Our dogs have been antsy the last few nights. They run to the door like someone or something is there and show signs that they are not happy. Barking seems to be sporadic and unrelated to anything we could see or hear. Mack was giving the dogs their last walk before bed and Libby was absolutely in a barking mood. She ran to the fence and was barking her head off. Mack decided to go over to the fence to see if he could see why she was barking. There, strolling down the middle of the road, as if he owned the place was a coyote. Yes, we have been hearing them every evening yowling at the moon or whatever--one night to the north , the next, to the east and mostly to the west. No wonder the dogs have been uneasy. Those beast have probably been sneaking into our field and picking off geese and guineas. Maybe that is what happened to poor Protector. Sadly, he did not make it through the first night after he was wounded. It was a very sad end for a good gander and nothing benefited. The culprit didn't get a meal and Protector died totally unnecessarily. Very, very sad!
This morning there was a gander (male) that didn't look right out on the edge of the gaggle. His poor head was pulled down and tucked into his shoulders. Rushing out to check on him we noticed blood running down both shoulders and onto his back. He had bloody holes--about the size of dimes on both sides of his poor head. On closer inspection he turns out to be one of my favorite geese. I call him Protector--because he gets between me and the other geese and keeps them from "goosing" my ankles and legs. He also is a great father and takes very good care of his goose and their babies. He and his mate hatched out 3 goslings this summer--no more, because we didn't want overpopulation and I stole goose eggs. It appears that something--maybe a bobcat or coyote has been picking up, or trying to pick up dinner over in our yard.
Ghostbusters aren't the only ones to feel the disgusting qualities of green slime! This week was toenail clipping time for the alpacas and Machu (pictured below) was in a very irritable mood. I suppose it must have been the on-going heat. At any rate, we had to tie him up and he rewarded me (since I was at the head end) with a shower of green spit/slime. He started spitting and screaming like he never has before. The screaming was intense--so much so I was halfway expecting a neighbor to come see what was going on. And as for the spitting, well his face was coated, the walls of the stall were coated, and I was coated. Yet, we had to clip his toenails. They were starting to curl and we were afraid they would start hurting his feet. Picchu was a good boy. He didn't fight us and it didn't take much time to do his nails. Machu was mad the rest of the evening, but by the next morning, he was himself again. I made the amazing discovery that alpaca spit burns like crazy. No, this is picture of Machu was taken before the green slime episode. I was not fit for being in or taking a photo and there was no way Machu would have let anyone take his picture. He was riled.
What is a group of ducks called? I wanted to write about a group of ducks so I looked it up on the internet. Whew, calling a group of ducks by the correct name is not easy. The first word for a group of ducks was a "badelynge" but it only applies to a group of ducks on the ground. No good here! Raft: a large group of densely packed ducks on the water, usually mallards. Nope! Team: athletic teams that are called ducks. Dover: a group of ducks mixed with decoys. Brace: two dead ducks tied together. Ick, sounds awful! Paddling: A Paddling of Ducks, Animal Groups from A to Z by Marjorie Blair Parker. And, in the book, guess what a group of ducks on the water is called--a paddling. Dopping: a group of diving ducks on the water. So, I still don't know what to call the poor little group of ducks in the picture. A paddling I suppose. Of course the other definition of paddling is something mean old teachers used to do to bad little boys. Aw well, choose whatever you want, the definition of a group of ducks is nearly as complicated as all the terms Native Alaskans have for snow.
What is all that white? Could it be snow, flowers? Feathers, Feathers, everywhere! What, Feathers? Yes, indeed. The birds are molting. Since we have so many white geese and ducks, the overall look is that there was a major pillow fight with lots of pillows that broke open. Every summer, after the babies are hatched and a few weeks old, our geese and ducks shed their old feathers. It is hard to believe, but feathers wear out. Feathers are very special and in order for a bird to fly its feathers must be in the very best condition possible. That is why birds preen. They are zipping the barbs of their feathers together and cleaning them. Feathers provide insulation, flight capabilities, and waterproofing and consist of a shaft with barbs that get dirty and suffer from wear and tear. When the feathers can't be zipped together anymore or have holes in them, it impacts flight--at least on our geese--and many other aspects of a bird's life, so they have to go through a vulnerable period where they are stuck on the ground or in the pond while they get new feathers. During this time, they are excessively greedy for good food and water. They also have to duck under the fence instead of flying over it. My belief is that they should stay on the barnyard side of the fence, but they don't agree. They think that if they don't come into the yard and peck on the back sliding door, we will forget to feed them. Ah, well! This is a picture of the mamma duck which has opted to swim in (and dirty up) the drinking water rather than swim in the pond.
