Archive for Pets


When I  moved to the states in ’92 I took my parrot, a Chattering Lory named Bob with me. He endured quarantine in Miami Florida and was in one of the few buildings that didn’t get blown away by Hurricane Andrew.  Bob was about 5 years old when he died suddenly of what turned out to be a genetic heart defect. I was absolutely gutted.

What made Bobs death worse was the silence that he left behind. No longer did we walk in the door greeted with an excited ‘HELLOOOO’ from his perch in the corner. No longer did we laugh at the little cheers and dances accompanied with his high pitched voice shouting ‘YAAAYY COME ON! DANCE’ when we played music.

We wanted another parrot – so we bought a baby Blue & Gold Macaw and brought him home young enough that we needed to hand feed him baby food with a syringe. Because of this early hand raising Sammy grew to be very cuddly and affectionate. We’d spend afternoons laying on the couch watching tv and taking naps – he’d actually lay next to me and go to sleep. I could kiss his face and he’d fluff up all cutesy with the attention. He was definitely a mums boy!

When Cameron was born the centre of attention changed and Sammy couldn’t bear it. He was insanely jealous any time that baby was near me and he’d scream in protest. Eventually it got to the point where he wouldn’t stop screaming unless he was perched on my shoulder and so I ended up rehoming him with my ex.

Today he’s about 15 years old and I was able to go and visit him. I took some nuts and within a short amount of time he was perched on my hand cracking open Brazil nuts as if they were housed in egg shells. He seemed fairly comfortable around me. There’s no way to really tell but it seemed as though he might have remembered me after all these years..


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Goodbye Nana, Hello Peggy…

With my newly singled chicken left to roam on her ownsome I enlisted the help of a friend to house sit for me while I was away. I didn’t like leaving Susan the Chicken on her own but had little choice in the matter. The flights were booked and adding another chicken at this stage could have just upset the balance even more than it’d already been upset.

First I flew to Dallas, Texas to spend time with my sister. We spent the first evening dressed in Poodle skirts helping her mum in her groups ‘Songs of the 50’s’ show. The hall was packed with 800+ people who were very excited to see the group perform and rightly so – it was a fantastic evening. We finished up with a late dinner in ‘Waffle Shop’ in Longview, TX and then stopped on the way home for a look in ‘Graham’s Central Station’ night club. I have to say going from wearing a poodle skirt at a sock hop, to having waffles for dinner and ending up watching cowboys and black guys line dance together was probably the furthest from my expectations of the day but I highly recommend it.

The following day we made the 8 hour drive to Arkansas to visit our dad. We stayed in a hotel akin to ‘The Overlook’ hotel from the movie ‘The Shining’. In its day I imagine the Ramada in Mountain View to be a very smart modern joint to stay in. However, these days the large, long dimly lit burgundy carpeted hallways give way to an air of creepiness in which you can imagine coming to an abrupt halt in the middle of the night when a set of partially opaque twin girls float inches above the floor between you and the ice machine.  The indoor swimming pool sat sparkling under the incandescent lights, luxuriously carpeted to the edges and with white plastic deck chairs a plenty as though waiting for a party that no one turned up for. It was like holiday season came and went but everyone forgot this place.

On the last evening of our stay my sister randomly decided to get another tattoo. There was a place across the street so we walked over to have a browse, found a tattoo she liked and ran with it. It was such a pretty tattoo and I hope she remembers it along with the great fun we had on that trip.

Just like good times roll along, they soon disappear and by that weekend I’d received news that my dear Nana, ‘Peggy’ whom had been resident in a care home in the UK for the past year living with Alzheimer’s, had become ill.

I use the term ‘living with’ rather than ‘suffering from’ because Nana never really did ‘suffer’ from illness. She went through skin cancer and lived, bowel cancer and lived and then she became a liability to herself living alone in her own house.  So my mum moved Nana in with her for about a year before Nana’s mobility became too bad to be able to move around my mums little Victorian house with all it’s quirky floorboards and steps. The only downstairs toilet was the original outdoor loo and in the winter it was really too much to drag a wobbly 80 year old lady out to.

After a year mum found Nana a place in a small unit within a care home with 5 other ladies living like housemates but all with varying degrees of dementia. Right up until I’d gone on holiday Nana had been doing fine. She only recognised the people close to her, the ones who regularly visited – me, my mum, my son, my partner, my brother and my friend Neil. She’d beam when I walked in the room and although she wasn’t entirely sure of the relationship between herself, my mum and me she knew who we were and even on my last visit referred to me as ‘Glamour Girl’, something she’d called me as from as young as I have memories.

Mum’s message stated that she’d stopped eating and had taken to bed but seemed quite comfortable.

The next day the message was that the last response anyone got out of her was when they showed her a photo of my son as a baby and she smiled. She always loved that photo.

