Wow, once again I have fallen way, way behind on blogging! The rest of my zoo keeper conference was fantastic. They turned up the temperature in our main conference hall and it was cool but comfortable the rest of the week. We spent one entire day at the North Carolina Zoo which was huge. Most of the animal enclosures (at least for the hoofstock) were enormous, which is great for the animals, but the layout of the zoo was such that you walked and walked and walked between exhibits. I compared it to if Peoria Zoo kept our same number of animals but increased the size of the grounds by about 10 times. I would say about 80% of the time you were walking through the wooded grounds with no animal enclosures in sight. I probably would have loved the zoo if not for my bad foot. I mean, I DID love the zoo, but I didn't love walking the zoo. Someone said it was 5 miles from one end to the other, but I have no idea if that is true. It felt like 5 miles!
I missed the kids and Gene was planning to take them to a White Sox game in Chicago for the weekend, so I drove home in 15 hours on Friday. It was a loooooooong drive all at once, but I was glad to be home all day on Saturday. The White Sox plans went all wonky and Kaylin ended up staying home but spending the night with my parents and Logan and Gene went to the game but only on Sunday. The boys had a great time at the Sox game where they got free tickets and $10 parking. Their Sox game ended up being cheaper than a Chiefs game!
I returned to work on Sunday, September 30th. I hadn't worn my boot cast since the last day I worked a week and a half before, but my doctor told me I should probably put it back on when I went back to work. I did and it was a big mistake. By lunch my calf was so cramped I could hardly walk. I took off the boot for the rest of the day, but spent the rest of the week stretching and massaging the knots out of my calf. I've now completed two weeks of work without the boot and while my foot is far from perfect, I can make it through the work day without icing. It seems like my tendon tear pain is completely healed and gone, but my foot is still weak overall and the nerve pain by my pinkie toe is still flaring. It's not ideal, but I've worked with much worse pain and it seems to get slightly better over time.
Work's been a bit crazy with preparing everything for the cold season and the zoo preparing for Howl-Zoo-Ween. I had to round up the budgies in the aviary to bring them inside for the winter. After a week of preparation, feeding the birds mostly inside, adjusting doors and waiting for cool night time temperatures, the majority of the ~200 birds were locked inside last Saturday night. My boss worked late at a special event and snuck down after dark and shut the door. It was a surprisingly good catch! I only had ~50 more birds to round up outside. On Sunday, I hung sheets across half of the aviary and several coworkers came down and we netted birds until there were only 8 remaining outside. I then set a food "trap" in one of the double-doored vestibules the zoo visitors use to enter the aviary. It was basically like putting all their food into a closet. I came in early Monday morning and all of the birds were happily eating. I shut the door and then just had to net them in the small area. It was sort of fun and definitely gave a sense of accomplishment when complete.
Kaylin and I worked at Howl-Zoo-Ween last night. Our zoo keeper group was selling glow necklaces as a fundraiser and Kaylin came along to help. I bought 450 necklaces online and felt it was a major financial risk. Thursday night was for zoo members only and only 50 necklaces were sold. I about panicked wondering how much money we would lose because of MY purchase. I need not have worried. The event was PACKED last night and the six of us working sold ~325 of the remaining necklaces, with ~25 defective and unsellable. I'm sure they will have no problem selling 50 necklaces tonight! Even if it pours rain and no one shows up, we will still make a good profit! It was fun to see all of the costumed kids and Kaylin and I even had time to walk the trick-or-treat trail for candy.
Otherwise, almost everything is pretty normal. The kids are doing their school thing and the pets are doing their pet things. Gene had a lay-off week from work last week and will have at least one more before the end of the year. I'm still keeping my eyes and ears open for other career opportunities, but am very much hoping to be able to remain a zoo keeper for a while longer. I suppose only time will tell. I was somewhat encouraged this week because while I was scrolling through some online want ads, just seeing what is available, I was interested in 3 different jobs I would currently qualify for and another job I had never thought of that I would probably only need a few classes to qualify. I know competition is probably fierce and just because I'm interested doesn't mean I would actually get the jobs, but it is an incredible feeling to know there is something out there.