Monday, June 27, 2011

An Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award

I love the fact that blogging brings us many new friends and an added treat is when one of them decides you should be given an award!  This is my 3rd Blog Award, and I'm chuffed!

I have Bryce Daniels of The Bryce Daniels Preservation Society  to thank for this award.  He passed it on after being awarded it himself.  Congrats and thanks Bryce - please go and say hello to Bryce who is a new blogger and we all remember what those first few months are like...

As part of the rules of the award I need to tell you 7 things about myself:

1. I came to Australia with my parents in 1971.  I didn't want to come but am so glad I did.

2. I have a dream to save vast amounts of Australia's scrubby bush for Merrilyn and her descendants/cousins.

3. I've had 3 books published, two via a publisher, (Simon & Schuster), and a kangaroo care manual I self-published so people could have it for free. (Link in side bar if you're a carer).

4. I love the bush, wildlife and sunsets

5. I was almost killed by an elephant in India.  You can read a brief version of the story here.

6. I am a breast cancer thriver.  I wrote a bit about that here.

7. My current favourite saying is "When you find the right song, the voice appears."

So now to pass this gorgeous award onto 5 other deserving, irresistibly sweet blogs.

1. Catbird Scout.  Deb Shucka writes beautifully.  I rarely visit this blog without finding deep feelings within. If you've never been to Catbird Scout, please give yourself a treat.

2. By Word of Mouth Musings.  Nicole runs some super link ups including "Time Travel Tuesday" and "Wordless Wednesdays".  Thanks Nicole for working hard to enable us to make new friends in the blogosphere.

3. The World From My Window .  Maddie's "tales of England's rural underbelly" blog was one of the first I visited and I was hooked.  As I creep towards 100 followers Maddie gallops towards 1000 and just one visit to the enchanted village to meet  the likes of Mr Sheepwash, Posh Totty and Randy Munchkin will have you wanting more too.

4. Paws4Thor   As his author Mum writes: This blog is about one boy's journey to get a helping paw - an autism service dog.  Go and take a look and click on a couple of buttons to show your support and help Erin and Thor create their dreams!

5. New Day New Lesson.  It's easy to moan, but that's not Susie's thing.  Susie is changing the world, one positive post at a time!    If you're looking for kindness, positive thinking or inspiration, go and give Susie a visit.

5 worthy blogs to go and visit.  Thanks again to Bryce for this award.  Please go and say hi to Bryce and the other award winners - enjoy the journey!  (Oh and if you aren't a follower - I'm getting very excited about creeping closer to the 100 mark and would love to have you join the fun, please.  Scroll down to see what I normally post about (just once per week) - you'll fall in love too!)

For the award recipients there are 4 rules to this award:

1. Thank the person who gave you the award and link back to them.
2. Include 7 random tidbits about yourself.
3. Pass award on to 5 others and link to their blogs.
4. Let the people know you've given them the award.

To spread the happy word I've also added this post to Free Fringes Love Links 12 - check it out.

Friday, June 24, 2011

What else can go wrong? Merrilyn Part 10

It took Merrilyn quite a while to get over her overnight adventure.  (You can read Part 9 here if you missed it). She had sore feet for a few days and her poos turned black and runny.  She was understandably skittish and did not want to go too far away from me.

We resumed our walks, with a watchful eye out for any wild kangaroos that might pass by too closely, but we were all just a bit on edge.  Just nine days after Merrilyn's near loss, something else, unthinkable happened.

We were walking back up to the house and Buster suddenly took off.  Nothing unusual in that but he was heading straight for a rock retaining wall and he'd never jumped that high before.  Without thinking, Stephen called out "Stop Buster".  Buster complied but he was already in flight and he may have made it over the wall, but his sudden stop meant he smacked straight into it.  We raced over to him and he immediately tried to get up, but we could see that one of his hind feet was broken.

Stephen and I just looked at each other and then down at the break.  Male eastern grey kangaroos can grow to 66kg (145lb).  Having solid hind legs is critical to their ability to flee from predators and also to fight other male eastern greys.  They stand up on their strong tails and kick out with their legs. If the vet could not heal this break solidly, Buster would have to be put down.  Better that than a cruel death.  Buster had won our hearts quickly and tears welled into my eyes at the thought of losing him. (You can read about Buster's arrival here.) He was looking at us with such trust.