The 3rd day the doctor had been in and said she didn’t have long.

I had the horrid decision to make of whether to fly back to be with her or not. After careful consideration I decided against it and I made this decision, to quote another blogger – because I’m ‘selfish and honest’.

My mind also works in pictures and smells. I didn’t want to replace the image of that last visit I had with Nana where she’d been sat in her chair next to the window laughing and making fun of my mum, drinking tea and nibbling a biscuit. And the smell of her powdery face as I gave her a kiss goodbye and she smiled and waved at me – I didn’t want to replace that with a vision of her withering away, unresponsive in bed and possibly the haunting sounds of her last breath because it’s not something I would have ever forgotten. And that is also the reason I chose not to attend her funeral today. She would have understood.

Nana passed away the night of my mums 3rd message, peacefully and without pain. She went to sleep and never woke up and I couldn’t have wished anything better for her.

Some other members of my family decided not to attend the funeral for their own reasons and in light of this we had a dinner together.  I booked the table for 8 people at a local restaurant but on the night one person was unable to attend.  The waitress pointed us to our table in the corner of the old oak beamed pub. On one side there was a wooden church style bench and on the other 4 wooden chairs with cushions on the seats. Three chairs were identical but the fourth at the end which no one sat in was a large prominent wooden chair with tall spindles at the back and a wide flat wooden arm rest on either side. It was like a head of the table chair and it remained empty which I thought was befitting of the occasion and decided perhaps Nana had joined us and was sat in that chair.

Jumping back a couple of weeks – I arrived back from the states after spending that week with my sister and another week in the town where I used to live – Aiken, SC. I’d spent that last week catching up with friends and shopping but the latter part of it was dampened by the news of my Nana’s passing. Before I’d gone to the states I’d arranged a  week of holiday in Scotland with Wil since Cam would still be in the states for another few weeks. I arrived back, spent one night at home and then set off for Scotland the next day with Wil.  We had a brilliant time and unlike other times we’ve mountain biked in the highlands, managed to come home intact.

On the last few days I had before returning to work I focussed my attention to the chicken issue. Susan was still wandering around the garden on her lonesome although she seemed less freaked out by this as the last 3 weeks of eating, sleeping and shitting on her own had toughened her up somewhat. I paid a visit to the poultry farmer and chose a Speckledy Hen.  Apparently renown for being good egg layers and good pets, this one was about 4 months old and nearly at point of lay (meaning she hasn’t yet laid her first egg but it won’t be long!) As expected introducing her to Susan was not without some trouble. Susan spent no time at all kicking the new girls ass, pulling beakfuls of feathers and generally cornering her in order to peck the crap out of her head. I monitored this all very closely and before the new girl came to any real stress or harm I split them up and just allowed them to be near each other with some wire fencing in between. It’s a process that chickens need to have to establish the pecking order but I ensured it happened as painlessly as possible for all involved. Including my soft self!

It took about 4 days and suddenly everything was peachy, the girls bonded and began roaming the garden together in harmony.  Susan seems to have stepped up to boss lady status and the new girl ‘Peggy’ just trails her around reacting to subtle chicken notions from Susan that keep her in line with no fuss or feathers spared.

Photos from the USA and Scotland trips can be found here:

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The Sad Loss Of Wendy

Looking for food

At the end of last month I lost Wendy (one of my two chickens) to egg binding. Sadly I didn’t recognise the warning signs. Infact they weren’t very apparent until I was picking my brain later on as to why we’d discovered what was otherwise a very lively vibrant hen suddenly dead on the floor of the coop. The evening before I’d closed the door behind Wendy and Susan as they took themselves off to bed, checked their food and water and knew the next morning they were ok. That afternoon Cameron was unfortunate to make the horrid discovery of Wendy laying out flat on the coop floor and Susan, her bezzie housemate sat worriedly beside her.

Susan and I were both miserable wrecks for a couple of days. While I burst into tears every so often at the sight of Susan wandering around the garden on her own, Susan would repeatedly run nervously back to the coop to check to see if Wendy was there yet. To make matters worse the dry hot spell of weather we were having had made the ground so hard that even my angriest efforts with a pickaxe made it impossible to dig a proper hole to bury her in.

The icing on the cake was this happened a few days before I was due to set off to the states for 2 weeks and then Scotland after that. Not really long enough for me to introduce another hen with Susan.

It was a worry but we both managed to get past it and Susan seems quite confident although very lonely wandering around the garden without company. It helped that I had a good house sitter here spoiling her while I was away. Today however I intend to pay a visit to the poultry farmer and see if I can’t find another suitable housemate.

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The girls are on Facebook and they have one mission in mind. To become the most popular birds on the net.

Go ahead, Friend them and make your Friends friend them.

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Which Came First – The Egg Or The Screaming?

Regular size chicken egg on the right and Susans whopper on the left!

