Author Archive

by , Keeper
I've been at the museum since 2010. I love to read and learn; it's rare that a day goes by at work when I'm not suppressing the urge to spew out something cool I just learned to my coworkers. In my spare time, I play the 'cello, snuggle my dog and reminisce about snowmen and Nor'easters.
I work Sunday through Thursday. You can find me raking the Farmyard in the morning or training the donkey and dwarf goats in the afternoon.

Early Morning Walk

March 27th, 2014

Lightning and I don’t always have enough time first thing in the morning to make the long walk out to Explore the Wild, but when we do, it’s always worth the trek.

Lightning and I walk on a service path behind the train tracks and meet the moss cattle and deer that inhabit the train pasture

Next, we walk down the paths in Explore the Wild and say, “Good Morning” to the wolves.

 

Then, we stop in at the Bear House and check on Jessi and Autumn…we might have stolen some of Jessi’s breakfast…

 

Lightning goes for a walk every day, as do most of our farmyard animals. Even the pigs and Max! So next time you’re here, if you come by the farmyard and don’t see your favorite furry (or feathered) critter it’s probably a good thing, they’re likely out enjoying the sunshine in the company of a keeper.

Join the conversation:

  1. Love it!

    Posted by Wendy
  2. This could be the start of a good children’s book–”A Donkey’s Day”…Lightning certainly gets into mischief (stealing radios, snitching food…)

    Posted by CVdB
  3. I had no idea the animals went for regular walks…thanks for sharing!

    Posted by Libby
  4. Keeper Comment :

    Absolutely, Libby!

    Walks are an important way for animals to get exercise, explore new places, sights and sounds, and to spend some time bonding with their keepers.

    Posted by Sarah Van de Berg

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by , Keeper
I've been at the museum since 2010. I love to read and learn; it's rare that a day goes by at work when I'm not suppressing the urge to spew out something cool I just learned to my coworkers. In my spare time, I play the 'cello, snuggle my dog and reminisce about snowmen and Nor'easters.
I work Sunday through Thursday. You can find me raking the Farmyard in the morning or training the donkey and dwarf goats in the afternoon.

Alpaca Hair 2014

March 18th, 2014

Will it be a re-run of 80s themes, fancy up-dos for everyone or something a little weirder?

 

In roughly 3 weeks, our fluffy foursome will be getting a new hairdo! The exact date’s not set yet –we’ll let you know when that is– but now is the time to get your vote in on what the girls’ hair should look like. So add your ideas to the comment section however funny or serious your idea is, we’ll consider them all!

 

Here’s the wool we’ll be working with this year. The two babies are almost full grown now! From left to right: Equinox (way in back), Emily, Ray, Retro.

 

As a refresher, this is what the girls looked like last year.

And here are the alpacas’ predecessors, the sheep –who have recently been reported as all doing quite well at their “retirement” home, if anyone was wondering– being sheared two years ago in 2012.

 

Join the conversation:

  1. APRIL 7 is now the date (as long as it is not raining and the girls are dry)

    Posted by sherry
  2. How about a comb over for Retro.
    Of course who’s up for a poodle cut?

    Posted by HRvdB
  3. I vote for at least one to be totally bald. I loved the mohawk and Retro’s fade is pretty great.

    Posted by Ranger Ro
  4. Ditto on the bald suggestion and the poodle cut on head. legs and end of tail. Glad to hear the sheep are enjoying retirement.

    Posted by djcronce
  5. No further suggestions…but added thanks for the sheep update…my 3 year old was just asking about them today.

    Posted by Libby
  6. What time on the 7th? My 6yo son is a big llama/sheep fan and would love to attend, but doesn’t finish kindergarten until 3:30ish. I really wish the shearing could have taken place on a weekend day, when older children would be able to attend!

    Posted by Norton
  7. Director Comment :

    Hi Norton:
    We’re shooting for 10:30 start on the 7th.
    we’ll try to get some video taken so that those who cannot make it to the shearing can see it on the Blog.

    Posted by Sherry Samuels

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by , Keeper
I've been at the museum since 2010. I love to read and learn; it's rare that a day goes by at work when I'm not suppressing the urge to spew out something cool I just learned to my coworkers. In my spare time, I play the 'cello, snuggle my dog and reminisce about snowmen and Nor'easters.
I work Sunday through Thursday. You can find me raking the Farmyard in the morning or training the donkey and dwarf goats in the afternoon.

Goat Coats

March 15th, 2014

Polar Vortex 2014 brought bitter cold air and lots of snow and ice to Durham. Most of our outdoor animals were snug and warm inside their holding areas or tucked into huge piles of hay to wait out the winter weather, but some of the farmyard residents were still just plain cold. We added a big heat lamp in the goat stall and would lock them inside but it still wasn’t enough to keep our two older boys toasty when it was 10 degrees out.  Even Lightning, the donkey, was shivering on the coldest of days.

