CHICKENS AND BABY GOATS
The baby goat brothers are less than a month old. It's so fun watching them grow. The photos here show the boys climbing and up and down all over their very patient mom. What a precious sight this was! They are so full of life. I don't want them to be sold at auction for meat when they get four months old. I hope I can find someone who will take them as pets. They're very sweet and cuddly.
The Baby Goats Again - Day 9
I still haven't gotten any shots that I call hitting the sweet part of the bat, but I'm having fun. Baby goats are a cross between a puppy dog and a colt mixed with goat. They are so sweet and their fur is soft. They're cuddly to hug and fun to watch. The definition of frolic should have photos of baby goats.
The twins are boys and after they're weaned at around 4 months, the plan is to sell them at auction for meat. They'll bring $40 or $50. I hope to find someone who would like to have them as pets or pack goats.
THE BIRDS & THE BEES
On My Finger
'WAITNG FOR SPRING'
In 2011 I wrote this: "The more I learn about bees, the more I want to know. My first "bee" blog was on February 19, 2011. I'd discovered a beehive with honey bees - the one pictured below. I am reminded of the famous quote by Lao-Tzu where a thousand miles begins with a single step. My bee journey began with a single bee -- quite literally. I was photographing one bee in February and as I followed the bee around, I looked up at one point and realized she had taken me to her beehive. Since that day, I've been visiting the hive often -- sometimes daily -- weather permitting. It's been my very own live nature show. I am in love with, and in awe of, these stunning creatures!"
"While many people only hear the trademark “honk” when geese make noise, there is evidence that Canada geese can communicate with different sounds. Scientists believe that there are as many as 13 different Canada goose calls for things like greetings, warnings and contentment.
Canada geese may be one of the most talkative animals after humans. Goslings, or baby geese, begin communicating with their parents while still in the egg! Once hatched, there is also evidence that they respond differently to different calls and noises from their parents, indicating a sophisticated level of communication." Read more
An excerpt from my BEE INSPIRED book:
"Bees have brought a savory sweetness into my life, just as surely as they bring sweetness to the table with their honey. They have been the light on my darker days. When I need to regenerate my weary soul, I head to where I know the bees are busy. I have my favorite spots where I bathe in their energy. I know how strange this sounds to non-bee people. How I would love to open their eyes and hearts to this simple joy and wonder of nature. I try capturing a little bit of their magic through my camera lens, but like all the best things in life, nothing compares to experiencing it in person. My hope with this book is that, as you flip through these pages, you will be inspired to get more familiar with these lovely creatures, and will also choose to learn about the plight of bees around the world as they face an uncertain future, right along with our own."
So why does a woodpecker peck wood?
Answer: The woodpecker pecks, or beats its strong bill, into tree trunks or limbs for several reasons. First, this rapid drumming is used as a mating call. Second, the pecking creates a hole for a nest, with the wood chips it leaves forming a cushion for the woodpecker’s eggs. But most of the woodpecker’s pecking is done in search of food. Once the hole is made, the woodpecker’s long tongue shoots into the hole and spears insects on a barb at the tip of its tongue. A sticky saliva on the tongue also helps trap the food. source
Birds & Butterflies
I captured these photos this afternoon. At one point, I had two birds and one butterfly on my hand at the same time. But I couldn't take a photo because I had to protect the butterfly! The birds are used to me giving them nuts (pecans today) and while they were waiting for their usual treat, the birds were eyeing my butterfly pal. I verbally told the birds a firm "no!" and shielded the butterfly with my fingers at times. (This is a re-post from 2011)
The birds seemed to know that "no!" wasn't good because they would step up my arm, away from the butterfly, and I've never seen them do that!
This butterfly (above and the one I'm handling) is a Pontia protodice or also called the Checkered White and Southern Cabbage Butterfly. The one shown above is female.
This was when I first discovered the tongue on a butterfly! It was fascinating!
