Category Archives: peacocks

New Friends!

I just started a job at a nursery where they have a handful of ponies that were rescued. I know, perfect job, right? Don’t worry, I’ll still be going to Winslow every week. As I adjust from waking up whenever I feel like it to being at work AT 7:30am, I’ve been passed out drooling by 9pm for a little over a week. As I adjust, I’ll be able to write these on time. Until then, double posts it is!

Taking it a step farther, I’m going to rely on my pictures to catch you up:

I love that birds can sleep standing up. I love even more that these geese all hunkered down for a nap together.

I also enjoyed that this emu went back to sleep while I fussed around him getting camera angles. And it never ceases to fascinate me how these giant birds fold into themselves like this. It’s just so bizarre!

Look at this beautiful girl! I took this while Little Miss Peahen was on a date with the albino peacock. They walked around their yard in circles while cooing at each other. Adorable.

My, what great hooves you have, Gully!

Athena keeps topping herself in the great photo department. “Don’t you just LOVE my manicure??”

Aside from the fact that having tons of cats around is awesome to begin with, I love that I meet new ones all the time. This is Me Lord (I know, right? Great name!). He seeks me out every week now and accompanies me on all sorts of visits. Ultimate affectionate spewing from this cat here!

And THIS is Bailey. She lives in the barn and was pretty shy at the beginning. Once she gave me her seal of approval, she revealed how cuddly she is. And what awesome markings! It’s a bit hard to tell from the picture, but her face is split right down the middle of her nose. One side is calico and the other half is solid black, minus the stark white whiskers that spring out of her face.

Oh, how I love this girl.

Speaking of the felines, I discovered this hut for the cats this week. It is located right in the middle of everything! (Insert snarky comment about my awesome powers of observation.)

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And now a couple of introductions:

Here is a gaggle of the geese at the nursery. They are usually in a giant penned in area that I can’t see from inside - disappointing! – but that morning, they were out and about among the flowers. “HONK!”

I’d like for you to meet Bear.

He is one of the ponies at the nursery and we took to each other immediately. On my first visit, all of the ponies came forward to say hello (and “I’d like some food, please.”) which was a wonderful start. For animals who clearly had a rough time before they ended up at the nursery, as evidenced immediately by their lack of body fat and brittle mane hair, it felt great that they all sniffed my hand. Three let me pet their heads, one allowed me to scratch his rear, and one wouldn’t let me make contact at all.

Over the next few posts, I will introduce them fully, but now, a bit more about Bear. This incredibly soft guy (most of the ponies have amazingly soft almost angora-ish hair – I’d go as far as to say fur) stood apart from all of them. Not only did he like being pet, but he allowed me to put my forehead on his. He allowed neck hugs. He even stared into my eyes. Our connection was immediate and every time I’ve visited him since, he’s just as affectionate. Lunar does not stare into my eyes even though I know how much she loves me, so having Bear just gaze and gaze at me is a whole new level of connecting. Instant love.

What had the most impact on me, though, was when I mistakenly moved my arm abruptly, a few visits in, and he literally jumped backwards. I had no idea that he had a history of abuse. While devastated about his past, I was overjoyed that he’d trusted me from the start. With a bit of coaxing, he came back to the fence for more hugs and I have been careful since that moment about keeping my animation in check.

Every day, I spend half of my lunch break with the ponies (and Jeffrey the goat!). I discovered on my second or third visit that they LOVE dandelions, so on most days, I pick a bunch on my way to see them. I think they are all fantastic munchkins and am enjoying learning about each of them, but Bear certainly made a beeline into my heart.

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Filed under athena, cats, emus, geese, goats, gulliver, horses, niko, peacocks, sheep, winslow farm

And in this corner…

Soon after I arrived on Monday, I saw the pheasant chase a tractor. I was not fast enough with the camera to catch the hilarious sight, but picture if you will a giant green tractor ambling along with a small bird in hot pursuit. I also noticed that his tail feathers were about half their usual length and was told that a child had tried to pick him up and stepped on them in the process. I can see why he might be angry.

