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Posts Tagged ‘pet’

Everything is all about balance. Or so it seems when you think about all the ways the word is used in the English language.

“His life hangs in the balance.”
“We have to balance the good against the bad.”
“Don’t worry, things will balance out in the end.”
We balance the books; we get caught off balance; our government is a system of checks and balances; we should eat a balanced diet; …..to name just a few.

But to our peacock, Farina, balance is more physical than figurative.

For a quick summation, Farina escaped his coop 18 months ago, got lost for 6 months and suddenly reappeared last summer. He has become an outdoor bird, but has totally wormed his way into our hearts. We have been struggling with ways to feed him without the squirrels, crows, raccoons, and bears getting to the food first.
thieves

We were actually relieved when Farina learned to eat out of the squirrel proof bird feeder that hangs off our 2nd level deck rail. He comes morning and evening for a snack of nuts and sunflower seeds. The rest of the day he is grazing on grasses and bugs.

Farina at bird feeder

At the time of this photo he had his full 4 foot tail. Don’t be fooled by the idiom “light as a feather”. When you’re dragging around approximately two hundred 48 inch long feathers, it ain’t light. But he has learned very well to compensate for the weight of the ballast and use it to help him balance on narrow perches.

Peacocks shed all of these feathers each year right after the end of mating season. And when the molting starts, it only takes about three days for them to drop every one of those feathers. This happened over the weekend.

Tailless

Apparently, it is going to take a few days to adjust to a new center of gravity. We were entertained for an hour yesterday evening as Farina struggled to keep from falling off the rail everytime he leaned over to get a nibble. Watch his comical antics as he flairs his nubby little tail to try to keep from toppling off.

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Torn feeder tray

Between the hours of 6:00 PM, Saturday, November 16th, and 8:00 AM, Sunday, November 17th, an unknown subject approached the Twin Creeks Pea Pod and violently destroyed the outside feeding tray, savagely ripping the wire screen off the wooden frame.

It appears that the subject was in search of food and not the perpetrator of a random act of vandalism. However, the neighboring peafowl have refused to come forward with any information, leading investigators to suspect witness intimidation.

The owners of Twin Creeks Farm, when questioned, admitted to recently seeing a bear in the area. They are concerned with the safety of their free ranging peacock, Farina, whom they feed each morning and evening on the tray.

The surveillance cameras were temporarily out of service on the night in question, so there is no photographic evidence of the incident. However, on several occasions prior to the night of the crime, the cameras detected a raccoon sneaking around the area and stealing food from the tray.

No suspects have been identified at this time. The investigation is ongoing.

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In my opinion, you are never too old to enjoy a day at the county fair. A day on the midway just brings out the kid in you. All the splendid smells battle for your attention; the greasy smell of fries and funnel cakes, the cloyingly sweet smell of spun cotton candy and spiced almonds, the earthy smells wafting from the livestock barns….

But, according to my Road Warrior, the smell of burning diesel fuel is something akin to perfume.

Tractor Pull

Every year, like a rite of summer’s passing, we always go to the Shenandoah County Fair. And the highlight of the day is the tractor pull. Farmers from all across the land bring their iron work horses, many still plugging away after half a century of hard work, and compete to see who can drag a heavy weight the furthest down the track. Amidst belching smoke, spewing dust, and ear splitting unmuffler-ed engine roar, we sit in the bleachers, eating corndogs, and cheering them on. It’s loud, it’s smelly, it’s dirty, and it’s FUN.

A visit to the animal barns is my favorite part of the fair. There’s guaranteed to be a stall of baby piglets

Photo by Kent Corley

Photo by Kent Corley

And some snuggly baby goats

snuggley goats

Then for a tour around the midway, we toss all dietary concerns to the wind, and sample our way through the mélange of greasy foods.

I learned last year that there is an age at which one must gracefully withdraw from the stomach churning, gravity defying carnival rides, but I did enjoy a spin on the broncing bull.

photo by Kent Corley

photo by Kent Corley

And we tried our hands at a couple of the midway games. Some games you just know that the odds of winning are astronomical, but there is one game where there is a guaranteed winner every time. This is the one where you aim a water pistol at a target and the first person to get their horse to the finish line first wins. I WON. First time. So I got my pick of prizes. I chose the giant snake for Bayley.

