Category: Pets


For those of you who don’t follow my boring daily life personal blog, one of the big things this spring/summer is that we got chickens! We designed and built our own chicken coop after perusing lots of examples online, special-ordered some vaccinated chicks from a local feed store (an Australorp, Rhode Island Red, and Black Sex Link), and jumped feet-first into the world of urban chicken owners.

Here’s the link to my chicken flickr set, but I’m posting some of the better photos below…

My original sketch:

The framed coop, below. Not all the walls were quite square, but you can’t really tell in the photo how much frustration was involved in trying to get them kind of square.

The framed pen, which juts out at an angle away from the house wall because of some uneven ground next to the house. We didn’t think about how this might cause problems when it came to putting on the roofing material…

First day with the chicks! We named them Mrs. Jones (top black), Ela (“Egg Laying Animal, bottom black with white patch), and Tamale (brown).

The completed coop and run, after much sweat, tense moments, and bruised fingers (but no blood):

Our two-month old chickens enjoying their “range”:

After many months, I finally sat down to tally up our Very Expensive Chicken Coop. I can’t find the receipts for the 5 gallon and 1 qt of paint, but I don’t care too much about that because we barely used up any of the paint!

28 2x4s $77.04
9 discount 2x4s $4.99
2 siding panels $40.11
2 1x4s $7.70
4 1×3 trim $13.60
3 OSB $20.80
fiberglass roofing material $96.33
poultry netting $15.59
nails $36.90
screws $9.07
corner braces $6.05
wire staples $3.24
hinge hasp $3.69
t-hinge $8.68
t-hinge $8.68
hinges $16.29
hinges $15.20
sliding bolt $5.75
door pull $3.03
door pull $3.03
gate hook/eye $1.62
gate latch $7.06
gate latch $5.75
paint – red and white ?
painter tape $4.34
Chicken Coop Costs
thermometer $3.58
heat lamp $12.95
heat lamp bulb $7.53
shavings $6.34
poultry feeder $3.79
chick waterer $3.24
chick waterer base $3.24
chick starter feed $15.39
chicks $9.59
Chicken Starter Costs
Total Cost $480.21

Whew! That’s a lot. We went $180.21 over my original $300 budget. This wasn’t exactly an exercise in thriftiness — we didn’t scrounge for material, didn’t have much on-hand to use other than a couple 2×4’s in our garage, and didn’t shop around. It was more of a training exercise for Steve (he practiced his newly learned framing skills) and a marriage-building exercise for both of us (working on communication and patience). Plus I learned how to use a Skilsaw and other fun power tools.

Let’s set the price of free range eggs at $5/dozen, which means (if my math is correct) we’ll “break even” after we get 1152 eggs from our chickens. (Well — probably more in the 1300 range, because every bag of feed is another 28 eggs or so.) Let’s hope our chicken-keeping experience is more long-term than short-term!

Nutmeg photos

It’s been a while since I’ve posted any photos of Nutmeg the cat.

Wedged in our blankets:

Nutmeg in bed

Not too long afterwards…

Nutmeg sleeping

In the garage window at our old place. What’s awesome is that there were tons of boxes stacked on that side of the garage so she had to climb through an obstacle course to get to her “spot”:

Nutmeg in the garage window

And in the not-quite-set-up baby crib. Interestingly, she’s only been in here once, presumably just to check it out. I hope she appreciated the expensive organic crib mattress.

Nutmeg in crib.

Nutmeg sleeps.

On the way to the kitchen for a snack, I found Nutmeg draped over the “hill” of blanket, with her face buried in a fold:

Nutmeg sleeping

A couple hours later, she had slid down the hill of blanket:

Nutmeg sleeps.

And even later, had apparently rearranged herself to be even more comfortable:

Nutmeg sleeping

Friday tidbits

I haven’t felt the need to post weekly reviews. Things are going well. So here’s a random mix of tidbits.

Photo of Steve’s friend fly-fishing on the American river this past weekend:

Fly-fishing photo

Soil Interactions LaboratoryOne of the sites I worked on this year was for Jason DeJong’s research group at UC Davis where they “solve soil interaction problems” at Jason picked one of my web templates to start with, then provided the content for me to initially build the site. I then took him through a day of intense Dreamweaver training so that he could learn how to update the content himself with minimal guidance from me. An exciting moment came recently when part of Jason’s research was featured in Time Magazine as one of the Best Inventions of 2007! And also exciting to me, Jason ventured forth to use Dreamweaver to clean up the content on the site and add a note about the Time Magazine mention on the home page himself. I was so proud.

Of course I have to post another photo of Nutmeg sleeping. She was actually partially reclining on a puffed-up pile of blankets which made her look like a floppy-head baby in a carseat.

Nutmeg sleeping.

One of my goals this month has been to keep consistent track of my pregnancy weight. During the first trimester, I gained a normal/healthy amount of 4 lbs. Last month, I gained a normal/healthy amount of 1 lb. per week, putting me up another 4.5 lbs.