I also can see why the term “attack bird” applies to him…So, I was helping out with Waterford’s feeding. The hose that’s used for him threads from his pen into the barn where it’s attached to the pump. I turned it on and rounded the corner to find that the boy who was feeding him was retreating with a large stick in his hands. “What’s with the stick?” “The pheasant is attacking me!” Well, maybe he just doesn’t like him. This would never happen to me!

I caught up with the pheasant and he walked along with me, buddies as usual. (See?) It wasn’t until I stepped up on a log for better access to Waterford’s buckets that I saw a flash in my peripheral vision, a flurry of wings. The pheasant had switched his attitude from peaceful helper to “I HATE YOU SO MUCH” in one fell swoop. All of the sudden, he was launching his little body off the ground and biting me wherever his pointy little beak could make contact. My foot and ankle were bombarded with angry birdie kisses.  I moved my foot around to shoo him away, obviously not wanting to kick him in the face, but this just fueled his frenzied attack. With the hose still in my hand, I made a quick decision and turned it on him, sloshing the water over him. This helped a bit but he was pretty determined. So I turned the spout into a spray nozzle with my finger and sprayed the living daylights out of him. He kept trying to rush me and then would stop in a giant bird puddle, start again, stop again. Defeated, he gave up trying to maim me and spent the next couple of minutes crouching comically and then shaking his feathers maniacally and THEN wiping his face off in the dirt (by far, my favorite part).

Later when I was working in the barn, he stood outside the door threatening to come in, peering in the door at me. Hopping back and forth. He reminded me of a little boxer, sparring his way in and out of the door. Hopefully next week, his tail feathers will have started to grow back in and he’ll be less cranky. Although, I have to thank him for giving me the opportunity to give him a good long spray. He certainly took it like a champ.

In other bird news, because Monday was a state holiday, there were a lot of visitors at the farm. Claudius the swan was out and about and ended up in the section where there are swing sets and climbers. As I’ve mentioned, Claudius prefers the company of animals and children are definitely not the next down on the list. I was in the barn working and I noticed that he’d parked himself at one of the gates and was gently banging his head against it over and over again. “Please let me out. Please let me out. Please let me out. Please let…”. I left my post to free him and realized the exit was roped off. Now I had to get him over the other exit at the same time that a number of people were leaving. He hemmed and hawed and oh, five minutes later, he finally walked through the gate.

It was nice though because visitors asked me questions and I knew the answers to them. I felt like I’d passed into a new level of volunteering. And maybe Claudius will go on walks with me now.

I’d be angry if someone broke off my tail feathers, too.

Meet Sturbridge. When finished at the barn for the night, I close the two doors securing the animals and then the gate between the sheep and the corral is opened or shut according to Deb’s instructions for the alpacas. One of the kids came to the barn to get something and left the gate open and Sturbridge, Apricot (a mini goat) and another sheep came to investigate. Apricot climbed into Athena’s hay bucket and pushed her out of the way (he does this with the sheep he lives with as well. Half their size but he sure knows how to shove). I managed to put the food dish away before the three of them could eat her dinner but getting them back out of the barn was a bigger task. Two kids managed to wrangle Apricot and the other sheep away but Sturbridge was holding out hope. I got him out of the barn and closed the big doors and reentered through the back corral. I figured that we were done and finished up in the barn. And then I heard it. “Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhh”. I opened the doors a crack and this is Sturbridge shoving his face in. I told him that I was sure there was still food where he eats, but he insisted that there wasn’t. Later when I was at the bird house, I found both Sturbridge and Apricot stuffing their faces with hay. Liars! At least they’re adorable ones.

THIS is the back of a peacock!

This is the albino peacock who is just as magnificent as the brightly colored ones.

This quick snapshot was taken to show the varied birds. Obviously there are the peacocks and my turkey love but look in the space between the gate posts in the middle and you’ll see the emu. Look in the rafters and you’ll catch the yellow head of the other pheasant who is reminiscent of a parrot. Winslow is a great place to learn about different birds because there are many different kinds and one can walk right up to them. Speaking of learning more about them, I was only a few feet away from the peacocks this time around. Every once in a while, they move their tail feathers in a way that makes their feathers shake from base to tip. All the colors blur together and the sound is incredible.

