Friday, April 16, 2010

Ahh, Spring

(Query update: Evil Editor has sent over a handful of revised queries. I'll be posting a few of them out early – probably Sunday or Monday. Thanks, everyone!)

The daffodil and forsythia blooms are faded now, but the late-leafing pecans and crepe myrtles have finally turned on their leaf engines. The hummingbirds returned this week, and I had to hurriedly put nectar in their feeders. The bluebirds have moved on and although I've seen a few barn swallows, they didn't come back to the nests they've used the past four years. Some flycatcher pairs have taken over the abandoned nests, though, so at least there will be birds and babies nearby.

I already had to mow this past weekend. I used a small lawn tractor to mow about an acre around my dad's place and one of the ponds, then took the John Deere out to mow about 5 acres at the far back of the property with the brush hog. With rain expected this weekend and late next week, not sure when I'll get the opportunity to mow again.

The forsythia bloomed several times over the winter, which they've never done before. And they ended the season with a far more glorious show than ever, too.

When the grass is cut, as in this photo from last year, the place looks almost like an expensive manicured horse farm. Which it isn't. Not even close, except when you squint a bit.

Meet the Beasties: Fafnir

Since Whirl asked, I'll lead the introductions to my menagerie off with my iguana. My little beauty is likely a female, nearly 5-feet long from snout tip to tail tip, and about 9 years old (iguanas live about 10-12 years). Her name comes from Norse mythology: Fafnir was a dragon slain by the hero Siegfried (aka Sigurd).

Like many of my beasties, Fafnir was a rescue. She came from the Holifield Science Learning Center, a part of the Plano Independent School District, which somehow became known as a dumping ground for reptiles people no longer wanted. Those small, bright green iguanas pet stores sell grow rapidly. When they outgrow the aquariums folk invariably try to raise them in, they are often let loose or given away. The lucky ones in North Texas make it to Holifield.

Like me, Fafnir is a vegetarian. Unlike me, her meals are quite healthy and consist mainly of greens, chopped fresh veggies and chopped fruit, with the occasional handful of processed chicken feed. She's a fairly sedate and gentle lizard, and quite tolerant of other animals. Over the years, she's shared her cage with baby chicks, ducks and rabbits, as well as adult chickens, parakeets and ducks needing medication or cage rest due to illness or injury. On warm days, she enjoys going out on a cat leash and climbing trees. Well, she enjoys the trees; the leash not so much, sometimes throwing herself into alligator death rolls when it's first put on her until she remembers it's not going to hurt her.

The death rolls are about her only trick. Unless you consider basking for hours on end a trick. Or shedding her skin like a snake does 3 or 4 times a year. And except for having to chop fresh food for her daily and trimming her claws occasionally, she's a pretty easy keeper.

Please don't get a juvenile iguana unless you plan to build it a decent-sized habitat and keep its environment around 80+ degrees Fahrenheit. I used 2x4s, 1x2s, ½-inch hardware cloth and peg board (for added ventilation) to build Fafnir's cage, which is about 7-feet long, 4-feet wide and 6-1/2-feet tall. I gave it a raised plywood floor that I covered with sheet vinyl, two shelves for basking, and a hammock for sleeping. In the early days, it even had a fountain, floor plants and hanging baskets. When I started using the cage to house young, sick and injured animals, the pretty decorations had to go. I miss them, but I don't think Fafnir does.


Chris Eldin said...

I laughed out loud at "alligator death rolls."

Thanks for sharing this part of your life. It's a joy to read!

Matthew said...

Wow. A guy spends a few weeks away from the cyber world and look how much has changed. Phoenix is doing EE's revisions? The blog is guarded by a 5 foot iguana?

Phoenix, count me as one of your "hatchlings".

Next week tell us about the duck!

Whirlochre said...

Why did I think iguanas were only marginally bigger than newts?

Fafnir looks dangerous. This is an iguana that knows she's named after a Norse god, and not a popular brand of shampoo or dead, twee 50s pop crooner.

I toss her a virtual rodent.

Robin S. said...

Hee. Virtual rodent!

This is one cool blog, Miss Phoenix!

Phoenix said...

You're sweeties, Miss Chris and Miss Robin.

Hi Matthew! Welcome back to blogland. Or, in your case, episode 122 of the "Twilight Zone".

Ducks it is next Friday!

Whirl, a lot of people are fooled by the babies the pet stores sell. Iguanas are the pot-bellied pigs of the reptile world. Folk think they're all little and cute and they won't take up much room until suddenly they can't waddle through the doggie door any longer. That's when they get dumped :o(

Anonymous said...

To the Divine Miss Pheonix, I'm trying to picture a mini horse or pygmy goat meeting up with your super sized iguana. I'm getting Fistful of Dollars music in my head, Best! Bibi

Anonymous said...

I heard from a chicken farmer who "rescued" two pygmy goats that they are really devil spawn. They climbed all over her car, denting it, she couldn't build a fence tall enough or strong enough to keep them inside and they ran into her house every time they pulled off the great escape from the chicken coop she sentenced them to.
Are pygmy goats really born to create havoc? I never had goats. But I agree, do not buy non native species. There are too many ecological disasters that happen. However if you can rescue or save an animal I hope you will. Where I live (Thailand) there are street dogs, feral cats, rabies killed 9 people last month in this country. Spay, neuter and adopt a stray.

And by the by do you guys know Rachel has started a blog? Pardonmyfrenchlanguagelearning. I harrass her on it, to which she hasn't responded yet, studying no doubt.
Best from Bibi