Here she is wrestling the enormous boa constrictor, fighting to the death

Snake wrestling

But apparently they worked it all out. I think they are even French kissing

kissing snake

All in all, it was a FAIRLY good day.

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soup

Ever just have the TV on for background noise? Our TV is on anytime one of us is in the house, but we rarely actually sit down to watch anything. Such was the case last week when my attention was captured by a chef showing us how to make gazpacho. So what’s so exciting about that? Gazpacho is gazpacho. But there, my friend, you are wrong. This was Watermelon Gazpacho, and it was weird enough that I stopped what I was doing to watch him toss the garden into a blender.

I was in the market for a new and refreshing lunch recipe, as a good friend of mine was coming over to give me a hand with doggie hygiene…..dental hygiene…..for dogs……

My friend is a retired dental hygienist (for people) who has been scaling her own dogs’ teeth for years. She offered to drive an hour and a half out to the farm to clean my two dogs’ choppers. She does this without anesthesia. Mayzie, the bearded collie, behaved like an angel. But I didn’t expect anything less of her. She is a perfect lady. Bayley, the year and an half golden doodle, on the other hand, wasn’t quite so easy. But with Bayley on her side, and me laying fully stretched out on top of her, we were able to keep her still enough to finish the job. Both dogs were over and done with in less than half an hour and it saved me at least $600 over having the vet do it.

Bayley and Mayzie

So the least I could do was to make lunch. I served the Watermelon Gazpacho and Cucumber Tea Sandwiches. And the soup was DELICIOUS!

I checked out a dozen or more recipes online and combined bits and pieces of several recipes to come up with my own signature dish. I’m going to show you how I made it. It’s super easy.

Ingredients
2 pounds ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and cut into wedges
1 medium bell pepper, seeded and chunked
1 English cucumber (about 1 pound) peeled, seeded and chunked
4 stalks of parsley
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
Extra basil leaves for garnish
3 cups of watermelon, cubed (I used a small, round, seedless melon)
2 peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced
2 TBSP apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt and dash of pepper
Feta cheese for garnish

You can use a food processor, or a heavy duty blender. I used my Vitamix that we bought at a state fair back in the 80’s. It’s a work of art, don’t you think?

vitamix

First, assemble all of your ingredients. Remember, there is no substitute for the freshest and ripest veggies and fruits.

ingredients

Peel and seed the tomatoes. No cutting corners here. Peeling and seeding is not an option.

tomatoes

tomatoes

Peel and seed the cucumber. I like to use the long English cukes, because the seeds are really tiny. But particularly if you are using a regular cucumber, you need to remove the seeds. It’s easy. Just quarter the cucumber lengthwise, and cut the ridge off along with the seeds.

cucumber

Chop the rest of the ingredients and set aside.

chopped ingredients

melon

Throw the tomatoes, bell pepper, cucumber, garlic, basil and parsley into the blender and blend until smooth.

in blender

Continue to blend and add the peaches.

Now toss in the watermelon. You have a choice here. Do you want it slightly chunky, or smooth? I wanted a little texture of the watermelon, so I only pulsed the machine a few times.

Then I stirred in the vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper so as not to further mash the watermelon. Check it for seasoning according to your taste.

Place the soup in the fridge for at least 3 hours until it is chilled.

One of the recipes I found suggested sprinkling Feta cheese on top. Initially I was a little conflicted about the addition of the Feta, but I had some on hand, so I did a taste test with and without, and “with” won hands down. If fact, it totally “made” the soup.

soup

So take my word for it and give it a try. Just be sure to crumble the cheese up really fine and just sprinkle on a light dusting.

This is a recipe that begs for summer fresh ingredients, so try it now and enjoy before the season ends.

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Imagine my glee when I looked out the window this morning and caught Farina snoozing…

peacock sawing logs

snorking peacock

waking peacock

peeping peacock

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For those of you that have been following the story of my vagabond peacock, you know that one of my males, Farina, flew the coop in January, was given up for dead, replaced with a peahen, Darla, and then miraculously returned after a 6 month winter wonderland adventure.

