Sunday, September 30, 2007

Fall Color Run

Finding it necessary to freelance as much as possible to generate income, I had occasion to visit the western side of the county that the tornado hit many weeks ago. Huge logs being trucked out of the forest at a steady rate, or stacked along side in acreage anywhere there is space to wait for trucks. It was not declared a disaster area [from what I understand] because the main destruction was national and state forest land. Damage to the populated areas varied from being wiped off the map to only high winds. Here's hoping the Lakewood citizens and others affected by that devastation are getting the assitance they need to rebuild their lives.

Although the colors in the Northwoods have been a spectacular display of reds, oranges, yellows and other striking bursts of colors - there are just spots where there is no color at all, only acre after acre of piled logs -- old conifer trees -- just waiting to be removed and forgotten.

Meanwhile, here is a video of some of the coonies at the orphanage today. Hiway & Shazbot are doing really well together. Lillian & Benjmain are growing too fast, and Oliver & Louie aren't sure if they're babies or want to go explore or what. Only time will tell.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Northwoods Intrigue - the call of the wild

48 degrees in the Northwoods this morning. Louie caught a scent in the breeze the other day that made him curious and want to go find what the smells were and where they were coming from. He started pacing and his curiosity has him overwhelmed. He's aching for his Big Adventure. Not enough new things to feel and touch in the Coondo anymore.

The sense of touch is important to the coonies. It's keener than their sight. When they become accustomed to all the things in the Coondo and it's perimeter that they can touch, feel, and roll around in their hands before giving it a little taste, they need to find other new things to experience. Their world is so full of different textures, smells and tastes in the wild that it keeps them busy for a lifetime. But in the perimeter areas and the Coondos? Well, after a while they know what everything is and want to go find new and exciting things.

It's always hard to see they are aching to go on their Big Adventure as the apprehension of whether they are ready always sneaks in. But these boys, Leon, Louie and Oliver have grown big and strong and want to go explore more new things. Even fuzzy little Leon doesn't seem to be such a 'baby' anymore. After Kudos, Lillith, Blondie and Stanley went on their Big Adventure, much changed for the boys left in the Coondo.

At first they became very quiet and stayed close together, knowing something was very different. Then after a few days, they began to look out the fences to see if they could see any of their littermates. And with the smell of autumn in the air they know there is much more to life than just hanging out in the Coondo. They have spent the past 5 months learning how to do things coonies do and want to go try it out on their own. With our human kids we have 18 years to teach them and prepare them if we're lucky. With our fur kids we might have a year, but usually less. Letting go is no different for either. We hope we taught them well and the right things so they can survive with success. We hope they will know what to do when confronted by situations. But with our fur kids sometimes we never know and have to go on faith.

Little Shazbot has grown so fast and is nearly the size of Hiway now. She's still a ball of fluff, but she's no longer a baby coonie. She's not even a toddler anymore. Shazbot and Hiway are so good for each other. Shazbot convinces Hiway to quit her frenzied pacing up and down, but on the other hand, Hiway has taught Shazbot how to do a little jump hop on the fence. They have gone through changes having a littermate after so many months of being alone. It has allowed them to look to each other for companionship and comfort and rely less and less on us humans. It's a bittersweet victory for both of these girls. It's good to see them find comfort in their own kind, but it leaves the humans at a loss being no longer needed as much. I wonder sometimes who the adjustments are harder for - the humans or the critters.

Benjamin & Lillian have grown just as fast, they are bigger than Hiway now. But they have a lot more of a wild side than Hiway. As it looks now, Benjamin, Lillian, Shazbot and Hiway will be denning in the Coondo for the winter months. It will be time to hibernate when they are actually big enough to go out on their own and with our winter weather in the Northwoods, any release after October could be detrimental. The food sources get scarce, the water sources freeze over, and the cold North winds are brutal. Hopefully the warmer weather we've been experiencing will hold out for Leon, Louie and Oliver to go and get established in the forest. But for the other four it will be Spring before their Big Adventure time arrives.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Chilly in the Northwoods

8 a.m. Central time brings us a temperature of 52 degrees in the Northwoods. Pretty doggone chilly -- especially after the teaser weather we had in the 80's for the past few days.

