Thursday, October 27, 2011

Hole in the ground.......

.........and the green grass grew all around and around..........and the green grass grew all around!  This is one of the children's songs that the "Little Terrorists" play while dancing around the toy room. Unfortunately it also describes a recent problem that I am battling in my orchid house.

With the coming of fall some clever creature has discovered the warmth within.  The first sign that something was amiss was some succulent starts that I mixed cottonseed meal into the potting mix, evidently it is also a tasty treat for what is tunneling its way in.  I went to the greenhouse to water in the morning and found over half the succulent starts dug out and laying on the potting bench.  I re potted and looked around and discovered its entrance.  I scooped all the soil up and filled the hole back in tamping the soil down hard both inside the greenhouse as well as outside.  This has been going on for about four days and each day the hole gets dug out again.
Large enough hole that cool air just billows through
The locking bait box to the right evidently has to narrow of entrance and the small live trap is found sprung but no occupant.
No.... the little round red thing is not a land mine, its just a weight that I had on the top of the useless box trap......but that might be an idea.
These last three pictures are what greeted me yesterday morning after I thought I had filled it in for the last time and placing brick on the outside.  This time I removed the debris and filled everything in with rock.  Upon my entrance this morning there was no sign of debris, everything as I had left it......I'm not holding my breath! 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Salted Fish

Many creatures have been a part of life at Menagerie Manor.  Some stay until health has been restored, whilst others become a permanent part of the menagerie that has given our home its name.  We have become very adept at recognizing potential health issues that either we can take care of ourselves or seek professional help before it gets out of hand.  Unfortunately sometimes even a professional can't work a miracle, thus is the case of Koki.  Twenty one years ago we were at our local pond shop to purchase food for our then small collection of goldfish and two little koi fish that we had in our small backyard pond when I saw that the shop was running a special on the three inch koi for $3.00.  I bought an orange and black and MeMa picked out a lovely multi-colored one.

Koki, notice her sleek body shape
Our little backyard pond was soon enlarged as the fish grew and we added to our collection.  MeMa's little koi which we named Koki (Glitter in Japanese) soon became larger then the rest, both never missing a meal and the fact that she was a hen.  Every year after about age ten she would become loaded with eggs but after spawning the hungry koi would follow along and eat them before any could hatch, which was probably a good thing as nine large koi was over exceeding the pond population anyway.  This last summer Koki became what looked to us as being ready to spawn again, her appetite and activity were excellent, but then we realized she was still getting bigger around and no spawning.  I started to lessen the amount of food to see if that would make a difference in her girth and at times it seemed to be working but then this last month she was showing signs of a little distress in swimming to lower depths.
These two shots show the now bloated Koki still swimming about and always hungry
These last two pictures I emailed to the Northwest Koi Club for their resident health expert to look at and hopefully give us an idea of how to help her.  I was so grateful of her quick response to my email and even more surprised that she asked to come out to Menagerie Manor and lend her assistance. Saturday morning I busied myself with chores in the garden until her arrival.  Linda came loaded with gear and a treatment box ready for action.

Linda laid out all her gear on the lawn in front of the pond area

because of her buoyancy she was an easy catch
While I held the large net Linda moved Koki into this plastic sleeve type net so as to protect her scales from getting damaged.
She was then slid into a small container with just enough water to keep her unharmed but allow Linda to examine her.
After closely examining her it was found that she was not egg bound but was unfortunately showing possible signs of gradual kidney failure. Linda treated her with antibiotics and then released her back into the pond, where the other fish followed her around and then swirled all around her as if protecting her from being hoisted back out of the pond.  After five minutes of this activity they all swam to the deep end of the far pond.  Linda told me to add forty pounds of pond salt daily for the next three days, then after 21 days  start doing water changes in order to reduce the salt content in the pond.  Except for reimbursing her for the medicated food all this help was volunteered and when I asked if I could pay her for her long drive and hours spent she refused saying she was just happy to help.  We are very saddened at the thoughts of eventually losing Koki to kidney disease, but Linda assured us that our little family of koi are very healthy and that Koki's illness was most likely not environmental.  She also said we should be very proud of the age of our fish.  So the work has started, tonight is the last addition of salt and I have been feeding them a steady diet of the medicated feed.  With my fingers crossed and some prayer I'm hoping to see some improvement in Koki.  Linda could not be completely positive in her diagnosis, so this treatment schedule could possibly give us a cure for Koki.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Birthday Wishes And Lemonade

