Invisible Voices

a voice for the voiceless

Birthdaypalooza on a Cold Day at the Sanctuary

Last Saturday was a very cold day at Poplar Spring, topping out at about 20 degrees. Frozen water pumps, too cold to scrub the chickens’ perches, too cold to linger in any one place for long. At least it was dry, and there was no wind!

Marius was in rare form in the goat yard. He must have been neutered older than the others, because he exhibits significantly more male behavior. If any of the female goats are in heat, you know who because Marius is right there with her, acting in his own odd way.

Last weekend he was being extra funny. I managed to capture some of his antics on video:

You might be wondering about the tongue waggle. From Jonathan Balcombe, who volunteers at the sanctuary sometimes, I learned that there is something called the Flehmen Response:

In the flehmen response, animals draw back their lips in a manner that makes them appear to be “grimacing” or “smirking”. The action, which is adopted when examining scents left by other animals either of the same species or of prey, helps expose the vomeronasal organ and draws scent molecules back toward it. This behavior allows animals to detect scents, for example from urine, of other members of their species or clues to the presence of prey. Flehming allows the animals to determine several factors, including the presence or absence of estrus, the physiological state of the animal, and how long ago the animal passed by.

It seems likely to me that the tongue waggle is related in some way, if only because it’s part of Marius’ behavior around females who are in heat. I’ll have to ask Jonathan if he knows anything about it.

There is something about Darcy. I like to think that I don’t have favorites, but Darcy does touch my heart in a different way. I think it is because he is blind, and because despite being blind, he just keeps on doing his horse thing. It isn’t always easy for him – he has adapted, and quite well, but he has adapted because he keeps trying, even though he gets separated sometimes, and bumps into things sometimes. When I think about the difference between him and Emily, a young cow who was born blind and who retains a stubborn independence and often chooses to be apart from the herd, I think that Darcy’s blindness is a challenge for him that it just isn’t for Emily.

He has a certain expression that I love, and which I haven’t quite gotten on camera yet…I keep trying. Someday, maybe.

Malcolm is still a complete sweetheart, as you can see!

Ben’s dad sponsors Malcolm, so I joke about Malcolm being Ben’s brother. I took this picture telling Ben that his dad would appreciate the family portrait. The funny thing is that goat breath is not exactly a pleasant thing (think: fermented grass), so this is what Ben thought of the goat kisses:

We hustled during chores, partially because it was cold, and partially because we were having a feast afterward. It was Sheryl‘s and Ben’s birthday weekend, so we had a little birthdaypalooza. Sheryl did most of the cooking, of course, with BBQ seitan, pasta salad, french onion dip and veggies, chocolate cake with a fancy cherry filling (or layer?), and (my contributions) whiskey chocolate and orange chocolate chunk cookies. There was more food than that, actually, I just can’t remember it all!

We have a good time at the sanctuary…

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3 responses to “Birthdaypalooza on a Cold Day at the Sanctuary

  1. sheryl, washington dc January 27, 2011 at 6:52 pm

    Yes, yes we do have a good time.

  2. Shannon (Vegan Burnout) January 31, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    I always love your sanctuary recaps. I wish we lived closer!

  3. Deb February 3, 2011 at 9:33 pm

    @sheryl – the almost-every-week treats definitely help! 🙂

    @Shannon – thanks, I’m trying to post more regularly, we’ll see how long it lasts! Helps to know some read and enjoy it! I’m very very lucky to live close enough to go every weekend…it’s one of the main things keeping me in this area!

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