Archive for April, 2012

April 28, 2012

Snow? On Saturday?

There was a surprising sight that I witnessed this morning when I woke up. There was snow falling to the ground. Snow! What are the odds? There were only really small specks flying around, but it was still the real thing. I’m only surprised because it’s spring, but the weather is still a bit off with the season. Hopefully it won’t go into a full-out snowstorm! Just seeing these specks of snow brings on tons of memories like this:

Woah!

Come on spring, bring on the heat!

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April 27, 2012

Portrait of Leia from February

April 27, 2012

‘Spring’-ing Back into Things

This is more or less an update on all the things that happened since I was absent. There won’t be any new pictures unfortunately; I can’t find the cord to connect the camera to the laptop. I’m going to look around for it though, it’s probably somewhere that I have overlooked. The only pictures that I might be posting are those that I have taken a while back and haven’t gotten a chance to put up.

I’ll write these in chronological order so that I will finish off with the most recent happenings here.

Max, the male kitten that we got, was also fixed only days after Leia. He is now all healed up, along with Leia, and they both are much more behaved because of it. We were lucky that Leia healed so quickly, because there were more male cats beginning to roam around our yard. A couple have gotten so comfortable here that they have made a habit of going inside Ginger’s cat house and sleeping in there. Because of the cold weather and snow at that time they welcomed the warmth it gave them, but Ginger wasn’t at all impressed. The kittens stayed inside since the winter was so harsh. However, once spring came along with the warmer weather, they were always exploring outside. They have stayed on our property so far; I’m hoping that they will keep it that way and learn the boundaries. Also along the lines of cats, Ginger is getting pretty old for a cat. He seems to move slower, sleep more, and is getting more cuddly. I’m also happy to say that he and the kittens have been finally getting along! They can now eat side by side together without any problem. I think it’s because they have matured quite a bit, and he can’t bully them around as much.

The dogs have pretty much stayed the same since I last posted about them. I am concerned about Rocky and Rocko however. Rocky seems to be unable to keep any weight on, and it looks like he is amaciated at times. I want to help him build up more muscle and release his anxiousness by going on more walks with him. Hopefully that will help. Rocko, on the other hand, is pretty healthy all around. The only problem that I see is with his balance, or more specifically his hips. I suspect that he might have some difficulty using his hips, or there might be a complication with them. He has this weird limp that looks like his hips are about to ‘cave in’, or something similar. He doesn’t look like he can fully use them, and he has a difficult time getting up or sitting down; anything to do with using his hips. It might be something other than his hips, but I’m still worried and I am probably going to call up a vet to ask about it. Rollie is also getting old; he’s about 11 or 12 years old I think. He is a tough dog though, the only signs of aging that he is showing is the appearance of his fur and his raspy barking.

In other news, my mother started working on the garden. So far she has taken all of the extra ‘junk’ off the top layer of soil that included leaves, twigs, rocks, and other things like that. There’s a big pile of all of it hanging out just beside the garden. We’ve also gotten warmer weather since spring started, and it has been more humid out. This past week, we’ve gotten the showers of rain that April is so famous for. The ground and everything outside is completely soaked. Right now as I type this, there is a rainstorm happening just outside. The wind was so strong that the power went out this morning for about an hour before coming back on. Once everything dries up, my mother and I plan on tilling the ground while it is moist and easy to dig up. There are a lot of weeds in there still, so it will probably take up the better part of a week to finish. I’m also looking forward to putting together some flower gardens around the house. When they start to grow, I’ll be sure to post some pictures.

April 15, 2012

Foods for Birds #4 – Turnip Greens (or Tops)

A guest post by Elaine Radford, host of the Peachfront Conure blog.

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Turnip Greens — ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ — Key Source of Vitamin K

Turnip greens, also known as turnip tops, are one of those dark leafy greens that are highly recommended because they pack a lot of vitamins and minerals into a high fiber, low fat, low calorie package. Turnip greens actually contain more cancer-fighting phytonutrients than their more popular cousin, broccoli. Turnip greens are an exceptional source of natural vitamin K, the blood clotting vitamin. They also contain several other vitamins, including vitamin A, C, and several B vitamins, in addition to being an excellent source of calcium. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, vitamin K appears to be more important in maintaining healthy bones than we once realized, so turnip tops, as a rich source of both K and calcium, appear to be a great food for strong bones.

