Springtime in our garden

Here’s an early spring assortment of flowers and other creatures from our garden. I’ll have more in the coming weeks, as our fruit trees begin to bloom.

In the garden in May

Here are some glimpses from our garden back in May.

Sasha sleeps under my desk

When she was a kitten, Sasha would come in after a full day of playing outside and fall asleep at my feet, right on (or curled around) the power bricks for my computer equipment. She was and still is so adorable. Enjoy this short video clip of her during one of her frequent visits to Dreamland.

Bonus: a video clip featuring an Indian male peafowl (a peacock) strutting his amazing tail feathers for us.

Enjoy!

Zumi suckles from Tessa

We were overjoyed to see this going on in the yard today.

That little furball suckling from our dog is Zumi Zoom-Zoom, our newly adopted kitten. The dog is of course Tessa, our ciobanesc mioritic breed, sporting her summer look. She normally looks like this.

With summer temperatures rising into the mid and upper 30s (Celsius), we didn’t want to cook her under that thick winter fur, so we gave her a haircut.

Of course, Zumi’s suckling empty teats. Tessa isn’t pregnant, nor do we have any plans to let her get pregnant until she’s over 2 years old. (She’s just about nine months now.) But the two of them have been getting along pretty nicely so far, in the short time that Zumi’s been with us. It took a week or so for Zumi to get used to the big, white, drooling monster who ran to greet her whenever she ventured into the yard, but they’ve warmed up nicely to each other. And I’m glad to see Tessa provide Zumi with a bit of comfort, while getting in a bit of practice for motherhood.

The cat house – part 9

More than two years after publishing parts 1-8, here’s the final installment in this series, which recaps the features of the cat house I’ve designed and built and describes some improvements that I’ve made to my original design, after testing it through two winters.

We now have four cats (Sasha, Zuzu, Tira and Bubu), as opposed to the original two kittens (Mitzi and Trixie) which you saw in the other videos. Mitzi and Trixie now live with my grandmother in Maramures.

So, what improvements have I made?

  • Installed shingles on the roof
  • Built an upper level so the cats can really stretch out while they’re inside
  • Re-did the wall through which the cats enter the house
  • Drilled some aeration holes in the walls
  • Removed a pet door which I’d installed at the entrance, for the same reason I drilled the aeration holes, which is to introduce enough air flow in the house and eliminate the moisture that used to gather on the inside walls
  • Built an add-on lobby which creates an ante-room on the porch and becomes useful during cold weather

Hope you enjoy this final video and it inspires you to build a nice cat house or dog house for your pets!

Here are the other eight videos in the series:

Sick Chickens

I made a short video last year, which I wasn’t sure I should post publicly, because it contains disturbing imagery. However, I finally convinced myself I should, simply because I want you, dear reader, to be able to make informed decisions when you go shopping for food.

The video you’re about to see shows the guts of farm-grown chickens. These are from an independent farm where they grow in crates, as they do in most farms these days. They’re not free range, and they’re certainly not organic. The name of the farm doesn’t matter. What matters is that these chickens weren’t treated as badly as those in true factory farms, and yet their insides tell a dark story about the way we, as humans, treat our food.

Their internal organs are pretty much destroyed, at around 6-7 months of age. They’re large, heavy, hard, tumor-laden, distended, they’re retaining huge amounts of water — they look as if they’ve been eating the most unhealthy crap there is — and they have. All of that chicken feed they get as food makes them look like this, coupled with the lack of movement, the drugs, the stress of living in crates, in the stench of thousands of others like them, unable to roam, forage for food, smell the clean, fresh air of unpolluted nature.

These chickens (and others in much worse condition) are what you find when you go to the supermarket. Sure, you don’t find their guts for sale. You find their meat, which looks decent enough, especially after it’s been pumped full of water, nitrates, MSG and colorants. But their guts find their way into pet food. They’re what you feed your pets.

Please, think about all this the next time you’re buying chicken (or other meat) at the supermarket. I’m not trying to convince you to stop eating meat — that’s your decision to make — I’m just trying to help you make better decisions when it comes to food.

Look for free-range chickens, for organic chickens, buy from local farms where you can see them roaming the land, scratching the earth for worms, not from factory farms.

Or you could try not eating meat. We don’t. We’re raw foodists. But as I said before, I’m not trying to force our lifestyle on you. You are free to choose what you do. Just be aware of the consequences.

Bubu and Tira Playfight

Each day, as we work, one of our cats decides it’s time for a little playfight with one of the others (or with my pants or shoelaces). This video presents Bubu and Tira, our lovely adopted siblings, playfighting. This time Tira initiated the activities — it’s usually Bubu who does it. Tira is the grey kitten and Bubu is the large brown one.