It afforded the opportunity to disinfect the mini-coondos, take down the pens and rake up the corn cob husks buried, and lay down new pine shavings. Would have preferred red cedar chips but that's a trip to the city. Louie decided I should clean the big Coondo right in the middle of cleaning Benjamin & Lillian's perimeter. I had the bucket too close to the fence and he tipped it - then managed to steal the little garden shovel I use to push things onto the bigger shovel. Wouldn't have bothered me but he ran into the Coondo with it and started pulling the rubberized coating off the handle and eating it.

[Little story about the shovel: Years ago while teaching a group of rehabs how to dig for worms - I used that little hand shovel. Used to hang it on a nail outside the Coondo door. One day I looked and Rickitickitavi had it stuck in the group dig hole where the orphans were digging for worms & June Bug pupae. After that, I've always used my hands to teach them to dig.]

After getting things cleaned up, fresh water, etc. everyone got nice clean blankets in the cubbies {except the big coondo - they need to learn how to rough it now}, all got freshly washed and repaired stuffies - old friends to some. It's interesting to see how they can pick out 'their' particular favorite every time. Louie was particularly enjoying shaking Tigger and tossing him around. Benjamin was purring away with the clown teddy bear he had as a neonate. When they have a favorite stuffy, they get one of it's body parts [like an arm] - as far into their mouth as they can squeeze it, and then just chew -- it's almost like a spastic activity of the jaw to watch. But when they get that little chomp going, it's purr purr purr. They do that from neonates until just about every age I've had the pleasure to rehab -- it seems to be a total happiness euphoria to them. When they are neonates or babies, they do that to each other. Most often it's the ear of a sibling instead of a stuffy.

Off to don the long undies and do chores. It rained pretty good since last evening and with the chill of the morning I feed them smaller portions, so they're out looking for what they might have missed. The activity helps keep them work up a good body heat for warmth. Those little hands always feel so cold on days like this.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Hiway and Shazbot

Temp of 64 degress this morning in the Northwoods, and cloudy -- looks like rain. Feels beautiful for a fall day. The leaves on the trees are just now beginning to turn that bright blaze red, oranges and yellows.

Little Sarah Shazbot has spent the night in her outside mini-coondo for two nights now. Her new roomie Hiway and she are quite happy to be together at night now {so far - lol}. When Hiway was out with me doing chores the other day, and Shazbot was climbing her cage to get to Hiway - I put Hiway in with her. I took Hiway back out when she pinned Shazbot by the throat for bugging her. But put them back together when Benjamin & Lillian were picking on Hiway. Shazbot was SO happy to see Hiway this time that she stayed as close as she could, hugging her and posing at her. Hiway -- well -- Hiway was just Hiway.

Hiway doesn't get excited to see anybody but me, but she was playing with Shazbot and eating with her. Hiway NEEDS to know she's a coonie, and Shazbot needs a companion. She can't stay a single kit anymore. Her tail is healed, the fur growing back in, and has feelings all the way to the tip. [She gave me a really dirty look when I pinched the little knot at the end of her tail the other day.] It will always have the dents from the hawk's beak chomping down on her and then flying through the air that way. But it's better than I ever could have hoped for. Glad I didn't amputate all of it.

But what an odd couple these two are. Hiway is as old as the babies that left on their Big Adventure already, yet her thoughts are still a 6 week old kit -- she just has a whole lot more power behind her desire to get her hands on something she wants now. Shazbot, now 9 weeks old, is far more wild and sassy. She looks like a little round ball of fluff, and tells you exactly what she thinks with her little grunts, growls, squeaks and wiggles. Mariah's little wild thang.

