Thursday, November 23, 2017

I am thankful for...

So, today being Thanksgiving, I wanted to post a quick post about things I am thankful for.

First, volunteers.  I have Aleks and Alex right now who have both been spending a good amount of time here, helping out at the rescue.  I also had an adopter, Jen, come by for supplies yesterday, and spend two hours volunteering.  Super thankful.  We've been getting a lot done.

Second, people who read.  Maybe this sounds simple, but I get about 10 emails a day, that somehow demonstrate that someone didn't read something I took the time to make sure was spelled out.  For example, I got an email from someone who can't find geckos in their area and the email basically said it'd be great if we shipped.  It says, both on the crested gecko page, and on all the ads I posted for the geckos, "sorry, we cannot ship these geckos."  I'm sorry for the person who won't be able to get one now (well, from me at least), but I can't help that they can't read.  Or choose not to, whichever.  But I am thankful for the people who DO read, as then I don't waste time responding to emails like this.

Third, I'm thankful for the people who research.  I run across waaaaaay too many people who tell me that their chins love cranberries and all sorts of not good things, but there are also a good amount of people who tell me how much their chins love their cheerios, rosehips, and other safe treats!  Also, the people who have safe cages, and feed safe foods, because they have researched and done their homework, without me having to pick apart their adoption form and explain why snickers bars aren't appropriate treats.

Fourth, I'm thankful for the people who adopt, and otherwise support the rescue through buying supplies and toys.  Without our adopters, we'd just be another hoarder (haha), and of course, without the sale of the other items, we couldn't afford to run the rescue.

And finally, I'm thankful for the people who donate.  We've had a good amount (well, more than our usual, which is next to nothing haha) of donations lately.  Several people donating bedding and food, some toys and such.  We had someone donate $1,000 (you read that right) back in October, which was awesome, as we had a slow few months and were low on rescue funds.  Even the little stuff is appreciated.


Saturday, November 18, 2017

Blue diamonds vs. violets vs. sapphires

So I've had a few people ask about this lately, since we have both colors in (and even had a sapphire wrap recently), so I thought I'd touch on this.

Blue diamonds are chinchillas that have both the sapphire and violet gene expressed.  Both genes are recessive genes, so to get a blue diamond, you need parents that carry both genes.  These could be a variety of different chinchillas, but regardless of which they are... each parent would need to be one of these:

blue diamond
sapphire, violet carrier
violet, sapphire carrer
standard grey, sapphire & violet carrier

This way, both the parents would have both the sapphire and violet genes to pass down to their offspring. 

However, just because they can pass along these genes, does not mean that they do.  Short of breeding a blue diamond to a blue diamond (which is not a good idea, genetically -- you will end up with weak furred, not good quality animals), you will never end up with 100% blue diamonds.

For example, let's say you breed a sapphire, violet carrier (mom) to a violet, sapphire carrier (dad).  In mom, the sapphire is actually expressed, so all babies will have to be sapphire carriers.  As for the violet that she is carrying, a carried gene will only produce babies that carry that gene, 50% of the time.  So just from her side, the babies look like this:

standard, sapphire carrier, violet carrier
standard, sapphire carrier

Now... as the carried genes are not expressed... it's anyone's guess as far as WHICH of those standards would be the ones carrying both sapphire and violet.  The only way would be to breed them down the line.

But hold on, we have dad's genetics too.  As dad is a violet, sapphire carrier, this means that his babies would look like this:

standard, violet carrier, sapphire carrier
standard, violet carrier

Of course, that's only one half of the puzzle, so when you put these chinchillas together, what you end up is this:

--blue diamonds (1/4 of babies -- as the chins that receive both sapphire & violet carrier genes from both parents will be blue diamonds)
--violet, sapphire carriers (1/4 of babies), as the chins that receive both sapphire & violet carrier genes from one parent, and violet carrier genes from the other parent will express the violet gene, but will only carry the sapphire
--sapphire, violet carriers (1/4 of babies), as the chins that receive both sapphire & violet genes from one parent, and sapphire carrier genes from the other parent, they will express the sapphire gene, but only carry the violet
--standard grey, sapphire & violet carrier (1/4 of babies), as some babies will receive only a sapphire gene from one parent and only a violet gene from the other