"Our lives end the day we become silent over the things that matter."
After playing with the baby goats a second time today, the chickens were out enjoying the unusually warm and sunny weather. It was late afternoon where the light can dazzle, shine and reflect like no other time of day.
Whenever I see chickens I think about the brutal conditions in commercial chicken farms and can visualize that conveyor belt full of baby chicks where inspectors are callously plucking them off and dumping them into the trash like they're objects instead of living creatures. After I posted this blog I came across the undercover investigation at Hy-Line Hathery that shows you the gruesome reality of the commercial egg industry. I saw it years ago, and can't watch more than a few seconds again. Some of images are burned into my memory. If you eat commercial eggs, the right thing to do is know the truth behind how they get to the grocery store.
According to a new study called The Intelligent Hen sponsored by the Happy Egg Company, chickens may be brighter than young children in numeracy and basic skills. The study was co- authored by Christine Nicol, professor of animal welfare at Bristol University, and Robbie L’Anson-Price. Robbie's background is in zoology and conservation with special interest in animal behavior.
Writer Radhika Sanghani explains more about the study in a June 2013 article. "Hens are capable of mathematical reasoning and logic, including numeracy, self-control and even basic structural engineering, following research. Traits such as these are normally only shown in children above the age of four, but the domesticated birds have an ability to empathize, a sophisticated theory of mind and plan ahead."
"The domesticated chicken is something of a phenomenon," Nicols told The Times: "Studies over the past 20 years have revealed their finely honed sensory capacities, their ability to think, draw inferences, apply logic and plan ahead." Nicol explains the animal is capable of distinguishing numbers up to five and is familiar with transitive inference - the idea in logic that, if A is greater than B, and B is greater than C, then A is greater than C." FULL ARTICLE
In a good review of this study, counter points are made in an article called How the Intelligent Hen Study Fails Chickens written by Robert Grillo, posted in http://freefromharm.org/.
"There’s a lot of buzz in the animal protection movement about a new chicken intelligence study that, once again, maintains that chickens are even more intelligent than we once thought. Not surprising, of course, considering the absolutely abysmal and distorted perception our society perpetuates about chickens today. And yet the attitude of surprise that surrounds such studies and the reaction to them reveals a very powerful cultural distortion in itself — that chickens are essentially stupid.
Overall most animal protection advocates view the findings of this or any other study that elevates our understanding of chickens as a hopeful sign that attitudes about these birds are finally changing for the better which must eventually translate into better treatment. So what’s the problem here?
For one thing, consider the fact that the Happy Egg Co., which was the subject of a major VIVA undercover animal cruelty investigation, sponsored the University of Bristol Intelligent Hen Study (a very official-sounding title) to “inform range and enrichment design on its farms.” To me this strongly suggests that the overall intention of the study is narrowly focused on how to improve the welfare of hens already bred to produce eggs on commercial farms. Yet, by studying them under the very conditions that inhibit their ability to express their true nature, the study is flawed by its very design and completely ignores how the commodification of chickens sabotages any serious attempt to understand their intelligence."
"Christine Nicol, said the findings point to “the importance of providing these amazing creatures with the environment that enables them to live out their natural instincts.” However, if this statement has any meaning whatsoever, it most certainly means that raising chickens for commercial purposes — a purpose that has nothing to do with expressing their natural inclinations — is in direct conflict with an “environment that enables them to live out their natural instincts” since even so-called humane farms systematically deny them all or most of the conditions under which they could perform their natural behavior." READ FULL COUNTER ARTICLE
DAY 6 OUTSIDE WITH THE BABY GOATS
Deer At Sundown
How I miss color! Below is a baby deer from last summer. I have a series of shots of this lovely fawn and her mother. Everything feels so vibrant compared to the dormancy of winter. I'm finding myself somewhat bored with what's available to photograph. The light has been so dull.