Mariah is, of course, very saddened that her Sarah has grown and needs to be a coonie instead of a baby anymore. She did an awesome job mixing her bottles, disinfecting her kennel every feeding, changing her blankets and stuffied animals. But holy mackerals did Sarah Shazbot get big fast! And she's always been quite the little wild thing nipping at Mariah even. She doesn't care who's fingers are in her way if she wants to do something. She's a little spitfire.

When Hiway starts her up and down pacing frenzy, Shazbot grabs her around the waist, holds onto to her so she can't go back up again, and looks at her like "STOP THAT GIRLFRIEND!!" And Hiway plays for a few minutes. Looks like little Sarah Shazbot is growing past Hiway in logic now. They are so good for each other. I wonder if Hiway will ever be able to go on a Big Adventure in the wild or if her Big Adventure is going to be with me educating the humans. Looks like that's the way it will be for now -- never plan too far ahead with a coonie. The miracles they can show us will never quit boggling my mind.

Friday, September 21, 2007

So Quiet in the Coondo

Leon, Oliver & Louie have been so quiet since the others left them in the Coondo. Oliver's swollen ear is slowly getting better. The boys look smaller to me today for some reason. Perhaps it's wishful thinking so they can stay longer. April 29th brought in the first infants this season. It's the last weekend of April like clockwork around here it seems. The Menard's babies were about 2 weeks old on intake. Their eyes opened a week later, except Leon's. Leon needed extra tlc and intensive care. Then the three monster boys arrived. The church bus lady that brought them said their were just opening. But they were huge compared to the Menard's babies. Amazing what an extra week or two with mother does for the growth of neonate coonies.

Looking at the videos on Youtube of them as toddlers all trying to fit into the cake pan food dish - and to think a short 3 months later they are huge and healthy. None have ever come close to the size of Nip & Tucker though. At release they were both an easy 60 pounds. Guess it was a good year in the Coondo with only two wintering over. They didn't eat much over the winter. Pretty much just left everything frozen for a few days -- they enjoyed the grapes frozen anyway.

Today Hiway wanted to be with me more than other things. She got put back in with Lillian & Benjamin several times but they are sassy today and were ganging up on Hiway. So she stayed with me a lot. We put Shazbot into her outside enclosure and she kept trying to get by Hiway on the outside. So Hiway & Shazbot are roomies for a while today again. Looks like Hiway decided to take a nap with Shazbot and quit pacing up and down for a while.

Yesterday Leon, Louie and Oliver pretty much stayed curled up together -- not using the pool much at all. Kind of strange seeing the pool not be muddy in about two minutes after cleaning it. My apple trees were gracious enough to provide one or two five gallon buckets of apples a day for the babies. Frost hit a few nights ago and the apples are done for the most part - have to go find trees with more close by for them now. Corn's done for the year. It was a pretty good frost the other night. For two nights and days it was in the 30's & 40's. Yuk. But it's been balmy again - even in the 80's -- quite unusual in the Northwoods for September weather. Wonder if that means we have a longer rehab season again this year? Will we rehabbers not get a chance to hibernate again this year?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Kudos, Lillith, Blondie, & Stanley go on their Big Adventure

Yesterday evening was Big Adventure day for Lillith & Blondie Mendard's, Stanley Monster boy, and Kudos my hit by a truck survivor. At this time I cannot relate much about their release as it is too difficult to think about. I will say that they did not want me to leave, but wanted me to go on their Big Adventure with them. When they understood I could not, they each hugged my knee, got one last loving pat and scratches, and then wandered off to explore their great new world in the forest. One day perhaps I can go on the Big Adventure with my babies, but not this time. With a very heavy heart I wish my babies the utmost safety and plentiful food sources.

Video of their release will be posted when I can watch it long enough without tears in my eyes to edit it.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Shazbot gets a roomie

This morning when Shazbot was taken out to her mini-coondo, she was surprised to find Hiway already inside exploring. Hiway was a bit rambunctious early this morning. She was too much help with the canning jars and tomatoes waiting to be made into soup and mulberries waiting to be made into jelly.

