May 17, 2010

Life has pretty much returned to normal around here in DivaLand after the flooding. Construction vehicles went back and forth, filling in crevices in our main road and removing debris. Billie, surprisingly, was not bothered by the huge machines going about their noisy business. She kept an eye on them, but never seemed to get too distressed about it. This is a wonderful step forward for our "sometimes-nervous" Billie.


Billie and Frieda

 

The receding water left lots of downed trees in the habitat. Minnie has wasted no time inspecting all of it and looking for the best pieces to swing around. Lottie and Ronnie were gathering bunches of uprooted plants the other day, piling them high on their backs. It almost seemed as if they were having a contest to see whose pile could be higher. Some of Ronnie's fell off as she walked, and she stopped to retrieve them. Those weeds must have been really important to her!

It was a nice quiet week at the Asian barn. Tarra and Shirley spent most of their week at the lake, alternating between Right and Left Field. One of the mornings, Shirley decided to hike up the hill back to North Road, and by late feed Tarra had joined her. However, the next day, they had both returned to the lake.

It is truly a wonderful spot for any of the girls; there are two fields with mostly similar foliage, yet still some different variety. One field has wild mint and passion fruits, the other field has more blackberries and smaller trees. There are woods lining the back area of both fields, which means plenty of shade when the girls want it. There are also mud wallows in each. The wallow in Right Field is a nice orange churt, which looks lovely on the girls after their bathing in it. The other one in Left Field is dark black soft squishy mud.

Of course there is water for swimming, bathing, or drinking. When that water is not pristine enough to entice a drink, it is a very short walk to the creek for some crystal clear cool running water. After the storms, there is an added sand bar for dusting.

Sis and Winks have been wandering in both directions, towards the lake, and heading north, spending their nights outside. They spent a couple of days grazing in a meadow they had never ventured into before, though it is not far from a spot they frequent during the summer months. Winkie has been very light; she is talking and engaging on almost every caregiver visit into the habitat. Dulary and Misty are enjoying their daily routines of dusting, swimming, and sleeping mixed in with a little wandering when they so choose.

It is sweet how physically close Dulary and Misty usually are. Just the other day they were lying down under the shade trees, in what could only be considered a "spooning" position. It would have made a great picture. The only problem is that Dulary is a very light sleeper (unlike Misty) and generally gets up when anyone comes. So we have learned that a Dulary in repose is something we only get to appreciate from afar.

In Africa, If you turn your head just a little, you will catch a whiff of honeysuckle, so soft and sweet you can almost taste it. But all the flowers in the world will not mask the lovely odor of elephant droppings. Much of the work of the caregivers is cleaning up this elephant dung, whether in the barn or in the habitat.

This last week Flora and Tange have been up on what we call Pipeline Road. It's not a very big area and there are no grasses, but rather a lot of tall trees, shade, peace and quiet -- and of course turkeys. Up here, the Girls knock down an average of three trees a day, so it is not easy getting into this area to feed them or to clean. With recent flooding rains, most of our roads are washed out, so there is one way in and one way out. We have to feed the Girls on the more easily-accessible fence line: breakfast, snacks, dinner and night feeds. So, you can imagine the droppings that are left there for us to clean. Piles and piles of elephant dung! Of the hay delivered to the girls in the habitat, little is left to clean up because the African Girls eat every bit of their hay.

Now, African Girl droppings are not those cute little dried up balls that roll around and can be picked up with your hand and tossed into the trailer. Here in Africa we have small mountains of wet chewed-up hay, and of course those undigested orange peels remaining in the dung. Each mountain is approximately 60 lbs and it takes three shovels full to clean up one mountain.

The only exception to all of this is when these droppings turn into dried feathery fluff spread out by the turkeys picking through it. Of course, then the wind will blow the fluff all over everything nearby, including the shoveling caregivers. This fluff mysteriously turns into four shovels full, but lighter in weight.

In the winter we have to wheelbarrow this fertile stuff out of the barn. About three mounds fit into the wheelbarrow which we wheel up a ramp and into the trailer - repeatedly. We all know when in the barn, these Girls mainly eat and "do what comes naturally."

So we enjoy our Honeysuckle Dung week.

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A reminder for your Tuesday thoughts: May 18, 2001 we lost precious Barbara.