wings and things

What a peculiar blog!

I have just looked back to discover that tomorrow will mark the third anniversary of this blog. The reason I was looking back was because I want to find, in amongst all of the bird stuff, everything I have written about Anthony and Parkinson’s disease and how he, Ming and I have coped. I thought it might be useful to compile these entries into one document and see if it works as a whole, maybe as a book. Apart from the wonder of all the friendships wrought via blogging, it has also been wonderful to find that I have a record of these past three years because I don’t think I would have remembered otherwise, except as a kind of blurry fog of joys and sorrows – mostly joys.

The birds, and the wings idea, have punctuated the last three years in real and metaphorical ways. Many have now been lost to fox attacks, I have given the emus away, and all three of the original caged birds have been set free. We now have a dozen peafowl, nine guinneafowl, five geese and one duck. The casualties have been heartbreaking and I have decided not to acquire any more due to their vulnerability to fox attacks. Gutsy9 is still thriving and one of the two peachicks hatched last year has survived and I think there will be more chicks soon. I have stopped interfering in the way natural selection works. All of the birds still take bread out of my hand and give me enormous joy (except Godfrey, the gander who likes to bite me!)

But everything changes and now that most of my daytime hours are spent in the nursing home, the birds and I don’t commune as much. Hence, when they hear my voice, they come running AT me with a mixture of love and greed (for wheat) that it is hilarious to watch. And even the birds who are gone continue to live on via Anthony’s hallucinations. Almost every day he points them out through his nursing home window. The outdoor tables and chairs become turkeys; the lawn is speckled with chooks and guinneafowl; and the flowerbeds are parrots. I can see them too.

It seems a rather peculiar blog in its higgledy-piggledyness and some of my entries make me cringe, but hopefully I will be able to draw out enough of the love story to compile a coherent record that might be helpful to others who live with Parkinson’s disease.

Here is a picture of the nearly grown up peachick, still very much attached to his mother (in foreground)!


Go to bed!

They go to bed (in their yard) but then they come back out again, and they do it over an over again – argh! Ming was never this difficult when he was a baby – mmmm. The problem is that they hear my voice and assume I have bread or lettuce (which I don’t always have). Freckle, Misha and Michael Jackson seem to want to eat my feet off. Funny – yes, scary, yes! Okay, I am going out now to put them to bed and, if you never hear from me again, it will be due to a duck drama! Oh and now Baby Turkey is stuck on the wrong side of the fence – great!








It has been fascinating to watch Queenie and the peachicks out and about. They roam freely now everywhere and are quite used to my presence. Sometimes they forage on the lawn just outside my office door where I can watch them and talk to them through the fly screen. It’s almost as if they have come over to say hello.




I still haven’t found a mate for Baby Turkey, but I promised him I would by next week and he perked up a little bit.


Godfrey and Zaruma, despite being male, continue to guard the ducklings. They are out and about for much of the day now too, always with the two male mothers guarding them – Godfrey with hisses and Zaruma with a little smile on his funny face.



This morning my mother came over and we cried together and it was like a gift of rain on a rose bush thought dead, but now budding again; it was like a single dewdrop until you see there are hundreds of them; it was like a hidden stream, full of pebbles and tadpoles and lilies and, well (I can’t help myself here!) ducklings.

Motherhood is a powerful thing.


New life!

Yesterday afternoon, the four new ducklings settled into their pen, then got straight out again!



As I was trying to herd them back in, Gutsy9 followed, extremely curious, but also jealous as she kept biting the bottom of my jeans as if to say, “hey, what about me?”


The gang welcomed the ducklings with a chorus of gleeful honking, then quieter little sighing sounds. Predictably, Godfrey, the head gander, hissed at me threateningly. He has very strong paternal instincts!



But the happiest of the gang was Zaruma, our only remaining duck. His mate, Tapper (the one who used to actually scale the yard fence and get out), was killed by a fox last year, so he has been very lonely. His joy was amazing; he can’t quack for some reason but he was madly wagging his tail. He’s the one on the right with the red face.




The alpacas, Uluru and Okami, settled protectively on the other side of the fence.


Even Baby Turkey became interested in a pecking sort of way.


Woodroffe and Diamond exchanged raised eyebrows.


The ducklings were very curious about the peachicks.


But they were much more interested in their first swimming lesson.




Ever since the peachicks entered our lives, over a week ago, everybird has become very attentive at sundown, including this young couple (the peahen is the second one to finally return although without chicks).
Prince is also quite interested in how Queenie gets the chicks to bed (notice how he has lost all of his long tail feathers – all the peacocks have now).
Gutsy9 is a bit jealous and is always right next to me. If I crouch down, she offers her neck to be stroked.
While Queenie is stirring the chicks up, preparing them for their bedtime transition to the avocado tree, I put the geese, duck and turkey into their yard for the night. I have been trying to flood their pen in order to create a kind of pond for them and it is working.
Queenie and the peachicks take ages to get ready for bed.
So I take a photo of the fig tree while I wait.
The younger peahen flies into the yard to encourage Queenie.
King (undoubtedly the father) also flies into the yard and takes a protective stance.
And then the magic begins. The bigger chick actually leads the way!
Queenie has to help the smaller chick.
But it comes back down again to say goodnight to me.