Enjoy, and I hope it relaxes you as much as it relaxes us!

Meet Tira

Merry Christmas! We’re spending a quiet Christmas day at home, relaxing with old movies and old cartoons…

Here’s a quiet little video of our grey kitten, Tira.

We adopted her along with her brother, Bubu. Tira’s a lovely cat. She loves being around us. Wherever we go or sit in the house, we have to be careful, because Tira will inevitably fall asleep somewhere near our feet. She loves attention and once you begin to pet her, she’ll cling to you like sticky tape, asking for more. You can’t see it in this video, but she’s a fairly small kitten. Her brother’s huge, but she’s short and soft and very, very cuddly.

You can also see Tira and Bubu playing with Fritz, our grey bunny, who has since gone to a better place

Sasha’s gorgeous, dramatic eyes

Sasha is one of our adopted cats (she’s still a kitten, not yet mature). And she’s got these gorgeous yellow eyes. She’s incredibly expressive, all the time, and unlike our other cats, she loves to look into our eyes, for long periods of time. We adopted her when she was just a tiny bundle of fur (here’s what she looked like back then).

I recorded this video as she rested one day, while Ligia played with another of our cats (I think it was Zuzu). I loved how her eyes dilated and contracted based on what she was thinking as she watched the game. I hope you’ll enjoy it as well! I edited it so it’s dramatic — after all, Sasha is always dramatic. When she’s thirsty, it’s as if there’s been a year-long drought and she’s about to die. When she’s hungry, it’s as if she hasn’t eaten in a week. She loves to play it up. That’s our Sasha.

Meet Costache

This bright-eyed pup showed up on my grandmother’s doorstep in Maramures this past Sunday morning. Although happy to get my attention, he was clearly suffering: he looked as if he hadn’t had a decent meal in weeks, as his ribs were showing through the fur, and he was full of fleas. He had the outline of a collar around his neck, so from the looks of things, he’d escaped from a situation where he was abused. (The photos you see here were taken a couple of days after he’d been in our care, so they don’t show his initial state. The collar you see in these photos is a new one we bought him.)

I fed him and he practically vacuumed up anything I gave him. I started to pet him, and he had no idea how to voice happiness. He would begin screeching and yowling as if he was in pain, yet his face clearly showed he was happy. This was a dog that had been ignored, beaten and malnourished. That’s when I decided we’d keep him. He was happy to stay. After his meal, he fell asleep next to the house, in the sun.

Throughout that day and the next, he ate enormous amounts of food and he began to look better. At night, he slept on our doorstep. Although he could leave whenever he wanted, he stayed. (We don’t like to tie up our dogs.) The third evening, he disappeared, and he showed up the next morning a little bloody. Then, later that day, he disappeared again for a few hours. That’s when we decided to make inquiries. It was clear to us that he belonged to somebody and he still had ties to that place, in spite of the abuse and lack of food.

It didn’t take long to find the house of his former master; everyone knows each other in my grandmother’s village. Let’s just say that it wasn’t the kind of arrangement one would want, so I made the owner an offer: I told him we love the dog and we’d like to adopt him, and I’ll either pay for the dog or I’ll find him another. Happily, he chose the money. I paid him (there were witnesses), and took Costache to his proper home.

Costache is a funny name in Romanian, but everyone that knows him says it suits him perfectly. He’s very friendly and quite adorable with those floppy ears and bright eyes of his. He’s now almost flea-free and on his way to being fully de-wormed, and he has what the ASPCA likes to call a “forever home”. He’s still not tied up and never will be. He can leave whenever he wants, but we hope he’ll like his new home so much that he’ll stay. We’re bringing a companion for him, an adopted female dog named Tesa, and they’ll both have a nice, warm doghouse to sleep in this winter.

Meet Rita and say goodbye to Fritz

First, the bad news. It turned out that Fritz was indeed from Brazil. Only it wasn’t Brazil, the country, but the mythical place from the movie Brazil, where things are all screwed up. Only a bunny from “Brazil” could survive a trip in a hot car engine on a disgustingly hot day and die from an unknown malady a couple of weeks later. One day he was fine, prancing about in the yard, eating whatever he wanted, happily, and the next he was lying on the ground, unable to move, barely able to react. We took him to the vet, who didn’t know what was going on with him, said it could be a number of things, gave him a couple of injections and pill, gave us more pills to give him, and we took him home. The next day, he was a little better, and the next morning, he was stiff as a door knob.

