Only Copper Remains

Nearly all our dear pets are gone.

They passed away one way or the other.  Our last guinea pig who was living with a friend of my daughters recently passed.

He is buried under a large curtain fig tree and had a very happy life.

Copper is happy in our new home.  He sings, and thanks people for his food.  He has a fan all of his own and lots of pictures up in the room where his cage is.

I am thinking of putting some plants around him.

Recently a cat snuck under our open front door – where there is a gap.   We chased it out and Copper was fine.  A bird also flew in through the window and was talking to him.

I don’t know how long Copper will live but he is now our only pet, – and thankfully he has calmed down a lot.

I do miss our guinea pigs sometimes.  They had such beautiful personalities.

Moving House dilemmas

 

threekidsandbirdB

It’s a big dilemma when you move house as to what can be done with pets.

We had been dreading tackling this topic with our children, as we weren’t sure we could bring or keep our pets.

However our decision was affected by: the availability of good homes for them to go to, the sad fact that three of our guinea pigs died leaving one all on his own and that our Copper was highly strung.

We miss our dear  Soot who went to our daughter’s best friends, but we are happy he is now in a great home and the children even if skyped him the other day.  What’s more he has other guinea pig friends!

We have decided for now not to own any more guinea pigs.  There was so many tears and burials in quick succession that we felt all guinea pigged out.

But we do have Copper the bird.  Can you believe it we traveled all the way to our new home with him in the car.  It was a three day car trip.

He certainly kept the family amused.

He is loving our new home but still doesn’t like it when he doesn’t see my eldest enough.  We think he is going to have to take that bird with him when he leaves home if the bird is still alive.

He had a lot of amusing bird calls, including car alarms, sirens and the songs of the birds around our new home.

Sometimes we think it would be lovely to have a pet dog, but it would all depend on how the bird adapted to him, and we can’t have one until we stop renting.

It is much harder to rent with a dog.   Rental agents don’t really mind birds.

 

Farewell

We bid a sad farewell to Chocolate – a dear friend and guinea pig, who just one day began to stop eating, and then on the day we were due to visit the vet passed away.

So sad, but he was happy even to the end, treasured and loved.

Now only Soot remains, with Calico and also Misty gone too.  He is receiving lots of extra attention and cuddles and seems to be doing well.

Living Near the Cane

DSC_0171

Backyard visitor – June Perkins

 

I want to remember what it was like to live out near the cane, on the way to a waterfall, where the wallabies, goannas and bandicoots roam.

We have had wallabies come visiting in the back yard. They run around until they work their way to front gate and hop out again.

The other day we saw a massive goanna with two young ones. She was enormous!  I wonder if they’ll be back and what they are eating.

At night the bandicoots keep finding their way under the house, and make a huge racket. Wish we would secure down there better so they would go somewhere else.

One of the saddest things was recently seeing two wagtails lose their baby which had fallen out of their nest.

We couldn’t take it away from them as they were so distressed and crying, but they also couldn’t take it back to the nest it had fallen from.  They hung around for hours before they gave up.  The baby bird tried to fly so hard!  Not sure where it ended up.

We watched as they kept swooping down and feeding it.

Quandry save it and then release, or let the parents say goodbye to their baby.

We lost a quail to a cat, and its partner who was safe in another cage with a baby, didn’t see it dead, and therefore kept crying for the return of its partner.

We realised we should have just presented its dead partner to it on death’s door for parting goodbyes. Our surviving quail cried for months and months. It used to make me feel so sad for her.

Two of our other quails were eaten by a snake.  We saw the bumps in its tummy as the snake collector came and took it away.

I think that’s why I left the baby in the garden for the parents to say goodbye too. The children imagine it was taken back to the nest by magic.
It’s very sad.

When the cane was burned, one side effect was flocks of rats, climbing the trees.  Sounds like something for a fantasy novel doesn’t it.  I hate rats!!  Thankfully I think we’re on top of that issue.  Imagine if we had a cat, I am not sure if it would be fat, or rat attacked!

