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Duck rescue mission

One of our duck friends, the mama duck above, came to visit us with a badly swollen foot and leg two days ago. I couldn’t get close enough until evening to see that the swelling was caused by what turned out to be fishing line wrapped very tightly around her leg. I didn’t know how I could catch her or get it off since it was embedded in the swollen leg. We called everyone we could think of yesterday for advice, and found an avian vet who could see her if we could catch her.

She didn’t come up from the pond until after the vet’s closing time, and I could see her dragging the line. We took what advice we had and grabbed a sheet. It took some running around and a couple of failed attempts, but we finally got the sheet over her. I picked her up and tucked her under my arm. She was very upset about the sheet being over her head, but once I gently pulled it off, she just looked at me as if she were saying, “Oh, it’s you.” She was so good and well-behaved and sweet, we couldn’t believe it.

I petted her head and talked to her while my mom and dad put my kitty assistant in the house (he was ready and willing to help, but unfortunately we didn’t think he’d add to the calm), and found my little sewing scissors. I handed the duck over to my dad while my mom held the sheet ends out of the way, and I snipped away, a tiny bit at a time, at the tops of the knot heads. There were two knotted areas, with multiple knots very tight against the leg. I kept the scissors pointing at an angle away from her leg, trying to avoid pinching her with them. I managed to get the line free without nicking her, and we were all very relieved. She seemed somewhat disoriented, and so we followed her at a distance to her pond, where she got back in the water with her friends.

This morning, they all came back for some cracked corn. She was determined to come, even though she is still limping. Her friends were going to go back for her, since she was trailing behind, but she limp-marched past them up the hill. She sat right next to me while she had her corn. Her foot and leg are not as swollen, and hopefully they will go back to normal soon. We’ll keep an eye on her.

So, please, if you fish, make sure you leave with everything you came with, and everyone, please take a moment when throwing out dangerous items, to dispose of them carefully. It only takes an extra minute before you throw something into the trash to wad up string/twine/fishing line/yarn/thread/ribbon/etc and tape it into a ball with some duct tape or sports tape, or put it all in a jar/prescription bottle/coffee can/etc. Cut those plastic loops that hold six packs together into little pieces, cut up plastic packaging bands, and knot the ends of the plastic bags you throw out, or cut them all the way open. Just please take a moment to think about all the suffering you can prevent by making some extra, small, conscientious gestures part of your routine. There are lots of little feet, legs, heads, and necks that get caught in those things every day. And if you see this kind of dangerous litter, please take a minute to pick it up and dispose of it properly. It only takes a moment, but you might just save a life.

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Sick Days and Ducks in the Rain

In between sketching and resting, I watched the goings-on in our backyard. This is one of the first iris of the season. I ran out and got a photo just before the rain started here. It blooms faithfully, but I cannot remember its name. I will have to look it up sometime. I took some artistic license with the color of this iris for my “Jubilee” watercolor.

“Jubilee” was one of many paintings (and other projects) that I started and finished years later. I believe I had painted the iris in the upper left, and most everything else, except for the remaining matching two iris. There was something I didn’t like about the already painted iris, like the direction the light was coming in from, and so I intensified its color so I could move the shadows. The existing dark areas became the new light areas. With watercolor, you can’t just paint over what you’ve done, and so you have to get creative when you want to change something. That’s how all the iris ended up much richer in color than my model. I thought it looked quite joyous when I was done, which is why I named it “Jubilee”.

Once the rain started, we got some visitors. We used to have geese wandering through, and I was sad when they disappeared. This year, we have ducks on the pond down the hill, and they wandered up in the pouring rain to nibble on our unmowed grass.

I got a little wet photographing them, and my zoom lens doesn’t zoom as much as I might like. Still, they are awfully cute.

Not long after the ducks showed up, a pair of rabbits came to play leap frog, or leap bunny? I didn’t manage to get a picture of them, but they were very amusing, running and leaping over each other. At one point they each anticipated a charge by the other and leapt, simultaneously, straight up in the air.

Afternoon Delight“! That’s the name of the iris. It just came to me!
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Monster Chiller Horror Mouse Toy

Black-and-white cat napping with a toy mouse

Toy mouseWe went food shopping today, and I stuck this little toy mouse for cats in the cart, thinking it was cute. This cat toy is really called “The Cat Fancier’s Association Active Cat Solo Play Cat Toy”. I guess it looks kind of real. Kind of. Sort of.

Toy mouseThat’s what I thought anyway, until I heard the cashier shrieking uncontrollably. Mind you, at the time, the stuffed toy mouse was sewn to a card, which was printed in part with the words “cat toy” on it. “Oh, I can’t touch it! I CAN’T touch it! It’s the tail! IT’S THE TAIL! AHHH!!”

She got a paper towel and tried to pick up the toy mouse. She was still shrieking.

“AHHH!! I CAN’T!!! Oh, I can’t touch it!”

The man behind us picked up the toy mouse. I tried to get around the cashier, from the other side, to scan the card myself, but she was holding onto my arm. We were all laughing at this point, even the poor cashier, but she just couldn’t get herself together. She was shaking. I finally grabbed the mouse and scanned the card. She held out a bag for me to drop it into, while trying not to look. I said, “It’s all gone now,” and apologized for traumatizing her. I hope she has recovered by now!

Black-and-white tuxedo cat with a toy mouseBack at home the Monster Chiller Horror Mouse Toy wasn’t nearly as scaaary.

If you are in the mood to make some scare-free completely un-mouse-like catnip toys, check out my catnip toy tutorial for catnip squares, cigars, and kickers with free patterns.

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Banks Miniature Horse Farm

I had the best time last weekend at Banks Miniature Horse Farm in Clayton, NC. Bill and Pam Banks allowed a group of us to come photograph their adorable miniature horses, and one very friendly miniature donkey, Dixie, who was especially envious of my straw hat.

Bill and Pam breed, sell, and show miniature horses, and have the largest miniature horse farm in this Southeastern part of the country. Their horses become pets, companions to race horses, and even seeing-eye animals. They are wonderfully gentle, curious, and sweet creatures.

There were several new foals to see, one only a few days old. Bill was telling us how a couple of the foals were playing “King of the Mountain” on a pile of soil in his barn one time, and he managed to get a picture.

Linda Vassilion took this one of Dixie the donkey, and Sunny giving me a kiss. Sunny and Dixie had a plan worked out, I think, to get that hat off my head.

Jay Massengill took this one, and the one at the top of this post, of me and Dixie and Sunny, still hoping for a straw hat. Bill wanted to cut two holes in it for ears!

Bill and Pam were not only nice enough to have us over, but they also have buses of school children, and handicapped children come for visits to the farm. The animals are very well-behaved with children and are a real treat to spend the day with. Bill and Pam are fun too!

Special thanks to Bill and Pam Banks for having us over, giving us the tour, and answering all my questions! I always have a lot! Special thanks to Jay Massengill and Linda Vassilion for allowing me to use their photos!

Please be sure to visit the Banks Miniature Horse Farm web site too!