Tag Archives: animals

Mud Bath

The mention of this farm animal is an insult to some. And yes, it can be used in that manner. Like many words — English has given it many connotations through the years.

Our neighbor called them “mortgage lifters” for their ability in a good year to bring the farmer cash in a relatively short amount of time.

The market is strong for them. Americans do love their bacon, ham, and pork chops. Six months from birth to market at 200 pounds is what my father aimed for. Yes, the cash was welcome. And paid bills — for farmers have plenty of those.

On a hot September day, a nice roll in the mud helps prevent sunburn.

 

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A Flock of Many Colors

And types. Rather like going to a farmer’s market in a large city.

The clothing, language, and favorite perfumes may vary. At times they may cause much head shaking and mumbling. But under the feathers, they’re all poultry.

Don’t worry. These birds will not be going to market. Their task in life is to entertain and educate young humans.

Harvesting

October. Autumn. Fall.

The season of harvest. And giving thanks for the harvest.

This little fellow appeared to be hard at work feasting and harvesting.

When I spied him at the local botanical garden, he impressed as a creature come to life from the pages of a children’s story book. And in case you can’t tell from the photo — he’s agile with a good sense of balance. The flowers he’s among vary in height from one to two feet. And they are on the edge of a lily pond.

One false step and he’s swimming next to a taro plant.

Nibble. Nibble. Stuff. Stuff. He samples the new flower fruits and pushes them into cheek pouches for transport to his burrow.

 

A Quarter Plus

One of the parks in the area includes several types of farm animals. I visited recently on a warm, fall day and had a great time while immersed in some of the smells and sounds of my youth.

We never had horses while I was growing up. (Prior to WWII my parents farmed with horses and without electricity or indoor plumbing. There are advantages to being a Baby Boomer.)

This fine animal lookout out of the stable door is a Quarter horse. An excellent choice for pleasure riding.

And in case you don’t like the idea of only a quarter of a horse…

I give you a different quarter of a different horse.

Remember to tend to both ends of the animal.

Cat-o-phalge

Have you ever gotten the feeling you’re being watched?

You glance around but don’t see anyone. So you look again.

There she is. Minding her own business. If you accept the fact her business is to inspect and approve any visitors.

She’ll listen to your conversation. Appear to nod off as the humans talk. Don’t let the closed eyes fool you. She’s listening. Gathering every sound in the room via her sensitive years.

Thinks to be thankful for. Calicos have not mastered speaking English.

Urban Entertainer

Do you enjoy watching acrobats?

Then you’ll love today’s featured animal.

He’s plentiful in St. Louis. I’m not sure, but they may outnumber the humans. Very difficult to get accurate census figures for the critters.

Without humans, they would do very well in trees. Trees provide them with home building materials, home sites, and food. However, when humans are added to the mix they have no qualms about stealing fruits and vegetables from the branch or vine to supplement their diet. Like wise if you put up a bird feeder. Most of them see this as a challenge — a problem to be solved. It makes for good entertainment but a messy patch of ground under an empty bird feeder.

I’ll admit it. The times my father had a successful hunt, I ate the meat with the rest of the family. Prepare more than one per person. Not much meat per squirrel.

Delicate Worker

They enchant humans of all ages. A burst of color if you disturb them on a path. The flight from one welcoming blossom to another.

They don’t loiter at their work. Sip. Fly. Land. Sip.

It would be wise for us humans to pause in our own work long enough to notice them. Relax. Let them bring a smile to your face as they dance in the air on a sunny day.

These yellow flowers attracted delicate workers.

Home Sweet Hive

Is it a nest? Or a hive?

Layperson that I am, honeybees live in a hive. And others? It’s commonly called a hornet’s nest. And bumblebees “nest” in the ground.

So I was mildly surprised when preparing for this post and came across a more formal definition.

It’s a nest when the bees (any variety) construct it.

It’s a hive when men get involved. The below is a hive – man-made at first, second, and third glance.

Bees collect pollen and make honey to survive the winter (non-growing) season. Man enjoys the taste of honey and has been building hives, collecting the product, and caring for the insects at least back to the Ancient Egyptians.

Modern hives, like those above, use standard sizes and spacing for the frames. This makes the parts inter-changable and harvesting and care easier.

Think you see a lot of bees in the field or orchard or garden near the hive? To my surprise, I learned only 10% of the hive population will be outside at any one time. Think of it! For every bee you see pollinating and collecting — nine more are back at home when they are building the honeycomb, producing honey, and caring for the queen and her thousands of eggs.

Serendipity

One day when I was a young teen, and unacquainted with the title of this piece, I went to the neighbor’s woods.

These woods were close. From our property I crossed one road and one field. Then I was in a patch of woods which included a pond. In the winter I ice skated here. It was a great place to let the imagination fly.

This particular day was in the fall. I’m not certain, but I think I was looking for a frog to take to school. No frogs as I walked all the way around the pond.

But on the way home. Still in the woods, I saw a tree branch hosting hundreds, actually thousands, of Monarch butterflies taking a rest during their migration.

Recently I attended an exhibit at our botanical garden featuring glass sculptures. The artist captured my experience.

Perennial Flock

Their relatives appear in almost every children’s book of farm animals. And they are popular with the toys teaching sounds. We never raised them on our farm, but some of our neighbors had small flocks.

The real animals are prized for their coats and their meat. They do have a reputation for demanding good fences and clipping the grass short. (Actually, at one time they roamed the White House grounds. Careful where you step, Mr. President.)

This friendly group is popular with both children and photographers.

Where else can you let a pre-schooler ride a sheep?