Fun With Ferrets

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Alistair and the Trio-of-Trouble, Luigi, Phillipa and Calypso

As many of you know, we adore ferrets.

It wasn’t a species either of us knew anything about or had yearned for as a child. In fact, I didn’t have any pets growing up so I honestly had no pre-conceived notions of what they were like as family members.

When Alistair’s kids moved in with us in Watford City at the ages of 8 and 10, they had just watched a speaker/entertainer at their school with his pet ferret who did tricks and played around on a leash. The kids were mesmerized.

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Gareth with Koshka the cat and Marshall the ferret (and Alistair, after hockey practice, apparently)

Enter Marshall.

She was a cutie who lived a good, long life and made friends with our cats, our Golden, and our neighbors. She moved with us to Canada where she would join Oscar, Boomer & I as I did my farm chores out on our 30 acre farm.

They really are that smart! She knew how to get in and out through the dryer opening and that was that.

She moved back to ND with us to Hazen where we had to live in town for once.

Sadly, the neighbor brought 2 aggressive stray spaniels home who had something to do with our 6 year old girl disappearing in the snow one morning.

And that was the end of Fyfe Ferrets.

Jacques 2010

Bonjour!

Until Jacques moved in.

A few years had passed but we never got rid of the ferret crate, (which Alistair and Gareth designed and built)- that was a good thing when the local fire crew here in Seeley Lake, Montana showed up with a homeless ferret and guinea pig. Their owner had become a ward of the state (who had been living under a false identity, no less… you can imagine it was going to be hard to find family members to take them) so the crew brought them to me.

Not everyone is into ferrets. I get it.

Jacques and Bebe 2010

Jacques: “Bonjour, Large Cat! ” Bebe: “Great. Nice to meet you. Don’t eat my food, okay?”

They are kind of weasely-looking, with long, narrow bodies and pointy noses. A lot of people have had bad experiences with their incredibly sharp teeth and, in general, most of the population hasn’t had any interaction with ferrets.

Ferrets are very personable and friendly. They are curious and playful and maybe a bit mischievous and the rest of the time they are eating or sleeping.

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Jacques, our new black-eyed white, on his first day at home!

I had become a veterinarian since we had had Marshall and I knew that “exotic” pets often did better with one of their own.

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Our new little sable ferret! The pet store said it was a male and, to be honest, I never questioned that. I never looked!

Enter Phillipe!

We thought our 2 boys were super cuddly, never once thinking he might be a she. It didn’t seem to matter, though, because they became fast friends and cuddle buddies.

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Just a few years ago, Phillip(a) and Jacques with Papa!

When running about the house for daily Play Time, Jacques would often disappear (typical for ferrets). One day I found his secret hiding place… in my drawer of sequined, sparkly figure skating costumes from yesteryear!

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Mama? Is that you? I was sleeping!

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Its okay to play in here, right? Je suis in LOVE with this drawer!

Jacques was older, though, and even though we medicated him for his adrenal gland issues for a year, he eventually, sadly succumbed to the disease.

Ferrets are one of the most emotional mammals that exist, rivaling humans in their mourning.

With me working and Alistair gone half of the time, and the cats all old enough to not need to romp around kitten-like anymore, something had to be done for Phillip(a).

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Enter Cousteau! A true albino!

Alistair drove around in a snow storm on his way here and found Cousteau, an enormous albino who the pet store said was just young and sold him as such.

He settled in right away with his new friend- I mean REALLY settled in, which was when I decided to lift tails to see what the deal was.

Sure enough, Phillipe was Phillipa.

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Cousteau and Phillipa… you can just barely see her nose under his monstrous body!

Theirs was a short relationship, though, as not long after I noticed the dental tartar and put that together with his rather calm behavior, Cousteau became ill and I wasn’t able to save our big, older boy.

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Better, fun times with Cousteau & Phillipa

We felt awful for little Phillipa so during the long drive back to Montana again, Alistair showed up with a Cinnamon kit he had found at a PetCo in Great Falls.

Balance was restored and the frivolity resumed!

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Welcome home, Calypso Fyfe!

Phillipa and Calypso have been tight since day 1 and they remain snuggle buddies.

Calypso’s time as a Fyfe hasn’t been without its own share of drama.

He is the reason our guinea pig, Cadbury had 1 eye. (Blog from 2014 called One Eye Watching You details the gruesome events of the day). The whole thing was my fault for leaving the bathroom door to the guinea pigs open. The rest is history.

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Mr Innocent is underneath Phillipa in their Pirate Ship

Karma sucks, though, because a few months after the Guinea Pig Incident (which both girls survived) (and my Exotics medical knowledge skyrocketed), Calypso had a gait abnormality.