But this story is not about Farina, but about a wooden egg that I placed in a nest box that we fashioned for Darla.

Darla and Buckwheat

She is our first peahen and we were told by the breeder, that she would not be a year old until this summer, and it was rare that one year olds produced any eggs. But we wanted to be prepared just in case.

So we made this nest box and placed it in the corner of the ‘pea pod’ where we had seen her resting. And to give her a clue that this was her nest, I placed a wooden egg in it.

nest box

She liked the box, and snuggled up in it all winter. Every day that I would go in the ‘pea pod’ I would see the wooden egg right where I had put it. Last week, I glanced at the box, and the egg was not there. I thought to myself that it had probably gotten buried in the straw, and I would look for it later.

When I started to clean the aviary, I noticed the egg was under the perch.

egg under perch

That really threw me for a loop. How it the world did it get there. The peas couldn’t pick it up in their beaks. I didn’t think a mouse could get it out of the nest box and roll it outside. Road Warrior thought that one of the birds had kicked it out of the nest. But to what purpose? Is Darla like the “Princess and the Pea”, (no pun intended) and is too sensitive to sleep with a hard lump in her bed?

I was in a hurry, so I left the wooden egg where it lay under the perch. Then yesterday, I noticed that the egg had been moved yet again. It was now all the way on the other side of the aviary in a corner. What the heck. Are they in there playing soccer?

corner

I proceeded to clean under the perches, and lo and behold, there is the egg right where I saw it last week, and in the corner……another just like it!! Mystery solved. Darla had laid two eggs. She obviously wasn’t interested in sitting on them, and we’re not interested in hatching any little peachicks, so I collected the two eggs for examination.

They are not as big as I expected. The white ones on the left are the 2 pea eggs, and the brown one came from one of our chickens.

egg comparison

The big difference is in the size of the yolk.

Yolk comparison

I scrambled them up and fed them to the dogs with their dinner. Two paws up from the pups!!

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Our peacock, Farina, miraculously returned home after being on the lam for 6 months and given up for dead. He had spent the first 3 years of his life safely ensconced in the aviary with his brother, Buckwheat, and was pampered with daily treats, a sunny perch for basking in the summer, and a heated house for snuggling in the winter.

2009 Peacock Christmas Card

Farina went missing early in January, after I foolishly opened the peahouse door to show him off to some friends. He got spooked, and flew the coop, so to speak. He flew up to the roof of the barn where he spent the night. By morning, he was gone, never to be seen again.

Farina on cupola

Winters here in northern Virginia can be harsh. This wasn’t the worst winter we’ve experienced, but there were weeks of below freezing temps, and many days of cold rain, sleet and snow, not to mention the days we had wind storms with gusts up to 60 mph. What was he going to find to eat with snow all over the ground? And all variety of predators, from the 4 legged variety: foxes, bobcats, and bears; to the sky borne great horned owls and red tail hawks that can grab a peacock in his sleep, high on his arboreal perch.

After 2 months, and no sign of Farina, we decided to get a companion for our remaining peacock, Buckwheat. We thought he might be happier with a girlfriend, so we brought home a young hen, whom we named Darla. It was love at first sight.

Buckwheat and Darla

How could we have been more surprised when we saw Farina back at the ‘Pea Pod’ last week? He looks great. And he has a beautiful full tail. I might have thought it would look a bit rag tagly after being drug though the underbrush for months. But he has apparently eaten well. I wish I knew where all he’d been.

Farina-on-fence

But the funny thing is, he has taken up with the llamas. The paddock behind the barn is just across the drive from the aviary, so he can be close to the other peas, and socialize at the same time with his new llama buddies. Almost any time of the day, he will be seen sitting on the fence rail next to the barn, or down in the paddock with the llamas, strutting his stuff and showing off his tail.

displaying-for-llamas

The llamas were a bit curious to see him at first, but now they just walk around him to get to their hay nibbles.

Llamas ignore peacock

We hope that he decides to stay here permanently. Maybe having the girl close by in the pen will give him incentive to stick around. At least, we know that he is a survivalist if he does get the wanderlust again.
Farina and Pea Pod

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