We moved quickly.  Securing Merrilyn in her pouch back inside the house and carefully lifting Buster into his pouch.  We raced to the vet who took an X-ray and declared, to our relief, that he thought he could fix the problem.  The break was down near his toe, not on the main part of the leg, which would probably have resulted in him being put down, and the vet thought a plaster splint might do the job.

We spent several hours at the vet surgery and eventually bought him home with instructions that he shouldn't run and to keep the whole thing dry.  Well the second was easy - we added a plastic bag around it (or, as we dubbed it, "Buster's condom").  Keeping him from running was going to prove a new challenge.

Somehow he was even more gorgeous with his foot in the splint!

Buster also loved his pouch, (in fact he loved it more than any joey we ever had in care - possibly because he was denied it when he was young - perhaps he thought he'd make up for the lost pouch time!)

The question now - would the cast work?  Would the break heel properly and leave him with a strong back foot that could take him into adult life safely?  Time would tell.

If you've missed any of the other parts, just click on the Merrilyn's Story Link on the side bar and they are all there.

Thanks to the many of you leaving comments, sending emails, following here and joining the facebook page. You are all very much appreciated and I will be visiting, commenting and following you back and there's plenty more to come in this story.  More characters, more drama, more laughter and plenty of tears.  Enjoy.

Love to you all, Cheryl

Oh and am linking this post to Bee's With Honey's "Let's bee friends Friday" post.  We all need new friends!

Let's BEE Friends
And having forgotten I'd linked it there I've also linked it to By Word of Mouth Musings Time Travel Tuesdays! 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Favourite Book Challenge Blog Fest

Today I'm joining a blog fest over at A Writer's Journey.  Come on join us in having some fun.  This is how it works:
1. Pick your top five favourite books
2. Between June 20 and 22nd, write one line on what each book is about and then one line on why you liked it. (Teralyn suggest you think of it as a twitter pitch for other people's work. Semi-colons are cheating, but you can use them anyway.
3. Go to the other blogs and discuss the books
4. If you don't keep a blog put your challenge in the comments section on the day.
OK here are mine, the toughest thing being picking 5 books!
Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet.  A cathedral is built over several generations of tragedy and hope.  I love it for its superbly crafted characters and for its graphic depiction of life in those times.
The Power of One by Bryce Courtney.  An awkward boy develops into a man with a remarkable understanding of the beauty and the horror of his homeland.  This book inspired me to an understanding that no matter what your beginnings, no matter what happens to you along the way, you can still triumph.
A Lion Called Christian by Anthony Bourke and John Rendall.  Two young Aussie blokes in London, buy a lion cub from a department store and eventually help him to return to the wild.  I love it because it's a true story and reminds me of the story I'm telling here on my blog. (OK this adds a 3rd line, but if you haven't seen it watch this YouTube clip. Christian the Lion - have the tissues handy!)
Life and Death in Shanghai by Nien Chen. The poignant story of one woman's determination to speak the truth, despite torture and solitary confinement for over six years.  Another true story that kept me enthralled from beginning to end.
A Woman of Substance by Barbara Taylor-Bradford.  A girl refuses to be intimidated and rises above those who would put her down whilst enduring love, hate and tragedy.  I am just a sucker for poor girl becomes rich successful woman and this was Barbara's best work.
So that's my five.  What are yours?  Have you read any of these books?  Leave me a comment and let me know what you thought of them.  

Until Friday's next episode of Merrilyn's story, take care and enjoy life. (If you are new here, here scroll down to my last post on Merrilyn the kangaroo joey, which is what I usually post about - take a peek. ) 

Cheers all Cheryl

Friday, June 17, 2011

Gone in a Flash - Merrilyn Pt 9

Joeys are not forever.  They are temporarily in your care until the are old enough and strong enough to be released to a life in the wild.  They are not pets and you know they will be with you for just a short time.  Logic therefore says - DON'T get attached.  Not only do you eventually release a joey into the wild, but many die along the way from disease, injury and attacks from predators.  Wildlife care can be a thankless, heart-breaking task.  The problem is, those who decide to be involved do so because they have big hearts and big hearts get attached.

