Thursday, January 9, 2014

Waiting to Exhale?

Wait no longer.

This was an exhausting day, but to just remove all the drama up front, we came through this little telenovella in pretty good shape, ... I think.  All the chicks are still with us and sleeping soundly with full (pretty much full) bellies as I tap, tap, tap away.

I would love to tell you that I woke up this morning with a belly ache from overindulging in kim chee and Chunky Monkey last night and only figured out the whole 'Billy the child abuser' story was the product of the resulting nightmare which I somehow blogged in my sleep.

If only it were that simple, ... but since it isn't, let me give you the low lights of the day: 

We pulled Billie from the line up about 7:00pm Tuesday night putting Kermit the Green in as the reliever with the score tied in the 7th, with two men in scoring position and no outs, ... with no warm up. I am sure he was as shocked as we were.

In context that meant that from 7:00 pm last night to 6:00pm this evening we were not really sure if the chicks would get anything to eat (they can't feed themselves) nor did we know if they would be beneficiaries of any adult provided body heat until .... when? 

Mrs Dr C and I are both employed and on Wednesday we both had long days planned (leave the house by 5:30am, retun no earlier than 5:00pm) with the hapless Mr Greenburg thrust into the position of single dad and sole provider for four growing (or starving) chicks.  Now as it happens according to the books (those @#$!!* books again!) it is about this time, or normally a little later say a week or so in their development that the male starts to routinely feed the chicks.  I have not figured this out, it does not make sense to me, but that's 'normal' in parakeet biology.  I assume that normal includes some sort of gradual handoff, and that it is not 'normal' for the hen to be there one moment and gone the next.  Mrs Dr C and I were both very distressed, I can't imagine what was going through Mr Greenburg's mind.

Anyway, I was up late, frantically reading all the online information I could get my hands on relevant to this situation.  Fortunately there is a strong, world wide network of 'budgie fanciers', and when it is 1:00am in Oakville it is 10:00pm in NSW Australia (I think).  So not only did I get to feast on a wealth of information on the Budgarigar forum, I asked questions and got great, real time support.  Man am I glad I happened upon that great group of people.  Somehow this reminds me of the time I had a rear hub malfunction out in the wilds of Vancouver Island, and thanks to help and advice of freinds was still able to finish the VanIsle 1200.

We were up early filling Mr G's feed trays with fresh foods and giving him pep talks, assuring him we'd be home as soon as possible.  we didn't mess with the chicks in the morning, there was really nothing we could do for them at that hour.

It was a stressful day for both of us.  I went emergency shopping on my lunch hour, fortunately there is a Big Brand pet store not five minutes from the office.  I was able to get supplies and equipment that would be needed if Kermit the Green was not able to figure out that it was now his responsibility to feed the chicks. 

I raced home as soon as I could (of course my last meeting of the day started late and went long).  When I got there I felt really terrible; I had not left the heat turned up during the day, ... and in these latitudes it is night dark by 4:50, ... and I had left no lights on in the house, ... and a hungry, cranky siamese cat was pacing the halls in exasperation.  As I said earlier I can't imagine what my little green male bird was thinking.  And poor Billie, stuck away in the back bedroom, lights out and door closed to sever all communication with the kids (and also to avoid an unavoidable temptation for Chairman T Cat). 

I stopped as I came by the nest box and heard rustling, rattling, and some low peeping.  Kermit was out in the cage munching.  All good signs.  Mrs Dr C showed up at just that moment so we set to checking the chicks to assess their condition and then decide on a course of action.

I am a complete rookie at this, and I know Kemit is too, because we are his first hmans, but by gollie that 40,000 years of evolution had served him well, the chicks all had some food in their crops.  The little guy had pitched us out of a jam!  None of those little crops were stuffed as I had seen them after Billie had done her feeding, but they were all still with us.  My new friend Corie in Australia had given this advice:

"At this time of development it's his duty to rear the chicks anyway, with maybe a little help from the hen.  So with four chicks he should do fine, just make sure you give him plenty of soft food, check crops and if need be top up." It appeared to me that this was the case, so we decided to try to 'top up' as it were. 

I had watched a bunch of you tube videos demonstrating hand feeding of these chicks and I had also read some great do's and don't's advice.  The process seems simple enough, but the consequences of a few slightly wrong moves can be pretty severe.  Tolerances for things like the liquidity of the baby formula, the temperature of the fomula, and how much to feed or not are all pretty tight.  A lot like Hans Rey riding the cliffs of Mohar.

Between the two of us, we were able to get all four of the chicks to eat at least a little of the baby formula. One of the littlest ones didn't have much food in him and didn't eat much, that worries me.  We were also able get the stuff all over the kitchen and the chicks,  The clean up was almost as much of a job as the feeding.

I think of this as a qualified success, at least I hope we did more good than harm.  They were all ready to get back to sleep after we stirred them up, and I hope they are better tomorrow for our efforts.

I want to stress that I don't feel like we are out of the woods on this, at all.  In fact I feel like we have just walked into the woods.  I am absolutely certain that there are plenty of folks who are eminently more qualified to tackle ths than us but unfortunaltely they are not here and we are. 

I hope this is something like learning to bunny hop the railroad tracks on your fast bike;  Maybe a little messy at first, but with time it gets a little less hairy and  eventually it smooths out.  Like I said, I hope.

Fortunately we will be telecommuting tomorrow and that will give us a chance to figure out how much time Mr. Greenburg is spending in the nest box.  Sorry, no chick pix today, this feeding business seems to be a three handed affair, and we only have two.


  1. I am not sure if there is an award for "Keet" raising, but I will be sure to nominate you if there is. Jay

    1. Thanks for the vote of confidence Jay, but I think Kermit the green is the front runner for MVP. Effort counts of course, but it is results that matter.