Category Archives: animals

Llama Llama Ding Dong

Llamas are “in” – they have been for a couple of years.  Lots of llama t-shirts, mugs, posters, pins, rubber stamps – you name it, you can find it these days.  I even bought a little stuffed llama when I was in Peru; it seemed the thing to do.

YA came to me three weeks ago after finding a local llama “petting farm” in Waconia (she found it on TikTok).  For a fee (relatively small in my estimation), you could pet llamas, feed llamas and even take a trail walk with a llama.  With nothing else on our horizon, we figured why not. It’s apparently quite popular so it took a couple of weeks between contacting them and getting a reservation.  We headed out on Wednesday, the farm being about 30 minutes from our house.

First there was a “llama lesson” with interesting facts about llamas as well as how to tell a llama from an alpaca.  There was another mother/daughter scheduled during our time slot, but they had shown up early; YA and got the llama guy all to ourselves.  This was fabulous because I could indulge myself by asking as many questions as I wanted.  Usually when there are stranger involved, I hold back (go ahead, laugh).  We also brought a bag of baby carrots.  Some of the llamas thought this was wonderful, some of them didn’t.  My llama (Pacesetter) was extremely leery of the carrots, but YA’s llama (Mocha) couldn’t get enough. 

The trail walk was about 20 minutes – without the snow, it would be faster, but the llamas weren’t in a hurry and it was just the four of us (YA, me, Pacesetter and Mocha) so we didn’t have to worry about keeping up with anyone else (or hold anyone else back).   We were there altogether about 90 minutes and the llama guy said we should come back in early May when there are baby llamas (crias) for petting and photo ops.  We came right home and emailed them for that reservation!

When was the last time you visited a zoo/petting farm?

Puzzle Math

YA and I decided in November that maybe we should take up jigsaw puzzles now that the weather had turned cold.  In the past, jigsaw puzzles have driven us both a little crazy; we have to worry about the kitty messing with the puzzles, neither of us had a lot of extra time and we both can get a little obsessive occasionally.  But thanks to sheltering-in-place and neither of us working, we don’t have the same objections that we used to (except the kitty).  We did a Ukrainian egg puzzle in November – took us about 5 hours, both of us working on it the whole time.

Right after Solstice, we pulled a puzzle down from the attic.  It’s a 1000 piecer and it’s a doozy – no straight edges and lots of little pictures within the main puzzle.  We’ve been working on it for a couple of weeks and we still haven’t been able to identify all of the outer edges.  YA is particularly good at seeing the design of a particular piece and figuring out where it goes.  I’m better at identifying pieces by shape.  But this puzzle is currently getting the better of both of us although we haven’t given up yet.

In our prior life, having a puzzle on the table in the living room this long would have made me crazy and I am having to fight this feeling.  So much so that I decided to try to figure out how long it will take us to finish this one.  We’ve done about 350 pieces so far.  I’m assuming the tipping point (the point at which you’ve done enough of the puzzle that the pieces start going together more easily) will be between 650 and 700 pieces.  Right now we are going pathetically slowly; we averaging about 10 pieces a day (if we both spend a bit of time on it – it’s really hard to keep at it at this point).  So, taking into account the eventual tipping point and days when we ignore it entirely, I figure it will take us another 45-50 days to finish.  It could be spring before we are done with this thing!

When was the last time you had to do math?  In your head, on paper or using a calculator (or Excel)?

Extra! Extra! Read All About It!

The only South Dakota news I noticed Saturday in the Fargo Forum was an article about a woman cracking open an egg that had four yolks.  Well, it is  1 in 11,000,000,000 occurrence, but I still imagine there is a lot more going on South Dakota than that. Plus, it is such a stereotypically Midwestern, rural story.

I have become a real news junkie over the past four years, mainly out of anxiety.  I do so look forward to the future when news might become more dull.

What sort of beat would you want to cover if you were a reporter?  What print media do you like to read?

Lighting the Night

I’ve always loved lights at this time of year.  When I was a kid, my family always drove around during this time of year and admired other folks holidays lights.  (We used to leave little notes of thanks in people’s mailboxes if we really enjoyed their lights.)

For a few years Child and I always visited the Minnesota Zoo in December for their “Bright Lights Winter Nights” festivities.  All around the zoo lake and paths close to the zoo buildings, there were lots of lights, mostly in shapes of various zoo animals.  Walking around seeing the lights on crisp winter nights was almost magical.  Inside there were usually crafts and hot chocolate.  You didn’t actually see any real animals, but it was still a great holiday treat.  After four years, they quit doing it – when I called the zoo they said that it cost more to put on the show than they brought in.  Sigh.

When I got the email in November about a light show at the zoo, I knew not to get my hopes up… there was no way they were going to replicate Bright Lights during pandemic.  The light show is called “Nature Illuminated” and is a drive-through event running through mid-January. 

