Monday, August 22, 2011

When the babes come marchin' in









Photographing baby animals around the ranch is cheap but irresistible blog material. 

Félix the gardener found the little rabbit under a cactus, where it had been cornered by Lucy who spends her life going after rabbits but never catching any. Like dogs who chase cars, Lucy wouldn't know what to do if she actually caught one. What were we to do with the stray baby? Put it in a box and feed it lettuce? Félix advised to give it a piece of lettuce but instead take it to the other side of the fence out of Lucy's reach. And so it was. 

In my imagination donkeys have a sad, long-suffering appearance though most of them  probably don't feel that way. Our neighbor Arno has found several that were starved and abused, bought them for as little as ten dollars, to join his animal kingdom which includes 50 dogs, several sheep and a few birds. Arno even put bricks and rocks around the anthills on the road to his house lest someone drive over them. 

After a few weeks on Arno's as-much-alfalfa-as-you-can-eat burro diet (with no physical labor required except walking around batting your ears) the donkeys become noticeably cheerier. They answer to their names and trot up to the fence contentedly to have their noses scratched and even bray a little. 

Baby burros, with their disproportionately long ears, sport a silly grin maybe because they don't know the work and hardship that awaits them as adults. We've been tempted to adopt a couple. We have the land though we'd have to fence off an acre or so, otherwise the donkeys will eat all the vegetation and probably come after the dogs (or vice-versa).  

Calves look underfed and unhappy, just like their parents. Hard to imagine how the scrawny cattle around here have the energy to have babies much less feed them. I miss the sight of Midwestern American cows standing around fat, indolent and unappreciative of how good they have it. 

Colts look neither sad like donkeys nor skinny like calves, and instead hop around unsteadily but happily on their stilt-like legs.  Maybe horses are more valued by the owners who feed and treat them better. Maybe that's just the way they look. 

Birds are the most difficult to figure out. Félix keeps finding nests all over the place: On top of small bushes, hidden somewhere in the middle or sometimes built on the ground. The latter are the riskiest; talk about a bird-brained place to put a nest. The dogs sometimes find those chicks and try to play with them until Félix intervenes and put them back on the nest.

Most chicks still in the nest behave frantically. Could be fear of a human's eye or camera lens, or just a perpetual call to their parents: "More food! More food! Quickly!"

Once they leave the nest, either by flying off or getting the heave-ho by their weary parents, chicks take a while to get their bearings. The one we found on the railing of the back porch, its fluffy faux-feathers gently blowing in the breeze, remained there for about a half hour, just looking around and calmly admiring the beautiful world into which it had been born. 

Or it could be all my imagination. 



2 comments:

  1. hi al,

    i really enjoyed this post and the pix. how nice that your neighbor is so good to all those animals that have been abanadoned/abused. i wish i had a place to start a cat rescue center as there are many strays in the parks here. i have been going in the mornings and feeding them. there are some that are in such sad shape it breaks my heart.i heard of a vet who works in rescuing cats so as soon as i am settled into my new house, i will volunteer to work with him. luckily he speaks english so we won`t have a language barrier. go ahead, adopt a burrito! is that lucy in the picture with you?

    take care,

    teresa la cubana en nagoya, japon

    i never did get an e-mail from you. well, i know you can`t write to everyone who comments on your blog but if by chance you`d like to write, my address is tafreeburn@netscape.com

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  2. Rescuing cats is a terrific thing since they often don't get as much attention as dogs!I'll definitely write to you. I'm curious how a Cuban ends up in Japan!

    alfredo

    ReplyDelete