Thursday, June 2, 2011

5 Reasons to Get Your Pig a Friend

Imagine this. You live all alone an alien world, locked in your home most of the day. You have weird green men peeping through the windows and muttering gibberish at you, and occasionally picking you up out of your house and squeezing you for a while. Sometimes they even let you walk around outside, but they're always watching you and shooing you this way and that. But most of the time you're left in your house, completely alone. You busy your time by eating and napping, and occasionally exploring the further reaches of your house for anything that the aliens might have moved or changed last time they stretched their big, hairy arms in. Nobody speaks your language and the most you can tell the aliens is that you're hungry. The aliens think that muttering gibberish and squeezing you every day keeps you happy, but really you're very lonely. Sometimes you understand what they're trying to communicate and you enjoy their company, but most of the time you're just scared and alone.

If you only have one guinea pig, that is how it feels. Here are the top five reasons why your guinea pig needs a buddy.

5. Guinea pigs are not tame animals.
No matter how much you pet and love and domesticate your cavy, he/she is still a prey animal and still afraid of you. Cats and dogs are the only animals that are truly domesticated, and therefore the only ones that can be happy with just you for company.

4. In the wild, guinea pigs live in herds. They're social animals, just like humans are, and they need company to feel complete. Guinea pigs really are alone in your alien world, and by providing them with a buddy, you can help to stave off the boredom and bring some comfort and excitement into their lives.

3. Guinea pigs are healthier in multiples. They're more likely to eat foods they otherwise wouldn't, they get more exercise running around with each other, and they can actually help each other get well when they're sick. Without going into the icky details, when one of your pigs gets sick, if the other is still healthy the sick pig can regain the bacteria he/she needs to be health from, well, eating the other pig's poop. It's gross, and pigs should always be taken to the vet upon the first sign of any illness, but living in pairs (or more!) can help your pig stay healthy.

2. Believe it or not, they're cuter in pairs.
You didn't think they could get any cuter, but with another pig around, yours will exhibit more of its natural behaviors. If you've never seen a "piggy train" you're missing out. You can watch your pigs talk to each other, play with each other, explore with each other, and run laps with each other. Even watching their daily squabbles is exciting and adorable. For example, I know a friend whose pigs have a loft for their "kitchen" area, and when it's dinner time one of her pigs always blocks the ramp so only he can eat... until the other pig bites him in the butt. Mine move their hideys around to barricade the other in or out of certain parts of the cage, and will spin the pigloo entrance to face the wall when they don't want the other inside. All the cute little mannerisms you never knew your pig had will start to come out, and your pair will start to feel more like part of the family than ever.

1. It will keep your guinea pig happy!
All of the above reasons have more to do with making your life easier, but think about your guinea pig. A friend will stave off his/her boredom, give him/her someone to cuddle with on cold nights, and give him/her someone to spend the day with while you're at work or out of the house.

Aside from all that, two guinea pigs don't require much more space than one, and they aren't much harder to clean up after than one. I don't have to clean my cage any more frequently with two than I did with one. As long as the cage size is appropriate, two don't really make more of a mess than one. Also, your guinea pig won't start ignoring you just because he/she has a buddy. That's right, having a friend won't make your guinea pig less interested in you! When my first guinea pig, Fred, lived alone, he woke me up at 6 AM every day wheeking for food. Now that he has a friend, he never does this. I realize now that his behavior was because he was bored, not just enthusiastic about food (and every guinea pig is enthusiastic about food). But, just because he doesn't wake me up every day anymore, doesn't mean he ignores me when I come to the side of the cage or hold him in my lap. He's still just as interested in me as ever.

So what are you waiting for? Go get your pig a buddy. (But please! Do so responsibly. Support local shelters, not the pet stores! Adopt, don't buy.)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

I'm Pig-cessorizing!

Here's the first of several cozies, tunnels, hideys, and mats to come. I recently redid my guinea pig cage with fleece mats backed with Uhaul's recycled denim furniture pads. I also added a bent grid hay rack and a kitchen area to help contain some of the mess. I'm loving the new setup, but I didn't take any pictures so there's not much to share there. I may take some next time I do a cage cleaning; I just did one today and didn't really think about it, and the whole setup a little bit more attractive before the guinea pigs mess it all up.

What I do have pictures of is my first tunnel. It measures 8.5" wide by 14" long and features a cute green kids' animal print and a brown contrast, with green stitching along the brown outside for contrast. This one will be the first of a series I'll be making to sell on Etsy after my fruitful Black Friday shopping adventure, where between epic holiday sales and a forgotten gift card, I got about six yards of fabric for almost as many dollars.

A tutorial follows for making your own, but this one (and many more to come!) are available on my Etsy page, which is linked to the right. This one's at a discounted rate; it comes to about $10 including shipping, just because it was a "first" and includes all the minor flaws that accompany my ruthless diving into projects I should be planning better.

Here's a quick tutorial to which I will add pictures as soon as I make another:

The Almost-No-Sew 30-Minute Tunnel

1/2 yd. main fabric (fleece)
1/2 yd. contrast fabric (fleece)

1. Pre-wash all of your fabric. It's not 100% necessary because fleece does not shrink noticeably, but you want your fleece to wick, since there will be small animals doing their business inside of it, instead of letting everything pool on the surface.

2. Cut off the selvages and straighten any crooked edges. For shame, fabric store employees, for you do not always cut in straight lines!

3. Cut a 21-inch long piece of each fabric. It's already 18 inches wide, which is what we want. *note: If you have an exceptionally large guinea pig, such as an older boar, you may wish to purchase a bit of additional fabric to widen your tunnel. My somewhat larger than average boar is able to use his, which I only made 17 inches wide, but I would worry for a boar any larger than him.

