinationey-ness subsided. Hooray for natural remedies!

By the way, fi any of you have questions you'd like to submit for Social Sundays in the future, you can submit them here or at any Social Sunday post. They don't necessarily need to be about guinea pigs, the idea is to get to know each other a little better. I would like most of our Social Sundays to be about piggies though, because that is why we're all here, after all.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

photo-less Social Sunday

It's still Sunday for a few more hours...

So here's our third Social Sunday question:
What is one unique/remarkable/just plain silly thing that your guinea pig[s] does/do? This can be a trick you have taught them, a habit they've formed, or just something about their personality.

My Answer: The babies [Winnie, Laika and Ferdie] have always been more agile than their older cagemates. Winnie loves to jump up onto his hidey and lounge the day away, or perch and watch the world go by. And Laika and Ferdie, when they do zoomies or popcorn, they will include their hammock into their "laps;" they jump into it and right back out of it without missing a beat while running their laps. It is one of the funnier things I've seen in my years.

Happy Independence Day to those who celebrate it. :)

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Tiny Tips #1: cleaning

Better late than never! Here are some tiny tips for you all on cleaning your cavies' area. Hopefully you'll find some, if not all, of them to be quite useful come the next Cleaning Day.

Tiny Tip no. 1: Many hands make light work. Never underestimate how helpful an extra pair of hands can be. This tip goes for everything. Whether it's cleaning, salad prep, or even just nail trimming. I couldn't be more thankful for my roommate's willingness to help me with whatever the task at hand may be; his nephew even helps me make salads every weekend--he loves our Salad Spinner.
So grab a parent, a roomie, even a younger sibling can be a lot of help.

Tiny Tip no. 2: Baking Soda and Vinegar are good for more than Science Fair volcanoes. Aside from being great for unclogging the drain and scrubbing down wooden cutting boards, vinegar and baking soda are the only safe disinfectant cleaners for your guinea pigs. Here's how I go about cleaning my coroplast cage-bottoms: spray down with 50/50 vinegar and water, wipe thoroughly with a rag or two, then dust with baking soda and scrub out with a wet rag. Rinse with water outdoors or wipe down with a wet rag [depending on the weather].
If you have an issue with how your guinea pigs' cage smells--I myself do not enjoy sleeping right next to a cageful of gross boypig smell, no matter how clean their cage is--place a small saucer of baking soda near their cage [out of their reach], or put a light dusting of baking soda in their litterbox before adding litter to it. Just like it keeps fish-stench out of your leftover mac & cheese in the fridge, it will cut down on the amount of "gross boypig smell" you experience.

Tiny Tip no. 3: Quit breaking your back! If you have a floor cage, [my girls have one] and your back is anything like mine, I'm sure the last thing you want to do is bend over and scrub at their cage for however long. You can get it plenty clean without spending half an hour on your knees. I have a broom that is strictly for 'animal use,' per my roommate's request, and pads that I made for my semi-retired Swiffer WetJet [tutorial coming soon]. The way I clean the girls' cage is as follows: Sweep out very well, then spray down with 50/50 vinegar and water, and mop aggressively with modified WetJet. Rinse by spritzing with water and using a new mop pad. Done!
Before I had the fancy WetJet pads, I just clipped a washrag or two onto my Swiffer and went to town.

Tiny Tip no. 4: Lighten up! Cleaning Day can become a daunting task, and I have been known to put it off when things start to pile up. When this happens I usually end up cleaning their cage out of guilt, usually late one night when I have to work early the next day. It is not a pleasant experience.
What usually help me to work fast and efficiently without feeling like a chicken with my head cut off--pardon the expression--is to have good music playing. Something uplifting and energizing; I prefer Country but to each their own.
It also helps me to make a schedule and stick to it. I usually [aim to] clean cages the same day that I weigh, which for me is Wednesday--a day I usually have off. I mark my calendar up and put it on my to-do list for that day.

That's all for today. See y'all tomorrow for our third Social Sunday. No, I'm not taking the holiday off :)

Feel free to comment with any of your own tiny tips!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Ready for another one?

Hey everyone,
Oh my goodness, it's been a week! This one got away from me; I was planning to do a new Tiny Tips post about cleaning but never finished it! It should be ready by Tuesday or at the very latest Thursday, so y'all have that to look forward to :)
Things are crazy as always here at the yellow house. I was just informed yesterday that the lease I plan to sign next month has been changed from a 12-month lease to a 6+ month lease. My landlady wants to sell the house, and Scott and I sure aren't buying it.

Such is life. I am still working on the guinea pigs' room, and I'm honestly glad I found this out before I finished it; now there won't be so much to do if we're just gonna move out in six months or so. This news is a disappointment, but also presents some exciting new opportunities for me as a future farmer.. it means I can look for a new house closer to the country.
I hope you've enjoyed a peek into my personal life. Now onto our Social Sunday question. This week I would like to know...
Your story. How/why did you get your guinea pigs? Were they a pet store "rescue"? Adopted from a friend? Snatched up as they quivered before the dripping jaws of fate on a cold and dreary November night?! Tell us!

Most of you already know my stories so I'll be brief.
Olive and Sophie: adopted whilst transporting a fiesty lionhead from shelter to sanctuary
Natasha and Maybel, aka Milo: adopted when a babysitee of mine had a second accidental litter
Winstonn, Ferdie and Laika: Brought to you by the terror that is Milo Two-Face aka Maybel the Mountain Pig. His intro is coming soon.

You all are welcome to be as detailed as your heart desires.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Social Sunday #1 and an Etsy update

Hi everyone,
Welcome one and all to our first-ever Social Sunday! Each week I will be asking you all a question relating to your piggies, and I would love you all to participate by answering in the comments section at the bottom of each post. Even if you do not have a Blogger ID, you can comment using your Livejournal, AIM, etc. The purpose of this exercise is so that we all get to know each other['s pigs] a little better :)
Our first Social Sunday question is this: What are your pigs' names and what is one ridiculous/silly pet name you have for them?

My answer: My pigs are Sophie-Mo, Olive, Natasha, Milo, Winston, Laika and Ferdinand. Two of my silliest pet names for them are 'Tasha 'Tocks--because Natasha is a bit heavier than the rest of my pigs, so I call her by her huge butt--and sometimes I sing Winston's name: Winnie The Guinea-Pig!

Etsy update: 15% of my Etsy proceeds will be going to the Oswego County Guinea Pig Rescue indefinitely, to help Jennifer free up some space for her rescue cavies. The money will go towards a bigger cage, or cages, for her sanctuary piggies. Most of her permanent resident pigs are singles and she would like to house them together, so I and my Etsy shoppers are going to help her with that. I will post monthly at my shop how much we have donated. If you have yet to check out my Etsy shop, I encourage you to do so now! :) New stuff that's on the way includes bunk-bed hammocks and custom-sized cage/crate pads/liners for C&Cs, Ferret Nations and Midwest dog crates.