The cruelty, tragedy and joy of natural life.

I am so glad we have guinea pigs!  Although we have super proofed their cages to keep the snakes away and worry they might still find a way to get in they are very clever things.

Farewell Misty

guinea pig2

Thanks Misty for

all the good times

going through a cyclone Yasi with us

making the children smile

being a good friend to Chocolate, Calico, and Soot

being good when you have your bath

being you our beloved guinea pig.

Be happy under your garland of flowers

free from pain

forever in our memory pop corning

with Chocolate around your soft toys.

RIP  29th January 2013

Guinea Pig,Chook Houses and Dragon Flies

The Guinea Pig Mansion

‘Calico likes to eat his way out of everything,’ my daughter is giggling her story out to a fellow guinea pig lover.  The girls haven’t seen each other for a few months.  We haven’t been venturing too far since the cyclone and not necessarily visiting too many people.  However it’s about time we caught up with these friends.  They live up the road just outside of Innisfail, which was in the path of the cyclone and was for a time where the media thought it was definitely going to hit.  Although Tully, Cardwell and Mission Beach were more severely physically hit that is not to say other areas haven’t felt the impact of the cyclone in other ways.

My daughter’s friend’s Mum and I are discussing what we did with the guinea pigs during the cyclone.  They used cardboard boxes and a washing basket to bring them inside.  We bought ours inside as well.  Ours had straw lined orange plastic crates that were very cheap.  They were very comfy.  I still can’t believe they slept through the cyclone, even with the tree falling on the house.  They only needed an occasional pat when they became just slightly distressed about the whole thing.  Their little squeaks were barely a whimper.

Prior to the cyclone we’d been a bit worried about them as someone told us her guinea pigs all died of heart attacks during cyclone Larry.  The kids knew this and were very watchful of their little ones.

A few weeks before the cyclone was apparent, and made its journey to us, the kids had bought two guinea pigs.  They began with Chocolate and Misty, and the new ones to join the brood were Calico and Soot.  It took a while to introduce them to each other.  When a new set of guinea pigs meet they must have time to adjust to each other.  My eldest explained the psychology of it to me in great detail, as he tends to google all things guinea pig.  They were not getting along yet, but had been getting used to being near each other with pens alongside each other.  The first few meetings a pecking order was being established.  Calico definitely wanted to be boss, but none of the others were having it – especially Misty, who can be rather stand offish, and was not giving over any power.  Sometimes however they were delighted with each other, and purred even.  But then a plane of something would fly over the garden and they’d all be fighting each other.  ‘Guinea pig wars can be slowed down by a towel being thrown over them,’ our googling guinea pig expert told us, demonstrating by dampening the fight with one of our towels.

The days went on in the lead up to the cyclone with quite slow progress to friendship occurring.  Each day the guinea pigs spent some time with each other.  The kids bought them inside for separate cuddle time still though as they were a bit weary of breaking up fights.

Then along came Yasi.    It was very stressful leaving our pet guinea pigs behind in the eye of the storm.  I just had too much to carry with scared kids, cyclone kits, and the worry about how long we really had to take it all to the car and get going.  My eldest son and his Dad were off clearing a path for the car to make it out of the drive way and I couldn’t see them in the dark.  I called out to them- and as I did so dropped some parts of the cyclone kit.  I couldn’t grab four guinea pigs, and two birds to add to the refugees from the home.

Although we lost Peep, we have gained some new friends, like this tree frog.

My youngest son was very distressed about this.  ‘We leave them in the hands of God.’ This was all I could say to comfort him. ‘If they die they died to save you – and allowed us to make it to the car and out of her before the eye of storm ends.’

So we left them.  I thought of them all night, prayed that they were safe in the bathroom were we had nearly stayed.  I really hoped that they were well.  It was such a relief when we saw them and of course Peep – still alive at that stage and Buddy our little quail was also fine.