I had raised joeys before, and lost joeys before and I knew the realities, but for some reason Merrilyn and Buster burrowed deep into my heart.

It had taken only a couple of months for Merrilyn to grow from a helpless, very sick, fur less joey
To a healthy joey, who, on this occasion, climbed onto my lap and settled in for a nap.
She also loved her "brother" Buster who had grown into a beautiful joey.
I took them for walks across my property a couple of times a day.  They were still kept inside at night, safe from predators, and these walks helped to strengthen their bodies.  I still recall the first time Buster took off across the paddock, (field).  I held my breath.  Would he turn and come back?  He did, charging at me at break neck speed and rushing past, only to turn and come back again.  His joy in the freedom was palpable.  On the walks he would rush off and little Merrilyn, about 1kg, (2.2lb) lighter than him would chase his heels and do her best to keep up.

On this particular day Merrilyn had weighed in at just over 3.5kg, (7.7lbs).  She still spent a good deal of her day in her pouch.  She was on 3 bottles a day plus grass.  She had also drank some water for the very first time in the morning.  We went for our walk at about 4.30pm and all was going well when a wild adult female kangaroo came from no where and raced past us, coming quite close.  Merrilyn must have thought this kangaroo was Buster and so she took off after her and in seconds they were both gone from sight.  I ran and called and then realised I was probably frightening the adult and causing her to run faster and so stopped, but they had already gone right across the open paddock and into the bush beyond - somewhere Merrilyn had never gone before.  I was horrified.

We returned Buster to his pouch in the house and then set off to try and find Merrilyn.  I walked and called but could find no trace of her.  No trace of any other kangaroos in fact.  I went several kilometres, checking side tracks with no success.  Bottle time came and went and I knew she was out there somewhere - hungry, getting cold and she had never been out of her pouch this long.  She was tiny and night was closing in and she was a long way from home.

I returned for a torch and then went back out to look some more.  Tears flowed down my cheeks and I felt enormous guilt and sadness.  If only I'd seen the adult coming and popped Merrilyn in her pouch, if only we hadn't walked that way, if only, if only.  I felt that crashing around in the bush at night would only frighten her more and so I sat in a clearing and talked quietly, hoping she would hear my voice and show herself.  I also cried quietly, knowing I could be miles away from where she was.  She might already be dead.  Running wildly through forests joeys can hit trees and break necks and limbs.  She may have run into roaming dogs or foxes.  She could have been caught on a barbed wire fence.  None of the pictures that came into my head were pretty.  She was so small, she had gone a long way from home, how could she possibly survive a night alone?  Two feed times had now come and gone.

I stayed out until nearly midnight and then was talked into going home to bed.  Buster seemed to know something was very wrong.  He was very subdued, only popping out for his bottle and then tucking himself tightly back into his pouch and not coming out again.  I sobbed myself to sleep.  How could I have let this beautiful creature down so badly?  

It was still dark but I realised I was awake.  I'd heard Merrilyn call out but I knew it was a dream.  I lay there tears streaming and wondering how soon light would come so I could go out looking again.  Then the noise came again.  I was sure of it.  A joey was calling.  I looked at the clock 5am.  I was out of bed and on my way outside in a flash.  Buster poked his pose from his pouch but I was halfway out the door.  Light was just starting to creep over the paddock and amongst the trees close to the house I saw movement.  I ran towards it but the shape ran quickly away.  I stopped, realising if it was Merrilyn she would be very frightened, having spent a night alone.  I sat down on the dew covered grass and started to talk to her.  I could not believe my eyes.  From the darkness she reappeared.  Shaking and very nervous but it was Merrilyn.  She had found her own way home.  

It took about 15 minutes for her to come right up to me and then she fell into my lap.  I scooped her up and headed inside and popped her into a pouch.  I made up some rehydration fluid and I warmed her on my lap as she sucked down the entire bottle.  I just held her, tears of gladness flowing now, but also knowing we weren't out of trouble.  Stress is a joey killer.  It was still possible she would go into a form of myopathy where her organs would close down.  She didn't want to let go of the empty bottle so I replaced it with one with a closed teat so she would not be sucking in air.  She was sighing and even let out a few noises that sounded like moans, and I continued to hold her and talk to her quietly.  She slept.

