AFRMA Fancy Rat & Mouse Day – What is the AFRMA? It is the American Fancy Rat and Mouse Association. It is a non-profit, international organization founded in 1983, whose members work to promote the breeding of fancy rats and mice. They help educate breeders the proper methods for raising healthy litters, and in the proper care and handling of these sweet little creatures, raising awareness of their unique qualities as companion pets. They also sponsor competitive shows, sort of like dog shows, throughout the year and send out a newsletter for its members called Rat and Mouse Tales. It’s a pretty official thing! Fancy rats and mice are very different than just your regular garden-variety rodents. They have actually never seen a garden. They are cute, domesticated little creatures looking for a caring owner who will give them a happy home. They are bred to very strict specifications, not captured in a barn or field and sold in a pet shop. So for the rodent naysayers, those of you who say “EWWWW they carry disease like the rats in the black plague”. Um, no they don’t. Those poor rats got a bad rap anyway. They didn’t carry the disease, the fleas that were catching a ride on them did. The poor rats just took the blame. Have you ever given pet rats and mice a chance? I had pet mice growing up. Of course, I had never intended to have as many as I did . . . my Mom finally gave in to my begging and bought me 2 mice and the supplies as a birthday gift. She specifically requested two female mice. That wasn’t what we got. No, just 30 days, or so (the gestation period is 20-30 days) after getting my sweet little pet mice, we had a litter of wiggly, pink babies. (ugly little critters when they are born!), We separated the mother and father as soon as possible, but it wasn’t long before I had the cage and two aquariums . . . supposedly one for the girls and one for the boys. They can get pregnant as early as 4 weeks (which is dangerous for the girls and shouldn’t be allowed to happen) Not always easy to tell which is which, and I suppose that’s why we were in that situation in the first place. At first we took the babies to the pet store . . . but when I found out they were feeding my precious little babies to the snakes, that stopped. At one point I had well over 30 pet mice. I had my favorites, and they knew me and loved me. They’d climb up my fingers up my arm and sit on my shoulders grooming themselves and observing the world. Very sweet little pets in every way. Poor things, it wasn’t their fault I couldn’t tell girls from boys until it was too late. We finally separated everyone out properly, and over time they ran their short life spans, fat, happy and sassy, and I can honestly say I probably had the largest pet cemetery of any kid I’ve ever known. Each had it’s own little box casket, its own Popsicle cross and its own little graveside ceremony. When my son was a teenager he wanted rats, and I couldn’t argue against it. He was responsible and knew it was his job to take care of them We ended up with three girls. They were litter mates and we couldn’t bring one home to be lonely, nor could we bring home two, leaving one at the pet store to be lonely. No, we just got a bigger cage. These girls were hilarious! My son named them after the girls on the TV show “Friends”. There was a beige rat with brown eyes that he named Phoebe, and honestly she was as much of a ditz as the character in the show. He had a brown and white one that he named Rachel, because she was always grooming herself and had the shiniest, softest fur. She was completely self-absorbed and literally spent hours preening – again, like the character in the show. Lastly, and just as similarly, he had Monica. She was dark brown, nearly black and she was absolutely obsessed with cleaning the cage. We would put pieces of paper towel tube into her nest and she’d flip out and start dragging it all over to a trash pile near the door of the cage. She was always fluffing up the bedding, and literally straightening up the mess near the food dish. It was fascinating to watch! They were friendly with the whole family, but these girls knew that my son was their person. They would hear his voice and rush to the door of the cage, standing up on their little hind feet, stretching as tall as they could to see him coming. He would open their cage and they’d rush out to him, crawling up to snuggle under his chin and be scratched and petted. They were the cuddliest little gals! They lived over 4 years, which is rather unheard of for pet store rodents. So many people discount rodents as good pets, which I find to be sad, because those people are missing out on a very rewarding experience. I miss having a little critter in the house, but at this point in my cats lives, I’m fairly certain they wouldn’t adapt well to having a mouse or a rat in their midst.
