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A Ferret Called Wilson

Chasing Happy, Chasing Dreams

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ferrets

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Omnomslurps
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Amber loves her milks.

This is a weasel. She makes my heart happy. I love her. I tell her this frequently, but she doesn’t care. She’s too busy stashing tubes and murdering jingle toys.

At nine years old, she’s quite the old lady, but I’m pretty sure she doesn’t notice. She only seems bothered by my inadequacy as a human to better predict her desires.

I don’t know how much longer I’ll have her. Every day that she wakes and makes demands of me is a treasure.

Weasels is wonderful.

Yoyu

In Japanese there is a word yoyu which means something akin to “wiggle room,” or “having extra leftover.” You might use it to compliment someone’s riding:

“You climbed that hill with yoyu!”

or to express concern for your budget:

“I never have any yoyu at the end of the month.”

Yoyu is critical to maintaining happiness and composure on your path. Whether you are trying to achieve peak performance as an athlete (me!), or just trying to make it from one day to the next amidst the various demands of work, social life, personal health, family, bills etc (also me), protecting your yoyu can be the difference between achieving your goals and crashing in a blaze of terrific splendor somewhere midway.

Continue reading “Yoyu”

聞きたかった言葉・The Coveted Phrase

今日は一番聞きたい言葉を聞かせてもらいました。

『デニー、速くなったね?』

今週の朝練は、頑張って準備してたんだけど、何故か目覚ましがなった時は身体がすごく重くて起きられなさそうだった。ヤバい、ヤバい、と思いながら着替えて、フェレットの薬を作って、車道へと漕ぎ出しました。

とりあえずお店に着けば何とかなると思いました。

着いたら、先週のチームメートでとても好きな人がいました。一緒に走ったおじいさんもいました。大好きな50代のチビチビマウンテンのお姉さんもいました。大好きな全日本マウンテンの元チャンピオンもいました(多分チャンピオンだった。とりあえずすごい人です)。みんなの笑顔をみたら、一緒に集まったら、よっし!これで頑張って走るしかない!と思いました。

もちろんある程度の恐怖で走っていました。今までもいつも一番弱くて遅い人だからあまり付いて行ける自信がないです。しかし、ユーキャンのチームをちゃんと私の面倒を見てくださり、上りの頂上で待ってくれたり、ペースのきつさも確認したりします。だれも一回でも私のことを面倒くさそうに行為や言葉をしたことがありません。とてもお世話になっております。

コースは家の前を通りかかります。最初の半分の距離はだるくて力の入らない脚で頑張った。一瞬「なぜこんなつらいことをわざわざするのか?」と思いました。それほどきつかったです。甲部トンネルでみんなが待っていました。お尻で着いたが、フランプスのおばあさんが様子を見に戻ってきて、以外と進んでいるとびっくりしたように言いました。それでチビ姉さんもやってきて、そこで最初の『速くなった』と言う言葉が聞こえました。

まさか!この私??このゴミ脚?速い???

にしか思えなかった。

そっから下りでした。下りは自信ないです。頑張るけど、ビビって緊張して、固まった身体が上手く曲がらないです。チビ姉さんが先に走りました。何となく彼女のラインが、私にでも走れるとわかっていました。怖くなっても彼女の姿をみたら自分ができると信じて、自分より速くなった気がしました。

途中で先頭をかわるように頼まれたら、よっし!地元の道を頑張ってみんなを引っ張って走ろう!となりました。30キロぶりの信号に着いたら、振り返ってみたら集団の半分が姿見えなかったです。

『デニー、先頭をかわったら、全く追いつかなかったの!』

と言う、今日の二回目の宝なせりふでした。

Camo-weasel drinking protein milk
Morning medicine is a part of training.

昨日もトライアル練でお世話になっているおっさんに「デニー、少し上手くなったね」とも言われました。

人生の他の目標のない私には、こんな言葉は本当に宝物にしている。頑張っても頑張っても多くの人が私のことをふざけてばかりいると思いますが、上手くなったら、強くなったら、速くなったとしたら、それを人に見せて認めてもらえるとなんとか人生に意味があるように感じます。

これからもっと頑張ります。これからもっと強くなります。死んでも良いから自分の限界を知ります!


ENGLISH

Continue reading “聞きたかった言葉・The Coveted Phrase”

Bird Faces and Mouse Butts

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OMnomCrunchSlurp

Bird faces and mouse butts are just two of the things you might find in your underwear drawer if you are a Keeper of Weasels on a raw, whole prey diet.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my weasel boy and I love that he loves his meats. But when you’re laying down for an afternoon nap and you hear this slightly crunchy methodical squish squish sound coming from your closet, only to open the door to this sight:

::siiiiiiigh::

I love my weasels.

