Metaphysical Times

HomeArchiveStories, Essays & Poems by AuthorStoreContactFind us on Facebook




One of the first things a wildlife rehabilitator learns is the food that each species eats: from nursing mammal babies, to the tiniest of birds, to reptiles and amphibians, and the occasional marsupial. They start out with formulas or food that mimics what their mothers would provide. As they learn to eat on their own, they progress through other foods that resemble their natural adult diets. This can present challenges. Fortunately, due to exotic pets and hobby farms becoming more common, there are lots of options available at farm and pet stores.

We have two freezers in our attached garage. One is for vegetables and one is for meats. We grow a lot of food and we pickle, can and freeze plenty. The vegetable freezer usually has some individually quick-frozen berries for fruit eating songbirds, like Waxwings or Orioles. The meat freezer has served a similar purpose, though it's been a few years since we grew any of our own meat. There's usually frozen liver, which is great fast nutrition for carnivorous birds of prey we take in until we can pass them to a rehabilitator friend who works with raptors. A friend who kept chickens in Alaska said she never lost birds to the cold because she gave them liver once a month. There are frequently frozen rodents (bags of them), for raptors and the occasional Opossum or Mink. Sometimes there are also cadavers of animals we could not save. Most of these get donated to education centers to be utilized in a variety of ways.

Sometimes the cadavers are just awaiting better weather for burial. Some rehabilitators will use those animals as food for other predators they are caring for, but we've always preferred to feed meats that we know were healthy before they landed in our freezer.

During “baby season” - which is pretty much from early spring through early fall – we also keep a smaller special rehab refrigerator stocked with mammal and bird formulas, with medications and with fruits and vegetables. Once baby season ends, any leftover dry formulas move to the meat freezer. There are usually small bins of meal worms and earthworms in the garage, and we keep a fish barrel with minnows of various types going also.

One Saturday shortly after July 4th, when it was fairly quiet and we had released most of the first-litter squirrels and had most of the waterfowl in outside pens, the phone rang. In what can only be considered a moment of temporary insanity, I agreed to take 11 baby Opossums, rescued from a very busy roadside after their mother was killed by a car.
I was of course immediately charmed by the cute little babies. They look like they're wearing opera gloves and their tails are like a fifth hand. Their big pink scalloped ears have black stripes. They each had a widow's peak! They seem to be always in some kind of physical contact with each other – piled up to sleep, sitting on each other, holding paws, or keeping their tails entwined.

When I would move them from one cage to another for breakfast while I cleaned up their amazing mess, they always looked a little confused, as if they weren't sure where they were. They'll hiss when scared, and if they get annoyed they make a sneeze-like sound. I hung a ferret hammock up in the top of my biggest indoor cage for them and they filled each level and pocket.

For a while they had to be fed formula every couple of hours. Opossums do not latch onto a nipple the way other young mammals do, probably partially due to the shape of their jaws. We had to sort of dribble the milk into their mouths so they could lap and swallow. Fortunately they were about a week from starting to eat a little on their own. Many rehabbers tube-feed them; it's just easier on everyone involved. I avoid tube-feeding whenever possible.

Soon we changed from trying get them to nurse to trying get them to eat baby food. Their first food was mashed bananas with formula and a little extra calcium carbonate. Fortunately they learned to groom and clean each other after meals.

The diet of Opossums is more complex than that of other scavengers. Their natural diet consists of insects (they're tick-eating machines!!), grubs, worms, small amphibians, fruits, eggs - (shells included), carrion (meat/protein), vegetables, seeds, buds, and leaves in fairly equal measure. Too much protein and they can develop metabolic bone disease because it will inhibit their ability to absorb calcium and other micro-nutrients.

They like sweet foods – fruits, winter squash, peas, bananas. Other vegetables mostly were ignored. One rehabber friend told me she put cheese sauce on their veggies to get them to eat just as you would for children. So we tried it, now have a jar of left over orange cheesey stuff in the refrigerator because our Opossums didn't like it!

Earthworms seem to bring out their inner beasts and they will snap at each other over them. They were delighted when I garnished their meal with dead minnows from the fish bucket and if they seemed to need a treat Sardines were the best.

Because there were eleven of them, they stayed fairly wild and shy, which is to their advantage. I don't want them to think people are their friends. It also meant they needed to be in the biggest outdoor cage, where they spent their days sleeping and their nights climbing and moving around.