After Yasi the guinea pigs were rescued from our NG marked home and placed in a cage in the garden of another friend’s house.  They had to be together, we didn’t have the luxury of a spare cage as their other one was a bit cyclone damaged.  We were watchful and put a couple of them inside a washing basked inside the other cage.  We found next morning they had Houdini like made their way out.  They were all getting along famously.  Not convinced we put two back under the wash basket.  Again they escaped, and still showed they were great mates now.    They all snuggled together, and were not going to be separated by anyone -a new home brought a new attitude.

Of course when we had to move them again to their actual new home, our new home, around twelve days later we were a little concerned things might go backwards.  They didn’t like leaving their comfy surroundings much for the first few days, but it didn’t take long and they loved the new home.  We were happy they did not suddenly drop dead like Peep.  Concerned for Buddy we went and tracked down a female quail at the pet store, and paid for her and bought her home.  Buddy has never been happier and they now have quail eggs, although they aren’t particularly good parents to them.

They now have a deluxe apartment no less on our balcony for wet weather, and a couple of out door hutches whenever it is dry and sunny for them.  They kids have purchased them a pet bed which they can’t wait to try out.  My eldest son thinks first of his pets whenever we go out.  ‘They need something soft’ and what about their food and today he said ‘Now Mum don’t forget their vegetables and check their water.’ Which I do everyday when they are away without being told, but I am sure he just feels that little bit extra protective of his surviving pets.  There have also been bath days.  It’s always a lot of fun to watch as all of them love the water, which is not true for all guinea pigs.  They are then wrapped in towels.  I have special old towels for guinea pigs now and they are kept in a cane basket for the kids to access.  They love snuggling their guinea pigs and watching them sleep, which is one of their favourite occupations after eating, and purring.  Although there are occasions on which they indicate they are watching television.

Now the other amazing story of Yasi, apart of the survival of guinea pigs who have hearts of steel, has to be the survival of chook houses.  You would have thought with all of the torn up sheds that a chook house would have  ended up somewhere on the other side of the Pacific Ocean, but no they made it!! We went to check on some friends after the cyclone.  We drove to lots of people’s houses as we couldn’t ring them as the power was out and that was when we were proudly shown the surviving chook houses.  Some people had taken their chooks indoors and others hadn’t but all of our friends’ chooks had made it through.

Last cyclone I saw lots of butterflies afterwards.  This time I don’t see so many –but our new garden has lots of dragon flies.  They have the most delicate wings, and yet they make their flight so easily.  Other friends have seen butterflies though, and one tells me they surrounded her.  It was simply amazing for her as they settled on her shoulders and in her hair.  I love picturing her as a butterfly woman being healed by the butterflies who say, ‘Don’t worry about silly old Yasi.’  I don’t hear this story until a month after the cyclone. Again we haven’t seen each other mainly because we are so busy moving stuff in a Ute from our sodden house to the new one, and she also is busy sorting out insurance and those practical things that happen after cyclones.   She tells me about how she had hoped to have my family out to the farm to go on the walking trails and river to see the land and the crocodiles where her family live.  Her husband had made all these trails but Yasi has knocked the trees and debris over them.  It will take a long time to build them again.

Butterfly from the old home

A poem for healing……..

Butterfly woman

Touched by the healing wings

Knows that nature sometimes

Takes away precious things

But Nature returns more than suffering

Placing the love of purple orchid flowers in my lap

She whispers the sun and rain

To give the forest a smiling refrain

She sometimes is stormy

All bolt and lights that scare in the night

Then she is depositing a Prince from the skies

It will all heal she says and we know she tells no lies

Because once before her son Larry stormed through this space

And people joked he was looking for his takeaway

But now much lost then is returned

And more will return

Giving peace to the butterfly woman

Touched by the healing wings


(c) June Perkins, All rights reserved words and images. Written: March 21st 2011

Second piece written during International Writing Sprint with Anita Heiss, Jacque Duffy, Niloofar Davidson and the rest of the writing gang!