In other news, cutting up Wilson’s morning quail turned out an interesting surprise. How many of you have ever cut open a bird to find an egg inside? Weeiiirrd.

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日本語

Continue reading “Bird Faces and Mouse Butts”

Simulsoupings!

Every morning I make soup for my weasels. Whole quail and mice go into a blender, sometimes with a chicken thigh or some skin, and out comes a fluffy pink goop that they just love. A little warm water to thin it, and I have something akin to weasel crack.

“Simulsouping” is when you get both weasels lined up in a row slurping their soup in happy unison. This is morning simulsoups.

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Sometimes it’s hard to find your happy. But morning medicine on the veranda is pretty happy!

Feeding Ferrets

Wilson JWW
Wilson swears he was not going to hide this meat in my underwear bin.

Meet Wilson! He’s a small ferret boy approaching seven years old. He and I have worked for his entire life to get him on a healthy diet and he has fought me every step of the way. We started when he was a baby on Marshall’s ferret food (please, never feed this food or any Marshall product to your ferrets!). It was weeks before he would accept ferretone-tinged Marshall’s food. Then it was weeks before he would eat any kibble shaped differently from Marshall’s food. Months followed before he would eat all his dinner without leaving the different flavored ones behind. Five years after he came home with me I finally succeeded in getting him to eat some duck soup (which was actually boiled chicken), and now, six years of living together and he is finally on a whole prey raw meat diet. Here is what I feed him and his girlfriend of five years, Amber CTB.

Their main diet at the moment consists of whole, pureed, raw quail. I throw it bones Cut Quailand all into my new Vitamix and spin it on high for about 30 seconds until it comes out pink and smooth. Often I will supplement with chicken skin or organ meat as my guys are pretty old and need the extra calories and protein. I admit, I gagged a little the first time I made it, but now it’s no big deal to me. About two months ago I started mixing up chunks of raw quail into the soup in the hopes that they would accidentally get in the weasel’s mouth, and then he would have to eat them. Luckily this strategy worked. I remember the night I woke up to hear happy weasels crunching on quail bones.

Pink mice look disturbingly alive fresh out of the freezer

Once I had both of my smalls eating the whole meat pieces I stepped it up and added in pink mice. Weasels need a variety of meats to get balanced nutrition. I’m not sure how much variety is necessary, but in any case I found a reptile supply shop that sells individually frozen mice of all ages, so I order two tiny bags of small sized pinkies. Knowing Wilson, if I threw this little guy into his meat dish straight up he would carefully eat around it and it would just go bad, so I had to be sneaky. The first ten mice went into the blender with their quail. The eleventh mouse got cut in half and mixed into two separate servings of meat. Poor Wilson had no idea he was eating whole mouses! A few weeks later, I stepped it up to two pinkies per regular serving of meat. Chicken and Mice

In the most recent menu, one serving of meat includes about 45% whole quail, 45% chicken thigh and skin, and the last few pieces are baby mice. I divide up the meat and put one day’s worth into these tiny 80mL containers and refreeze them after they’re cut into Wilson-won’t-hide-this-in-my-underwear sized pieces. When I serve it, I put it in a small dish submerged in hot water and ladle soup over it. It only takes about five minutes in the water to get warm enough for my little things to find it appetizing. One container of meat and about three teaspoons of soup is all they will eat in a day right now, so that’s what I put out for them.

I have to say it is a lot of work to feed raw. It’s incredibly rewarding, though. Wilson and Amber have never been plumper despite their age and Amber’s recent health issues. I love being in control of my babies’ nutrition, too. I had searched all over looking for dry food that was ferret appropriate, but ultimately I came to the conclusion that no commercial product actually respects the obligate carnivorous nature of the ferret, along with their incredibly short digestive system. Pricewise, at the moment it is definitely more expensive that dry food, too. Probably about 50% more. But ferrets are tiny — 80 mL of meat for a meal! — so it’s not really a financial burden at all. More the time factor, really.

A weasel in a triple soup food coma.
A weasel in a triple soup food coma.

The next steps for my weasels are to get them to eat meat off the bone so that I don’t have to cut it. It’s supposedly good for their teeth to gnaw on big chunks, so I’m working up to chicken wings. They also need fur and feathers to replace fiber and bulk up their stools. I bought a pair of unprocessed marmots for that purpose, but when they arrived I had no idea what to do with them. They’re huge! And furry! At this point, however, I am simply pleased that my weasels will accept the food I prepare for them. Their doctor agrees with the diet and I am able to adjust the fat, protein and vitamin content of their food as they age, which is a huge source of comfort to me. I love my little furries and I highly recommend that anyone else who cares for weasels make the effort to incorporate at least a little raw. No amount of convenience can replace the ability to give your small things the nutrition they need, especially when their health starts to decline as my guys’ is.