Day 4 & 5
I thought one of the twin babies was gone. I assumed he/she didn't make it, but after talking to the owner, I discovered one of the babies is very clever at getting out of the pen and hiding in different places. I'm so relieved! Tomorrow they'll be outside all day and I can spend some time with them.
The stall inside is small and I have no good way to get an appealing view to shoot some pics, but what I did get was to pet this little guy. Mom trusts me and the baby was looking to mom for direction with me. The little trot and bounce the baby had was precious, and then there was the kicking the heels up as she/he circled mom that was a real smile maker.
I was on the road today with one of my favorite people (my daughter's boyfriend) and we spotted this large herd of antelope and two flocks of wild turkeys. I've seen antelope before but not in a herd this large. I've only seen one wild turkey before, so they were a particularly exciting event for me. By the time I was able to pull off the road to capture some snaps of the turkeys, they were fast moving to a hillside across from a large pasture. The second sighting was just down the road not far from the first flock, where I caught a little better look at them. We saw a few fly across the highway, but I wasn't quick enough to get those shots in focus. Thrill is the word that comes to mind when I get to see wildlife like this. It's in a class of excitement by itself for me.
A BLUSTERY DAY
Morning came fast again and the coffee wasn't strong enough to wake me like I wanted. It didn't help that the air was cold and a storm was moving through. Actually, it wasn't the cold that was bothering me, it was all that wind. I'd hoped to be outside with my camera after a fairly decent winter day yesterday, but not with all this wind. It was so fierce and loud. It blew through the big maple tree out back, tearing some of the last winter leaves off the naked branches. Wide, crispy leaves surfed the wind currents and mixed with the fluffy, slow moving snowflakes; both swirled and floated through the air before making their way to the frozen ground.
And the gray. That endless gray. I've long grown tired of the dull, flat light from day after day of the lifeless, listless gray skies. It makes me hunker over figuratively, if not literally, and leaves me feeling like I need to flip a light switch on or maybe just crawl back into bed and pull the blankets up tight to wait for the sun and for our famous Colorado blue skies. Of course, that won't do. I'm not the kind of tired that going back to bed would fix anyway. With a sigh I sip more weak coffee and then I unexpectedly smile. I just remembered I get to go see the baby goats that were born yesterday. And so my day begins...
I spent hours sorting through some of my photography inventory looking for photos to have reprinted on canvas. The first two photos below come from some of my earlier work and the rest are from today.
Pictured above are yaks on the Mt. Everest trail on the Nepal side. Yaks are some of the most, if not the most, sure footed animals you'll ever see. They can carry up to 210 lbs while traversing over suspension bridges and up and down narrow, rocky paths. It was remarkable watching them negotiate the terrain, fully loaded down with heavy, bulky packs and not once seeing them slip or falter.
One of the rules of trekking was to always give yaks the right of way on the trails. Human trekkers were to step aside and always, always yield to the yaks. Sometimes that meant standing on the outside of the path's edge with nothing between you and a thousand foot drop off. I can still hear the lovely tone from the bells around their necks. [Click on the yaks to read more about these beautiful creatures and to see more yak and Nepal photos.]
This gate is on my friend's farm property where I live this winter and where I stayed for a couple of months the fall before last.
Scenes like these below with the cows, fences, trees, and farm houses in the background typify this county's outlying farm land. What always caught my attention with this particular farm, although it's hard to get a sense of it from these small images, is all the cows with one lone goat. I've nicknamed him Scape.
Seeing these photos so small does them little justice. It's a bit liking watching Star Wars on your
Seeing deer around here is nearly as common as seeing a horse. I was all of 20 feet from this family on my way to the grocery store. Mom and I had a stare down contest. It was a tie, until I opened my truck door and then they all decided to mosey on. It was close to sundown, so the light was low and dull aside from being behind clouds.