Basically, he couldn’t walk or stand well on his own.

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Stunts like climbing up the tall cat tree could be what led to the broken pelvis…

I x-rayed him at the clinic and thought I saw the tiniest of fracture lines in the tiniest of pelvises. (Pelvises were high on my mind that fall after Alistair had busted his up a few months prior).

He never stopped eating & drinking or having control of his elimination and he had feeling in his extremities so I never stopped trying to fix him. Its a vet thing but its also a Mummy thing.

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Twice-daily anti-inflammatories, vitamin supplement and PT including massage and ‘bicycling’ with Calypso

He didn’t give up so why the Hell should I?

He let us bathe him almost daily because he couldn’t really lift up to urinate and ferrets generally like to be clean.

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Just a little Fluff’n’Buff post bath

When he started to get more strength in his back and hindlimbs Alistair fashioned a John Deere cart for him to run around the house in. A quick video for your chuckles….

After about 6 months he was standing, playing and goofing around again! His legion of Facebook fans rejoiced along with us when I would post pictures of him standing on his own.

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Calypso: “Look at me, Phillipa! I can do this on my own!” Phillipa: “Sit down before you hurt yourself again. I’m not losing another boyfriend!”

And whether it was an act of celebration or a subconscious effort to make sure Phillipa was never without a boyfriend again, Alistair went to the new PetCo in Bismarck… repeatedly to check on a cute silver kit he saw there…

(You know where this is going…)

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Enter Luigi! The Italian Stallion!

Luigi joined in and immediately cuddled up with Phillipa and Calypso. Any given day at any given time I will find at least 2 of them snuggled up, and often its all 3 of them.

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Phillipa, Luigi, Calypso and Papa… a real handful!

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The boys… when you’re a ferret, every part of your body doubles as a pillow for your housemates

They are good with the cats and naughty with blind little Loki, darting in and out at her. I swear I can hear them giggling when she barks at the air in front of her.

They are hoarders who steal shoes from houseguests. They are class clowns who love to play the Chase Game. They are inquisitive to a fault- wherever they can fit their face into the body can follow.

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Petite little Phillipa fits under the hall closet… for when she needs to get away from The Boys. Every girl needs a little Moi-Time.

Ferrets aren’t for everyone and they require your time for playing, cleaning, interacting, and making movies together. You should research them if you are considering one as there is a lot to learn.There are also ferret adoption agencies for surrendered ferrets needing forever homes if you don’t want to buy one at a pet store.

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Luigi being inquisitive. A new bucket must be explored!

I will do my best with my fantastic little companions (who really try to commit to their French or Italian accents!) to be a ferret ambassador. They are the only creatures I’ve known who can always, without fail, make me laugh.

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Well, maybe not as much laughter finding Luigi with the sub-woofer’s insides on the outside…

We will share more from the Sing-Song Saddle another time. For now, much love from the Fyfe Farm Ferrets!

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Bonjour! Hope you have a happy summer!

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We’re innocent! Honest!

My Latest Addiction

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I’ve been bitten by the golf bug.

Hard.

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Its nothing like a simple mosquito bite, either. One of those irritating, inflamed bumps that annoy you for a few days and then disappears until your next one.

No, this bug bite is entirely different.

Its addicting.

Its all-consuming.

I’ve even had dreams about it and I’ve only been playing since the very end of September last year.

I blame Tom, Mike, Lynn, Miki, and the beautiful local golf course. These 4 individuals encouraged us to put together a team for a fun fund-raiser for the local pond hockey tournament.

Alistair and I didn’t play golf.

Well….

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There was this one time, back in 1995.

“It will be fun,” they said. “Its just to raise money,” they added. “It’ll be a great send-off for the vet girls,” I heard. “We’ll wear our Dog Days shirts,” was suggested.

So, the Diamonds in the Ruff team was formed and golf (or, something like it) was played.

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Alistair broke 2 golf clubs, I did a cartwheel at the “Happy Gilmore” hole and some bevvies were consumed. Lynn and I did so poorly on one hole that we gave up and just drove. The carts, that is.

We won an award for the “most honest” team.

The sad truth is that I fudged a couple of numbers and we still got last.

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The strangest thing happened, though- we had a blast.

I blame Alistair, Lynn, Miki and Tim for reinforcing our newfound passion last fall.  I, like any addict, sought out their encouragement, knowing they would continue to enable me. Often by joining me.

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Without the clinic keeping me busy I would head out on the nearly empty, picturesque, tree-lined course and bang balls around.

Some even went into their holes in less than 10 shots.

Then 9. Then 8.