Regular size chicken egg on the right and Susans whopper on the left!

Susan and Wendy both laid their eggs today as usual – one each placed next to eachother in the nest box. I was at work when Cameron called me squealing ‘you won’t believe the size of the egg one of them laid!’.

He was right – my eyes nearly fell out of their sockets and broke a couple of eggs in the basket when I checked out the infeasibly large egg.

I called Wil exclaiming ‘You won’t believe the size of the egg Susan laid today’ – ‘Is it a double yoker?’ came the response. I said I thought it must be a triple yoker because it was that big.

After Wil had been home for a few minutes I prompted him to look in the egg basket. He picked up the massive egg and held it up to examine it.

‘Man alive’ he laughed… ‘When did we get the Ostrich?.. I bet that bloody well touched the sides on the way out’

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

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The Vandals

Looking for food

Looking for food

Cameras are NOT food

Cameras are NOT food

The girls are doing well.

– At wrecking the garden

– Leaving copious amounts of crap EVERYWHERE

– Eating anything that moves

– And laying eggs.

The last in that list makes up for it all. Susan has become a regular double yoke egg layer and they both provide an egg each, every day. They are fed on an all organic and Vegetarian Society approved diet (apart from the slugs and beetles they probably find) and their egg yokes are bright orange. I’d neither seen double yokes or yokes that colour before having my own chickens.

Very satisfying stuff!

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Carpet And Chickens

Wil’s Mum is selling her house and in the last couple of months she’s had a particular couple interested in it. They originally turned up to look around and brought their kids with them. Kids, Mum says, that were neither polite nor respectful of her home and belongings. She called Wil shortly after these people had left and gave him a long irate run down about how the kids had run around the rooms dragging their hands down the walls and their shoes on the carpets. Apparently they’d opened cupboard doors, walked in and about rooms eyeing up everything with a tape measure and really made themselves ‘intrusive’. Wil’s mum was incredulous but the best was yet to come when apparently the AWFUL MAN asked if she would be leaving the carpets, curtains or any white goods.

NO of course she wasn’t leaving anything behind, least of all those 30 year old velvet curtains with the sun faded edges or the Miele Dishwasher that took her 6 months to choose and deliberate over before it’s purchase. And definately, most DEFINATELY not her carpets. Those carpets that have only been privvy to the lightest sock covered footsteps and have never seen the sole of a shoe. The carpets that are so precious, no one has actually ever seen them since their lifetime has been covered by little bits of remnant carpet intrinsically placed in high wearing areas such as doorways, near the phone and the first few stairs to protect them from normal daily use. Something that Wil and I struggle to get our heads around because why be so concerned about the condition of something thats covered up for no one to see all the time anyway?

So she was gobsmacked, shocked, horrored and offended that the chap interested in her house was trying to agree some sort of deal to take her acres of 100% quality woven wool pile, rubber backed, dust, flesh and hair harbouring floor covering off her hands. Much the same way we were shocked and horrored but for slightly different reasons than she. To tell you how horrified she was about the ordeal, she lost sleep over it. She then wherreted on another 4 or 5 separate occasions about this man, this AWFUL MAN who bid her on her beloved carpets and white goods. She sat here in our living room like a mugging victim clutching a tissue and fighting back the tears about that awful day THAT DREADFUL, HEARTLESS, SPINELESS CREATURE OF A MAN BURST INTO HER HOME, PEELING COILS  OF WALLPAPER OFF THE WALLS  WITH HIS FINGERNAILS AS HE STOMPED DOWN THE CARPET OF THE HALLWAY WITH HIS MUD COVERED DOC MARTENS ON. Each time she told the story her face grew paler, her eyes wider and her eyebrows higher, just like Deadre Barlows on Corrie when Ken walks out upon learning she’s had another affair.

At the weekend we had to drag our sickly selves out of the house in aid of another poorly soul. One of our chickens, Wendy, had developed some sort of nasty sounding snotty sneezy cough. Each day it became worse and when I put her away on Friday night she was very wheezy in the quiet nest box of the henhouse. By Saturday morning Susan had started it too so it was clearly a spreading infection.

We took Wendy to the vet in a woven IKEA storgage container from which she made reassuring little clucks along the way. Once inside the vets room she was lifted out of the basket and placed on the table where she proceeded to get man handled by the vet. First her eyes, nose and beak were checked with a light. Then her wings, tail, backside and legs were all checked. Wendy was turned this way and that by the vet who handled her with a no fuss attitude, even when Wendy squarked and flapped in a bid to get away the vet simply placed a hand on each side of her and slid her back across the table.

Then she picked her up and before Wendy knew what was going on the vet plunged a needle full of antibiotics straight into her chest.

And if there was ever a comparison I could draw to describe the look on that chickens face it would be to turn to Wil’s mum and say

‘I’ve just shit…….

……..on your carpet’

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