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Saturday, December 21, 2013

A True Story

I was updating one of my websites and was making some changes on the Petting Zoo page.  As I was writing somehow this is what I ended up with.  About half way thru it, I stopped to read it and got such a laugh I decided to finish it.

For all the people who actually know me, they are going to enjoy this as much as me.

At a lot of parties we have someone that will ask, "how long have you been doing this?"  "How did you get started?"

As you read this, as I was living it, at that time a lot of it wasn't funny.  That was then, now it made me laugh at my life.  Thank you, God, for having a sense of humor.

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 Party Critters
Someone asked, "do you have a petting zoo you can bring?"  I thought about it and decided we could add that.  It would be fun.  

We bought 2  baby rabbits,  we had to buy cages, bedding and water bottles.  They had to be gentle and not bite or scratch, so we put them in the house so they'd be handled a lot.  

I decided that just rabbits wasn't a very good petting zoo, what could I add?  (Somebody should have slapped me).  

We saw an ad for 2 Guinea Pigs for $40 with their cage, we got them.  What a mistake -they only lasted 2 weeks, they don't do anything but squeal day and night.   

We bought a Mini Horse cause he was only 21" tall and the kids would love it. 

Storm wanted a Baby Goat, well, I couldn't just buy 1, it needed a buddy, so we bought 2 females.  They were only a week old  and had to be bottle fed every 2 hours.   (leave it to Florida to freeze that night, we brought them in the house, put them in the hallway.  overnight 2 baby goats ate the linoleum off the floor, ate the insulation from around the hot water heater, ate the dryer vent, ate a hole in the wall and ate the door facing). 

A few months later, Storm says, "why don't we have Baby Goats?"  Back to the auction and bought a Billy Goat.  (now we have to build a goat pen because the horse fence doesn't keep them in).

Now I find out that the big horses don't like the little mini horse and  they are going to seriously hurt him kicking and biting, so he's by himself all the time.  We have to buy him a buddy, hello "Charlie".  (the mini horses can walk between the wire around the pasture, we have to fence off a separate pasture for them).  

Somebody asked if we had a chicken, back to the auction, we bought 2 Silkie Chickens.   (now to keep the coyotes from getting them, we need to build a chicken coop).

Now we had 3 goats, 2 chickens, 2 mini horses and  2 rabbits to take to parties.  

How are we going to keep up with them at the parties?  We bought a portable fence (they are expensive).  Now we have a fence to carry around.  

At a party we were given 3 Ducks.  We had to buy a Pond and a cage  for them.  Now we have to carry around a Duck and it's Pond.  (to keep the dogs from killing them, they needed a fenced area of their own, more fence posts and wire).

Storm wants a snake.  We buy a Python.  Buy a cagewater dishhidey hole logheat lamp,  thermometershumidity thingy.  We have to buy mice once a week.  Did you know they come in Pinkies, Fuzzies, Hoppers?  Ok, we take the snake with us to buy mice so they can tell me which ones I need.

Now it's time to go to small, medium and large mice and only feed every two weeks.  All of a sudden he is eating 3 large mice every 10 days and then he looks for more for 3 days.  Back to the pet store,  they say, "you can start feeding him rats,"  I look at the rats.  Nope, not me!  Then comes the day we go to pet store, no mice, we go to 6 more pet stores, no mice.  Sold out.  He goes 17 days without eating, something has to be done.  

I go buy a rat.  It's 20 miles to the closest pet store.  They put the rat in a cardboard box (more like paper).  I'm driving home, the box starts moving, you can hear him chewing on the box------oh, oh, oh, his nose is out. I grab the box and swing it back and forth, I figure with it swinging he can't chew it - if he gets out of that box  I'm getting out of the truck while it's going down the road.  He is now eating 1 or 2 rats every 15 days at $5 to $9 per rat.

You guessed it!  Now we have rat cages and are raising rats.  I figure if it gets out of hand I'll make the cats happy.  (why why why have I got all these critters to feed and clean up after)?

Lady calls to book a party.  "Do you have a Donkey?"  No.  We do now!  (can't believe my hubby hasn't killed me yet).

Look, there's a Mini Pig for sale.  Yep, we now have a Pig to carry around.  (we need a cage for the pig and her and the ducks hate each other,  so we have to fence off another area for the pig, more fence posts and wire).  Guess what?  For the next week we got to chase the pig down every morning - they are serious escape artists.  (go buy stuff to bury all along the bottom of the fence so she can't root under it).

Well, somebody lied, the mini pig now weighs 65 pounds and it's just to big to lug around when it refuses to walk on a lead.  Sell the mini pig.  The next 10 phone calls for a party say, "oh, I want the pig".  Start hunting a pig.

Yikes!  Teacup Pigs  are $500 and up.  I can't pay that.  Ohh Look!!!  Teacup Pigs $25 each, housebroken, will only weigh between 7 and 10 pounds.  Make the call, find out why they are only $25 (family emergency).  Okay, what's the address, I want a female?  Oh, you are only 3 hours away, be there tomorrow morning.  Ended up buying 4 females and a male.

Got to build shelters for all of them.  Need to find dishes for food and water.  Oh my God, they attack you when you go thru the gate with food.  

Lots of places don't have any shade, now we need a Canopy so all the animals will be in the shade.  Something else to carry around.    (those things are a pain to put up and take down, allow another 1/2 hour for each party to do that).

We used to saddle 2 horses/ponies, load and go to the party.  Spend 15 minutes decorating them.  Do the party, go home.

NOW  we load the canopy, travel cages for the duckpigrabbit and the individual wooden fences for each of them.   Make sure you get the screw in the ground stakes for the goat and the mini horse and the donkey.   Don't forget the duck pond and  water to fill it.  You need 8 lead ropes (2 extra in case), the pig harness, 2 saddles, 2 saddle pads, the step stool, apple juice for the horses.  Load the Python and his cage.  Horse decoration box,  hand 
sanitizer, address, licenses, paperwork on all the animals.

Did anybody brush all the animals?  Take the grooming kit.  This party has face painting, don't forget to load the face paint bag, table and chairs.   Let's go, we got 78 miles to go.

The party is usually anywhere from an hour to 2 hours.  Unload and setup.  Time to go, load it up.  78 miles home.  Unload everything, feed all the animals, feed us, bathtime, nite-nite.   We got to start loading at 8 am tomorrow, first party is in Ellenton, 2 1/2 hours away.

We are going on 13 years.  It's a good thing I love what I do. 

We have a lot of fun, at most parties the kids and adults are just great to us.  In the summer when it's 95 degrees I wonder why I do this.  But honestly, I can't imagine not doing it.

This isn't counting the crap we went thru when we were turned in to USDA for not being licensed.  I didn't know you needed a license for a petting zoo, I thought USDA was for meat you eat.  Between the feed bills, vet bills and the money that I pay out in licenses and insurance - maybe I'll break even.  Oh well, that's life.  At least I'm having fun.

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