Goodbye, little grey fur ball, we will miss you dearly.

We shouldn’t get so attached to pets, they all die in the end, some sooner than they should…

Now for the good news. We still have Rita. I mentioned her before. She’s a white bunny with a grey nose whom we got as a companion for Fritz. They got along well together while he was still around. Now it’s only her, and she doesn’t seem to mind so much. She goes about her business, munching whatever she likes from the yard and garden, mostly grass, weeds and unfortunately, flowers. And she loves to poop little rabbit bonbons. She walks and poops, walks and poops… She even has a few favorite spots where she does her little dirty business, full of rabbit bonbons. Here are a few photos of her.

Let’s hope she sticks around in this world for a bit more time than Fritz…

How Fritz earned his ‘Wonder Bunny’ moniker

As mentioned previously, Fritz’ full name is Fritz the Wonder Bunny from Brazil. We named him that on a whim, because it sounded cute, but he proved it true. So how did he earn it? I’ll tell you how.

Fritz, being a curious bunny and also a silly one, as young bunnies tend to be, found a spot inside the engine of our car where he liked to sleep undisturbed. He’d disappear for hours on end and we figured he’d made a burrow somewhere in the garden or he found a comfy and shady spot under one of our rhubarb bushes.

During one such afternoon when Fritz was nowhere to be found, I needed to run an errand that involved using the car. I looked under to make sure no one was sleeping there, opened the gate, got in and left. I drove for a couple of kilometers, parked the car on a street, then came back to it after a half hour or so, got in and drove back home. So far, so good.

Instead of parking the car inside our courtyard, as I usually do, I left it outside, on the street, because I knew I’d use it again later that same day.

Back inside our yard, Ligia and I started looking for Fritz. He was still nowhere to be found. He’d been gone for a few hours and we started to get worried. Where could he be, the silly bunny?

After we looked everywhere, we gave up. We figured he either found a great hiding spot or he decided to up and go. After all, our pets are all free to go if they so desire. They’re free and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Our cats can climb over the fences any time they wish, and we also have a cat-sized hole in our gate, if they want to explore our street and socialize with other cats.

A few more hours passed by, and we started to get really worried. We’d only had the little guy for a few weeks, but we’d gotten attached to him. The thought of losing him saddened us deeply. We started thinking about scenarios.

What if Fritz had been eaten by a hawk? But we saw no hawks hanging about that day. What if Fritz might have climbed into the engine? That happened to us before, when two of our cats had kittens — but we thought the possibility so remote and the chance of his survival so slim if he did so, especially after I drove the car through town, that we put it out of our minds. We also didn’t have the heart to look inside the engine and see Fritz splattered all over, in case that was what had happened.

The time came for me to run out for another errand, and I left with a heavy heart, by this time realizing that we’d probably lost Fritz for good. I walked out of the house, opened the gate and to my astonishment, who do you think I found nibbling the grass next to my car but Fritz himself!

The little fur ball was covered in oil and dust and was quite scared. I called Ligia to my side and we caught him and put him back in the yard, where, in spite of his clearly harrowing experience, he dug right into a fresh red beet root while glancing about with his big eyes and twitching his soft bunny nose.

So what had happened? Short story, he climbed into the engine bay. That much we know for sure. I still don’t know what spot he chose, but it’s obviously a very good one, and that was his saving grace. He was inside the engine when I started the car and he stayed inside the engine the whole time, while I drove through the town and while the car stayed parked on a public street, kilometers away from our home. Did I mention the day was particularly hot, with temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius?

He continued to stay inside the engine as I drove the car back home and he stayed either inside the engine or under the car as the car stood parked on the street outside our home for more than four hours. We assume he continued to stay with the car all that time because it was the only familiar thing in unfamiliar surroundings.

I don’t know what went through his tiny little bunny mind during all that time. It must have been a terrible experience, being caught up in a big metal monster that made a lot of noise and a lot of heat, moving about with all sorts of unfamiliar smells and somehow avoiding being crushed by all the belts and fans in the engine bay. Then, when the car stopped for good, he climbed out of the engine, his fur full of oil and dust from the car’s innards and he found himself in yet another strange place with all sorts of unfamiliar smells. He must have figured that if he waited there long enough, something would happen that would make things right again and sure enough, it did!

Now do you see why he is rightfully called Fritz the Wonder Bunny? It’s a wonder he’s still around! As far as we’re concerned, he’s a Super Bunny!

We’re hoping he won’t have to take a trip to Brazil in order to prove the last part of his name, but you never know. The future will reveal all! 🙂