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!