June 1, 2009

Deb and Ron are spending some time up past South Gate with the new fence project still underway. Lately, they often meet a caregiver at the South Pond to indulge in long, cool drinks on these hot, muggy days. The past few days they have been covering themselves in the bright red/orange mud and dirt up by the South pond to keep the biting insects at bay. Both ladies seem happy to follow the 4 wheeler off to a shady spot in the woods to enjoy some hay after their drink. 

Liz and Frieda branched out this week, heading out into the night yard extension for the first time! Both seem tickled to find the pasture there full of long, green grass to munch on through the afternoon hours. Billie remained in the pond yard eating her own hay and grazing, but always keeping a watchful eye toward her sisters.

Minnie and Lottie have been ever patient once again with the fence crew being here. They hang out in the night yard during the first part of the day, enjoying hay up in the shade of the pines bordering the pasture. They know as soon as the crew leaves, a caregiver will open the gate for them to wander back out into their familiar habitat past the 40 creek and around the upper pond, where they spend a fair amount of time splashing around in the pond to relieve the heat. Watching them walk through the nearly waist high grass in the pasture is a beautiful picture.

We sure do miss our handsome “Nedly”, as we affectionately called him around the barn. More than once we have talked about catching ourselves looking at a watch thinking, “it’s almost time for his veggies." It would make you smile to watch his long, ambling gait as he followed the fence line down the hill to meet a caregiver with his meal. He had such presence, such personality…….it was a pleasure and a privilege getting to know him every day.

Last Friday, Shirley began making her way from the top of the hill where Bunny had passed, to where Bunny was laid to rest. On Saturday morning she was found at Bunny’s grave site, with an area of grass and flowers pressed down next to it, where she had slept. She was quiet, but smiling her soft Shirley smile. Tarra is close by, just on a different branch of Marcella’s Road and joins Shirley for periods of time throughout the day. Shirley is strong, but obviously feels her sister’s loss. She still quietly rumbles, lowers her head, and picks up her foot for touching, but it seems she will need a little time. Tarra has now been in this area of the habitat for a little over a month, which is longer than she stays in one area; she seems aware of the change in role she may be making. She is putting in a wonderful effort to be a supportive little sister to Shirley.

This week the African barn caregivers used the bulldozer to create a couple of roads on the Plateau. The girls love to hang out there and to make it easier for us, we decided to create a road that will allow us to bring the hay in further. On hot days the girls come back to the barn for mud baths and then go back up to the Plateau — so we decided it was time to create a mud wallow for them on the Plateau. As we had the bulldozer out anyway, we cleared a small gully of dead trees and loosened the ground, resulting in a perfect mud wallow with the perfect Tennessee clay. It has rained on and off for a week now and the mud wallow is slowly filling up. The caregivers were more excited than Tange and Flora, as the girls did not even check it out…yet. Even when a caregiver went through the mud wallow, both Tange and Flora looked at her as if she were insane. But we’re sure that it just hasn’t been a day for a mud bath yet…

The latest information regarding the airing of the followup story on Tarra and Bella is Friday, June 5, during Assignment America on the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric.

Carol’s new book about Tarra & Bella
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