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Filed under behavior, peacocks, pheasant, photography, sheep, winslow farm

Oh, the plumage!

After I was done at the barn on Monday, I stopped in to see the turkey. He apparently has lice or another invasive bug and a volunteer had caught it. But I could always see the little buggies crawling all over his head during our visits, so I’m assuming that someone went in for kisses. He had been sprayed down so his colors looked duller than usual. He looked a little sadder too, which made resisting my urge to pick him up and hug him even tougher. But I still pet him and purelled right afterwards like usual. While I sat with him, I could see one of the peacocks from the donkey barn standing outside the little house staring at the birds inside. I think it was a mixture of strutting his stuff to show up the two peacocks and a little “hey, there” to the peahen. I left the birds and wandered outside to the geese.

Ah, the geese. They are, by far, the loudest animals on the farm. They stand around squawking at absolutely everything. Giant arguments full of big bodies and little heads waddling around in fury. Their conversation style is right up my alley so after being shouted at I yell, “HI!” back. They’ll run up to me, expecting me to flee and when I don’t, they veer away really quickly. I decided it was high time we became friends. So, I squatted down and probably because of the new height difference, I was approached and contemplated face to face. Geese have VERY intense stares. One hand motion and a bitey reaction back though and I made the decision to be great friends without petting.

I moved to sit on a short barrel – as squatting is not a long distance activity – and as the goose sat in front of me staring and staring and staring at me, I noticed that off in the distance the peacock had decided it was high time to show off his beauty. I don’t remember ever having seen a peacock with plumage flared in person. I was far away and it still looked big. But what I thought was even better was when he’d turn his body and show his hind-feathers. They’re tan and black and the backside of each looming feather was plain and ordinary. What an exquisite dichotomy!

In every photo of a peacock I’ve ever seen, it shows the larger than life plumage swarming with radiant colors. And all of the sudden, I get a glimpse of the other side and I’m left just as astounded. The idea that this bird swells with pride showing off all this crazy color and instead of giving a 360 view of these punch-you-in-the-face blues and shimmery greens, turn him around and all of the sudden he becomes his ugly duckling ancestor. I’m so fascinated by this! Is the rooster snickering behind his back thinking, “who does this jerk think he is?” Does the peahen go, “He is SO HOT!” only to change her tune when he turns around by mistake? And his backside is large and fluffy! Flip him around and you see a skinny little neck! Of course I know there are biological reasons behind all of this that I haven’t delved into yet, but wow! What a cool discovery!

These pics of the peacock were taken from my far away perch with the goose, but I just had to get some images of it. He’s definitely going to be an interesting subject in the upcoming months.

It’s hard to see that the back of each long feather isn’t colored because of the blues seeping through, but try to imagine it all dark brown from the tan feathers up. He showed his feathers by turning back and forth for about ten minutes and then he folded them in one fell swoop and it was back to business as usual.

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This one was taken from the barrel so he was right at my knees. While squatting, he was even closer to my face. I was tempted so many times to pet him, but the foreboding chomp fest held me back.

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This is a common site at the farm, as of late: flaming piles o’ doody.

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I’m sure that all of these photos of Athena look exactly alike, but this is my favorite yet!

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It’s hard to see his troubled side when looking at his sweet, sweet face.

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Somebody found a snack! And look at those awesome nostrils, flared with the exciting smell of a found treasure.

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Roof Kitty! Surveying the scene. Ready to Pounce. Merowr.

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Filed under athena, cats, geese, horses, humor, lunar, peacocks, photography, sheep, spirit, turkey, winslow farm

The Coop

Yesterday, the barn was flooded, so Deb took over caring for them. I spent a bit of time with Lunar before I headed over to the big barn. I’d be heading from there to “the safe side” (I still have no idea what exactly that means, but I’ll get to who lives there in a second).

