March 1, 2010

One morning around 11:00, Frieda was taking a nap outside on her favorite sand pile. Liz and Billie were hanging around nearby. A bird swooped down near Frieda and must have caught her off guard; she jumped up, seemingly alarmed. Billie, being Frieda’s personal body guard, ran over trumpeting and looking in every direction. All three girls erupted with every sound an elephant can make. Liz seemed to just laugh it off (chirping and clucking). After a few minutes when the “bird attack” was clearly over, Frieda was able to continue her nap in peace.

It’s always fun to have something break up any usual routine, including feedings. After getting their 5 p.m. dinner inside (it was cold and rather yucky outside), Debbie, Ronnie, Minnie and Lottie were in their stalls enjoying every last bite. Debbie always finishes before Ronnie, and she loves to polish off anything that her sister leaves behind. We close a gate between their stalls so everyone has a chance to eat at their own pace, as some like to “help” their sisters finish their food after eating their own! This particular afternoon, Debbie had finished and was watching Ronnie enjoy the last of her produce and grain. Before the caregiver could turn around to get Debbie a few treats to tide her over, Debbie took matters into her own hands–or ‘trunk,’ if you prefer.  She moved as close to the bars between the stalls as she could, lowered her back end to her knees, followed by her front end to her elbows. She shimmied a little more, until her belly rested on the floor, then stretched out even more as she lowered her head and stuck her trunk between two bars toward Ronnie’s remaining cabbage. She wiggled and rocked and had her trunk stretched out unbelievably far. Reaching with the tip of her trunk, she may have stolen a leaf or two, but Ronnie is wise to her sister’s antics, and deftly swept her own food just out of reach, much to Debbie’s dismay. As quickly as she had lowered herself down, Debbie was right back up. She went back to eating her own hay, seemingly satisfied with her treasure of one or two additional cabbage leaves. She is the largest lady at the barn and to see the physical abilities of these big girls up close is amazing.

This week the temperatures nearly doubled and it was wonderful. The girls leave the vicinity of the barn almost immediately when it warms up. Tarra did her roundabout check of the property, leaving the barn heading north, stopping at deep valley meadow for a morning nap, then heading down to the back trails of the lake. She took the hill down to right field and played in the mud for a bit, then continued on past the lake, staying along the creek. She went up oak tree pasture, through the woods, and into blackberry gauntlet. That means she got in about five miles of hiking. The evening was very mild, so Tarra and Shirley got to spend the night out surrounded by the first few nighttime noises of spring, nestled in the trees, with the grass underneath them and the stars above. Sis and Winks (pictured below) were a day behind Tarra, spending the next afternoon napping in deep valley meadow, followed by a slow walk back to the barn that evening. They stopped along the way to explore the many areas they haven’t seen in a little while, but will be enjoying regularly soon enough.

Sis and Winks

Although it seems almost impossible, Misty and Dulary actually get sillier. The two ladies were standing there quietly when their hay was brought out until they were asked what they were doing. Then Misty decided to break into a run and make a dash up a big dirt mound, standing at the top showing off her “king of the mountain” status. With the top being big enough for only one, Dulary just stood as high as she could on three legs, trunk up, trying to touch all over Misty. Then it was a dash back down the mound and through some trees, finishing off with some tail-out spinning and lots of barking, burping and trumpeting. To be able to see them so playful is wonderful, but it’s even better when you are working in another area and you hear them having the same enthusiastic celebrations–just them–enjoying their sisters’ company and the ability to be elephants.

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