Now, this is all fine and dandy, but in reality... it may not be one in four babies that's really blue diamond.  Just as an example, I had a female litter the other day.  She is a standard grey, bred to a pink white male, which should produce 25% standard grey, 25% hetero beige, 25% mosaic, and 25% pink white.  She actually had four babies, so this works great for this example... she had three standard greys and one hetero beige.  Which, in the blue diamond example, would be like having three standard grey, sapphire & violet carriers, and a sapphire, violet carrier.  That's why blue diamonds are not cheap.

Color-wise, these colors are different.  Violets are more of a purplish-tinged grey, sort of like a dove grey.  Sapphires are more of a blue-grey, sort of like a light light grey.  Blue diamonds are almost a powdery blue color.

This is a violet:

This is a sapphire wrap (darker than usual sapphire because of the ebony gene that creates the wrap, but you can see the blue vs. purplish):

And this is a blue diamond:

Of course, they look different in person, and under perfect lighting... but often people say that it's hard for them to tell the difference in pictures.  Some of that does depend on monitor settings and how the photo looks in general, but to try to help, we took a pic of some side by side.

While these are not the greatest pictures ever, the blue diamond is on the left, and the violet is on the right.  Whether you knew which colors those were, most people can say that they can tell that the grey coloration on the two chins does have a different tone to it, and that's the difference in color.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Volunteers of All Types!

People occasionally ask what they'll do when they volunteer here.  I know I just blogged about this the other day, but this has come up again, sort of in a different way, so I wanted to make a quick post about it.

Some of what volunteers do here, depends on their skill set.  If you can handle more complicated things, you'll do more complicated things, like make the mixes for the jars, or help organize, or help with paperwork even.  If you're not so inclined, or would rather stick to more mindless activities (which there's usually more of), we always have stuff that needs washed / scrubbed, toy pieces sanded, and cages cleaned.  And for those of you with more technical skill sets...   

We had a volunteer here the other day, who seemed sort of like a jack of all trades.  I do a little of everything myself as far as fixing things, woodwork, etc... but "electrical" is not so much in my wheel house.  Usually Jim handles that stuff, but sometimes it really can't wait until he has time to make it by, and I hate to call an electrician for the minor stuff.  But anyway, this volunteer seemed like maybe they could swing it, so when I had a light socket go out -- right over the basement sink, which is the busiest area in the basement (and also the area where you cannot get away without having light, as that's where all the rescue stuff gets washed / sanitized), I asked this volunteer if they knew how to replace it.  And yes, I do have a general idea myself.  Unscrew it, switch wires to new light socket, and so on... but I've only seen it done, never done it myself.  

So, they said they could probably swing it, and if not, they had an electrician friend who could walk them through.  Cool.

So, here's a pic of them changing out light socket out.  

And yes, that is a cell phone hanging suspended (MacGyver-style) by two clothing hangers that are hanging from a water pipe, supplying the light (since of course we had the power off) to change the light socket.

And it works!  Yaya.

Also, while they were here, I informed them how our hot water heater mysteriously is missing this one cap that screws onto a threaded tube.  The cap would prevent it from dripping (not the overflow valve... this is different) and the dripping results in me constantly having to empty small buckets of water every few days.  I told her, someone suggested before that it's likely a 3/4" cap off (the missing piece), but I never think of it at the hardware store, so I told her, if she does, pick up the threaded cap and I'll reimburse.  Her just-about-immediate-response was... try using a pop bottle cap and see if that fits.

And look at this...

Joel and myself have talked about capping this off multiple times with various things (mainly, going and hunting down an official cap), and talked about picking up the threaded cap multiple times... but we never came up with something as simple as this!  Sometimes it just takes an outside mind to think of things like this.  Haha!  

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Playtime At Young Ages

I feel like I can't stress this enough -- chinchillas should not have playtime before 6 months.  Even at 6 months, they need to start with 10 minutes per day, and slowly work up to 30 minutes per day, by the time they are a year old.

