A Few Improvements

November 15, 2013 § Leave a comment

No big projects being tackled right now, but we’ve made three small improvements this week: a much better grain bake, a softer perching area for Lola, and yet another cool foraging pot for Lola’s cage!

the grain bake ingredients before adding water and going into the oven

After my first failed grain bake, I got some suggestions from friends about how to make the texture of the grain bake a bit more palatable.  This time, I used the same ingredients, but added sweet potato puree rather than chunks of sweet potato, and mixed it into all of the grains.  I was told this would create a more risotto-like texture, which would resemble my birds’ usual nightly mash quite a bit more.  I also sprinkled some Totally Organics pellets on top.

after baking

It doesn’t look pretty (and the pellets got very puffy!), but Lola liked this one a lot, lot more!  The texture is much softer and although still not like my normal mashes, Lola really enjoyed it and even ate the pellets.  Sabrina still wouldn’t touch this, but she also isn’t a big fan of sweet potatoes, so I’m not surprised.  But at least this one won’t go to waste!  I don’t think this will replace my nightly mashes, but I might decide to make some every once in a while and keep some in the freezer since it is a nice option that Lola seems to enjoy.

the new hemp-wrapped cage door

The next mini project was wrapping the top of Lola’s cage door with some extra comfy hemp rope.  I’ve noticed that she has taken a liking to sitting on top of the cage door a lot.  Unlike a lot of cages which have a larger square metal bar on top that provides a more substantial perching surface, Lola’s is just one of the 3/16″ stainless steel bars.  I was worried that it wasn’t comfortable or good for her feet to be perching up there so much, so I wrapped it in thick hemp rope.  It took a while but the rope is very thick and durable and provides a much nicer perching surface for her.

Lola enjoying her new soft, hemp perching space

Lola seems to approve!!  I think it adds a nice touch to the cage as well.  She also likes to chew on it a little but thankfully the rope is very thick and durable.

the coconut foraging pot

Finally, I added yet another foraging pot to her cage, but this one is big!!  It’s the awesome Coconut Foraging Pot from Things for Wings.  It’s awesome.  It’s actually an entire half of a coconut with the husk and everything still in tact.  Because it’s split in half, there is a lot of natural fiber exposed– so it’s both a chew toy and a smooth foraging pot in one.  Lola loves chewing on coconut pieces with the husk still attached.  It’s shreddable, tear-able, and tough, and she loves this pot.  I’m trying to encourage her to use all of the space in her cage more (she typically uses the upper perches and then goes to the ground floor to forage, but doesn’t use the middle to much), and using foraging pots is a great way to do that.  I’ll put a noticeable treat in there for her and she’ll get wandering over.

That’s all from us for today.  More next time 🙂

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Food and Fun

November 9, 2011 § 1 Comment

Two fun items of food news today: Lola went nuts for her delicious (and very pretty!) breakfast this morning, and we got a package from Avian Organics!!  I’ve been trying to make Lola’s foods as local and as seasonal as possible… and today’s breakfast was almost entirely.  Everything except for the sprouts, which were from the Totally Organics All-in-One Mix, were all locally sourced from the surrounding farmer’s markets.  Today’s meal consisted of fresh and organic swiss chard, kale, broccoli, sweet potatoes, cranberries, and sprouts.  Actually, I’m pretty sure there was one other leafy green but right now it’s escaping me.

Lola's delicious breakfast

She absolutely loves biting into fresh cranberries and chewing them up, and sweet potatoes are one of her all time favorite foods.  She even ate a good amount of the leafy greens.  (I tend to throw in a ton of those, because she tries to avoid them otherwise. But today she was good.)  It’s a shallow bowl, but there was close to nothing left when I removed her breakfast shortly after.

That had me in a good mood this morning, but I was equally delighted when I received a wonderful package from Avian Organics this afternoon!  They recently held a very generous sale and I purchased some staple items and some new ones too… a good mix.  On top of the sale, however, they even threw in not one but two free items!