Delilah, our dog, found them very intriguing, but mostly just sat and watched them when we let her out at night. That's o.k., because she was teaching them that dogs are a little creepy and not to be trusted. I have spent quite a bit of time just observing them as well and I'm sure they think humans are creepy too as a result.

Since they first arrived I'd been giving thought to their eventual release – it's what you do when you rehab. I divided them into three smaller groups for release in safe locations. They didn't get released on this island. While I've heard there are a few Opossums around, I think they'd just end up being food for predators of which there are many. I know that's always a possibility for any of the creatures we rear and release, but I try to position them for success in a supportive environment where they'll be able to find food and shelter from weather. If I've done my job well, they will have a healthy sense of adventure about what is edible.

They're out there in the world now,
hopefully finding plenty of
wonderful food.

Delilah and Hillwoman
(Sue-Ryn Burns)


Writing by Georgia Warren and by
other authors previously published in the
Metaphysical Times can be found in
the Stories, Essays and Poems at:
MetaphysicalTimes.com
(Visit Sue-Ryn Burn's Article Archive)

 

IN THIS ISSUE

• THE EDITORS
Gluttony and Food Issues

• DAVEY WEATHERCOCK
(Guest editor) All You Need

• PETE WETHERBEE Introduction to and translation of: The Pardoner On Gluttony
by Geoffrey Chaucer


• SUE-RYN BURNS
Possum Food

• MARK FINN
Desert Island Dining

• JOHN IRVING
The Half Pound Piece of Toast

• DAVID S. WARREN
The Life and Diet of Jim Worms

• FRANKLIN CRAWFORD
My Father the Clamcake

• RHIAN ELLIS
Blood on the Dining Room Floor

• GEORGIA E. WARREN
Little Round Things


• GABRIEL ORGREASE
Dull Ny Thinger

• NANCY VIEIRA COUTO
Eating With the Ancestors
– Curds and Whey


• DON BRENNAN
Grace

•ANNIE CAMPBELL Sugaraholic

• DAVID S. WARREN
Where Food Goes

POETRY
• FRANKLIN CRAWFORD
Helium Dogs

___________________




by Annie Campbell

I’d always had a sweet tooth, but about twenty-six years ago I suddenly developed absolutely insane cravings for desserts. I’d mix double batches of chocolate-chip cookie dough and eat half the batter raw. Then, I’d eat a bunch of mouth-singeing cookies minutes after taking them out of the oven. Harley was lucky if there were a few cookies left for him.

When I went grocery shopping in Wegmans, I’d fill a small bag with cookies and chocolates from the bulk food section, pay for my groceries and devour everything in the bag before I got home. Sometimes I managed to resist and didn’t buy any crap in Wegmans. But then, on the way home my cravings would overtake me and I’d stop at the little store where I usually bought gas. I’d buy myself horrible things like stale cookies, or cup cakes with gross icing on top and goopy-crap inside them, and eat all of it before I pulled into our driveway.

(go to story)
______________________


EatingWith the Ancestors

by Nancy Vieira Couto

            Those milk bottles, with a generous amount of cream at the top, reminded me of the milk of my childhood, but I should say right from the start that milk and I have always had a difficult relationship.  I remember that we had three kinds of milk in our tenement: chocolate milk, coffee milk, and plain milk.  Chocolate milk had some sort of cocoa powder stirred into it, while coffee milk was made with Silmo Coffee Syrup, a long-gone product that was once a staple in the New Bedford area.  Of the three, plain milk was the one I liked the least, although it was the simplest to prepare.  My mother would remove the orange cellophane from the top of the milk bottle, rinse the top of the cardboard cap, and give the bottle a vigorous shake.  Then she would remove the cap, pour some milk into a saucepan, and start warming it up.  Of course when my mother poured the warm plain milk over my breakfast Cheerioats, they immediately turned to mush. Truth is, I didn't like Cheerioats much either, and changing the name to Cheerios didn't make them any less mushy.  I didn't know then, and didn't learn until I was in college, that other people enjoyed their cereal with cold milk.

(go to rest of the story)

_____________________



Where Food Goes
by David S. Warren

So we bought a fruit crusher and new, larger press to use on our pears when they ripened last summer: a mixture of sweet and tart, mostly Asian pears. Some of the cider was consumed when still fresh and sweet, and most is now in the later stages of fermentation.