I actually have a handout that talks about this.  I hand it out to anyone adopting chins under 1 year old, and it's even on the website.  It's called Do's & Don'ts for Young Chins, and it's here --

Now, while it's available, of course, I can't make people read it or maybe a better way to put it, comprehend it.  I had a chin go home with someone the other day, and she emailed me this morning about some odd behavior.  Turns out, the chin was being let out for 2-3 hours of playtime a night... the first few nights, she ran around like a spaz, but then started slowing down, wanting to sleep more, having red ears... and so on.  So the owner emailed me.

Off the top of my head, I remember thinking it was a young chin, but I wasn't positive, so I looked up the birthdate of the one she adopted -- 4/15/17.  The chin is 6-7 months old.  So... as you readers should know just from what I've said in the last few paragraphs, 2-3 hours per day is much too much.

So I emailed her back, sent her the link to the info about playtime, and explained this all to her.

The main thing with this is -- if you were running a marathon, you wouldn't go run 26 miles on your first day of training.  Even if you somehow physically could accomplish this on the first day of training, you would be so worn out and so weak afterwards, you could seriously hurt yourself.  That's how this is.  The chins start at smaller periods of time and work their way up, so they develop stamina.  Also, so they have time to grow, and as they get larger and have larger amounts of food in their stomachs, they can spend more time out.  What we want to avoid is having the chin basically use up all the nutrients they have in their bodies, running around.  If that happens, they can go low blood sugar, become lethargic, and possibly even die.  Sad to say, it happened to someone we know a few years back... which is one of the things that prompted me to write that handout.  Obviously, we want our chins and everyone's chins to live as long and as happy lives as they can, so living through baby-hood is always a good thing and a good step in the right direction.  So, I just wanted to put this out here to remind everyone how important it is to either not do playtime at all (which is fine.... chins do just fine without it), or work on gradually introducing playtime into the lives of our young furry fluffballs.  That is all. 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Interesting People

So, you know I've gotta have a post about some interesting people now and then, right?  Of course, we have our wonderful adopters, and then we have... less than wonderful people who find us as well. 

So the first one:  (colored sections are actual texts... regular black text is my comments)

Them:  I saw your ad about a male chinchilla.  Wondering if I would order him now how fast he would get here.

Order him... kind of odd working.  Assuming she means if he was shipped?

Me:  You mean like having him shipped there?  That depends on what flights are available to an airport near you and how soon we can find one that works for both of our schedules.  Usually they can be there within a week or so, sometimes less

Them:  Ok, I want him

Immediate thought... which one?

Me:  which one?

Them:  standard grey

You know, I don't even have to tell you my thoughts here...

Me:  Does he have a name?  Or what age is he?  Quite a few of the ones that I have listed are standard greys

Them:  Any way you could send pics?

Of which one?????? (starting to get aggravated)

Me:  I probably have 20 standard greys available.  Could you be a bit more specific as far as which one you're talking about?

Them:  I do not know I just need a male standard with red eyes about a year old

Me:  Standard greys don't have red eyes.  Maybe you're thinking of a hetero beige?

Them:  Could you send pics please I'm barely awake and don't know which post it was

First off... ALL, and I do mean ALL my ads have photos, even if it's just one photo.  So, undoubtedly, she wasn't even looking at my ad, but even so... which chin am I supposed to send pics of?  I don't own some magic unicorn-chinchilla-that's-standard-grey-with-red-eyes

Me:  I have probably 30 chins available in total, I need to know which one you want pictures of

Reasonable, yes?

Them:  Nevermind I need it sooner than a week thank you

Now... I can think of all sorts of reasons why she needs a chin ASAP, but none of them are good.  Either a chin died and she needs to replace ASAP before the kid notices, or someone's birthday is coming up and she needs the chin ASAP, or... anyway, no options sound good.  If you just want a nice pet for yourself, you don't need it, like yesterday.  You can wait.  So, no really sorry this one didn't pan out, as you can imagine.