Now that I’m actually keeping daily track of my weight, it’s only natural that my weight gain would go weird! At least it gives me something to talk to the doctor about when she asks if I have any questions.

  • Week 1 (of this month): Gained 4 lbs.
  • Week 2: Gained 0 lbs.
  • 5 days into week 3: Gained 2 lbs.

It could be partially a growth spurt and partially becoming more lax about how many starches I’m eating throughout the day. Time to tighten up the latter!

That’s all for today… have a great weekend!

Nutmeg sleeps.

Somehow I ended up with a bunch of photos of Nutmeg sleeping in my last camera download…

My favorite way to find Nutmeg: with her paws curled over her face.

Nutmeg sleeping.

Steve folded the blanket over Nutmeg, and she kept sleeping.

Nutmeg sleeping under the covers.

Nutmeg sleeping.

We had pushed all the covers down to the foot of the bed, and Nutmeg climbed on top and curled up in the pile of blankets.

Nutmeg sleeping

Cat alarm clock

Sorry for the blog silence — have been quite busy!

So in the meantime, here is a new-to-me little animation of a cat alarm clock, which is eerily close to reality for us. (Steve woke up with a start one morning with a cut lip and an innocent-looking cat on the bed.)

Do-it-yourself Silliness

Extra post for today (assuming I get to my week review post) since I missed yesterday while being very productive… 🙂

A couple days ago, Nutmeg was crouching over her tasseled ball toys. I wondered out loud, “Where are her catnip mice?” (She has two — a grey and a white one.) I saw something grey in the corner but it looked like the wrong shape. Going over and picking it up, I saw that it was a decapitated catnip mouse — the head had come off!

Later on, we found the catnip mouse head near the front door.

Yesterday morning, I had a bout of do-it-yourself silliness. Armed with cardboard, scissors, colored pencils, tape, and glue, I made this:

Catnip mouse head mounted on cardboard

I cut out a shield shape out of cardboard, used colored pencils to make “wood grain,” cut a small piece of paper for the commemorative date, and finally glued the catnip mouse head onto my makeshift plaque.

Here is a side view so that you can see the ghetto makeshift “stand” that I made for the plaque:

Side view of catnip mouse plaque

An angled piece of cardboard, taped to the back of the plaque, supported by another piece of cardboard taped to the bottom.

I’m envisioning a whole row of these things. Or, maybe we’ll just leave it up for a few days and then I’ll throw it away. 🙂

Latest slew of cat photos

We have no more kittens! Puddle got adopted by a nice pre-vet student this past Saturday, so we are once again a one-cat household. But here are some photos I took before Puddle left our home:

Puddle nurses although he’s getting to be a big boy. Series of 5.

Puddle nursing

Puddle nursing

Puddle nursing

Puddle nursing

Puddle nursing

Puddle trying to nurse, Nutmeg trying to play. He kept trying although she was biting him and kicking him. Series of 5.

Puddle nursing, Nutmeg playing.

Puddle nursing, Nutmeg playing.

Puddle nursing, Nutmeg playing.

Puddle nursing, Nutmeg playing.

Puddle nursing, Nutmeg playing.

Nutmeg sleeping.

Nutmeg sleeping

Hahahaha! Yes, she is laying on her back!

Nutmeg sleeping

Nutmeg and Puddle fascinated by our roommate’s Wii cursor. Series of 4.

Nutmeg and Wii

Nutmeg, Puddle, and Wii.

Nutmeg, Puddle, and Wii.

In this last picture, Nutmeg tried to get to it from behind and above, sneaking up behind the TV, crawling through the antenna loop, and then batting at the cursor from above. It didn’t work.

Nutmeg, Puddle, and Wii.

Puddle, post-bath.

Puddle, post-bath.

Cats on the bed: Series of 3. We brought out our plush winter blanket, and the cats loved to sleep on it. Well, Nutmeg loves to sleep on it. Puddle loves to sleep on our laundry.

Cats on bed.

Nutmeg on bed.

Cats on bed.

Liz wore fuzzy cat slippers one morning. Puddle came around the corner, saw them, and puffed up.

Puddle scared of slippers.

Look at his tail!!

Puddle's puffy tail

Only much later did he get the courage to come up and sniff them.

That’s all for Puddle-and-Nutmeg photos. Any cat photos from here on out will be one-cat portraits only!

Very venemous vitriolic invective

We have one kitten (Puddle) left! Saturday’s adoption fair was a huge success; three of our kittens got adopted out. I think it helped that I stayed there the whole time to answer questions and “sell” our kittens. People seemed to like knowing that I had hundreds of flickr photos to share with them.

I posted a craigslist listing for our last kitten on Monday. Here’s the text of my posting:

We have a two-month old male white kitten with ginger-striped tail (and slightly ginger-toned ears), blue eyes. Gorgeous and friendly with a mellow personality and the hugest purr you’ve ever heard! He is litter box trained, neutered, vaccinated, and ready for a good home.