Today is a day for swapping things! There are two SWAP celebrations and both sound great!
National Seed Swap Day – So let’s learn about swapping seeds. What is it? Well, it’s a day when communities across the country get together and swap seeds that will grown in their own areas. Many communities encourage the participants to bring more than seeds to share. They suggest bringing knowledge and experiences and spend some time getting to know other people who have a love of gardening to learn from each other and get to know one another. Keep in mind, it doesn’t have to be just vegetables and herbs, swap seeds for flowers, exotic or rare plants, or even favorite fruits! What an awesome idea! This one always falls on the last Saturday in January – gives gardeners time to plan what they will be planting in spring.
Soup Swap Day – Now THIS one I LOVE LOVE LOVE! I think everyone should get together and do this with their friends! Soup Swap Day started out in Seattle, I think around 2000. It wasn’t easy finding specifics on it, but it sounded so great I had to tell you about it! The general idea is that everyone gets together, bringing enough frozen quarts of soup to the swap for however many people are going to be there – for financial and sanity purposes I’d suggest keeping to six couples or individuals. It’s sort of like a cookie exchange, only with healthy, delicious, filling soup! I’ve read different sites were people pick numbers and choose soups, leaving the lower numbers with the soup that wasn’t as popular, but I honestly think it would be better and more in keeping with the spirit of sharing the soup to have everyone get one container of each kind of soup so they have six different dinners to enjoy! Everyone who brings soup should share what they brought. It would also be fun to have crock pots of each kind of soup there to sample. Throw in some crusty bread and a decent beverage or two, and you have the recipe for a really fun event with your friends!
Here is a list of possible suggestions to take to a soup swap . . . but really, don’t limit yourself. There are too many different sorts of soups to count so just let your imagination and taste buds be your guide.
* Chicken Noodle Soup
* Thai chicken soup
* Spicy tomato (bring crackers!)
* Roasted garlic, kale and white bean minestrone
* Creamy almond soup (I’ve never heard of this kind – sounds interesting!)
* Vegetarian chili
* Meat chili
* Butternut squash soup
* Potato Cheddar
Well, you get the idea – there’s just too many wonderful soups out there to even list them all! This would be a wonderful new tradition to start! I may have to make some soup today, and plan ahead for this one next year!
This Day In History –
1924 – The first Winter Olympic games begin in Chamonix, France.
1949 – The first Emmy awards were given out.
Food Celebration of the Day –
National Irish Coffee Day – Irish coffee is a strong, hot coffee with a nip of Irish whiskey and cream, combined in a way that it warms you up from the inside out. We owe the cold, damp Atlantic weather and the creativity of a chef from Limerick to thank for inventing this drink. If it hadn’t been for the chilly, wet weather, who knows if Joseph Sheridan would have thought up this sweet boozy drink and served it, or so the story goes, to warm chilled transatlantic travelers who ended up stuck when the weather got miserable. It is said that the passengers arrived in the small airport in SW Ireland where Sheridan had a restaurant. He wanted to lift their spirits and warm them up so he served the hot coffee beverage with a topper of whipped cream. One of them asked if it was Brazilian coffee and he said no, it was Irish Coffee, and so it was born in 1942. Such celebrities as Cary Grant, Marilyn Monroe and her husband at the time, Arthur Miller, have been photographed in that spot sipping an Irish Coffee. Even though Irish Coffee started out in Ireland, it came the United States, and was introduced to San Franciso’s Buena Vista Café in 1952. In the years since then Buena Vista has served more than 32 million Irish Coffees, and still whips up about 2,000 of them each day.
Try the classic or one of these other hot coffee treats today. May be especially welcome back east and in the mid-west where everyone is so cold!
Well, there you have it! Today is a busy day and I think I need to get started on that soup! God Bless You and I’ll see you tomorrow!