When she woke she was still very nervous but took a bottle and slept again.  The next time she woke I took her outside and gently popped her out of the pouch.  She stood steadily, which was very reassuring, and she went to the toilet and then collapsed back into the pouch.  This time we both slept on the chair together.  Merrilyn had used up the second of her nine lives but she had made it through.  It was nothing less than remarkable that she had found her way through territory she had never been in before and survived the night at such a young age.  If I hadn't realised it before, I now knew that this was no ordinary joey.

Missed the first 8 parts?  Find them here. Part 10 will be posted next Friday, and there are new characters to join in the fun soon.  In the meantime come back on Monday to join in 
Thanks to Teralyn Pilgrim for hosting this and you can join this blog fest here.

I'd also like to acknowledge two other bloggers this week.  Lindy from Lindy Legends and other such nonsense.  Who's post on how to create your own blog button resulted in me finally organising mine, (which you can grab over in the side bar) and she also made me one of her blogs of the week - thank you so much Lindy!

Also please go and join in the fun with Nicole at Word of Mouth Musings.  I've been enjoying her Time Travel Tuesdays where you can revive an older post, and I'm going to check out her Fabulous Facebook Friends Blog hop this weekend.  Nicole asked me about a facebook page which reminded me to get my act together on that one too and so you can "like" the kangaroos of the scrubby bush facebook page now too! 

See you all next week and have a great weekend! Love and hugs, Cheryl.
PS to those wondering - I have changed the "comment luv" back to plain Google comments as it seemed to be creating problems.  Hence quite a few comments have "disappeared".  Thankfully I still have email copies and I thank you for them all!

OK am also adding this to the Love Links 11 Party over at Free Fringes.  Many thanks to Erica for the opportunity to share my blog to a wider audience.  Strongly recommend you go and pay her a visit!  

Friday, June 10, 2011

From bag girl to pouch girl - Merrilyn Pt 8

Merrilyn, the kangaroo joey, Went from her mother's safe pouch to a bag, after her mother was killed by a car.

This photo was taken when she was very small.  You can see her back legs sticking out and the wire from the thermostat, used to ensure she stayed warm enough.  The bag was great when she was small and easy to carry around but not so good for the bigger Buster and also for simply leaving her out on the ground to nibble the grass by herself.  We wanted to easily mimic a wild mother eating grass.

The mother wanders along eating and the joey has its nose out nuzzling dirt and pulling at grass.  We also wanted to be able to change the angle to a mother standing upright style.

On a visit to another wildlife group we spotted a stand and my then other half took a sketch and developed one of our own and a pouch that would work with it and this is what we came up with.  

 Doesn't make much sense looked at just as a stand, so let's add the pouch and give you the two views.

Here are a couple with pouches and on their side as if Mom is eating grass.  And here it is standing.

So did it work?

Merrilyn - right at home! (And growing fast)

I know a few wildlife carers are following this blog, so if you want full details on how to create a stand and also the pouch design that goes with it, you can find it in my wildlife care manual.  Here's the link that takes you to Macropology. (It's free to download).   

If you want to catch up with the rest of the story you can do that here.

Next week bring your tissues.  Things don't always go as planned in the land of kangaroo joey care.  "See" you next Friday. Cheryl

Monday, June 6, 2011

It's All Fun and Games Blog Fest

Something different today - a post without a kangaroo story!  Yes this is the place to come to read of the beautiful creatures I share my world with and particularly the story of Merrilyn, who arrived as a fur less joey and who carved a special place in my heart, but not today! That's Merrilyn on the left with her big "brother" Buster.

I post Merrilyn's story every Friday, and if you would like to read the first 7 parts you can find them all here.

So onto the blog fest.  I take part in these from time to time as I find them a great way to "meet" new people.  I'll be hopping my way through the list to see who's out there and what they are doing.  Many thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh for hosting this one.  Alex works in web designs and graphics and he loves Sci-Fi.  His first book, CassaStar was released last year and he's working on a sequel.  If you don't know him already pop over and say G'day. (Hello).