I spent a few minutes with Gulliver since he was in the big barn. Because of the flooding, he would have a sleepover there as well! I can only imagine how excited his goat buddies would be about that! Usually when I look for him to bring him up to the barn, I find him sitting on a ledge in the back. He was there on Monday as usual so I took another few minutes to hang out face to face. His reaction of “oh no” was emphasized by shoving his head against the wall. Never one to give up easily, I petted him and spoke softly to him for a while. Eventually, his head came back forward. I went for his ears though (I love, love, LOVE ears!) and he, like most of the animals, rejected that notion. This time he shoved his head into the corner, but I petted him some more and he came around again soon. One of the great kids who works there (one of my original trainers, in fact) came in and said, “I’ve never seen him being so affectionate.” Sweet!!

I went over to “the safe side” and met another young trainer. This section is where Athena hangs out with the sheep and roosters during the day. What I didn’t realize is that a small “building” that I walk by each time actually houses a bunch of different birds. I walked in and was immediately overwhelmed with excitement which I had to stamp down quickly because birds are really sensitive creatures. And if you’ve read my posts on Clementine and Noella, you already know how much birds fascinate me. If you haven’t, please let me elaborate: I LOVE BIRDS!!!!

In this dwelling live a whole mess of roosters/hens, ducks, the peacocks (who apparently live there and not with the donkeys), a peahen (so cute!), a golden pheasant (who looks like a parrot and a regular pheasant), a few doves (who peck if you try to pet them, I was told), a silky white bantam (really fluffy white rooster), and then there is the turkey.

He stayed far away as I walked around examining the room and birds alike. And then I realized that somewhere along the way, I seemed to have picked up a shadow. Sure, it was about four feet away and round and white but a distinct one nonetheless. I tested my theory by continuing to do rounds and wherever I stopped, he stopped, several feet away, looking at me out of the corner of his eyes. Instantly and completely in love with him I fell. And the best part? He let me pet him. The first time, he lurched a few steps away. I waited. He moved back. And the petting resumed.

Lots of photos from this week’s visit!

A little blurry, but she’s a beauty no matter what.

Spirit in the ice.

I used the “twilight portrait” setting on Gulliver to see what it would look like. Not what I expected but still pretty cool. Also, please imagine him putting his completely flat face against the wall…

Commence “birds”!

This is a blurry photo of the silky shite bantam. He couldn’t stop pecking for a clear shot.

 

The albino peacock with one of the other peacocks and a couple of roosters behind him. With all the mud on the floor, I am amazed that he’s so clean!

 

Outside, a gathering. A gaggle, if you will.

 

And last, but not least at all, my new turkey friend.

 

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Filed under goats, gulliver, horses, lunar, peacocks, photography, roosters, spirit, turkey, winslow farm

Spring is in the air, just ask the peacock!

During my first, brief, visit to Winslow, I noticed a number of large birds scattered among the varied farm animals. Seeing an emu next to a pony was a delight and I’ve devoted some words to these unique characters. I also met the swan, Claudius (a new name added to the register!) that day. It was the first time I’d been so close to one.

Missing from my description was the peacock I saw off in the distance. I had come to think that I might have made him up when I never saw him again. Then on Monday, there he was strutting around, his beautiful plume billowing out behind him. It turns out that he lives by the donkeys who are out past the bigger barn and I’ve yet to have even made it to their house. Because the weather was perking up, the peacock was out for a stroll and he pecked around my corral for a while.

My only experience with peacocks was when an angry mob of them chased me at a chateau in France when I was twelve. I don’t know what I did to them, but boy did I piss them off! My french was still in its first months of learning and I was at the point where I’d walk into a store and ask for something timidly, only to receive a snotty reply in English back. So I must have been saying something to the peacocks like “I hate you! Don’t be my friend! Please bite me!” And they did their damnedest trying. So, I’ve had kind of a bias against them ever since. I was quite surprised, and excited, when Deb told me how sociable this guy is (and that most are, for that matter). Maybe I’ve got peacock petting in my future!

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Filed under peacocks, photography, swan, winslow farm