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Posts Tagged ‘animal’

The number one most often asked question about llamas is “Do they really spit?” For the answer, we went directly to the source. So, from the llama’s mouth, this is an excerpt from our popular llama advice column.

Dear Domino

Dear Domino, Do llamas spit?

You know, everyone always asks me this question. I’m starting to fear we llamas are getting a bad reputation. Yes, llamas do spit. It’s perfectly natural. It’s how we establish rank within the herd, meaning who gets to the food dish first. Lady llamas often spit to ward off an unwanted suitor. Spitting is also a very effective way to discipline our crias (baby llamas), and we spit to express fear or discomfort.

Spitting is how we communicate with one another. “So what are you trying to say” you might ask. Some examples are:

“Move over, you’re in my space.”
“Hey, that’s my food, back off.”
“I rank higher than you do.”
“Quit sniffing my tail”
“Quit flirting with me, I’m not interested in your advances.”
“Oww! That lady just gave me a shot. I can’t spit at her, so I’ll spit at you instead.”

Llamas do not usually spit at humans. Some of us, unfortunately, have been raised in petting zoos, where we are only around humans all day. These llamas view people as other llamas and may spit at a person that invades their space.

We llamas usually give some kind of warning before we spit. First we’ll lay back our ears. If this doesn’t make the point, we’ll pin back our ears very tightly and point our noses straight up in the air. As a final warning, we will spit in the air. Finally, we will spit directly at the llama or person that’s offending us.

There are several kinds of spit. First, there is the grain spit. This is usually used to settle arguments over food. We just spit what we have in our mouths—usually dry grain. Then there is the saliva spit which is often a warning before the big green spit. The really serious spit is when we bring up the contents of our stomach and spit a foul smelling green spray.

The smell is offensive both to the spitter as well as the spittee, after which both will hang their mouths open for several minutes in order to air out the taste and odor. A llama can spit with dead aim for a distance of 10 to 15 feet. This is my buddy, Santiago, reminding us that he gets first pick of the food dishes.

Preparing-to-spit

I’ll be the first to admit that spitting isn’t one of the most endearing behaviors of llamas to people, but on the other hand, it’s a pretty cool way to settle disputes. No biting, kicking, or punches to the face. Don’t you agree? After being spit on by a llama, you won’t need a bandage, but you might need a bath.

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OK, what’s wrong with this picture?

Brrrr

What’s wrong is that we spent several hundred dollars and two days over the summer constructing a shelter for Farina, and he refuses to use it.

Farina's shelter

Wouldn’t you like to sit on this perch and stay dry, and ice-free?

Well, you can’t reason with a peacock. They have a “pea” brain after all.

Farina insists on sleeping on the peak of our roof overlooking his beloved chickens.

Don't hide

I think there is an identity crisis going on here.

We’ve been feeding Farina under the shelter twice a day for several months. He’ll make a trip down the hill to the “peapod” morning and evening and eat his dinner, then head back to the house to sit with the hens. He’d rather spend time with the chickens than with the peacock pair, Buckwheat and Darla, that live in the aviary.

peapod

Well, like they say, “You can lead a horse to water……..”

Farina on rocking chair

 

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Torn feeder tray

Between the hours of 6:00 PM, Saturday, November 16th, and 8:00 AM, Sunday, November 17th, an unknown subject approached the Twin Creeks Pea Pod and violently destroyed the outside feeding tray, savagely ripping the wire screen off the wooden frame.

It appears that the subject was in search of food and not the perpetrator of a random act of vandalism. However, the neighboring peafowl have refused to come forward with any information, leading investigators to suspect witness intimidation.

The owners of Twin Creeks Farm, when questioned, admitted to recently seeing a bear in the area. They are concerned with the safety of their free ranging peacock, Farina, whom they feed each morning and evening on the tray.

The surveillance cameras were temporarily out of service on the night in question, so there is no photographic evidence of the incident. However, on several occasions prior to the night of the crime, the cameras detected a raccoon sneaking around the area and stealing food from the tray.

No suspects have been identified at this time. The investigation is ongoing.