My order contents from Avian Organics

The staple items ordered are the bottom row: two packages of Pacific Deluxe Parrot Mix and two package of Jungle Trails.  The new items I’m trying for the first time are the new Cravings mix (I’d ordered the old recipe once or twice before but I don’t think Lola ever got a taste of it… it was too delicious to share!), the Jungle Gems, and the Pacific Shores Premium Seed Mix.

Finally, the two lovely toys you see were both freebies!  On the right is the Twister toy, a very cool foraging toy for small birds, and on the left is what was described to me as a “warped” version of one… but I absolutely love it!  I think that the curvy ridges make for even more fun and exciting foraging fun for the little guys.  The warped one was meant as a large foot toy for Lola, but… I’m not quite so sure that she’ll be getting it just yet 🙂  After all, the budgies can’t share!  They need their own everything, of course!

The Easy Sprout v. the bioSnacky

July 26, 2011 § 7 Comments

I decided to sprout some of my sprouting mix of choice, Totally Organics All in One Seed Mix, in both the bioSnacky glass sprouting jar and the Easy Sprout sprouter to see if there were any discernible differences in how the two operate or the end product of either.  Here’s how the process looked:

Day One, PM: Just after the initial soak. No differences.

Day Two, AM: Both are just beginning to grow their tails.

Day Two, PM: Both show short sprouts just beginning to grow, but the Easy Sprout has progressed slightly further.

Day Three, AM:Both jars have ready to serve sprouts, but the Easy Sprout has sprouted longer tails and is ready to be moved into the refrigerator.

Day Three, PM: With an extra twelve hours while the Easy Sprout was being refrigerated, the bioSnacky has mostly caught up in progress.

All in all, the Easy Sprout proved to be a more efficient sprouter, possibly because the design produces a more humid and favorable environment for the sprouts to grow in.  Both sprouters kept the sprouts smelling fresh and clean and both sprouters also showed a high success rate with the sprouts (meaning that nearly all of the seeds and grains in them actually sprouted, including most of the millet).

That said I do like both of them very much and the bioSnacky definitely wins points for being far easier to clean and to keep sanitary. I think that I will keep both of them around and use the bioSnacky for my seeds and grains and the Easy Sprout for the legumes, which tend to sprout more slowly. Perhaps the speediness of the Easy Sprout will help the legumes to sprout just as quickly as my seeds and grains in the bioSnacky!

The bioSnacky Glass Sprouting Jar

July 24, 2011 § 1 Comment

One of my dear friends over on Avian Avenue sent me the most incredible package this past week and I’ve subsequently gained fifty pounds.  Everything in it is so delectable!!  She put together a beautiful bundle of hand-picked treats from her city that she felt would represent “slices of Montreal,” but she also chose items that she specifically remembered I’d mentioned I liked, like salted caramels, strawberry jam, and anything chocolate!  I am so impressed by her generosity and her great taste!!  I adore everything and the maple lollies are almost too cute to eat, but I am simply blown away by these delicious puff pastry pretzels.  They’re just delicious– the perfect flaky texture with just a hint of sweetness.  Very dangerous!

"Slices of Montreal"

I loved getting something in the mail that, for once, wasn’t for the birds but rather for me! 🙂  But of course, it included a little something for the birds as well.  She was nice enough to send along a lovely bioSnacky glass sprouting jar as well, a sprouter I had read about online but was unable to find here in the U.S.  It’s a glass jar that is used for sprouting but it comes with this great mesh top for drainage but it also has a little stand on the side so that you can keep it upside down but at an angle!