Probably any bird would benefit from having some chopped turnip tops in the food mix, but this green is particularly important for Conures and Mini Macaws, who may be at risk for a disease caused Conure Bleeding Syndrome, which can be fatal. In a bleeding emergency, an avian vet must treat the bird immediately with injectable vitamin K, but we Conure and Mini Macaw owners should try to prevent the illness altogether, by feeding a diet with plenty of natural vitamin K.

For more about USDA research into vitamin K, visit this page at the U.S. Department of Agriculture site.

Learn more about Conure Bleeding Syndrome by visiting this page on the Avian Web.

Properties:

Amino Acids: Rich in tryptophan, an essential amino acid thought to be linked to healthy sleep.

Vitamins: K, A, C, folate, E, B6, B2, B1, B5

Minerals: Manganese, calcium, copper, potassium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus.

For more about the properties of this super-food, you can visit the turnip tops page at the nonprofit The World’s Healthiest Foods.

Preparation Methods and Ways to Serve:

In general, it is much easier to grow turnip tops than to grow spinach. I like a non-hybrid variety, called Seven Tops Turnip Tops, that isn’t as bitter as the greens from turnip varieties grown more for people looking to eat the roots. When you can’t grow or buy fresh turnip tops, try the frozen food department. If they are quick frozen, they will be just as nutritious and maybe a little easier for you to prepare. You can use them in any recipe where you would use spinach, but I like to choose recipes with strong flavor elements, to overwhelm any lingering hint of bitterness. For instance, if I am stir-frying turnip greens in olive oil to make a cooked salad, I’ll dash on plenty of balsamic vinegar and maybe some chopped fresh rosemary to bring out the flavor.

It only takes a minute or two to chop up and steam some plain turnip tops for your bird’s food mix. However, my Conures don’t have as many taste buds as I do. That’s why I cook the greens first in unsalted water, drain them well, and remove the portion that I’ll be serving to my parrots. They can eat it plain, but for the human members of this family, I will next want to stir-fry in olive oil or bacon fat, or I will want to cream the greens in milk and cheddar cheese. Parrots don’t need bacon, fancy creamed turnip tops, or even seasoned salt, but in my experience, the human animal is far more likely to eat up all the turnip tops if there’s bacon or cheese involved. So the bird version of the meal is extremely low sodium, low fat, and low calorie, while the human version does contain all those great vitamins and minerals, but now we’ve added some fat and salt to the equation. If you’re on a low fat or low calorie diet, you can try it the parrot’s way and see how you like it: Steam the greens until they’re limp and then sprinkle with a dash of balsamic vinegar. I’d add a touch of a good seasoned salt like Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning, but if you have to go low salt as well, maybe you could try Mrs. Dash.

By the way, although I’m in the camp that believes that the nutrients in greens are more digestible if they’re cooked at least a little, you don’t have to cook the turnip tops if you don’t want to. Snip them up in tiny pieces with chef’s scissors and stir them into your bird’s food mix. You can place some larger pieces in their flight, such as a bundle of leaves in a dog dish. They might “play” with these large leaves as much as they eat, but they’re having a good time — and that’s heart-healthy too.

April 14, 2012

I’m Back!

I’m finally back in the run of things at both here and the forums. Finally. It has been weeks since I last posted anywhere on the web, so I’m really excited to get back in gear and post some well needed updates. There’s going to be a lot of catching up to do, but nothing I can’t handle. To begin with all the catching up and refreshing, I’m going jump-start by posting a brand new entry for the Foods for Birds page. This will be a guest post by Elaine Radford, host of the Peachfront Conure Blog, and will be on Turnip Greens (or Tops). She generously offered to write this as a contribution to the Foods for Birds page, and made it clear that she wanted to get the word out there that it is important to prevent Conure Bleeding Syndrome by providing the needed vitamin K rich foods to conures. I should have this entry done up and ready to post by tomorrow evening.

After this, I’m going to type up a post to catch up on everything I missed the chance to write about. I’m definitely looking forward to getting back into everything that has been going on without me in the past few weeks, so expect some extra posts coming from me in the next week or so.

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