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In my opinion, you are never too old to enjoy a day at the county fair. A day on the midway just brings out the kid in you. All the splendid smells battle for your attention; the greasy smell of fries and funnel cakes, the cloyingly sweet smell of spun cotton candy and spiced almonds, the earthy smells wafting from the livestock barns….

But, according to my Road Warrior, the smell of burning diesel fuel is something akin to perfume.

Tractor Pull

Every year, like a rite of summer’s passing, we always go to the Shenandoah County Fair. And the highlight of the day is the tractor pull. Farmers from all across the land bring their iron work horses, many still plugging away after half a century of hard work, and compete to see who can drag a heavy weight the furthest down the track. Amidst belching smoke, spewing dust, and ear splitting unmuffler-ed engine roar, we sit in the bleachers, eating corndogs, and cheering them on. It’s loud, it’s smelly, it’s dirty, and it’s FUN.

A visit to the animal barns is my favorite part of the fair. There’s guaranteed to be a stall of baby piglets

Photo by Kent Corley

Photo by Kent Corley

And some snuggly baby goats

snuggley goats

Then for a tour around the midway, we toss all dietary concerns to the wind, and sample our way through the mélange of greasy foods.

I learned last year that there is an age at which one must gracefully withdraw from the stomach churning, gravity defying carnival rides, but I did enjoy a spin on the broncing bull.

photo by Kent Corley

photo by Kent Corley

And we tried our hands at a couple of the midway games. Some games you just know that the odds of winning are astronomical, but there is one game where there is a guaranteed winner every time. This is the one where you aim a water pistol at a target and the first person to get their horse to the finish line first wins. I WON. First time. So I got my pick of prizes. I chose the giant snake for Bayley.

Here she is wrestling the enormous boa constrictor, fighting to the death

Snake wrestling

But apparently they worked it all out. I think they are even French kissing

kissing snake

All in all, it was a FAIRLY good day.

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For those of you that have been following the story of my vagabond peacock, you know that one of my males, Farina, flew the coop in January, was given up for dead, replaced with a peahen, Darla, and then miraculously returned after a 6 month winter wonderland adventure.

But this story is not about Farina, but about a wooden egg that I placed in a nest box that we fashioned for Darla.

Darla and Buckwheat

She is our first peahen and we were told by the breeder, that she would not be a year old until this summer, and it was rare that one year olds produced any eggs. But we wanted to be prepared just in case.

So we made this nest box and placed it in the corner of the ‘pea pod’ where we had seen her resting. And to give her a clue that this was her nest, I placed a wooden egg in it.

nest box

She liked the box, and snuggled up in it all winter. Every day that I would go in the ‘pea pod’ I would see the wooden egg right where I had put it. Last week, I glanced at the box, and the egg was not there. I thought to myself that it had probably gotten buried in the straw, and I would look for it later.

When I started to clean the aviary, I noticed the egg was under the perch.

egg under perch

That really threw me for a loop. How it the world did it get there. The peas couldn’t pick it up in their beaks. I didn’t think a mouse could get it out of the nest box and roll it outside. Road Warrior thought that one of the birds had kicked it out of the nest. But to what purpose? Is Darla like the “Princess and the Pea”, (no pun intended) and is too sensitive to sleep with a hard lump in her bed?

I was in a hurry, so I left the wooden egg where it lay under the perch. Then yesterday, I noticed that the egg had been moved yet again. It was now all the way on the other side of the aviary in a corner. What the heck. Are they in there playing soccer?

corner

I proceeded to clean under the perches, and lo and behold, there is the egg right where I saw it last week, and in the corner……another just like it!! Mystery solved. Darla had laid two eggs. She obviously wasn’t interested in sitting on them, and we’re not interested in hatching any little peachicks, so I collected the two eggs for examination.

They are not as big as I expected. The white ones on the left are the 2 pea eggs, and the brown one came from one of our chickens.

egg comparison

The big difference is in the size of the yolk.

Yolk comparison

I scrambled them up and fed them to the dogs with their dinner. Two paws up from the pups!!

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Farina on coop

“Hey, guys. I just stopped by for a visit. Where’d everybody go?”

scared chickens

“Hmmm. They were here just a minute ago”

there you are

“Oh, there you are!”

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Mommy Deerest

Mommy Deerest

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