Another person... and this one is short, I promise... sends me a message the other day, it literally says "I'm here for the free geckos."  Now, no one was at the house... thankfully.  But... pretty sure my geckos have adoption fees.  Oddball texts like that I will just ignore.

Last person that comes to mind, again short so this post doesn't go on forever... sends me a message and asks, "what chinchilla is $75?"  Now, as much as I'm happy to help people... at the same time, when I have oodles to do, emails and orders that I'm behind on, voicemails to return, cages to clean, etc etc.... I don't care so much to coddle and help people be lazier.  I responded that the ones that are $75 are the colored adults, and that I thought we only had one or two females right now that might be that price, and I linked them to our available chins page.  Since the sale is going on, you may notice that each chin listing at the top now has (at the end of the listing) ADOPT ME FOR $___.  So, you don't even need to scroll down to the actual listings with pictures and descriptions and all that, this is right at the top right now.  I guess it was too much work for them to look and see which few I was talking about, because I never did hear back.  Ah well.  Maybe they would have liked if I could have come over and fed it for them as well, haha! 

Of course, we had some great adoptions as well that went off without a hitch... but people like this keep everything interesting, that's for sure!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Volunteering -- boring? Never!

So, I suppose I'm not sure what people think volunteering here will be like, or even what expo set up is really like, so I wanted to share what we did on this past Friday as far as having a volunteer come over and get stuff done.

So, Aleks -- everyone say "hi Aleks!"

Aleks on Saturday with Sizzle, one of our resident corn snakes
 -- showed up around 10 am.  That's when we started packing.  I'd intended to start more the night before, but I'd only gotten as far as printing out the master list of the items we needed.  Which... that's sometimes how it goes, especially when there's a lot of emails to answer and phone calls, and whatnot.

So, the master list looks something like this:

Some stuff on there we don't take to ever expo, like there's some items that we only take if we're staying in a hotel.  But most of the stuff is things we need at the expo regardless, so usually I cross off what I know we don't need (whether that's because we're staying in a hotel, or because some expos provide things that others don't, etc, etc), and start packing the rest.  So, the toys all need to be tagged, so we usually do that at home.  For things like loofah, apple & oat cookies, and the baggies of herbs, those get price tags at the expos (as the stickers don't stick all that well), so I just make sure we have adequate amounts of each of those.  For this expo, since the past All Animal Expo at Wheaton cleared us out of rosehips, rosebuds, and hibiscus petals, I had Aleks work on getting those baggies ready while I grabbed some of the toys, loofah, and so on, and packed the box.

Then of course we grabbed the hammocks and the other supplies and got all those boxes, plus our trays, signs, banners, and everything else, upstairs.  

For my blazer, first thing that gets loaded are the two tables, then the cages (one on top of another), then the chairs in between those.  The boxes all get tetris'd in after that, sort of wherever they fit.  We do have a system, but I can't easily describe it here, just know that when packing, there is a definite order to what goes in next, to ensure that everything does fit. 

I remember telling Aleks that undoubtedly we'd have forgotten something, and halfway there, I realized, we did not have our small Christmas tree with the chin-ornaments.  No big deal, because we were coming home that night and would grab it that night.

So, we get to the expo, find out that we are the booth pretty close to being right across from the entrance, and begin bringing everything in.  I think both of us had to each make 2-3 trips, but we got it all in.  First thing to set up are the tables, because... the banner has to go up, and the only way for short-little-me to reach getting those hooks hooked is standing on one of the tables.  Safety first, eh?  Lol.  And I can barely reach it on the tables.  Anyway, so first thing is get the tables set up, get on the table and get the banner up, and then table cloths go on, cage pads go down, cages go down, animals go in their cages.  Hand sanitizer, donation box, business card holder w/ business cards, all also get set up.  Chinchillas at a Glance sheets go down.  That's all for the table on the right (usually).  Usually that can be done while the other table is being set up by someone else... for that table, the herbs are getting arranged on the trays, along with toys, loofah, goodie bags, and so on.  We also have our box of hammocks and some shelves and such.  Then, once everything is officially set up, we have little signs that say what bags are what, and their prices.  These go in front of the bags on the trays.  So then, lastly, we look at what's priced and what's not.  From experience... even though the tag says "natural loofah $1.75," if the bag of loofah doesn't have a "$1.75" tag on it, I will be asked, often over and over, how much the loofah is... so I leave the signs and price the individual items.  So, we look at those and price.  For this weekend, as I had help, I had Aleks count how many of which items needed prices, I wrote out the tags, and she stuck them to the baggies.  Same for the shelves, loofah, and so on.  So then, that was about it for the booth, so we took a pic and got ready to come back in the morning.