He will be at the SPCA adoption fair on Saturday, September 22 at the Davis Petco (1341 W Covell Blvd # B, off of Covell exit on Highway 113), from 12 pm – 3:30 pm. The SPCA adoption fee is $90, which covers neuter, vaccinations, feline leukemia etc. testing, and microchipping.

Email me if you’d like to meet him in person before then!

Later in the evening, I got an email with the Craigslist post in the subject line. Excited about a possible kitten inquiry, I opened the email but a flood of bitter, angry words poured out, burned through my screen, and scorched my keyboard, sent by a lady whom I’ll call “Judy:”

Why do you ask so much? Plus, in Sacramento they give SENIORS a discount, but you don’t. Why is that?????? There are tons and tons of FREE kittens and adult cats on Craigslist. I know the low cost spay & neuter clinics aren’t that much. It is no wonder you have so many cats that need homes. How ‘bout getting these UCD vets and vet students to donate neutering and spaying for “the animals sake”???? And, on top of the fee, you make such a big deal out of applying and qualifying. Yes, I know what you say, and your reasons. And, a simply short form, and a vet’s referral would suffice!!!!

I will never adopt my next kitty from you people, with what you make us go through. and the fee you charge.


“Judy’s” Pet Sitting service also. Plus I’ve owned and loved many kitties until they were old and gray, and I love them dearly until they are gone.

Sad to say, I couldn’t help but, well, laugh. I immediately fired off a reply:

Hi “Judy”,
I’m sorry you are so upset. I am not actually part of the SPCA, just a foster family for the kittens that we happened to find. You might find it more helpful to talk to someone who is actually part of the SPCA.

But as it usually goes, immediately after pushing the “send” button, a slew of other great email responses with better grammar came to mind:

Dear “Judy”,
I’m sorry you are upset and that you spent so much energy writing an email to me, but I am not part of the SPCA and have no control over their policies so it was pretty much a waste of time for you, although rather amusing for me. We found a mother cat and kittens and have already adopted four kittens out through the SPCA, so it seems that others don’t share your opinions.
Hope you have a wonderful day.


Dear “Judy”,
You sound very angry. Why don’t you go to Petco in person and tell the SPCA volunteers exactly what you think of them? It seems that you don’t have a problem expressing yourself, but unfortunately I’m not the right person to talk to as I have nothing to do with setting the adoption fee cost or procedures for cats.

Or, in haiku form:

Dear Angry “Judy”,
I regret to inform you
That you have mis-shot.

Though you are outraged,
The SPCA I’m not…
Though I am flattered.

I hope you treat cats
Better than you treat humans
Within an email.

With my best regards
To your poor question-mark key
Which seems quite abused,


I haven’t yet heard back from “Judy”. Too bad. We could have had a wonderful relationship.

On a more serious note, however, we chose to not give our kittens away for free but to adopt them through the SPCA because of the “rigorous” application process, which ensures that the kittens are really going to good homes and not becoming fighting dog bait.

Feel free to post your own haikus, limericks, or other responses (keep it clean, folks, my niece sometimes reads this site!) as a creative exercise.

Cat photos

Nutmeg on the couch. Series of four.


Nutmeg on couch

Nutmeg on the couch

Nutmeg on the couch

Nutmeg is very photogenic.


One of the many locations that Nutmeg has been “trying out”:

Nutmeg in a basket.

Nutmeg sat directly in front of the fan for several minutes.

Nutmeg sitting in front of the fan.

Remember Kittens vs. Nutmeg by volume? There are only four kittens now, but they’re definitely starting to overwhelm her:

Kittens nursing

We moved the Ghetto Cat Pen outside.

Outdoor ghetto cat pen

The kittens love to crowd inside the carrier for their morning nap.

Kittens sleeping.

Nutmeg jumped over the Ghetto Cat Pen wall, grabbed a toy, jumped back out, came around to the front door, and howled until I let her in. I took a picture first, then let her in after confirming it was not a dead animal!

Nutmeg with her prey

This next series of photos is hilarious. I let Nutmeg out into the Ghetto Cat Pen because she was meowing at the door, but once she was out there, she wasn’t really sure why she wanted to be there and paced around. Three of the kittens were arching their backs and rubbing up against her, then started crawling under her belly to try to nurse. Nutmeg was not very accommodating but kept trying (awkwardly) to walk around; meanwhile, the kittens scurried after her. The funniest thing is that the kittens would lift their paws to try to knead, then lose their balance and fall over. Meanwhile, Tofu was completely disinterested in the whole thing, playing with the remnants of a catnip mouse. You can see her in the background of some of the photos.

Kittens rubbing against Nutmeg

Kittens trying to nurse.

(Notice Tofu in the back corner in the photo below.)

Kittens trying to nurse.

Kittens trying to nurse.

Kittens trying to nurse.

Kittens trying to nurse.

Kittens trying to nurse.