Niagara Dove Release 

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The Hatching of an Idea?                             February 23, 2018

As I shaded my eyes from the bright summer sun I felt the tiny feet of a delicate, little bird light upon my wrist. Slowly I moved my hand away from my face so I could see what had landed on me and to my absolute delight there was a plucky chickadee balancing upon his lame foot and singing sweetly without a care in the world. It appeared he had an affinity for turquoise and silver bracelets and was fascinated by the bangle that clung to my wrist. As he tapped at the turquoise I restrained my desire to express my enthusiasm vocally so as not to frighten him away. I was thrilled to say the least!

My husband and I had moved to the country over a decade ago from the city and, after raising our children, we had become empty nesters. As we sat on the deck in our backyard we discussed what possibilities lay before us as we headed into our retirement years when this beautiful little chickadee had decided to join us. We have both worked in industries where we have been of service to our communities in various capacities and now, as we noted the effects of time were creeping up upon us, we needed to formulate a next-stage-in-life plan. 

I was finding our empty house was too lonely and knowing there would be no grandchildren to fill it for quite some time, I began to pester my husband about getting a pet to keep us company. As he reminded me, I am allergic to animals of all kinds, and so having something furry in our home was probably not a great idea for my health. I sulked.

"I was transposed to the idea of a new path in life."

So far my path had gone this way: I had been a counsellor working with people in our community looking to restructure their lives and find employment. I had had my own counselling practice. I had driven a large school bus equipped to also handle handicapped students as well as all ages of able bodied students. I had worked for a media provider of local news in type and I had worked at a fine dining establishment with a hotel, and event services, as a hostess, server, bartender, and assisting in various executioning of events. My education included Media, Art, Design, Human Resources, and minor Psychology studies in both College and University settings and somehow I needed to put this diversity to work but I had no idea how.

A few days later, as I leisurely surfed posted videos of loved ones returning from their military tours to the surprise of their families, and baby announcements of triplets soon to be born, I  came across a video of a woman who looked a lot like me holding a white dove at a gathering. As I watched the video, soft music playing to elevate the mood of the ceremony she was performing, I could see from the gathering of the family that this was a white dove release in memorium for a woman who had passed away. Her husband and grown children along with their family were standing together on the side of a small hill overlooking a pond holding a white dove and as this gentle dove lady spoke you could feel the grief the family shared lift. The husband, with all his love, kissed the white dove and released his beloved symbolically into the sky. In that moment his pain flowed unrestrained from him and was relieved. His heart elevated ever so slightly from the weight of his loss and I was transposed to the idea of a new path in life.

 It was almost as if I had walked out of a tunnel and into the light of day. There was the conglomerate of all my education and experience in one business model along with the opportunity to have pets that I could keep outdoors. I was excited and inspired. I could be of service to our community and I wanted to make it happen right away but obstacles are always bound to pop up and so our journey to creating Niagara Dove Release began bit by bit.

May 14, 2018

You've Got to Love the Weather!

The thing about this job is you've got to love the weather, ... all weather because you'll be working in it everyday no matter what. Extreme heat, extreme cold, rain, winds, doesn't matter because the doves depend on you for their care and feed. In the winter keeping their water clean and defrosted is challenging and needs constant attention even with the aid of water heaters. Their shelter must be wind resistant enough so they don't freeze in the lowest temperatures and fully ventilated in the summer months so they don't collapse from heat exhaustion. Some pigeon fanciers scowl at the idea of cooling my doves in a kiddie pool in the summer for fear that they may share diseases and so keeping them inoculated against these potential vulnerabilities is a constant concern but doves love to be clean. They thoroughly enjoy the water and will choose to sit out in the pouring rain to get a good shower rather than hide inside away from the elements.

Medications and vitamins to improve their health and immune systems provide protection from contact with other birds, animals, and people as well as sanitizing the humans that come in contact with them and I will save the topic of predators for another blog. We take all precautions we can to keep our doves healthy at all times. The reality is these doves are not toys. This is Nature and there is a cycle to life and as with all lives these too shall pass in their own time and this takes some getting used to. As we enter into springtime our lofts are filled with new life. Squabs are being born and nests are full of squeaking pink and yellow babies hoping to get their parents attention for something to eat and drink. We band our doves when they are young by slipping a numbered ring over their foot and onto their leg where it will remain the rest of their lives to ensure a safe return home should they ever get lost and found by someone helpful.

"Lessons are valuable when one has been creative because you become a Master at what not to do."

When we built our Breeder's Loft I did a lot of research to try to avoid costly mistakes however inexperience creates an opportunity for experience. As much as we would have loved to have started off with the perfect loft that would have been very costly and so we modified. Lessons are valuable when one has been creative because you become a Master at what not to do. The problems we encountered with our first loft were removed with our Free-Flyers Loft and we created new problems. Life is a journey though, right? The other problematic restriction was only one of us new how to use tools, my husband, and so I toughened up and asked him to teach me how to build. I am from a generation of women who were not permitted to take shop courses when we were young and I had had it drilled into my head from actual educators and self-professed educators throughout childhood that I would get hurt if I tried to learn. That didn't always stop me. This was hard for my husband to comprehend, that I didn't know how to use tools, and I had to keep retrieving his help because I simply didn't know the basics of building having never been exposed to the simplest of tool tasks beyond the screwdriver and hammer ... oh yes and a drillpress and a paper cutter from when I worked at a newspaper. I took my first shop class in grade 12. It was an electricity course. I figured I would one day own a house and should know how to fix it, at least a little, and so I began with trying to understand electricity. 

Once Ken got me qualified enough I became comfortable with tools and there was no stopping me! Everything I built was based on similar principles I'd learn in home economics classes, like quilting, jewelry making, and pattern design. It was just on a bigger scale. I began to make a couple of birdhouses to get comfortable with the process and then leapt into building the Free-Flyers Aviary. Ken corrected me on some errors I had made and let me loose again. This time I decided to build a rabbit hutch for my New Zealand White Rabbits. Lots of mistakes on that construction but it turned out pretty good considering how little experience I've had and I did it mostly unsupervised. Currently I'm trying to build an enclosed rabbit grow-out area that the little bunnies can use as a rabbit colony to run and play in. This way when friends come to visit we don't have to worry about the bunnies hopping out of little hands.

The beauty of building all of this has been being able to work outside. Sometimes it's freezing cold, windy, baking hot, it doesn't matter because the job has to get done. The rabbits grow and need room. The doves deserve a safe place to fly freely, and so I work, all throughout the day and sometimes through the night if their safety requires it. I love my job! I love my life in the loft because it's all worth it!