Our instructions are to post about our 3 favourite games.  I'm a writer who loves words so the classic, timeless, game of Scrabble had to be there - and mainly it's facebook scrabble for me these days.  I love it as it stretches my brain, it keeps me in touch with friends in far flung places and, if I ever set a novel in the USA I'll be set as it's teaching me great new words that would certainly not be allowed in the board version of Scrabble here in Australia.

The second game is UpWords.  Yes it's another word game.  I find many of my friends find it a lot less challenging than Scrabble as you can build up as well as on, so you're better off with shorter, simpler words.  If you love Scrabble, but can't get friends to play it, try UpWords.  It's quick and a lot of fun.

Leaving the best 'til last, My third all time favourite game is one only I can play.  I have two Abyssinian cats, Libby and Simba.  They live indoors, (cats do too much damage to Aussie wildlife to let them roam here), so I do my best to keep them entertained and I always spend 15 minutes playing with them before we all head for bed.  Abyssinians stay kitten like and love to play at any age.  They chase toy mice up and down the hallway, or feathers attached to elastic and a pole - my favourite kind of fishing, or we simply chase each other around the house - I'm always the first to give in, they have the greater amount of energy. Meet Libby and Simba - all together now say aaahhhhhh.

So there's my 3.  I'd love to hear your comments and also please hop around the others entered into this blog fest. You might like to join in yourself.

Best wishes to you all, Cheryl

Friday, June 3, 2011

Almost a Kiss - Merrilyn's Story Part 7

Kangaroos have very definite personalities.  Merrilyn could definitely be described as feisty on the outside, but pure marshmallow on the inside.  The marshmallow showed when she sucked her tail!

If she was still with her Mom she would be sucking on a teat.  It's a comfort thing.  When the joey hops back into the pouch they search out the teat to hold onto.  As they grow they still dash back to mom and pop their heads into her pouch to hold onto a teat.  (Kangaroos have 4 teats and can produce two different types of milk at the same time - one for a new in pouch joey and one for an older joey at heel).  I was never too worried about tail sucking in a joey.  (Sucking feet and bottom bits is a different story...)  For small joeys, who would normally be attached to the teat most of the time, we used a "dummy" - a bottle teat without the hole in it.

This is actually a swamp wallaby, just 238g in weight and very happy with her "dummy" thanks very much.  (This is Ali and she enters our story in the future.)

Merrilyn, being too big for a dummy now, chose to use her tail instead.

As she grew she started coming out more and more and going on short walks around the property.  Don't think dog on a lead - the joeys just followed, free as a breeze, with Merrilyn hopping back into her pouch, which I carried,  more often than Buster.

Those who read Part 4 will have met Buster and know that Merrilyn, though not even able to leave the pouch at that point, still let Buster know he was in her territory!  The relationship quickly changed to Buster becoming the adored big brother and wherever he hopped off to, little Merrilyn would follow eagerly in his wake.  If I sat down they'd both come and jump on me and settle in by my side. 

This is my favourite photo of the two of them on one of these early walks.
I call it - almost a kiss!

If you've missed the other parts of this story you can find them all on the Merrilyn's Story page.  I've been thrilled with the response to this story and thank you to the many leaving comments, they are very much appreciated and I'm enjoying visiting your blogs and meeting you.  Please share the story via your facebook pages and twitter as I'd love the world to know about this remarkable kangaroo who has an amazing story.  (So much still to come...)

Two more things before I go.

Sunday is World Environment Day so spare a thought for the natural environment or join in an activity to show your care and respect for the other creatures we share this planet with.  There are many activities planned, including a clean-up around Mount Everest and a music festival in Belgium.  Maybe there's something happening close to you?  You can find out more here.

Finally some of you will also have noticed this badge on my blog

There's a blogfest on and I'm joining in.  It requires a post about 3 of your favourite games and it sounds like fun and a way to connect with others.  You can join in as well here.  Tell Alex I sent you.  So maybe see you then or next week when the next part of Merrilyn's story is revealed.  Love and hugs to you all. Cheryl