Well, with eyes. And, in our case, darker fur.
Maybe I should have named Cloudy “Tribble” instead.
Oh well. Too late. Cloudy is Cloudy.
And I am Nutty.
When we got the Guinea Pigs, or Cavies, as they are also called by people who are enamored of these little rodents, I instantly fell in love because they are cute and snuggly and interesting and new. And, as usually happens with I fall in love with something new, I do a lot of reading. I have been online reading all sorts of articles and lists and forums and Pinterest pins about caring for, feeding, and entertaining Guinea pigs.
As I shared newfound tidbits of Cavy information with my family, Bill and Alex looked at me like I had undergone a personality change of some sort. An amusing, entertaining, benign personality change. I even found myself observing this new personality of mine from a safe distance, wondering whether to embrace this new side of me or to fight against it.
I have decided to embrace it.
Old me feels silly telling you I’ve built a C & C cage for the boys. But new me is having fun. I like to build stuff. And we actually had the cube things for the cage! I’d bought them for one of the kids’ rooms at some point, but took them for my fabric a bunch of years ago. So first I made a basic cage frame, put it on one of my banquet tables (yes, I have sacrificed one of the two tables in my work/sew/crochet area for the Guinea pigs.), put some towels down and tried it out.
Pretty basic. Not as pretty or elaborate as the cages you can find online. Yet. But the boys loved the wide open space. They ran around and ate and popcorned. Yes, popcorned. It’s a thing. Until recently, I didn’t know that. But in recent reading I learned that when Guinea pigs are happy they jump up in the air and spin around. It’s very cute. Very cute.
My next step was to buy coroplast. It’s corrugated plastic. Plastic is the important thing – it’s waterproof. So, easy to clean. Plus the boys aren’t going to chew through it.
I drove the truck to Home Depot on the way home from work one day and bought a piece of coroplast and a roll of duct tape. Good thing I thought of the duct tape. The only way to bring the 4’ x 8’ piece home was to form an arc of the plastic in the bed of the truck and tape the whole thing down so it wouldn’t fly away.
I won’t name names but some people in my house who are taller than I am may have laughed or given me funny looks when I brought the coroplast into the house.
Anyway, I measured and cut and taped.
Then I rebuilt the cage.
And I added framing for what will be a little loft area at one end.
I also learned that instead of spending gobs of money over time on bedding that just gets thrown away, I could use fleece because number one, it’s soft on delicate Guinea pig feet, and number two, it allows liquid to pass through (think urine) but doesn’t hold on to it. Kind of like the part of a diaper that comes in contact with a baby’s skin. Kind of.
Anyway, Alex had a fleece blanket that was too small for him now, and generously donated it to the cause after I took it.
So this was the first version of Cookie and Cloudy’s play yard. There’s hay, little sheltery things made of pressed paper I’d made a year or two ago, and a paper bag with hay in it. And water in a dish.
They loved it. They ran and popcorned and ate and hid and made their happy little Guinea pig noises and popped with abandon. Yay!
That fleece blanket (with the footballs on it) wasn’t big enough, really.
And so, another day, after work, I stopped at Joann Fabrics. I figured they might have some pieces of fleece in their remnant section. I was mainly there on a reconnaissance mission.
And yes, there were some pieces of fleece in the remnant.
AND THERE WERE BOLTS AND BOLTS OF FLEECE ON SALE FOR 70% OFF!!!!!!
And yes, my thoughts at the time were in all caps.
Oh, I was joyful and frozen all at the same time. So many colors! Solids AND patterns! I’ll take some of this and this and this and this….but no. No, I couldn’t buy everything. I couldn’t get two yards in every single color and pattern. Not even if I wanted to a real, real lot.
So I made myself take a step back and take a deep breath and choose. I chose two patterns and two solids. The solids are a green and a teal. One of the patterns is teal and white with patterns of hearts. (Julia wants this one as a blanket for herself. I was appalled at her selfishness but gave in because I’m obviously deranged this month and I’ll just steal one of her old fleece blankets and give it to the guinea pigs in trade. So there.)
But the best pattern, the one that screamed JULIA at me, is this one:
I’m really surprised she didn’t want this one for herself rather than the teal and white pattern. Go figure.
Anyway, the boys loved their new fleecy play yard. (Yes, I know. It’s a cage. Not a play yard. But I’m calling it a play yard to differentiate it from the smaller cage from the pet store. That one, in my mind, is their bedroom. And, since it’s completely enclosed, it keeps Scratchy out. See that orange Nike shoe box? I’m calling that the Hay Barn because there’s a bunch of hay in it. And I cut little doorways in the sides so they can go in – yeah, into the Hay Barn – to eat. I always wanted to live on a farm. Now I have a little tiny one. Deep end? I’ve gone right off it.)
This morning I made some more changes/improvements. I made a kitchen area. Yes, and I bought tiny appliances and will have running water piped through within the week.
The kitchen is, in the guinea pig world, a separate area where the cavies can eat and poop. Then you can clean that area frequently and not have to the whole thing apart as often. Guinea pigs poop a lot while they’re eating – kind of like a gumball machine, you put something in and something comes right out. As a result they tend to do most of their pooping where they’re eating. The rest of the time they just poop anywhere.
Anyway, I built a little kitchen box and put that at the end of the cage – oops, play yard – where most of the pooping seems to take place. I layered bedding and towels in the kitchen, covered it with fleece, put down towels and another section of fleece in the rest of the area, put hay in the new hay barn and in a paper bag, gave them some of their food pellets, some fresh kale, pieces of cucumber and a couple of cherry tomatoes, plus fresh water.
Oh! And because guinea pigs are all about hiding places, I cut a smaller piece of an old fleece baby blanket into strips and hung it from the second floor so it kind of curtains off the kitchen area. Cavies like their privacy. Except when they poop. They’ll do that anywhere, any time, in front of anybody.
So here’s what it looked like before I got the boys from their bedroom cage:
They like it.
I am the guinea pig whisperer.
No I’m not.
There is another….
And that’s it for today.
Maybe next time I write I’ll be ready to write about something other than the guinea pigs. Maybe.