What a reward for a mama duck who has been sitting on nests since spring. One nest after another has been wrecked by some savage creature that likes duck eggs. Finally, after sitting on four nests for four weeks each, one right after the other, she has a little baby--only one! But still she seems to think it was worth it. She is a very good mamma. We were worried about the duck egg snatching creature catching this little guy or gal, so we caught the mother and baby and put them in a (hopefully) safe pen. I found it hard to put the baby in with its mama. It was so cute and didn't seem to mind my holding it at all, but mama knows how to take care of duck babies better than I do, so in it went.
Seventeen, you say, seventeen! Why on earth has Pat called this post 17? Has she flipped or is it a lucky number? The answer is neither one. Monday morning we noticed a lot of noise out in the driveway. It was a guinea hen running up and down and making the most unusual noises. She seemed very distressed. I said to Mack, "Should I go out there and put her in the yard?" He said, "It would be a waste of time!" So we ignored her. Sometime after lunch he backed the truck out of the garage and noticed what the consternation was. The guinea was a mama and had hours old keets all over the place. He came in and got me and we caught nine of the keets but couldn't catch her. We put the nine babies in a pen with another mother guinea and 3 babies. I kept worrying about the mother so went outside and ran around the yard with a fishnet trying to catch her. A couple of our neighbors stopped by to see if I was O.K. They told me that their hen lost all of her keets during the first day. That motivated even more running. Finally, I gave up and went in. After an hour or so I went out to check on the hen--she was under the elderberry bush with eight more babies. I rushed into the house to get them some water. It was so hot and dry, I feared for their lives. When I got back they were gone. Later that evening we found them under the chicken house. When it was chore time the mama took them all into the chicken house. One by one she would come out and show each baby how to climb the ramp. It was very touching! They were cotton ball size trying to climb over inch treads. The other birds were tromping all over them and we feared for their lives. We finally caught mama and her eight babies. They are now relaxed and happy in their own private pen. Seventeen little keets! All in a days work for us and weeks of work for the mother. The keet in the picture is 3 days old and tripled in size. Why is it in my hand--because the little dude and two others got out of the pen. One of the cocks was guarding them so they came to no harm. It was vey hard to keep the little guy in my hands long enough for the picture.
We were driving to work this week when I saw a funny rumpled yellow thing at the side of the bridge we were getting ready to cross. There was a doe making tracks across the road into the woods. We stopped in case there was another deer. The little rumpled thing began unfolding and you can see in the picture what it was. Long little stilt like legs that were wobbling and trying to work together. It reminded me of out kids trying to walk on stilts. The poor little thing wobbled this way and that and finally got off the road. After a few minutes it found its mother and they both disappeared into the woods. It was the cutest little thing!
Drink that water? You have got to be kidding? No way--risk swallowing tadpoles and algae? Yuccccch! A few weeks ago I wrote a sorrowful blog describing how the little tree frog tadpoles were washed out of the watering trough. Lately the trough has been getting lower and lower and green with algae. Guess what-- it is teeming with life! It is filled with tree frog tadpoles of two types. Little teeny weeny black tadpoles (actually smaller than they appear in the picture above) are swimming everywhere and fewer slightly larger tadpoles of a different type are swimming with them. The larger tadpoles are lighter in color and developing little tiny legs--just little bumps to begin with. See the picture below to get a sense of the size difference. Machi and Picchu have been horrified to see them swimming in their water. Every day, I ask them how many tadpoles they have swallowed and they look at me with disgust. I have been filling a bucket with water from the tap for them. We will drain and refill the watering trough after the tadpoles have turned into frogs and left it.