Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Quail that Never Hatched and Other Life Lessons

Here are some updates over the past two weeks:

The Great Quail Disaster 

Oliver has dreamed of being a quail owner for as long as he can remember (perhaps six months?).  One day, 35 porcelain-white eggs arrived unexpectedly on our doorstep.  Oliver thought all his prayers had been heard and answered.
We found out the quail eggs were included with the purchase of Glenn's new incubator (for his meat chicken project).  Glenn and Oliver loaded up the eggs and we began the 22 day wait.  On day 21 we could hear chirping coming from the eggs.  Oliver kept begging, "Can we help them out?"  We told him we had to let the chicks figure it out for themselves.  We waited and waited, and could only see small cracks on one side of several of the eggs.  
Finally, two chicks arrived and we were sure the rest would come in the morning.  I went to check the incubator the next morning and noticed none of the chicks had hatched.  Glenn figured out he put the eggs in the incubator the wrong way.  Grammy called to let us know she read online that one should begin to help the chicks emerge if they had not done so after 24 hours of peeping.  My heart dropped when I heard that news because it had been well over 24 hours since we first heard the chicks.  I began carefully opening the eggs with the cracks to find little dead chicks.  It was a terrible experience, knowing I could have saved the chicks if only I had listened to Oliver and helped them out the day before.  Here is a picture of one perfect chick who never had the opportunity to see this world.
Out of 21 eggs with a crack mark, I found five still living.  I opened up those eggs to free the chicks' heads and let the chicks do the rest.  Two ended up dying from their deformities.  It was a very sad afternoon.
Now we are left with five healthy and adorable quail and one keet (guinea fowl baby).  The keet thinks she is a quail and the quail think she is mommy.  We are happy some of the quail survived, but I can't help thinking about all of the others that didn't make it.  We learned several big lessons about incubating eggs, but did so at the expense of all of those quail chicks.

New to the Farm

In addition to the quail, frogs, and keet, we welcomed another pet to the farm in June.  Shelby, a Russian tortoise, was living in an aquarium much too small for her.  My mom offered to let Shelby live out on the farm, with chickens, in a large enclosure outside.
This is Shelby's new home.
Oliver can't believe his good luck.  Apparently he has always wanted a tortoise, too.
We also have a new friend living out in our water overflow.  Oliver named him "Muchacho" and we enjoy listening to his loud calls at night.

Water Park

Grammy and Pop treated us all to the water park for our June birthdays.  We had a great time and I learned a couple of things about myself.  First, I think I like frilly, pink tutus.  And second, I'm getting old.  I must be getting soft in my old age.
Oliver picked out Pearl's bathing suit at Target.  I saw it and said, "No."  He convinced me to take Pearl to the dressing room to try on and compare my cool orange suit with his pink tutu suit.  Before I had a girl, I said I would never dress my daughter in girly things; I would try to keep it more gender neutral.  I've changed my mind.  Look at her in that pink tutu suit.  She looks like a pink dream (complete with drool).
Oliver asked me to go down the "toilet bowl" ride because he thought it would be funny to watch me go down the bowl.  I rode it once and could hear his squeals of delight as I was dunked into the water.  Later, he asked me to do it again.  I wanted to hear those squeals again, so I agreed.  Then I agreed to ride the "wedgie" slide.
Never. Again. Today every single muscle in my body is sore.  I started the day off with 800mg of Ibuprofen and still had to limp around all day.  I guess I can't just throw myself down water slides anymore.  I'm going to have to hand that torch over to Oliver.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

A Simple Gift

This year we decided to go small for Oliver's birthday.  We told him he could pick out one toy from Target.  Yesterday we went to Target and Oliver had a great time scanning the aisles.  He finally spotted his dream toy: a frog habitat.  I was happy Oliver picked an animal habitat rather than a weapon, but I was slightly weary about adding another pet to the mix.
Glenn and I assumed we could catch a tadpole outside, watch it turn into a frog, then release it back into the wild. We agreed to buy the habitat.  When we got home, I opened the habitat and read the instructions.  The instruction manual said we would be very bad people if we went out into the wild and stole a little tadpole (they may have worded it differently).  Instead, we would have to buy one of four different frog species or tadpoles.  Glenn did some research and found a low-maintenance frog to buy.  My mom got on board and offered to buy the frog for Oliver's birthday.  This is the fire-bellied toad (it is called a toad but it is really a frog) we decided to buy.
Off we all went to the pet store this morning to buy a seven-dollar frog.  First we discovered we would need to provide the frog with a heat source, so Grammy offered to spring for the 13 dollar bulb.
Then we asked about frog food.  Our frog would need to feed on three to five live crickets a day.  Each tiny cricket would cost us 12 cents.  TWELVE CENTS (and that is with the Petco card discount).
Not only do we have to buy these little creatures every couple of weeks, we have to feed and house them as well.  We added cricket food to the bill.  I set up our empty aquarium with cricket food, water and amenities.  Cricket watching is almost as enjoyable as frog watching.
Pearl was determined; if she wasn't going to be able to eat a cricket, at the very least, she would sample the cricket food.
We found out fire-bellied toads like to live with other frogs, so we purchased two instead of one.  Welcome to the family Prince Zuko and Princess Azula.
These frogs have a life span of up to 15 years.  I shudder to think of all of the crickets we will have to purchase in that time.  Plans are also being developed to increase the habitat size.  I believe this is the most elaborate simple gift I have ever purchased.  Happy Birthday to our sweet boy.  You are worth every penny.