Shazbot wanted to play and kept following Hiway around, trying to get her hands on Hiway's face to make her look at her. Hiway just pretended she didn't see Shazbot. They finally did interact some, but Hiway had to be put back in by Lillian & Benjamin once she got a bit rough. She had little Shazbot pinned down like she does with the cats, but Shazbot is still a bit small for that.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Shazbot goes to High School

Shazbot's first glimpse of the hallways of high school is the photo on the left. Students everywhere, sitting along the walls in cheerleader uniforms, walking around socializing, the team wearing their football jerseys, and generally arriving to school in time for a quick breakfast and classes to begin for the day. In the photos, her name is Sarah because her Mariah has her in tow. But she is just a little shazbot of a fluffy sassiness if you ask me. She doesn't cooperate too well with getting her halter on. She's getting a bit sassy about it and nipping with those little pointy teeth. She holds her little hands tight across her eyes and sticks her elbows in the way of anything trying to go around her neck. Then she grabs it with skill to be envied, and pushes it away. Snorting, growling, wiggling, twisting and snapping the entire time. So far I'm bigger than her, just laugh, say "whatever Shazbot" and I manage.
Mariah introduced 'Sarah' to the theory of lockers down great big hallways, but Shazbot was more interested in how fast she could run down that slick surface without touching a human, or showing off one of her favorite skills, tying up the ankles of an unsuspecting human with her leash - like a flash of lightening. Until the feet caught her eye. And there were a few students who were very afraid of Sarah - even as little as she is. So we needed to respect their space as well. Others couldn't believe Mariah brought a coonie to school. Nothing like Mary's little lamb, that's a fact. After a little while, other students spotted them and had to touch her fur and just watch the little furbutt in action.
Students walking down the hallways to their locker, or just to hang out around the door of class were a little surprised when walking around the corner and laying eyes on a little ball of fluff running around the hallway on a neon pink leash {matches her little halter}. The word "coon" began to echo down the hallway and others had to come check it out. Most of the innocent bystanders taken aback by this 8 week old coonie fell instantly in love upon touching her silky fur. Shazbot had to be bathed with baby shampoo when she arrived at Dory & the Orphans rescue. Her fur will never go back to the tightly woven undercoat that she would develop each fall. She will have thick fur, but not the undercoating that insulates much better. It wasn't too long after that echo "coon!" went down the hallways before the cafeteria ladies had to each go take a peek for herself as well. About then the bell rang and scared the little coonie to mom, and class began. Shazbot was able to demonstrate a lot of different skills to the students in the classroom. Like how fast she could climb the book shelf, and how quickly she could jump on the cheerleader's white tennis shoe. She showed them how skillfully one cup of water in a non-tippable dish can be turned into a nice swimming pool of sorts, right there on the tiled floor. She demostrated how nicely she can growl when she wants to get her way, but mostly just ran around everywhere with her Mariah on her leash while I talked about wildlife rehab.
I think secretly Mariah and 'Sarah' were happy to spend time together like they are accustomed to. Since school started, Mariah hasn't been home to spend the same hours with her little rehab. When the Shazbot got home from the class, she just zonked out on her back and looked quite content with herself.

Her nap was cut short by going back for a second class at 12:20. Since the morning class was a nice, quiet, very well behaved group of students, I decided that Hiway could come along for the second class. Hiway spent the night outside with Lillian & Benjamin last night, so when Shazbot was napping, I went out to get my girlfriend and spend some time. Unlocked the cage door, got the halter on her, but when I looked there was a confused little coonie looking at me with her little hands stuck in the halter. A look like "what in the heck is going on here anyway?" So I picked her up, she clung on extra tight with all four paws, and inside we went. Put her down and she looked around like everything was new to her. Then when Kamir {my guard dog} came over to say hello, the little coonie just fuzzed up and was a bit upset. I looked at her tail and said "you aren't Hiway". It was Lillian. She was pretty happy to get back outside to Benjamin and trade places with Hiway. Hiway just steps right on into her little halter like it's old news. After helping me sort out the paperwork and hand outs for the second class, off the three of us went back to high school. Hiway wasn't too sure she liked having extra people around, and she stayed in her kennel until class started. She walked around on her leash, played with Shazbot {who had Mariah on her leash}, and generally explored the room while I talked to the students about wildlife and wildlife rehabilitation.

