Monday, March 13, 2017

Fuzzy Wuzzy

Grand Oaks has another sort of equine in one of their pastures. They have two donkeys. Cute, fuzzy donkeys. It turns out that they are rare Poitou donkey that originated in the Poitou region of France. The Poitou were originally used to breed with horses. The offspring of a male donkey bred with a female horse is a mule. The offspring of a male horse and a female donkey is a Hinny. Generally the offspring, whichever way they are bred,  are sterile. The Poitou are rather large, by donkey standards, and the mules they fathered were prized for their size and strength. With the advent of gasoline engines the market for mules declined and the population of the Poitou plummeted. In the 1970's there were less than 100 world wide.

The donkeys are very friendly and promptly come up to the fence for loving....

and carrots!

It was a challenge to get a picture of either donkey. 
Don't you just love those ears?!
(The donkeys are fuzzy year-round. In cooler regions their 
coats will form dreadlocks that can grow to the ground!)

There will soon be three Poitou donkeys at Grand Oaks.

Everyone has been anxiously awaiting the birth. 
I walk by their pasture every morning... just hoping I'll see three sets of ears.

Nothing yet.

Friday, March 10, 2017

The Itsy Bitsy...

I haven't decided if this is really cool, or really creepy. The Science teacher in me says it is really cool.
Last week I took the dogs down to the dog park for their evening potty break. I grabbed the miner's light flashlight and stuck it on my head instead of trying to wrestle leashes, doggy poop bags and flashlight as I usually do. As the dogs began their evening ritual of sniffing everywhere other dogs had been I noticed a sparkle from the dirt, oak leaves and the few sprigs of grass that have withstood being trampled by puppies. I walked closer. Oh God. No! It was a big brown spider. Bleech! I backed up and the light caught another sparkle. Another spider. There were sparkles all over. Dozens of them. Even more. (And there I stood in my sandals-shudder!) I grabbed the dogs and left the park, and of course had to look it up on the Internet. It seems that if you hold a flashlight up by your eyes, or as in my case, wear one strapped to your forehead, spider eyes will reflect the light directly back to your eyes. 
I told Mr. Dreamy about it and he gave me one of those looks. You know, the "I don't believe you" sort of look. The "don't make such a big deal about nothing" look. So a few nights later (since I was still talking about the spiders in the park) he took the dogs out. He agreed that he saw the sparkles, and he confirmed they were from spiders, but he disagreed on the "dozens". He admitted to having seen "a few". 
Tonight I took the dogs back to the park (having put on my sneakers first). The spiders were there, not in the numbers I saw before, but there none the less. Some of the spiders, upon closer inspection, had pea sized bodies, and were about 1 1/4" in length including their legs. Others were itsy bitsy, with a total length of less than 3/8". Their eyes, however, reflected the same amount of light. 
Taking pictures didn't work all that well. Here is one attempt:

You'll have to try it yourself. If you don't have a "miner's light" hold a flashlight on your forehead, just above the bridge of your nose. Do you see what I saw?
After leaving the dog park I kept checking the surroundings. On this particular evening, I discovered there were more spiders in the grass than I had seen in the dog park. Oh. No. They're everywhere! 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The Tortoise and the Hair

Gypsy and Tucker found something new to intrigue them at Grand Oaks. Nope, not the horses. They wanted to meet that hard shelled critter that came out to eat grass behind our motorhome each afternoon. We shared the immediate area with two gopher tortoises each about 15" long, and there was evidence of more throughout the property. The tortoise is a threatened species in  parts of the southeast as loss of this tortoise could threaten the future of over 300 other animals that shelter in the tortoise burrows.

Image from the Internet
The Internet tells me that tortoise burrows are extensive, sometimes running over 100 feet in length at a depth of up to 10 feet. When we walk we see fresh piles of dirt up to 2' in diameter. They remind me of the sand piles we see in Colorado from pocket gophers. I am thinking the piles we see are from similar burrowing animals that are creating their own entrance/exit to the tortoise's burrow. We drove by this pasture with dirt piles in line. Care to bet that the dirt piles trace the line of the tortoise burrows?!

I'm not certain what Tucker and Gypsy might have done had they gotten up close to the creature....

I'm not certain what the creature may have done if he came nose to nose with them.

Although he seems very placid, I wasn't willing to let it happen!