4. Fold each piece in half (hot dog style), right sides together. If you can't tell, it doesn't matter which is the right side, but if you pull on the cut edge, the fabric will roll to the wrong side.

5. Sew each piece up the length. Turn the outside piece right side out and insert the inside piece, wrong sides together.

6. Now you see your tunnel taking shape! Fold the open edges back and fold them back again so that you form a cuff on each side. Sew close to where the cuff meets the outside fabric (I recommend 1/4" away). Be sure that you're sewing through that middle layer so that the raw edges can't poke out later and be ugly. If you like (and I do), sew another line 1/4" out from the first line. This one's for extra security and decoration, if you're sewing in a contrasting thread color.

You're done! Let the guinea pigs or other such small animals enjoy. This can be scaled up or down, made longer, shorter, wider, skinnier, and anything else you want to do to it. Best of all, you'll probably have enough fleece left over to make one for a friend, or make a spare for your own piggers.

A backlog of sewing.

Hello all!

Here's a backlog of all of the sewing that's happened since early summer. I simply haven't been able to upload anything between moving and school starting, so now that fall break is here, here's an update.

Purses! I made four purses on commission: none of the fabrics are my choices, they all turned out lovely though. The tutorial that I used to make them has since been removed from the internet, so I may be reposting it in the near future, along with the adjustments I've made. When I started my first purse with the pattern, I printed it out for easy access, and I'm glad I did!

The new ones I made slightly larger than the original: they're about 24x17, as opposed to 19x12. I lengthened the handles on two out of the four, as per the purchaser's preferences.

Without further ado, pictures! You can expect a tutorial for this style bag as soon as I make another -- I was rushing these so I didn't photograph the process. You can also blame my lack of camera; all these photos come from my phone, unfortunately.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

No more piggy woes!

Well, Ani finished her treatment today. For a recap, she was on an antibiotic (Baytril) to treat an abscessed lymph node in her neck. This was in early February, and she finished her two months of treatment up a couple of days ago. Tonight, she had her follow-up vet appointment and the verdict was that the lumps were back to normal lymph node size and she should be good to go. There is a possibility that, after being off antibiotics for a while, they would come back and we would have to repeat this process for the rest of her life, but hopefully that won't happen.

She was very good about her treatment and was always very patient about her twice a day regimen. It also helped me come up with a better strategy for nail clippings; instead of enlisting my boyfriend to help hold them still while I did all the nails at once, I do a foot every couple of days. They're so much more relaxed that way -- even Fred, the feisty little guy that he is, is a lot more patient with this system, although he never lets me finish a whole foot and I have to do just a few nails before he freaks out.

Total, I spent $80 on vet visits, $92 on antibiotics, and $20 on probiotics, for a grand total of $192 on a guinea pig abscess that may recur, require more antibiotics, cause a resistance to the antibiotics which can cause a whole host of new problems, and eventually require expensive, invasive surgery. Fingers crossed that the whole episode ends today and no more problems develop.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Seedling woes....

Well, after a week or so of healthy growth, I have seedling issues. There are bugs and mushrooms that sprout up FAST, and my seedlings are starting to fall over dead. At first I thought they weren't being watered often enough, so I watered them generously, only to do some more research and see that they may be damping off. So I moved them into a less well-lit but better ventilated area of the house and the ones that I moved yesterday appear to be doing much better. The remaining plants were moved this morning, so I'm waiting on a verdict on those. Two trays of plants are getting direct sunlight from the west (there is only one south-facing window in the house and it isn't usable, so this is really the best I can do), and the third is getting open shade from the east and is under a plant light as well. If they do well under the plant light, I may move them all to a small west-facing window and put the plant light next to it.

As of now, I'm afraid that if this doesn't fix the problem, I may have to start over. As it was I was about a week behind in planting, so if I do have to start over, I'll be almost a month behind. The growing season for my lettuces is almost over, anyway. This whole "garden" idea could end up being a very expensive disaster.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Garden

Unfortunately, I have no pictures of my garden as of yet. I had intended to document it from the beginning, but a dead camera and misplaced charger have other ideas. So far, almost all of my planters have germinated and moved out into the sunlight. They'll stay there for another month until after the last frost. The cell trays cost $15 (mostly for shipping; the trays were $0.89 each. The seeds ran me $1 per pack for a total of $10.

The beds are done and the soil has been added. The compost is composting and I'll probably add it as mulch as a top layer, since it's not going to be done in another month. It definitely attracts some serious worms though, so that's good. The soil was about six square yards of topsoil with humus added, which came to around $200. Fantastic deal; I wasn't footing the bill for that one, though, so I didn't get a chance to check it out. We'll find out come spring if it's good quality, or if weeds start sprouting.

So my total right now is $225 so far for the whole thing, and the topsoil is a one-time buy. Time invested for me is about five hours, but I didn't get to finish leveling and building the beds myself.

Hopefully, I'll have pictures up by next post.

For anyone interested, my total cost so far is $240. $200 went to topsoil with humus added for the garden beds, of which we got about six square yards and have some left over. The remaining $40 was for seeds and cell trays.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Yay! My first purse and wallet.... thing!

Well, I finally finished the wallet (more like a credit card organizer) that I made with the scrap fabric from my purse, and just finished posting them both on Etsy. They were a lot of fun to make, considering how much easier they were to sew than clothing (the only thing I've made in the past). Now it's late and I'm tired, so I'll get straight to the pictures.

Let me know what you think. =] I'm pretty pleased with them.