There are times when life rolls us a lemon, we usually manage to make lemonade as the saying goes. Several weeks ago we were given the sad news that our oldest son Nathan and his wife have separated and and asked to move back home to Menagerie Manor.  Separation and divorce are never a fun event especially when there is a child involved.  Thankfully the Little Terrorist #2 is only three years old and does not realize what is going on yet.  But my grandchildren are geniuses and I would imagine he knows more then we give him credit for.  For some time now, our good friend Andrea who is going through a divorce has been living with us and was staying in the guest room upstairs which just happened to be Nathan's old room.  So with some moving around Andrea is now in the guest room on the main floor and Nathan is back in his childhood room.  All this chaos came right when we were ramping up for MeMa's big birthday get-a-way.  Our other daughter-in-law Jill suggested that we rent a beach house large enough to handle the entire family + dogs of course.  So last Friday we all landed in Lincoln City, five adults, two excited Little Terrorists and four barking dogs.  The house we rented was very nice, old but nice and it was built on a bluff right above the beach with easy access to the beach.
The whole beach side of the home was glass from floor to ceiling.
Whilst our two son's went into town for some brother time, the rest of the tribe headed for the beach. There is nothing like marital troubles to turn a normally cheerful young man into a hard to deal with cloud of gloom.  So when the younger son volunteered to drive his brother into town we thought the moodiness would didn't!
From left - Little Terrorist #2 Brooklyn, Boston Terrier Popeye, Little Terrorist #1 Taeya, DL Jill, Chihuahua Ninja, Dachshund Sophie, MeMa, Corgi Miss Betty

Our first morning jaunt to the sand was a little cool but it was perfect weather for sand castle construction.  About an hour on the beach the sun warmed us up in no time, so jackets came off and the Little Terrorists were in the water in no time.

Brooklyn gathering equipment for some heavy construction

A damn was soon built giving Miss Betty ample supply of fresh drinking water from the fresh water inlet.

Nothing like a good old splash in the waves

Little Ninja soon tired of the cold and spent the rest of the outing as my papoose

Sand and fresh air calls for a fare amount of naps in the sunshine

Sunday afternoon everyone left for Portland leaving an exhausted MeMa  and myself with an extra day and a half to ourselves.
Before they all headed back to Portland we treated everyone to a hearty lunch at "Mo's".  So with bellies full the back seat was soon fast asleep.

Monday morning stroll on the beach

We could not have asked for better weather and gorgeous sunsets

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Future Farmer at The Manor

As a father, gardener and animal enthusiast I always thought at least one of my son's would follow in their old dads footsteps, but alas early on they showed no tendency's in horticultural pursuits. Then the other day I was asked to watch the Little Terrorist #2 for the evening. The first thing three year old Brooklyn asked when we were alone was "what we goin to do Poppi"? Menagerie Manor pretty much runs on a schedule, not just because of its high maintenance gardens but because of all the creatures that gave it the name. So the two of us headed out into the garden, dogs running ahead of us chasing up imaginary unwelcome beasts. Brooklyn loves to feed the Koi so that was the first stop as it takes a bit of patience, this job.

I find a seat on the bench as his lordship steps out on the feeding rock and tosses one pellet at a time all the while the nine big Koi are madly dashing about trying to get that one pellet. Its a bit of a tease for they are used to me stepping up and tossing a large handful at a time. That job done then we feed the budgies in the aviary, we drop in some food in the turtle arena.... not really feeding frenzy there, give handfuls of cracked corn to MeMa's ladies

as a diversion giving us enough time to quietly remove the eggs from the hen house, then as we step back out Brooklyn spies all the brightly colored tomato's in the kitchen garden and asks if he could pick some. I grabbed a pail out of the garden house and the first bunch we came too were the Japanese Black Trifle. I explained that he was to only pick the dark red ones and the same with the Early Girls. Lastly we had the Sun Gold Cherries which confused him at first because there were no red ones! I let him do all the picking as I held the bins.

Number one tomato picker, Brooklyn Danhart Chambers.
For just three years of age he is showing a lot of promise as my future farmer, way to go Brooklyn! This weekend MeMa canned dill pickles, stewed tomato's and my favorite Brochette.
Just before she popped it into the oven, sliced cherry and Roma's, sliced onion and fresh basil from the greenhouse. salt and pepper to taste and olive oil.....yummmm!