YA and I are zoo members, so we were able to sign up for the first week of members-only viewing.  There was a per-car charge that I might normally balk at, but since there weren’t any other holidays festivities on the horizon, I coughed it up.  We got to the zoo at the appointed time and got our car in line.  There was an audio tour available online – luckily I had YA to get that going.  The tour took about 25 minutes with lots of over-sized inflatables, fabulously lit up.  The audio was pretty good too, although there were a couple of “commercials” that I could have done without – especially since we’re already members.  I thought it was interesting that not all the illuminated animals are represented at the Minnesota Zoo – but I’m not complaining about seeing polar bears!

It was nice – not nearly as much fun as I remember the old light show, but without any other concerts, parties or gatherings this 2020 holidays season, it will probably be the most fun activity we do outside the house!!

What have you adapted for the holidays this year?

Mutual Support

I am sad to report that on Monday, Husband and I had to take Millie, our Tortie,  to the vet to be put down.  She had been doing quite well with her steroid treatment for lymphoma for the past two months. She took a sudden turn for the worse on the weekend, and we knew it was the end, so we loaded her up and went together to the vet. It was sad, but we are relieved her suffering is over.

Husband said he was really glad we went to the vet together, and that neither of us had to do it alone. Then, he suggested a question for the Trail:

What do you think are essential qualities for a spouse or partner?

Polar Bear Glue

I was quite amused to read in the Fargo Forum the other day an  article about the problem tracking male polar bears in the Arctic.  Scientists who track animals typically track them with collars. Female polar bears have  have large heads and small  necks. Their collars stay on.   Male polar bears have small heads and large necks.  The smaller heads on the male polar bears means that their tracking collars slip off, rendering the tracking collar useless.   Leave it to 3M, and the lead researcher from White Bear Lake (how appropriate), to solve the problem.

3M developed Polar Bear Glue to stick tracking devices on the male bears’ fur that would track the bears until they shed their fur in the Spring.  The tracking devices could then be retrieved from their radio signals, and the bear travels documented. The test bears would be Churchill, Manitoba polar bears.  I have a soft spot in my heart about anything from Manitoba. Taking the Polar Bear Express from Winnipeg to Churchill is on my bucket list.

What are some inventions you would like to see for what P. G. Wodehouse referred to as “our dumb chums” to make their lives easier?  What are some of your favorite recent news items?

The Reason For Foot Stools

We inadvertently left a foot stool near the Christmas  tree after we trimmed it on Saturday,  and our Tortie took full advantage  of it. Why else do you have a foot stool but for cats to have a better opportunity to get to the Christmas ornaments that interest them?   We have repositioned the foot stool to prevent wholesale ravaging of the lower ornaments.

How do you accommodate the animals in your life? Got any good pet and Christmas decoration stories?

Goat Repair

The handsome fellow in the header photo is a Julbukk. We have had him for many years, and I used to leave him and two smaller goat companions  and an Austrian straw girl displayed  in the living room year round.  He used to have a lovely beard made of  wheat berries.

About four years ago we adopted  a grey tabby cat named Luna. She was very, very interested in all the goats, but especially with the biggest one. She loved wrestling all the straw figures to the floor.  She also ate all the wheat berries off the big one’s beard, leaving him the emasculated, beardless goat you see today.

We trimmed the Christmas tree this weekend, and I noticed  this straw ornament and I got an idea.

I thought that this would make a lovely goat beard, and if I took it apart and carefully inserted the sprigs under his chin,  Mr. Julbukk could be restored to his former glory.  I will wait until after Christmas,  since I need the straw ornament to fill in a bare spot on the tree.

What good ideas have you come up with lately?  Made any good repairs?  Do you have any julbukken?

 

Keeping An Eye out

I drive home  for lunch most days. It takes me about seven minutes to get home. I take the same route, and on the way I keep watch for two gorgeous Standard Schnauzers who are sometimes in their well fenced-in yard enjoying the sun. They are perfectly matched and are very well trimmed. I love watching them run around their yard in the few seconds I glimpse them as I drive past.

Son tells about two Great Horned owls he watches for as he walks his West Highland Terrier.  He once observed an owl try to nab a duck in mid flight.  It wasn’t successful.  The owls hoot as he strolls past.

What do you like to keep a watch for?

More Than I Bargained For

I have often been accused of “biting off more than I can chew”.   I have always liked a challenge.  I suppose the most memorable experience with this is getting  purebred Welsh Terriers,  who proved, despite their smaller size, to be far more dog than I had ever anticipated.

My latest experience with this occurred last week. I treated myself to a new Springerle rolling pin for Christmas.  That is a rolling pin with intricate carvings used to make Springerle or Speculaas cookies.  I had been eyeing one in the King Arthur Baking Company for several years. The pin arrived last week. It is much bigger than it looked in the catalogue,  and it weighs 5 lbs. It is the classic blunt instrument.  Husband says it should be in an Agatha Christie mystery.  You can get an idea of its size  in the header photo with the 12 inch ruler in comparison.   It has really lovely, deep, carvings.  It is too big to store in the drawer with the other rolling pins, so we keep it in the entryway closet wrapped in bubble wrap in its box so that the carvings don’t chip. I never imagined I would have a rolling pin that requires such special care.  I guess should have been prepared for this since it is called The Showstopper Springerle Pin. I sort of overlooked that hint.

When have you got more than you bargained for? When have you bitten off more than you could chew?