Sydney and Irwin

Sydney and Irwin are getting along great! I was worried when I got Irwin that the two of them wouldn't like each other, especially when I didn't know if Irwin was a boy or a girl, and Irwin was younger than I wanted. But judging by his behaviour, I think Irwin is a male.

I've slowly been introducing the two of them. I've let them play together, and last week I moved Irwin's cage into the living room and put it next to Sydney's cage. Since then, they've become fast friends. As soon as I open their cage doors, Irwin goes into Sydney's cage. He feeds her and they groom each other. Sydney has also quieted down a lot since I brought Irwin out.

They've yet to stay in the same cage overnight. A few days ago, I was going to be home all day so I put Irwin in Sydney's cage in the morning and hung out in the living room to supervise. They did just fine together. Hopefully soon I'll feel comfortable enough to leave them together when I'm not there to keep an eye on them.
On a recent trip to Tractor Supply Company, I realized something that I didn't like. With the exception of monthly board, my horse is cheaper to keep than my guinea pigs. Let's look at a side by side comparison, shall we?

First, there's the thing they both eat: hay. My horse's hay costs me $7 a bale. I buy it from the barn owner who buys it directly from a farmer. During the summer, he gets 1-2 flakes of hay a day, and a single bale can last a week. (In the winter, however, he goes through much more hay.) My guinea pigs' hay costs me around $10 a bag. When given free access to as much hay as they want (which is what should be done), that bag of hay can last anywhere from 4 days to a week. For convenience in comparing costs, I will say that the horse eats one bale a week, and the pigs eat one bag a week.

Weekly total so far: Horse: $7, Pigs: $10

Then there's the feed. The feed I get my horse is a pelleted feed. It costs $16 for a 50 pound bag. It lasts 8 days. The pellets I get the pigs costs $15 for a 5 pound bag. It will last about 10-14 days. I could make this comparison in terms of price per pound (which would be $0.32/pound of horse feed and $3.00/pound of guinea pig food), but that would skew things. I'm going to go with the weekly cost. So, in feed alone, the horse costs $16 a week, and the pigs costs about $9.

Weekly total so far: Horse: $23, Pigs: $19

After that comes the bedding. This is where the guinea pigs start costing a lot. For my horse, he gets wood pellets in his stall. During the summer, he can get by with a bag of pellets per week. Each bag costs me $6. The pigs, on the other hand, get Carefresh in their cage. Because of the size of their cage, they need the big bag. A big bag of Carefresh usually costs $20. (This is what I was buying when I realized this. I bought a bag of Carefresh on sale for $17 and a bag of horse feed for $16 at the same time.) This big, $20 bag of Carefresh lasts one week.

Weekly total so far: Horse: $29, Pigs: $39

Finally, in the things I buy every week, comes the fruit and vegetables. The horse only gets fruits and vegetables as an occasional treat, so his weekly total for that is $0. The pigs, on the other hand, could easily go through a head of lettuce a day if I let them. It's a little tricky for me to calculate how much I spend on produce for the pigs each week as the produce I buy goes not only to the pigs, but also the birds and my bearded dragon. For ease, I will say that the pigs eat half a head of lettuce each day, two apples a week, four green bell peppers each week, and about 6 baby carrots each week. A head of lettuce costs around $0.80 during the summer, apples are around $0.50 each (I think...), green bell peppers are $0.50 each during the summer, and I won't include the costs of the carrots. So, that's $5.80 on just those things, which I'll round up to $6. They often get other types of veggies as well, but I also grow some vegetables myself, so I'll just say that all the additional vegetables they get come from the garden.

This brings the weekly grand total to: Horse: $29, Pigs: $45, or a DAILY cost of: Horse: $4.14, Pigs: $6.43 (yikes!).

Now, I did not include vet costs, nor did I include the cost of monthly board. I also figured everything on summer prices, so hay for the horse in the winter is significantly more, as is the price of fresh produce for the pigs. The vet is often more expensive for the pigs, not the horse. I also did not include the cost of occasional purchases such as new toys, treats, farrier, medications, or anything else that I do not buy on a weekly basis.

I want to spend less on both the pigs and the horse (I'm pretty content with how much I spend on the birds and reptiles), but still provide everything they need. This is especially important because I'm hoping to add a couple of new animals (I'm still not saying what I want to get--I don't want to jinx it). One place where I can cut a lot of money is the cost of hay. I can do this by buying my own hay, and buying a bale of hay specifically for the pigs. I also need to grow more of the vegetables my guinea pigs eat. But the thing I REALLY want to spend less on is bedding for the guinea pigs. Does anybody have any suggestions for that? I use Carefresh because I have found it best for odor control, absorbancy, and not triggering my allergies.

On the positive side and somewhat related note, I mentioned in my last post that my last day of work was going to be Friday. But after discussing things with my manager, I'm staying at that job until I go back to my other seasonal job, which makes me quite happy. Also, I changed my blog layout. Now, I'm off to go research how much my hopeful new pets will eat.
We are now 12 days into the new year. The holidays are over, and the new semester has started at school. My Christmas seasonal job is almost done (tomorrow is my last day), and my spring/summer/fall seasonal job is just around the corner. I thought I'd share some of my animal related new year's resolutions and plans.

1. Ride more. I was doing really good with riding more consistently until about half way through October when my work hours changed and I was also doing a lot of babysitting. But I'm happier, and the horse is happier, when I ride on a regular basis.

2. More outside time for the birds, guinea pigs, and reptiles. Obviously this has to wait for the weather to warm up. Allow the pigs to graze more.

3. More varied diet for the birds and guinea pigs. The birds already get a pretty varied diet, but I'd like to add some more stuff. The pigs get the same veggies all the time. This brings me to my next one...

4. Plant a bigger garden this year with more veggies. So, this isn't strictly animal related, but I grow as much of my own veggies as possible for the critters.

5. Get ____s. I'm hoping to add a couple new additions to the animal side of the family, but I don't want to say what just yet. I will say it is a mammal, but is in a different order than any of our other animals.

6. Do all the projects I want to do for the _____s. (Goes with the last one.)

7. Build another playstand for the birds, or expand an existing one. Also, make more bird toys.

8. Start feeding Delilah a raw diet. I'd love to do this, not sure I can though.

9. Blog more.

10. Post more pictures.

11. Have a bird room. (I can dream, right?)

Added later, because I forgot about them:

12. Redo the guinea pig cage. I've been meaning to do this for ages, but I haven't.

13. Figure out a way to spend less on guinea pig food and other supplies, without cutting quality.