ONE DAY OLD TWIN GOATS
I've been keeping an eye on mom over the weeks because I knew she was going to give birth soon. I stopped by yesterday and she'd just given birth to twins. Her human owner asked that I come back today to give her time to recover. Nothing puts a smile on my face quicker than the thought of baby animals.
I opened the barn door 2nd from the right like I'd been instructed to do. The mom was familiar with me from my many visits when I came to talk to them, photograph them and pet them. Mom and Junior were the two who always came up to me, so she wasn't too stressed to have me visit. I could tell by her eyes though that she was protective and was watching every move I made because of her newborns. I didn't get to hold the babies yet or be in the pen with them. I had to shoot through slats and it was dark in the barn.
I excitedly await the day when I can play with them and have a real photo shoot! Twins!! How wonderful! (I clobbered the heck out of my lower lip squeezing in a tight spot to get a decent shot. My lip looks those ads targeting women who want the puffy lips!)
I try to get out every day to photograph something. Today I was hoping to see some hawks and work on my 'in flight' shots. I spotted at least a half dozen within 10 minutes. I stopped by my regular haunts, petted 'my' goat, the one I call Junior; he's not fully grown. He looks forward to my visits, so much so that he'll forgo eating the fresh hay recently delivered, just to spend time with me. He loves to have his face, his chin and his head softly stroked. He's as gentle as a dog. When I walk away, he talks goat with a slight whimper. Of course, I want to adopt him.
Next to the barn across from the goat's gated area, are the chickens. Then I head on past the many pastures of horses I've come to know (one of my best horse eye photos came from one of the blue eyed horses along this route) and finally to the cows. Two new cows came up to me today. 0-31 and 1-31 each came to my hand a couple of times. I petted one on the nose like you'd pet a horse and he jumped. I'm guessing he's never felt that before. As usual, twenty or so cows circled around and stood endlessly watching me in a tight crowd. This was my 4th visit and I didn't see my buddy, 1-29, in the herd. I hope he hasn't been sent ... away.
Along the way are always birds - all kinds. I saw some deer on the way back, which are almost as common to see as a horse.
This was so cute watching the chickens hop out of their pen. The one on the outside waited for the other one to join her. Then they took turns crossing the street.
I love how the sky looks like an ocean.
The first thing I saw this morning when I opened my eyes was some horse play. The pasture is in full view through the large windows in the attached sun room.
The gray skies turned blue today for the first time in way too long. Temps rose above freezing too.
TODAY'S BIRDS & COW
The hawk below has a favorite telephone poll from where she hunts toward evening. I captured her departure near sunset tonight.
BIRDS AND COWS and NUMBER 1-29
My days are flying by. I don't know why. Time is just perception mostly. When it flies it's usually very telling, only this time, I can't figure out what it means. Anyway, I made time to get out in the late afternoon with my camera today and what you see here is some of what I saw.
I went back to the same place where I met the cows a few days ago. I was there at nearly the same time in the late afternoon so that the lighting was similar and it was their feeding time. I love working with the shadows of that time of day and the quality of light is almost palatable. (I encourage you to read ARE COWS SENTIENT) if you haven't. It's my cow post with some of my better or best cow photos and my story of connecting with them. It was a very special encounter.
I had another special moment today. One of the cows in my previous post -- the one that came up to me and let me pet him -- came to me again today. He trotted up to me like a dog to a friend. At first I didn't notice the name tag so I didn't immediately make the connection, but then it dawned on me. It was 1-29 again! This time I held my hand out and he let me rub his nose and then he gently licked me. He's a beautiful all black cow. Now I want him. I want to give him a pasture of his own and let him live out his life as I think it was meant to be. Hmmm ... I'll keep you posted.
