June 21, 2010
Summertime ushers in a variety of treats, including watermelon, for the Girls.
All of the Girls are coming up for drinks more often in the summer heat of this past week. After breakfast is served out in the pasture, Ronnie usually goes back toward the barn with Debbie close behind. Ronnie goes on up the hill, past the bird enclosure, and to the shady woods beyond the South Gate and usually on to the South Pond for a red-mud spa. Debbie always stops at the back of the barn for a drink and self-shower, then moves off to see what nice shady spot her sister may have found.
Minnie and Lottie have also visited the barn for a drink regularly. Lottie has been getting showers from caregivers almost every visit. She alternates between drinking from the hose, getting sprayed by a caregiver, and putting her trunk in her mouth alongside the hose and spraying herself. Multi-tasking is no problem for this lady. Even Minnie has been allowing caregivers to shower her, from trunk to tail. She bends her tail around her side as if to say, "don't forget this part!" She raises her trunk to have the stream go into her mouth, and either drinks it or uses it to send a huge spray of water up and back over her head, dousing her entire body.
In addition, Minnie has her own little ritual; after her drink/shower, she goes to the bottom of the hill to a favorite sandy dusting spot the Girls have excavated. She tosses dirt over both sides of her body, over her head, under her belly and anywhere else she has in mind. Then, she lowers herself onto her side and lays flat out, shifting and wiggling her 10,000 lb. frame all over to get a good scratch. She stands up and then repeats the entire process on the opposite side. For such a large animal, she is surprisingly nimble in her actions. It's even nice to smile through the sweat dripping into our eyes in the heat as we have a good laugh at these wonderful, beautiful personalities.
With Tarra (and, of course, Bella!) visiting Misty and Dulary at the barn, we have had the opportunity to do some work in areas of the habitat that are usually somewhat off limits to large machinery. Clearing paths, cutting fields with our bush-hog (huge lawn mower), and smoothing roads on the lake side of the property were all done. What that meant for Tarra, when she returned to that side of the property, was lots of exploring to find changes. She visited all of the areas where there had been work done, within the first full day back on that side of the property. For the first two feeds of the day, she was in different fields that had been mowed. Between the two fields, she had crossed over the creek, and barely stepped on the newly-repaired dirt road that showed her thorough inspection from trunk marks all over it. The road was always a little hard to get up, and was even worse after the recent flood. In the evening, Tarra went into the blackberry gauntlet leaving her first clue, a pile of droppings right at the entrance, while she inspected the work that had been done there. We had joked that we wondered if she was ever going to leave that side of the property again, since when she left for the day, so much "interesting" work went on. She showed us once again that little bothers her and such changes would certainly not deter her from making her rounds to visit with her other sisters for a bit in the morning.
After a couple days at the African barn, Flora and Tange went back up to Pipeline Road. While at the barn they enjoyed a little pampering from the caregivers, receiving daily baths with the hose. This is certainly a site to see; Flora will open her mouth very wide so that we can direct the water into her mouth. She will then give you a large ear to spray, first the front then the back while twisting her trunk behind it to catch the run off. Once she is satisfied that her ear is saturated, she will turn to get one side of her body wet - then the other. Sometimes she will even give you her backside, but not always. Once Flora is thoroughly wet she might do some rolling around on the ground to get a coat of sand all over, then walk away to cover herself with a layer of mud.
Tange enjoys her shower in a slightly different way in that she turns around and around as to thoroughly wet her whole body first, then she will open her mouth for us to spray. Tange will curl her trunk over her head and expose her tusks for us to spray. Then, somewhat like a new Yoga move, she does a trunk-curl, using the tip of her trunk to clean the base of her tusk, easily moving into a trunk twist-up, then reaching under and behind her ears to catch the run-off from a full ear spray. Finally, she is off to the mud hole spa. All of this makes for a great day for bathing.