Blowing bubbles, No One style

This isn’t a fine example of camera work. The ‘film’ is still a treat: seven-month-old Nemo blowing bubbles in her wading pool.

She started doing this two days ago when we filled the pool for the first time. I kept trying to catch her in video, but she was too interested in what I was doing. This morning, I found that if I stick my hand in the water and swish it around, she joins in by ducking her snout under the surface and bubbling.

I’m melting, and it’s not because of the heat.

 

Sweet heat relief

Two weeks ago, cold wind and rain sent us shivering for hot chocolate.IMG_1244

Today, temperatures hit the upper 80s. Since Nemo is too long for the little pink wading pool that kept Beatrice and Carlton cool last summer, we purchased the next size up yesterday, one with little sharks on the sides (but no slide; that wouldn’t be pretty.)

There’s plenty of room for two, although the molded plastic walls are too high for Sophie. Cold wet, mud will have to do.

Couldn’t catch on the moments when Nemo blew bubbles through her nose in the water. Since it’ll be plenty warm for the rest of the Memorial Day weekend, there may be other opportunities.

Sophie’s choice

IMG_1033 (1)

Sophie meets Jamie Napolski, Assistant Curator of Education & Special Events for Sauder Village.

Yeah, yeah, yeah…I did go there with the title of this post.

But it’s true; Sophie the pot-bellied pig had her first road trip as an educational ambassador for The Quarry Farm, and this happened as a result of a choice she made on Friday.

As testified by the previous post, “Sticky toes and hiking sticks”, an entire third grade class joined us onsite for a Friday filed trip alongside Road 7L. The students and their teachers and chaperones rotated through stations, including a visit to the farm animal sanctuary. As we always tell visitors, once inside the gate, humans will have the opportunity to meet the sanctuary residents, but only those residents who choose to walk down the path for a face-to-face encounter. While it’s almost a guarantee that the bronze turkeys will show up, as well as at least one of the donkeys and a goat, the pigs are a little more unpredictable.

For instance, if the sun is shining and the temperature moderate, Carlton may mosey on down the hill for a belly flop and scratch. Queen Beatrice may sashay through the floodplain. If she could do the royal wristwave, I have no doubt she would, stopping only long enough for a brief pat before moving on for a nap in a warm pool of light.

As for the others, their early years were so harsh at the hands of neglectful humanity that visitors only get a distant glimpse. In Sophie’s case, beatings, poor diet and exposure left scars that have left her much older than what we think are her actual years. So it was a wonderful surprise when she chose to join the second group of students to rotate through. She even stayed close, allowing the third rotation to pet her softly on the forehead.

Because of Sophie’s decision to trust in the kindness of strangers, we took her on an hour-long car ride north for a program at Sauder Village in Archbold. While 19th-century reenactors read “If You Give a Pig a Pancake”, Sophie charmed young visitors and their families outside a log cabin in the Little Pioneer Village. Marshmallow the Nigerian Dwarf goat went along for the ride, too, but he’s an old hand at programs and conducted himself in his usual sweetly-mellow manner.

By the way, don’t give a pig a pancake.

Corvid appeal

There were once crows in this place. They would caw across the hollow, scolding at outdoor cats and other predators. Their young would burr in the tallest, most remote hardwoods, then become silent if anyone or anything other than their parent came close.

A decade or so ago, so many raptors disappeared, victims of West Nile virus. The corvids–jays and crows in these parts–died, too. We saw only one dead during that time. It wasn’t inspected by anyone, but we assumed the bird’s death was due to the mosquito-spread plague.

Not much was said then in mainstream media about the effect of West Nile on anyone but humans. While the disease caused harm to people–I’m not denying that–the kestrels, and red-tail hawks that had previously perched from telephone pole to fence post were missing for years. We are only just beginning to see them again.

But the crows never did come back. Last spring, we heard two calling in Coburn’s Bottom, the area of the floodplain north of the old quarry. We were so excited, calling everyone we knew and fairly shouting, “The crows are back!” whether the listener was interested or not. Unfortunately, the pair didn’t stay.

We began to suspect that there is more to the absence of crows hereabouts than West Nile taking its toll. As I said, the bluejays are back, as are the hawks and even bald eagles. But research and observation of crows has determined that crows tell each other stories. Before a flock of crows enter a new area, they send a sentinel in to scope things out. If the report is favorable, the rest will move forward. If something disasterous happens while they are there–for instance, if one or more are poisoned or shot–the crows leave at the first opportunity. And they don’t forget.

That said, there’s strong suspiscion that it was inhumane human behavior that left a big red mark along the Riley and Cranberry Run for crows. Sad, as these birds are thought to be one of the most intelligent creatures that share this planet with people. Crows aren’t a bellwether species, but they are brilliant, secretive, organized and to be allowed to share space with them is an honor.

We’ve had the pleasure of spending time with two crows. Blackie and Jo, however, are here only because they have physical and developmental issues that mean neither can be free to make that choice for themselves.

Crows backlitStained glass artist Martha Erchenbrecher created the gorgeous work of art pictured above. The piece is stained glass mosaic or glass-on-glass mosaic. After trying for a few months, we were able to take a decent photo of it today with the winter afternoon sun shining through. We’ve hung it here for farm animal sanctuary visitors to see. One day, we hope to display it in a nature center here.

Maybe a scouting crow will see it and tell the others that they are welcome, anytime.

So like ours

I had another post in mind today; two, actually. Today had other plans.

With the press bill planted on my head, I followed the scanner to a semi overturn on Ohio State Route 12. The word was one slight injury, no heavy rescue required.

This was the scene on approach from the west.

 

Truck

 

The driver seated in the ambulance to the left was shaken, with a bloodied forearm, but his fingers were mobile. His boss in Defiance was on speed dial. Pig truck

This was the view from the east, but the screaming gave them away before I rounded the corner.Pigs 7

 

 

 

 

There were 179 gilts (a female who hasn’t born a litter) on the truck. They were less than five months old.

Pigs 4While I don’t have an exact count, I believe that there were fewer than 15 killed outright (I saw seven outside the trailer and know that there were more in the nose that had yet to be removed). Four severely injured animals were dragged from the truck with chains and a fifth, with a dangling right front hoof, was goaded and prodded and slapped out and into a waiting trailer before instructions were given to cease that kind of activity. The two remaining “downed” pigs were left in the shade of the truck and kept cool Pigs 8with water before they were euthanized on the scene. Respondents from the Columbus Grove Volunteer Fire Department climbed on top of the truck and helped to keep them all cool by spraying them with water. This same horror happened earlier this week in Xenia.

I don’t have to explain the pink-paint markings, really.

Pigs 10In fact, I’ll not say anything more.