"People from a planet without flowers
would think we must be mad with joy the whole time
to have such things about us."
~Iris Murdoch, A Fairly Honourable Defeat

Friday, March 4, 2011

Turkey Trot

The real California Turkey (Meleagris Californica) went extinct about 10,000 years ago.
So what's this...

and, oh my gosh, THIS...
They are everywhere. Herds of them. They come through morning and night. They mess up the parking area with their 'you know what'.
They are in California and they are called  Turkey, so how is it that they are extinct?? Listen to this:
"All the evidence we have on hand about California Turkey is that it was strictly limited to the greater Los Angeles Basin. The fossils are all within that small area, extending north only to Santa Barbara and south (maybe -- fossil i.d. tentative) to Orange County. "
Yes, we're talking La Brea Tar Pit extinct.
They don't look INSTINCT to me and what are they all doing in my driveway?

OH!.... the Prospector says it's mating season. Look at this dude!. I've never seen such a blatant display of out of control sexuality in my life. I'm almost embarrassed for him.
Look...., here's one who thought he was hiding in the middle of a group of hens.
The Tom (that's a boy turkey) was acting all casual and nonchalant like he's just one of the girls.
Then, all of a sudden, he started to transform.
He was getting bigger. He puffed up. But the real transformation started on his head. His eyes got red and he got this fierce look on his face, then his wattle turned red too. By now the hens were suspecting that there was something strange going on and they started moving away.
He fluffed up more and started looking really scary. See that skin under his neck? It will get longer and redder.
Did you see this? He went from a mild mannered bird to "SUPER BIRD" in about 3 or 4 minutes. It was just amazing and this was only the beginning.
Slowly his tail started going up....

and the feathers spread out in a beautiful fan  across his back. Then he started strutting and dancing around the hens. It was a sight to behold.
Still, the hens kept foraging and seemed like they could care less. The Tom did this for quite a while and I was getting cold. It was early morning and I had run out there in my PJ's to take these pictures. I was freezing and my coffee was sitting on the kitchen table getting cold .... in my warm house.
He finally gave up. It was like he had been holding his breath and then let it out. I felt sorry for him. He was deflated. He looked around at all the ladies and I know he was wondering what was wrong with them.... or him. I guess it's an age old story.....
He gave it one more try, but I could tell that his heart wasn't in it. So, keeping his tale feathers spread and trying to save what little dignity he had left, he walked up into the trees with his head held high.
Sorry Dude.....

Turkey season in California starts on the last Saturday in March and lasts for 37 days. Bow season is a little longer. I swear to you, on that day these Toms will disappear. It's like they know. Turkey are smarter than you think..... the hens don't have to worry. You can only take one bearded turkey per day.
This is not an endangered species. They are doing well here. In fact, at Three Dog Farm, they seem to have found a safe haven.
I do hope they all move on soon.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A Memory of Conversation

"Mama, can I pick the wildflowers?
"Yes dear. But remember to only pick the flower and not the root, so the plant can grow again next Spring."
" OK Mama? Do they have  names?"

"Yes they do....
 This one, with the pretty leaf is called a Common Henbit. It's from the mint family."
"Flowers have families?"
"Oh yes, dear. The other little pink flower is called a Shooting Star. It's from the Primrose family."Do you see why they call it a shooting star?"
"Uh huh. It looks like a shooting star that we saw that night when we stayed outside after dark and sat on the lawn watching the sky. Remember?"
"Yes, I remember."
"I will bring you a whole bunch of flowers tomorrow Mama."
"That would be very nice. Just remember. No roots and no Poppies. They are protected."
"What's protected mean?"
"You are protected, sweetie. It means that someone is taking care of you so that you are safe from harm."
"You mean like someone pulling me away without my root?"
"Something like that."
"Do the flowers have a mother?"
"Yes. Her name is Mother Nature. She makes the wildflowers."
"That's nice. I hope I meet her someday because she makes lots of beautiful flowers,"
"Yes, she does dear...
...let's go in the house and find a little pitcher to put them in."
"OK. Can I choose the pitcher I like best?"
"You sure can."
"I love these flowers, Mama. It's nice that they have a mom too."
"Yes, it is. It really is."

Sunday, February 27, 2011

One Day Last Week

Brownie's right horn was growing into the side of his face again. This time the Prospector and Farmlady took things into their own hands.
 "Oh Brownie!", cried Murphy, "Why are you on the other side of the fence?"
Bart looked a little disgusted. " Good grief Murph' Don't be so dramatic. He's probably going to the doctor place again. He always gets the fun trips."
Murphy was distraught, " I just know something bad is going to happen."
"What do you mean.. something bad?" Brownie said, as he walked over to the gate.Then he turned around
and ...
The Prospector was staring at him. Brownie stared back at the Prospector.
Then he looked at Farmlady and she said quietly, "It's going to be OK Brownie. It will be over in no time."
"What's going to be OK? What is going to be over in no time?",  Brownie shouted.  Farmlady knew that an explanation would be more than this goat should hear. This goat did not need to know what was going to happen ahead of time.
Annabel had a funny look on her face that said..."I'm sure glad it's not me." Everyone was a little tense.

When the neighbor arrived, Brownie knew something was happening and that it likely involved him. The neighbor Mr. "D" rarely came over, with his gloves on, unless there was wood to be chopped, heavy lifting to be done or.... when the Prospector had to keep something , or someone, under control.
Brownie started pacing. He saw the table ....
Then all the humans walked into the small fenced area. Brownie backed against the outer gate.....
With Farmlady and Mr "D" holding Brownie's head, the Prospector used the fine wire saw to cut the horn away from Brownie's face. Half way through Brownie gave out a loud cry. ( OK everyone..all together.. "Oh no!") Farmlady talked softly to Brownie and wished she spoke Murphy's other language (Gaelic) to soothe  Brownie's nervousness.  The rest of the sawing was completed and the horn fell to the ground. There was no blood, no need for antiseptic powder or bandages. The deed was done. They let go of Brownie and he darted over to the fence. He touched noses with Murphy and then seemed to settle down,
They thanked Mr. "D" and sent him home with cookies and eggs. He is such a good neighbor. He's always there to help. Farmlady could not have held Brownie steady or long enough. Her expertise involved talking to Brownie and keeping him calm. She did hold the goat's head as well as she could, but Mr."D" was the strength that keep Brownie in place.
No photos were taken of this embarrassing (as far as Brown' was concerned) procedure.These goats don't like to be "man" handled. Brownie is the worst. He didn't talk to anyone for the rest of the week. Of course the sun wasn't out a lot either so it's hard to tell what he was really upset about.
Farmlady was really proud of Brownie. She gave him some carrots later in the day but he let them fall on the ground and walked into the goat house. It was traumatic for him but he can be such a drama king....

That night Farmlady and the Prospector talked about the job well done and how it saved them a lot of money and another long trip to the vet down in the valley.... borrowing a horse trailer, loading Brownie into it and driving so far. Yep! It was one more learning experience for them all. What a day!!
The Offending Horn


And now.... the Oscars have started.... I must go.