The bioSnacky Sprouting Jar with some quinoa, radish, and lentil sprouts

I put it to the test with a lovely accompanying packet of quinoa, radish, and lentil seeds to sprout.  I was very happy to see that they started sprouting almost immediately after their soak!  They were ready to serve in record time, and the budgies in particular loved them.  I’m not sure if it’s the sprouter or the seeds but I’m very pleased with both.  The sprouter has such a simple design, but I like it– a lot more than I thought I would.  It’s extremely easy to use, there aren’t a bunch of parts to keep track of, and best of all, the main chamber is glass!  I’m a total plastic-phobe so that in and of itself was enough to attract me.  I find it far easier to clean and sanitize.  I love it so much that I already want a second!

the Easy Sprout Sprouter

Up until now, my sprouter of choice has been the Easy Sprout Sprouter, made by Sproutamo.  It consists of two plastic chambers– the smaller and slightly shorter one fits inside of the other and allows the sprouts to be just slightly suspended over the bottom of the chamber for optimal humidity.  It’s far easier to find in the U.S. than the bioSnacky sprouting jar, plus it works well.  (I can’t be bothered with cheese cloths or anything more complicated.)  But I’m not crazy about the design or the fact that it is plastic.  I find that it’s necessary to be extremely diligent about washing and disinfecting it– although I wash mine thoroughly each and every time I use it, I noticed that there were little pockets of bacteria and other things beginning to grow in it, especially around the rim of the inner chamber as well as the bottom drainage area of the inner chamber.  Disinfection is necessary with a plastic sprouter, at least in my experience.  I’ve actually tossed one of mine because of the bacteria issue.

the bioSnacky and the Easy Sprout put to the test

I do love my new bioSnacky sprouting jar, but I am going to put it to the test and see how my two sprouters compare under the same conditions.  Today I started a new batch in both of them of Totally Organics All in One seeds– same bag, same water, same time, same everything.  I will be taking photos of the two along the way.  We’ll see how they both fare!

A Gift from Totally Organics!

April 26, 2011 § 13 Comments

I came home to an unidentified package, yesterday, and was VERY pleased upon opening it!  Gudrun, the owner of Totally Organics, was nice enough to send me a free sample of their new, smaller-size pellet, the Crumplet! And it wasn’t just a few ounces… it was this massive bag, along with a pound of the Totally Organics Napoleon’s Seed Mix, because she knows that my little guys just love it!  Thank you so much, Gudrun!!

My lovely gift from Totally Organics!

As some of you might know, I believe that Totally Organics makes the best pellet on the market.  You won’t find any artificial colors or flavors, any preservatives, any synthetic vitamins, or even any corn or soy in these high quality pellets.  They are 100% organic, and their healthy combination of vitamins and minerals comes from natural sources– alfalfa for natural Vitamin K rather than menadione, or carrot powder for beta carotene rather than synthetic Vitamin A.  Even Charles, my budgie, loved and used to be able to eat these excellent quality pellets in the normal size, because they are nice and crumbly.  You see, TOPs doesn’t cook or bake their pellets, but rather cold presses them, so that there is minimal nutrient loss in the process.  When he had his beak accident, however, he was no longer able to chew them because they are too big for the poor guy.  That is why I was so excited for these little Crumplets — they are the perfect size for him!

The normal size TOPs next to the Crumplets for a size comparison

According to their labels, the two of them share the same formula and excellent ingredients list.  There were, however, a few visual differences.  First is, obviously, size — the Crumplets are much easier to manage for the little ones, and much less likely to be picked up and dropped all over the cage, resulting in a lot of waste.  The little ones, at least in this package, also seemed to be more green in color.  The difference isn’t all that clear in the photo, but the smaller ones definitely have more of a deep green coloration.  Finally, they also smell much more vegetable-y (leafy green-y, to be exact), if that makes sense.

I served a small amount to Charles, to let him be the actual judge, and he happily chomped them down!!  He really loved his TOPs before, and I’m glad that he can finally have them again, in a more beak-friendly size.  Of course, Sabrina followed suit and happily gobbled them up as soon as she saw Charles eating them.  Yay!

Charles, Sabrina, and I highly recommend these pellets for the little guys.  Delicious!!  Thank you, Gudrun!!

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