Even though the trip was short and sweet, both little girls {Hiway in the photo on the right and Shazbot above} were quite happy to be back home where they know. Dory & the Orphans should be proud of these two little ambassador orphans, I'm sure they left their footprint in the history of the Coleman Cougars.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Hiway today

This morning Hiway decided to start her incessant pacing up and down the fencing again. {You may have seen that on Cam2.} So I took her out on her little halter and leash and let her run around and be my shadow for a while. She helped do chores, and visited for a while with the domestics inside. She is now in Sarah's {Shazbot's} outside mini-coondo. Shazbot is in due to inclement weather and it's getting pretty chilly up here in the Northwoods now.

Perhaps you are not up on Hiway's story?

Hiway was found orphaned. Mother was dead on the highway, and all of her siblings were lying with mother, also dead. This is normal when mother dies, the babies still try to nurse until they die as well. It's Mother Nature's way.

Hiway was different. She wanted nothing to do with being dead yet, so started following the white line down the County Highway. She came in in really bad shape. Maggots in her eyes, lice, dehydrated, and just about dead. I went to the vet to get her Ivermectin to kill the parasites, but the vet didn't have any and mistakenly gave me Avermectins. That is highly toxic to small animals, and Hiway went into a coma. She was hydrated SubQ with NormosolR for nearly a week. She puffed up like a balloon and her pads of her paws became sunken in {indicating liver damage}. It was unlikely she'd survive the medication.

But survive she did. However, her brain "got stuck" and she remains an infant mentally. Hiway is approximately 5 months old now. She is the age of the rehabs in the Big Coondo who are about to go on their Big Adventure in the forests. Hiway has been able to integrate with Lillian & Benjamin [3 months old] at times, but reverts to her up and down pacing when she gets nervous and needs to be my shadow. It's a dependency thing at this point. But perhaps Hiway can get her mental functions back in order one day and also have a Big Adventure.

Meanwhile, I certainly enjoy interacting with my 'girlfriend'. Seems I call her Girlfriend more often than Hiway these days.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

The Lakewood Triplets Big Adventure

Friday August 30, 2007 was release day for the Lakewood Triplets. These three were the last of the many injured and orphaned survivors of the F3 tornado that ripped up our Chequamegon National Forest. Found alone and starving at a lake huddling waiting for mother for many days, they were rescued by caring citizens and brought to Dory & the Orphans Coondo, arriving on July 23rd in an Avon™ box. They are quite happy to be back on their Big Adventure and found the Blackberry bushes to be the most interesting. Footage of their release is on Youtube/matzosnet

Benjamin & Lillian have moved in to the Lakewood Triplets disinfected mini-coondo. Hiway has decided she'd rather spend more time with Lillian & Benjamin than as my shadow now.

Sarah {whom I lovingly call Shazbot} has decided she wants to be in a bigger area now, so she can be seen on the far right of Cam2 when weather permits. The others still want to help her get rid of the end of her tail, but it's almost healed, so it won't be long she may be able to join Lillian, Benjamin & Hiway.

The Monster babies and the Menard's babies will be going on their Big Adventure within days - perhaps today for Lillith & Stanley weather permitting. Kudos, Stanley, Oliver, Blondie, Louie and Lillith are ready to go explore the world a.s.a.p. Leon Menard's is not ready -- he prefers Daisy's pink dinosaur stuffy {minus the stuffing} and waiting for mom. Hopefully the juvies will be able to join Leon in the Big Coondo soon.