Category Archives: Nature

Goats in the News: COVID-19 Edition

I was tickled to read about the Kashmiri goats running wild in Wales. during the COVID-19 lockdown there.

 

There are more than one hundred of them wandering around town. They were described as “quite naughty” by a local.  I gather they have come to town on other occasions, but the lack of people has made them even more curious to check things out. And oh, my, those horns! Fiber for cashmere comes from the neck region of such goats. I have several cashmere sweaters, and I love them.

What is your favorite sweater?  What are some bright spots in the news or in your life over the past several days?

Swan Song

I spent last week in a part of Minnesota with which I was quite unfamiliar.  My friend lives in Howard Lake, and we spent our time pre and post surgery there and in the environs around Hutchinson, Cokato, Waconia, and Winsted.  There is an arm of Howard Lake behind my friend’s apartment, and I noticed a pair of swans there amongst a flock of Canada Geese.  I also noticed many swans in other ponds around the area and flying around over head, and I thought “Where did all these swans come from?” I hope this is an indication of improving environmental health. I don’t remember swans anywhere in Minnesota before. They are gorgeous, although I understand they are nasty and aggressive.  I saw one once in Stratford, Ontario, taking a nap, standing up on one leg in the middle of a sidewalk right along the river. It was huge, and had its head tucked under its wing.

Sibelius has written some lovely music inspired by swans. Check out his 5th symphony as well as the Swan of Tuonela. I think Saint-Saen’s cello piece is beautiful, but doesn’t reflect their aggressiveness.

What are your favorite birds? Have any swan stories?

Birth Announcement

The Birch Aquarium is throwing a baby shower!  They have just welcome two very rare babies – weedy sea dragons.  Apparently sea dragons  are notoriously difficult to breed in captivity and the aquarium has been trying for years.

Sea dragons, as you can see, look like little flotsams of seaweed and are actually distant cousins to the seahorse.  The Birch actually acquired their first sea dragons after years of successful work with other sea horse varieties.  In the wild, most sea dragon species call the waters of Australia home.

The two new additions are about an inch long and will feed primarily on shrimp, like their parents.  At this point, it is now known the gender of the babies; according to the Birch, they “likely won’t know until they reach sexual maturity in a few years. “This bit of sea dragon news caught my eye because we have sea dragons at the Minnesota Zoo; we’ve had them for years, so I didn’t realize they were rare.  In fact, while YA is joyfully trailing her hands in the shark/ray pool (which she can do for a LONG time), I almost always wander over to watch the sea dragons.  Their alcove is kept dark and they are mesmerizing as they float through their habitat, their “weeds” floating gracefully around them.

Do you have a favorite exotic animal?

Has It Sprung Yet?

Today’s post comes to us from our Ben!

The ducks have separated. We have 9 white ducks and four brown ducks that all hang out together. But last week, two browns and one white were off by themselves. It happens as the weather warms. A young ducks fancy turns too….?

And now that one white duck is totally by itself. At first, I thought maybe it had hurt its foot that it was sitting there all alone. But the next day it was toddling along just fine. Except alone. Occasionally I will get a couple mallards that we raised come back for a visit and maybe a pair or two will stay in the area, just not with all the other ducks. Sometimes we see them flying over and land in the swamp just over there. So home, but still independent like all good kids.

Also, the door on the chicken coop has been getting easier to open. It’s just a plain home-made wood door. In winter, presumably as the ground heaves with the frost, it gets harder to open as it drags on the ground. But the last week it’s started to open easier. Meaning the ground is settling again. And sometimes, the sliding doors on the North end of the shed will also get hard to open, again, because of the ground heaving. It helped that I shortened them a few inches. But when they open again, I know spring is coming.

I mentioned the other day I was ready to order baby chicks but the tank was buried in a snowdrift. Got that out. I’m thinking another sign of spring may be when the chick raising tank emerges from the snow.

What signs of spring have you seen?

Speed

Husband is slow. Motorically slow. He always has been slow.  He really can’t do much of anything quickly, and it has been a source of frustration for him that I can do things quickly.  Really quickly.  When I did my psychology internship at a VA hospital in Iowa, we interns were administered  the same  battery of neuropsychological tests that we would eventually administer to the patients.  One of the tests was the Purdue Pegboard, which is a large board with holes for pegs, and you time people to see how fast they can put the pegs in the holes. It assesses bilateral motor speed and coordination. I had the fastest time ever for anyone who had taken the test at that clinic.

Last week, I got a notification from Ancestry.com that recent analysis of my DNA revealed me to have the Sprinter gene, common in athletes, especially in successful short distance runners. I never was an athlete, but my dad was, and he was really speedy.  In high school he could zip around the basketball court so fast that he once caused the boy assigned to guard him to start crying during a game because he couldn’t keep up with him.  He did most things really fast, and I am pretty sure I inherited that gene from him.

What genetic advantage  do you think you inherited? Make up a gene you would like to have.

 

It’s Raining

For a couple of years now, I have used some relaxing piano/bird song background music during the day as a way to relax and keep my balance at work.  It’s the same musical theme (YouTube) and it repeats and repeats.  There are days when I have it playing on my headset for most of the day.

No need to go into this in detail, but suffice it to say that the last two weeks have been the most stressful I have ever endured in the travel industry.  I realized on Friday that even my pretty piano & bird compilation wasn’t quite doing it.  So I went searching and found this:

I don’t look at the actual video – not much to see – but I’ve been listening to the rain almost constantly (when I’m not on calls or being accosted in my cube about something).  It is actually very calming – not sure why the sound of softly falling rain relaxes me, but it does.  In fact, this morning I accidentally closed down the browser that is playing the rain and I immediately tensed up and hurried to get it back.

Apparently there is an app that goes along with this soothing sound, but it doesn’t look like anything I would really like or use, so I guess I’ll just stick with the YouTube rain for now.

What helps you relax?   Or are you already relaxed enough?