Jade seems fine. Steroids obviously suit her. She has fully recovered her balance and her willingness to move around. Regrettably, though, steroids clearly do nothing for the fact that she is now half-blind and three-quarters deaf (that’s a rough estimation of my own, by the way, rather than a medical diagnosis). Funny how age doesn’t cause muteness, though, don’t you think?
However, where visits to the vet with Jade have dropped off, my frequency of appearances there has been upkept by the need to shovel Qivi (the husky) into the car in her stead.
I decided in my wisdom (hollow laugh) to deep-clean the parrot house on Sunday last. This illustrious construction comprises a row of eight large flights (each at some 1.5m x 4.5m), all separated by a double wall of wire with a 3″ gap between, to stop the little buggers chewing off each others’ feet. Each flight has a small roosting room at the back.
All flights are accessed by a common “air-lock” corridor which allows me to have their individual doors open while I muck out their middens. The furthest flight has actually been given over to the seven chickens, to give them shelter in the winter. It in turn lets out into Chikkinopolis, which is a large adventure playground for chookies.
Of the seven remaining flights, only four are permanently occupied. This is because I have encouraged, nay, forced some of the birds to co-habit. My reasons for this were two-fold. Firstly, birds are by nature flock creatures, who habitually roost together for warmth and mutual preening (all hanky-panky to one side, for the minute). Secondly, it meant that I generally have only the four flights to clean instead of six (since I currently have six parrots) and I am by nature a lazy bitch.
So – Lucas the nervous orange-winged Amazon shares with little Sweetpea, my peach-faced lovie. They (both male, as far as I can tell) have always been in love, as you will know if you read the book, so that is no hardship to either of them, even though they look mismatched in every way.
Jack, my female lost-and-found African grey, is now co-habiting with J.T., the blind grey that I took on last year. After some skirmishes and rather a lot of lost feathers, they are now comfortably paired too. I think J.T. is male – he tends to dominance and appears to like to feed Jack (this involves eating his food and then regurgitating it down her neck, for the less squeamish amongst you). Jack has even laid three clutches of eggs so far, but whether or not they were ever viable I couldn’t say, since she has a penchant for laying them scrambled (she hasn’t grasped the rudiments of making a safe nest-like place somewhere and likes to sit on a high perch and drop them). Perhaps this is a parrot’s own version of the morning-after pill.
I therefore just have in separate flights Cookie, the child with a unique skin disorder that causes him to grow feathers, and Noodle, a.k.a. “Oven-ready”, who has a different skin disorder in that she likes to pluck herself entirely naked except for her pom-pom head and her (sometimes) tail. I would put these two together if I could, but I know for a fact that they would kill each other. When in close proximity, they each hang onto their respective side of the double cage wall and scream abuse at each other.
On second thoughts, perhaps they already think they’re married?
Anyhow, I digress. So I was cleaning and repairing all day Sunday. My first job was to tackle the three unused roosts. This meant turfing out mouse nests, sending mice scattering everywhere, and sweeping up their prolific droppings (I’m convinced there is an alternative power source there somewhere). It further meant me wheezing like an old steam train, since I appear to be allergic to the smell of their pee, which I can detect a mile off.
Then I swept up all the discarded food that only parrots can hurl about as they do, along with all their bodily waste, and then washed out and disinfected the four flights in use.
Then I had to tackle the chicken flight. Now I feel I must state for those who are not already aware of the fact that chickens have got to be the least fastidious creatures in all of God’s creation. They poo in and on their roosting house. They poo in their nest box (and so on their eggs). They poo in their food. They poo as they walk. They walk in their poo. Get the picture? Now my seven are pretty friendly creatures so unless I am actually wearing a full chemical suit I have to bat them away as they jump up at me.
Anyway, all of the mixed-up aforementioned waste got swept into the corridor pending its onward journey to the compost heap. I, about to make some repairs in the parrot rooms, decided I would open the entrance door to the corridor to allow a through draft, given that the whiff was quite unpleasant (chicken poo again).
I then got stuck into some of the ongoing Forth Bridge style work that inevitably results when working with parrots. Let me mention but a few examples: mending and varying all the broken toys, trying impossibly to make them parrot-proof; patching holes chewed through the specially-commissioned heavy-grade chicken wire; filling in with a neat cement mix the holes created by parrot concrete-mining endeavours; piecing and binding all the jigsaw bits left of a two-inch diameter six foot hardwood perch; putting back all the screws, nuts and bolts, carabiners and the like that fix food and water bowls to the cage. And so on.
As engrossed as I was, I failed to notice that Qivi had entered the corridor via the open door (this is, by the way, strictly out of bounds to the dogs for obvious reasons, the main one being that parrots would hurt them given a fraction of a chance) and was helping himself greedily to all the foul waste.
I felt very under the weather on Monday – banging headache, queasiness – that I put down basically to all the crap I dealt with on Sunday. To say that Qivi was also unwell would be the understatement of the century – he was as sick as a, well, as a dog, really. He therefore spent the next three days visiting the vet and being dosed with pain killers, stomach liner paste and electrolyte solutions.
He might as well just have cut out the middleman and eaten my purse at the outset.