When people used to ask us if we played golf I would jokingly say that I was going to take it up when I was too old to do anything else.

I secretly rolled my eyes, wondering how anyone could play the game, let alone watch it on TV. (This from a woman who watches curling but I’m Canadian and nobody questions that up there).

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We started making par occasionally but then the snow came down and we actually got booted off the course in November… apparently they had anti-fungal treatments on the ground. Who knew?

So we did the unthinkable and watched golf on TV.

We bought videos.

We practiced putting with a golf game my sister-in-law found for us. Christmas was a great haul at the Fyfe house.

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I confess that I might have taken this up earlier had I known there was so much shopping involved!

Cute shoes, pink balls, socks with rhinestones, golf clubs with lots of purple, fancy skorts, matching shirts, a spiffy towel, funky gloves…. and a golf cart.

A blinged-out masterpiece with fenders and headlights.

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His name is Norman.

The golf pro tells us, “you 3 have fun out there.”

It makes sense that a couple of Fyfes are playing golf. Alistair’s own parents were raised in Scotland, even going to St.Andrew’s. Not that either of them played and we just never bothered.

A lot of hockey players golf but I’m not sure if many figure skaters do. Yet, there are some similarities.

You are often alone inside your head when practicing golf and skating. This leads to discussions with oneself.

On the ice it was ‘I didn’t trace that bracket very well’; ‘Liz has the cutest outfit today’; ‘Point the toe, point the toe, point the toe’; ‘I wonder what’s for supper’; ‘How many calories did I eat at lunch; and, ‘Left arm checked going into the double lutz.’

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With golf you can run an entire conversation with yourself much the same way.

‘Thumbs aligned’; ‘I totally love this skort!’; ‘Rotate shoulders and ribcage together’; ‘I wonder if Alistair wants to eat at Lindey’s tonight’ and ‘Eye on the ball, Tanya. Eye on the ball.’

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Both sports can get terribly expensive.

Both sports require patience.

You can’t do either sport well wearing a lot of bulky clothing.

I enjoy the similarities and the work ethic involved with both sports. I love that I can improve every single day for every year for the rest of my life. I love being outside in the fresh air with Alistair as we both strive for continual improvement.

I love Norman, Loudmouth skorts, my wine glass covered glove, Michelle Wie, Adam Scott, Bubba Watson’s unorthodox style, Jordan Spieth, Zach Johnson (who looks more like Juaquin Phoenix than Juaquin Phoenix) and the fact I can share this game with friends and family when they come to visit.

I love that our trips to Hawaii have a whole new dimension now with the enjoyment of the outstanding, ocean-view golf courses that are usually located at our resorts.

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I have even started taking lessons.

I don’t include the group lesson I took on Kauai, where I basically had a shit-eating grin on my face the whole time. I was just so thrilled to have some guidance and drive a cart around a lush, fancy-shmancy, tropical island golf course.

My first real lesson was yesterday.

I’ll admit it. I kind of suck right now.

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And yet I still love it! Amazing.

I went and drove balls this afternoon but there were no tee times available with the long weekend. It was wonderful to see so many other people enjoying the course.

Alistair has 4 large round hay bales stacked in Bismarck. He drives golf balls right into them or he works on pitching them overtop. You have to admire his tenacity.

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I love that golf is a game for one person or a bunch of people. Skating isn’t like that unless you’re into synchro. In fact, we used to get in trouble if we were standing around talking at the boards.

I also love that golf is a warm-weather game. I spent more than 25 years in a refrigeration system. It got cold.

Don’t get me wrong- I love skating. And skiing. And snow-shoeing. And snowmobiling.

Its just that, given the choice, I’d rather be warm.

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An extra bonus is the fact that I get to wear all of the polo shirts I bought for my clinic over the years as well as the fancy slacks I used to wear at the larger clinic I worked at in Bismarck. Who knew my sense of style leaned towards “golf” back then?

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I’d like to see more women on the golf course. I know its easier for me to enjoy the game with my partner because we are both at a similar level. We’re also both competitive and athletically driven, which makes us well-matched.

We also can laugh at ourselves and crack jokes as we’re out there.

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And Spirit of UB will make a comment or Spirit of Cleo almost always has something to say in her southern drawl, like, “Nice shot, Daddy.”

Its how we roll.

With fenders.

In Norman.

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So if you’re driving along the highway & you see us whacking at balls or digging in the tall grasses to find one, go ahead and honk.

Better yet, get out and enjoy the game.

You’re never too old to start something new. Hell, you might even become addicted. As long as you have friends eager to enable you, you’ll do just fine.

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We’ve come a long way, Baby!