HORSE SCUFFLE THIS MORNING
I'm living on a farm this winter and out my windows I have a view of a large pasture with 3 horses. One horse belongs to my friend who owns the farm. As my friend explained to me, the two males will occasionally challenge each other for their standing in the ranks. The mare is the queen and the two males vie for 2nd in command. But my friend also told me this morning that they'll do this to keep warm. So maybe they were just sort of playing around ... :)
CUTE JUMPING SPIDERS
I know, I know. Who in their right mind says cute and spider in the same sentence? Still, there are times when I've 'connected' with one of these little guys and I see a bit of cute. I'm not a spider fan by any stretch, but I've gotten over my fear -- way over. I now see them differently. Macro photography has helped with that. What a marvelous journey it is to be exploring the world where tiny life lives.
I spend time with my tiny life subjects when I'm out photographing them. I watched a jumping spider catch a daddy long leg and another catch a green bug (partially pictured below). With the spider and his green snack, I experimented with his temperament to get him to interact with me. At first he was jumping from rock to rock and was interested in getting away from me until he found the green snack and the only 'away' he was doing was munching. Sometimes he would look directly at me. It's so interesting to have eye contact with such a tiny creature. He was less than a half inch. After that, I got him to crawl on a stick and a small leafy branch, but he didn't readily climb on. I had to 'encourage' him. Some bugs will grab hold of whatever I give them. This little guy was more independent.
Sometimes he would drop from the branch on his silk thread and I would wind the thread up to keep him from dropping to the ground, but he was quick. He managed to drop down from his thread quicker than I could reel it back up sometimes. Once he crawled back up his thread! He was getting used to me, and was less fearful as time went on. In person, he's very tiny and not intimidating. I can't make out much of the detail you get to see in these images. (That's part of what makes macro photography so fascinating.) When he jumped, he jumped quicker than I could actually see. It was like he was being teleported! He was on a rock one second and in less than a blink of an eye he was somewhere else. Interestingly, after he got more familiar with me, he stopped jumping and allowed me to fool with him, for lack of a better way of describing it.
Tiny life exists all around us and flourishes in a world all its own. Rarely is it seen or experienced by humans except when it evokes fear, annoyance or a big yuck factor. I discovered this under world – this jungle metropolis below my feet-- quite by accident. It all began with one wild honey bee who unknowingly led me to her thriving hive in an old hollowed out oak tree the winter of 2011. I visited that hive nearly every day for months and got to know the bees on a first name basis. We developed a kinship, truly a mutual trust, and I could take my camera to within inches of the hive entrance and photograph as long as my heart desired without ever getting stung. That’s when I first fell in love with bees. The sound of their buzzing was melodic and soothing. A year later I wrote a book about bees and filled the pages with color photos of my bee adventures.
From there, I noticed ladybugs, butterflies, and caterpillars, and then wasps, and creatures I’d never taken much notice of before, like dragonflies and damselflies and spiders. This tiny life world opened up my own. I began witnessing marvelous things. I've seen life and death struggles, fear and stress, and territorial fights.
I’ve photographed a paper wasp head butting a honey bee off a flower, while using a back leg to kick another one off. I’ve seen a honey bee defend herself and dive bomb the wasp. That’s rare though. Honey bees are not aggressive when they’re out gathering nectar. Bumble bees are even tamer. I would handle all of them – the bees, the wasps, the bumble bees, dragonflies, butterflies and grasshoppers - with bare hands.
Insects, like most life forms, have a strong desire to survive. They want the basic necessities just like we do: food, water and shelter. Some are quite communal, while others prefer a solitary life. I've seen creatures be curious, playful, trusting, cautious, and literally having fun. I would even say they have distinct personalities.
My goal through the use of a camera lens is to bring their world into focus, to expand our own. I want to share my belief that all life matters. My photography passion extends to all animals, birds and reptiles. I posit that if the human race embraced that single concept -- all life matters -- we'd be closer to peace on this beautiful and glorious, but quite messed up planet.
The company I use for this website is Weebly and for some unknown reason random photos of mine appear throughout my postings unrelated to what I uploaded. If a fox appears on a blog about a moose or some other animal or photo unrelated to the blog, you'll know why! It's unfixable.