Our booth when we left on Friday evening

Our booth, after they told us we could have more room, Saturday

So then, we're almost ready to head back and I realize I need to get gas.  So, as we go to a gas station, I thought I saw a Dollar Tree sign, and told Aleks that we'd stop if it was, in fact, a Dollar Tree.  It wasn't, and when I looked up where one was, the closest was 15 minutes away, so not worth it.  The reason I had mentioned it, though, was because I needed items to make a raffle basket for the expo (rescues donate one) and much of what I had at the rescue was summer-related.  For example, I had barbecue / grilling stuff to make a picnic / grilling basket... but... it's like 30 degrees outside... so not quite appropriate.  So, we're on the way home, and we DO pass a Dollar General.. so we stop and go shopping.  Pick up some items for the rescue basket, plus of course a few oddball things, and then go to Hallmark to see if they have a specific ornament I was wanting to see (they didn't), and then head home.  Hey, I told you rescue help isn't boring right?  Who'd think you get to go to a fabulous dollar store and then even Hallmark when you're volunteering?  Awesome times, right?  Right??

Anyway, we come home, and I still need to feed and water the critters, so Aleks helps me with that and some other tasks, before I end up driving her home at around 9 pm.  Sometime before she left, another Alex that was supposed to volunteer with me earlier in the week (but had things come up), sent me a message asking if I could use help that night.  Of course!  So she came over, and she stayed at my house and continued to fill up the water for the critters while I drove Aleks home.  I got home, and we switched over to working on putting grommets and hanging hardware (comprised of split rings and snap hooks) in hammocks that we were going to take to the expo tomorrow.  I also made the donation basket.

Alex left at about 2 am, and I went to sleep sometime like 3-4... only to get up before 8, so we could leave about at 8, for the expo in the morning.  Fun times.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Arriving on Time

I sometimes feel like I need to write a blog entitled, lessons for life.... because some people really could use some tips.

Everyone shows up late.  It makes me wonder, do you all show up late to doctor's appointments?  Or to dinner with friends?  Or they don't show up AT ALL.  And naturally, whether late or no-show, they don't call, text, or anything, to let me know.

Which wouldn't be so frustrating except, of course, I'm sitting here waiting for them to arrive, and often I've gotten stuff ready for them, or made sure I was home by a specific time...  like today, I had to run out to Lansing earlier, but I knew I had a 5 pm appointment, so I made sure I was home in time for that.  And lookie here, it is after 5:30 and the person is not here.  Also, the person has not texted or called to reschedule or cancel their appointment. 

Honestly, if these people had called, even a few minutes before their appointment, and said, you know, I'm sorry, we can't make it.  Heck, even without the "I'm sorry" part.  Just hey, we can't make it... I wouldn't even be writing this.  But as it is -- and I feel like this is super sad to say -- I can't even begin to tell you how many people are between 15-30 minutes late, and seem to think nothing of it!  If I show up late somewhere, I apologize.  If I was stuck in traffic, I'll let the person know.  Heck, they probably already know that, because I would not have waited until I was late... I would have called / texted / contacted them ahead of time, to let them know that I was late. 

...and I suppose what irks me the most is that these people see nothing wrong with it... like they don't walk in and say, "sorry we're late."  They just walk in, as if they're strolling in, completely on time, they don't even mention the fact that their appointment was scheduled for 40 minutes prior. 

Maybe it's just me, but I was taught that it's common courtesy to let people know if you're going to be late (among other things).  Is that not taught anymore?  Because it seems people don't do that anymore... they show up whenever they please...