Operation Bath Time for the Guinea Pig Crew

hiding in the towels - Soot and Misty1

hiding in the towels – Soot and Misty1 – taken by my daughter

 

Mouse’s ‘A Story of a Tree’ and Michael Lloyd’s family ritual tales remind me that often family life is made up of small rituals that over time become richly significant.

One of the small rituals of our family’s life is bath time for our champion guinea pig crew; champion because they survived Cyclone Yasi as calm as could be. Animals amaze me with their resilience.

Before bath time with – Soot, Calico, Chocolate and Misty – the children make them a warm, comfy and portable home – a plastic tub generously equipped with pet towels.

They lay out pet towels for afterwards – ready to dry and warm them.

Their cage is normally cleaned by the children not involved in the bathing, so they can return there when the whole operation is finished, newly washed, lovely to smell, and glossy.  They rotate this less enjoyable task because it can get mighty smelly in the cage.

The children have made bath time a precision operation, littered with a huge number of comforting cuddles, as not all the guinea pigs like water.  Misty needs the least amount of cuddles because he loves bath time. He still receives plenty!

Prebath - set up

Prebath – set up – June Perkins

There are three main stages to the bathing phase; stage one – place the crew in a box with carrots, their favourite food.  There they wait to be washed.

Stage two – a patient child gives each one a dip in the low run bath (most often my daughter or our eldest), and then lastly one by one they go freshly bathed into warming area to wait for their other guinea pig chums.

Calico in the bath

Calico in the bath – June Perkins

Once all the guinea pigs are together the children swaddle them for a while in towels to warm them, and then take the time to cuddle and chat with each one of them.  They take great joy in the guinea pigs hiding in the towels.

Then there is a thorough clean of the bath – for the humans who must follow the guinea pigs to use it.

But Soot, Calico, Chocolate and Misty won’t make it back to their cage for a while, as now they are so clean they are especially enjoyable to play with.

One of my favourite memories from when we first had the guinea pigs is the children placing soft toys all around them. They discovered that the guinea pigs loved snuggling into bears.  They’d run around in a circle if a ring of toys was put around them and ‘popcorn’, that is a little guinea pig jig.

They are not quite as playful as that now, but they are just as cute and interesting to observe.

It’s hard to imagine family life without the guinea pig crew – Soot, Calico, Chocolate and Misty.

after the bath pampering - Chocolate2

After the bath pampering – Chocolate2 – June Perkins

 

If you liked this blog, you might enjoy reading  these  Family Ritual Stories featuring pets.

One of the Family – a dog that believes his place is in church but he also has a few religious arguments and creates a classic embarrassing moment for his family.

Woman’s Best Friend – a dachshund, with personality, who can never catch the pet cat, except in his dreams

Missing the Bus: A ritual – just what you need if you want to miss Sunday school, a loyal pet dog to walk with in all seasons.

 

To submit your Family Ritual Story  to this awesome project head over to ABC Open 500 Words.  

Copper – Cowboy or Guinea Pig

Copper – our pet mynah,  likes roosting on curtain rods now.  It found the colourful flags which Paulien my friend sent and perched up near them.

It loved staring down at us and went to sleep.

It  loves roosting on the top of the laptop screens and staring at you.

Today it went and peered at the guinea pigs who were inside visiting in a box filled with saw dust.  It came down had a chat with them and tried to climb on them like it does us.  We moved it away so as to protect the pigs – who are pretty tolerant of Copper.

Next thing we know the empty box where the guinea pigs once were (having moved to another box) has Copper digging around in the saw dust.

Copper has a cage now, which we are trying to get it used to – it goes in there a bit longer each day and at night.  Mind you it would much rather be out people hopping.

Copper that crazy  critter has made the kids very happy — they love caring for it and all their pets.  They took the guinea pigs out into the play pen today. They like to ‘popcorn’ when outside, this is where guinea pigs do a little jig – it’s very cute.

(Written December 17th 2011. by Mum)