This is around the same time (7.30-8pm) that Anthony often suffers ‘Sundowner syndrome’ so, once I leave the birds and go into the house, I always ring the nursing home to say goodnight to him. As he almost never answers the phone himself I usually have to get the nurse-in-charge to enable a conversation. Lately Ants has been okay, delusional but not upset. He often thinks he is either at boarding school, a hospital, a party, or a pub.

I tell him about the birds, and say goodnight, with a sense of tentative peace, which is probably how Queenie feels at the top of that avocado tree (can you spot her?)


‘Cheep cheep’

A bit over a week ago I began to hear cheeping every time I went out in the evening to feed, water and put the gang (geese and duck and turkey) into their pens. None of the peafowl have ever been penned because our dogs don’t attack them and they fly up into the trees at night to sleep.

We have five peacocks (one white and the rest blue) – and seven peahens (two white, four green and Gutsy9), but during mating season all except one peahen and G9 disappeared. I assumed they were all nesting somewhere, or trying to, and I hoped for the best that none of them had been killed by wild foxes. But as the weeks went by I began to lose hope and the peacocks’ cries became more mournful.

I didn’t even let myself hope for chicks because, with the crows and foxes, I knew they had little chance of surviving, so I put the cheeping sound down to my imagination and/or the sound of wild bird chicks somewhere. I did a bit of a search every afternoon/evening, but nothing.

Then one evening, I saw them! Two chicks with Queenie (our oldest peahen) foraging under a shrub. I was delighted, but decided not to intervene because I could see they were a great little unit, so different from when I found G9 a year ago, obviously abandoned.

I didn’t hold much hope for them but for the next couple of evenings they were still around! Our dogs hadn’t detected them, they hadn’t drowned in the pond, and they were surviving without human intervention. Nevertheless, I knew these tiny creatures were in great danger from predators so a week ago Ming herded Queenie and the chicks into our smallest pen. I put a shallow water bowl in the yard and lots of wheat grain, which is what I feed all of the birds, and, when they were all still there the next morning I breathed a sigh of relief. The bottom of our three animal yards is meshed to prevent foxes getting in so I assumed Queenie and her kids were sleeping there.

And maybe they were! But then, the other evening, they weren’t; they were gone! I assumed the worst until they were back in that same pen the next morning. This has been going on now for a few days: Queenie and chicks in pen during daylight; Queenie and chicks gone from pen by 7pm.

How do they do this magic trick? I will tell you tomorrow. In the meantime:



Another little blog break

One of the unexpected bonuses of blogging for me has been the very real friendships formed, the mutual support, the shared humour, the shared grief. The lessons of life that I have learned through other people’s stories, and interactions, have taught me how to better do empathy and sympathy, and forced me to feel the difference.

Thanks so much for those of you who have commented, ‘liked’, and given me your friendships. For those of you who are bloggers, I am struggling at the moment to keep up with your writings, so please forgive me for that. For Facebook friends, same thing really!

Ming goes to court in three days. Apparently he and I simply appear, his charges will be read out, and the case will be adjourned by our lawyer until the end of February. So I really need to concentrate on all of this at least until the beginning of February, and blogging will go on the back burner for the time being.

Hard to believe now that when I began blogging it was all about the birds.



Finally. The sun is out and the internet is working!

Due to waterlogged, ancient telephone wires, I have had weeks and weeks of trouble with both phone and internet. Finally, the new wireless modem is configured, the landline is disconnected and the mobile phone is working inside the house (I don’t have to keep on running outside into the rain to have a conversation).

Ah, the rain; after our first month of spring and its relentless downpours, the sun is finally coming out to play again!


Bubble and Baby Turkey seem to be particularly excited about this.



pea 439pea 443pea 445pea 446

Gutsy9 has now been living outside for 16 days. To begin with, he was sleeping in a big cage within a pen, but he has now graduated to sleeping outside the cage because he is tall enough to drink from the water container without the risk of drowning.

Zaruma and Tapper (married Muscovy ducks) have taken a liking to him so I put them in the same pen as G9 for the night, with the geese and turkeys in a separate pen.

When I go out to the pens in the morning to let them all out for the day, all the birds go crazy with delight but G9 literally jumps for joy to see me and sometimes twirls himself around in a little happy dance before following me across the lawn and into the back veranda of the house.

He followed me into the bathroom today, asking for a cuddle!



I went to see a new chiropractor today because my chiro. brother is living in Honiara at the moment. So I showered and dressed in my going-to-town clothes, making sure I had decent underwear on in case I had to get into a gown.

Just before I left home, I ran outside in my old sandals to let the geese, ducks and turkeys out of their pens for the day. I accidentally stepped in a couple of puddles and so my feet were covered in mud, but, as I was running late, I just rinsed and wiped as much of the grime off as possible, then threw socks and boots on and raced into town.

Imagine my horror when the chiropractor asked me to take my boots and socks off! Dirty feet that have been inside socks and boots for an hour on a hot day aren’t particularly pleasant things to deal with.

Reluctantly, I took off my boots, then said to the chiropractor, Do I have to take my socks off? I think my feet might be dirty. He just smiled and said yes because he wanted to test my reflexes. Argh! So I peeled my socks off to reveal two filthy feet with matching toenails. I looked at them in shock and said, Oh no, they are dirty! as if I had never seen those feet before, as if they belonged to someone else, a dirty person.

The rest of me is clean, I said lamely, as I explained about the chookyard mishap. But the chiropractor just smiled and did the reflex thing and asked about the birds as if to distract himself from the horror of touching my feet.

Well how was I suppose to know he’d want to see my feet?