October 5, 2009

Two weeks of daily rain storms created a muddy paradise, and of course the queens of the mud baths are Dulary and Misty. Never have we seen two elephants that coat themselves as thoroughly and efficiently as these two. It starts with a little smile and smirk, then a few kicks with their toes churning the muddy water into a thick pasty mud. Next, their trunks are enlisted to grab and throw the sticky mud onto the tops of their backs and under their bellies; this of course must be accompanied with squeaks, gargles and grunts that only Misty and Dulary can create. A few minutes of rest, basking in the glory of the moment, or is it just the calm before the storm…Trumpet!!!, spinning, kicking and down they go, head first into the mud, rocking their faces side to side ensuring that all surface are coated, can’t leave any exposed skin. Gracefully, most of the time, they let their bodies slide down, head first then shoulder then rolling onto their side then hip, wiggling, working the mud into every crease and fold. Slowly getting back up, but first must cover their rumps, half sitting, half standing, more squishing and squirming. Up on their feet, spin around, kick the mud then back down on the other side, this time it is rump first, have to cover the right cheek too! Lying down the squirming slows, a few shifts of the body, working a nice belly indentation into the mud wallow, Misty stops moving, still smiling her cheesy happy grin, she is out for the count, fast asleep. Dulary, meanwhile is still squirming and talking, another ten minutes then she finally looks over to see that her sweet friend is taking another nap. Dulary decides to play for a few more minutes, takes a short rest to bask in the glory of the sacred mud puddle, and then off to find something to graze on. Play time is over for a little while or until the mood is right or they wander across the next innocent water puddle, waiting for its transformation.

Shirley, Tarra, Sissy and Winkie are all on the great migration, checking out all parts of the property. Sissy and Winkie are hanging out close to the furthest well, exploring new boundaries, previously untouched by elephants. Shirley and Tarra continue their pattern of staying together for a few days then exploring solo. Tarra comes back to Dulary and Misty for a day, then off to find Shirley again. The girls never stop teaching us the simplicity of living, enjoy the moment and embrace all that life has to offer.

This week preparations are being made for a new member of our African Barn family, Babe. Mud wallows are made around her habitat and also this week the sand stall is being created. Tange and Flora, unaware of this big event, were hiding. They went into the valley and were very comfortable eating the browse and drinking out of the fully flowing creek.

The rain finally stopped, following by a significant drop in temperature. Fall has made its entrance suddenly, catching us off guard like it always seems to do.  Colder nights mean less exploring for the Threesome, as they are reluctant to leave the coziness of the barn for the cool evening air. Lower temperatures also give Minnie an extra spring in her step. Deb and Ron have developed their own pattern: nights and early morning up in the South Gate habitat, and afternoons and evenings down in the Night Yard Extension pasture. They are really utilizing all of their area, which is so wonderful to see.