September 13, 2010

Mother Nature gives up her bounty of grasses, vines and flowers for the Girls.
 
Liz, Billie, and Frieda have become Divas with a capital "D," even by Q-barn standards, shown by their preferences in hay. To help Liz keep her weight up, we are giving her new hay from a shipment ordered specially for her. In order to ensure that she actually gets the hay before the others do, it may be necessary to distract Billie and Frieda. So, we have given Liz some of the new Timothy Hay, while Frieda has to have her Bermuda Hay, and then it's imperative that Billie gets a generous flake of regular hay. Being the Divas they are, these three know exactly what they want.
 
They are demanding, but they enjoy a good time. The other night a caregiver was heard leaving at 11:00 pm after night feed. A few moments after she left, it was as if one of the girls said "NOW!" Billie started her trumpeting and Liz chimed in with her short, high-pitched "err err err" noise. This caregiver stepped outside her cabin nearby to listen more closely until everyone settled down quietly for the night.
 
In the Asian habitat, it is that time of year for the annual "clearing of the passion fruit." Since the Girls have been in the expanded habitat, Tarra has been working on her annual clearing the fields of passion fruit flowers, and later the fruits themselves. This year Shirley decided to join her. The passion fruit plant is present in many of the pastures in the Asian habitat, and nowhere are they more abundant than in Oak Tree Pasture. This past week, in one day, the girls methodically cleared one small section of flowers and vines. Throughout the day, they could be seen ripping up the vines and placing the delicate flowers in their mouths. Not only are these flowers quite beautiful, but they give off a very sweet "guava-like" scent, that overpowers you as you approach up the hill.

Purple Passionflower is the state wildflower of Tennessee, and grows wild in many areas
of our Asian and African habitats.

 
Passion fruit flowers have long been used for their medicinal properties. They are rich in flavonoids (which are non-addictive and do not cause drowsiness), a source of their relaxing properties. Some other components of the flowers are being studied and show promise in fighting HIV, cancer, leukemia, and Parkinson's Disease. The leaves and stems have astringent and antispasmodic properties and are used successfully for back pain.
 
After Tarra and Shirley spent a portion of their day consuming these sweet plants, enjoying the taste and any medicinal effects the plants provided, they continued to lazily pick through the meadow into the evening. At 10 pm feed, they were still enjoying the bounty, only at a slower pace. It seems they had a very restful sleep that night, because they were very bright the following morning. Shirley, with her normally little squinty morning eyes, was bright-eyed and ready to go. Tarra …well, she is almost always bright-eyed and ready for each day.