Eat a Variety

So, I’m on this candida diet right now. It’s perhaps the most difficult and restrictive diet I’ve ever been on, particularly since I’m trying to do this in Japan where the food is strange and the resource all written in weird squiggly box symbols. Yesterday I finally found a website that offered information freely (Candida Cure Recipes) and it even explained why there seemed to be confusion over whether or not fermented and pickled foods could be part of a healthy candida purge. I am really grateful to Susan for making this information available. It’s really the only thing that can help me in my position.

So that said, according to Susan’s candida philosophy, the first problem with a candida infection is that it tends to come in tandem with a generally weakened immune system. So a candida diet has to be rich in essential nutrients, vitamins and detoxifying bits. She offers up several degrees of candida dieting that are increasingly difficult to adhere to, but also increasingly hostile to an unwelcome candida population. The first level is simply to take out useless calories from your diet and add in helpful foods. Think ditching refined sugars, bleached and husked grains and most processed foods. This should be an easy and absolutely essential step in any diet that aims to promote overall health, but even though it was only one out of ten degrees of dieting it is so restrictive that anyone following it immediately loses the ability to dine at most restaurants.

Supposing one is successful at removing refined and simple carbohydrates from their diet, one is then challenged to replace those calories with more nutritious foods. Reading Susan’s website, you would think this is an easy and fun task. I’ve been on a candida diet for three days and I’ve eaten:

  • TONS of yogurt
  • Tofu
  • Avocado
  • Tomato
  • Garlic
  • Grapeseed oil
  • Chicken
  • Beef
  • Fish
  • Eggplant
  • Eggs
  • Okra
  • Peppers

That’s about it. If these were each one a meal, that would be one thing. I could say “look how many recipes I’ve made!” But these are single ingredients. Tell me it’s not a sad list to look at? However, these are the only foods I could find that matched the commandments of no sweet rooty vegetables and no refined carbohydrates. Moreover, in order to achieve my daily caloric needs I’ve relied heavily on the animal categories.

This isn’t what Susan meant and this isn’t a sustainable diet. It’s also almost entirely industrial products with unknown chemical contents. No matter what the USDA says it most certainly does not contain enough variety to provide me with all my body’s nutritional needs, particularly its needs for antioxidant assistance and immune system support. Even the variety of animal flesh in my diet is miserably low. Chicken, beef and fish? That’s it? It’s a shame.

I ran into the problem of sufficient nutritional diversity before when trying to shift my ferrets onto a raw, or at least a whole prey diet. The advice is unanimous that a ferret’s digestrive tract is too short and too sensitive for almost all commercially manufactured kibbles, but as an obligate carnivore they require a variety of meat sources at a variety of ages, including organ meats, skin, small bones, fur and feathers. So far I have been able to find frozen mice of dubious origin, and chicken. It’s maddening!

Even mainstream doctors will stress the importance of eating a healthy, balanced diet. But like everything else in our world today, once health was quantified everything that we couldn’t measure suddenly lost its value. The government decided that there are three macronutrient categories that partition all calories: carbohydrates, lipids and proteins. The government decided that there was a list of vitamins and minerals that encompassed all dimensions of nutritional benefit in a food, so that foods nearly devoid of natural goodness can still be considered nutritious if they are “enriched” with molecular constructs matching the missing elements from this list. According to the government, and therefore according to industry, chemically purified, skimmed, homogenized and hormone enhanced milk is the same as milk that came out of a cow that lived in a field and ate cow foods so long as you put the vitamins back in. And so when we try to follow the doctor’s orders we end up with trite recommendations: An apple a day keeps the doctor away.

Really? One apple? Every day? Is a pesticide apple ok? What about an apple that was picked last year and stored in a climate controled refrigeration facility? Is an apple better than, say, a pomegranate? Or a coconut? Why an apple? And while I’m on the subject, should I peel it first?

These days everything I say has the tone of despair and in my heart I want to sound the alarm of impending disaster. Help me! Please! I am dying! We are dying as a people! We know what we need, we know what we want, but we are so small and so insignificant that we can’t do it without help. All goodness in the world cannot be quanitified. It is not that “money can’t buy love”, it’s that scientists can’t measure the body’s voice, governments can’t enforce good spirit, bosses can’t observe the value of a human life. In our mistaken belief that science will one day allow us to know all things, we have arrived at the false conclusion that what science can’t know does not exist. It’s heartbreaking.

And right now, it’s stomach-aching, too.

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