Meanwhile we had realized that a cider press is about the same thing as a cheese press. Being big cheese eaters,we ordered the basic tools, the coagulants and the fermentation cultures to make most any cheese.

Of course cheese making doesn’t always require a press, or need to be a lot more complicated than letting raw milk go sour. I heard on the radio that in prison, where improvisation is necessary, determined cheese-addicts use Real Lemon concentrated juice to coagulate non-dairy creamer. And there it is: easy cheesy.

We have now read so many recipes for cheese making that we are dazed and confused or maybe confused and dazed. The biggest cheesiest site on the internet has hundreds a recipes - new ones all the time, including some for mozzarella, one of which claims to be an easy thirty minute mozzarella, perfect for kids.

Don’t be fooled. The thirty minute mozzarella took a day and a half; we nearly scalded our hands in the process and never got the stuff to be stretchy as pizza dough, like it is supposed to be. So we don’t suggest you make it your first cheese.

You might want to begin with the prison cheese version, or better than that: try making the simple Portuguese kitchen cheese that Nancy Vieira Couto writes about in this issue of the magazine.

(read the beginning of this article)

_______________

Dull Ny Thinger

by Gabreal Orgrease

“Hey, sonny doy, dull ny thinger.”
 “Granpa, no.”
 “I’m not yer Granda ya little tord. Now dull ny thinger.”

 Aubergine Bawcutt, the talking eggplant, is the infamous Catskill ventriloquist Lorne Surlingham’s most famous dummy. Which is not saying a whole lot for dummies or back alley ventriloquists. A fat purple eggplant poked onto the top end of a broomstick, fastened with brass thumbtacks -- white eyes of radish slices with red peel rings, a petite carrot nose and a thin white-green slice for a mouth. The Chef’s Dummy they used to call her in the good old days on the underground circuit. A sort of Ubu Roi take-off in the vegetable and janitorial kingdom that never translated well to television but was a backstage hit at a thousand and twenty-three catered birthday parties.

 “Oh man, grandpa, do you really have to do that? It isn’t funny any more.”

(read this story in its entirety)
 

____________________

 



Possum Food

by Sue-Ryn Burns

One Saturday shortly after July 4th, when it was fairly quiet and we had released most of the first-litter squirrels and had most of the waterfowl in outside pens, the phone rang. In what can only be considered a moment of temporary insanity, I agreed to take 11 baby Opossums, rescued from a very busy roadside after their mother was killed by a car.
I was of course immediately charmed by the cute little babies. They look like they're wearing opera gloves and their tails are like a fifth hand. Their big pink scalloped ears have black stripes. They each had a widow's peak! They seem to be always in some kind of physical contact with each other – piled up to sleep, sitting on each other, holding paws, or keeping their tails entwined.

(read this entire story here)
_______________________


by Don Brennan

Sharing food with family and friends, while appreciating life’s blessings, can be a form of mindfulness that allows us to receive more energy from our food.

While enjoying food with Reiki practitioners, it’s not unusual to see people holding their hands above their food to fill it with Reiki before they eat. Most people seem to have the right attitude that this is a blessing and an enhancement of the food. But it’s clear that some are worried that the food might have negative energy within it.

When we experience fear, worry or anger, we cannot practice mindfulness. These feelings disconnect us and take us out of the Now. We feel unloved and unsupported. “Be Grateful,” the third Reiki Principle taught by Usui Sensei, serves as advice to help us become centered. Being grateful means nourishing gratitude in your heart, for no specific reason. It means being grateful for the gift of existence. Gratitude brings you here, into the present moment. When you are present, you are connected with all of life, with all of creation. And all is well.
All is as it should be.
(read this entire article here)
____________________
__

POETRY

FRANKLIN CRAWFORD
Helium Dogs (go to)
______________
_____


(You may view the complete print version here)
(Click to Purchase as a print magazine

_______________________



________________________



The focus of our next Metaphysical Times will be
"Significant Dreatures"


© 2020 The Metaphysical Times Publishing Company - PO Box 44 Aurora, NY 13026 • All rights reserved. For any article re-publication, contact authors directly.

 

Share
Tweet
Pin
Email
Share