How else do you keep a tiny herd of African animals warm?

GOAT COATS!!

 

and a donkey coat, too.

Join the conversation:

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by , Keeper
I've been at the museum since 2010. I love to read and learn; it's rare that a day goes by at work when I'm not suppressing the urge to spew out something cool I just learned to my coworkers. In my spare time, I play the 'cello, snuggle my dog and reminisce about snowmen and Nor'easters.
I work Sunday through Thursday. You can find me raking the Farmyard in the morning or training the donkey and dwarf goats in the afternoon.

The Interns Make Friends With Max

February 25th, 2014

Our Spring 2014 interns, Katie and Jill, got to spend some time in the farmyard with Max and the “Max Scratcher”

YouTube Preview Image

Join the conversation:

  1. what’s the “max scratcher” made of?

    Posted by sherry
  2. Keeper Comment :

    It’s an old PVC perch core that has a metal comb attached to one end.

    Posted by Sarah Van de Berg

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by , Keeper
I've been at the museum since 2010. I love to read and learn; it's rare that a day goes by at work when I'm not suppressing the urge to spew out something cool I just learned to my coworkers. In my spare time, I play the 'cello, snuggle my dog and reminisce about snowmen and Nor'easters.
I work Sunday through Thursday. You can find me raking the Farmyard in the morning or training the donkey and dwarf goats in the afternoon.
Tags: , ,

Limerick –answer

February 10th, 2014

The limerick quiz is here, if you want to read it before seeing the answer below

 

 

Answer:

 

Our knives, of course!!

We keep our knives safely tucked away in pockets or our backpacks, but they come in quite handy for routine things like cutting open a bag of chow or cutting bale strings off hay.

Join the conversation:

  1. Secondary game:
    Match the keeper to their knife.

    Posted by Ranger Ro
  2. Keeper Comment :

    You first, Ro!

    Posted by Sarah Van de Berg
  3. left to right:
    Jessie
    Sarah
    Jill
    Katy

    Posted by Ranger Ro
  4. Keeper Comment :

    1 of 4 correct, Ro.

    Posted by Sarah Van de Berg
  5. Spoiler alert….mine isn’t pictured.

    Posted by Katy
  6. Jessi
    Jessi
    Jessi
    Jessi

    (oh wait… Jessi only carries 3 knives so that cannot be right)

    Posted by sherry
  7. Keeper Comment :

    From Left to Right:
    Sarah
    Sarah
    Kent
    Autumn

    I’m pretty sure most of us carry multiple knives. I know Jessi and I carry at least 3 (I wouldn’t be surprised if either of us had a 4th we forget about in our lockers), and I think Kent and Jill both have 2.

    They’re sharp and shiny, what’s not to like?

    Posted by Sarah Van de Berg

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by , Keeper
I've been at the museum since 2010. I love to read and learn; it's rare that a day goes by at work when I'm not suppressing the urge to spew out something cool I just learned to my coworkers. In my spare time, I play the 'cello, snuggle my dog and reminisce about snowmen and Nor'easters.
I work Sunday through Thursday. You can find me raking the Farmyard in the morning or training the donkey and dwarf goats in the afternoon.
Tags: , ,

Limerick + Quiz = Quizerick?

January 27th, 2014

Sherry’s Christmas 2013 post got me thinking (or rhyming?). It’s been a while since I wrote a poem!

On that note, a limerick quiz to get you thinking:

 

Our tools are eclectic and many

but one keepers love more than any.

A little different are all;

some large and some small.

This is one tool we have in plenty.

 

It’s a bit of a tough guess, but give it a try!

 

 

Join the conversation:

  1. What about shovels to pick up plenty of stuff?

    Posted by dj
  2. What about your hands, useful “tool” for all sorts of things.

    Posted by HvdB
  3. If hands isn’t the answer, Auggie, Miss Piggy, the lemurs and the bears think food is a wonderful and yummy tool for enrichment and training.

    Posted by dj
  4. Keeper Comment :

    Hands and Shovels are both really good guesses, but what I had in mind was a little different. It’s an actual tool that most of us keepers carry with us for both routine and unexpected reasons. It’s a bit hard to carry a shovel with you all the time.

    Posted by Sarah Van de Berg
  5. A pocket knife (since you usually carry one in your pocket wherever you go)

    Posted by Carrie
  6. A knife (since you usually carry one in your pocket wherever you go)

    Posted by Carrie
  7. a multi-tool.

    Posted by Ranger Ro
  8. a communication device like a cell phone, pager or walkie talkie??

    Posted by dj
  9. Keeper Comment :

    Now we’re getting somewhere! The answer will post in a few days…just to keep you all waiting.

    Posted by Sarah Van de Berg
  10. Hi Sarah,

    A bit of the past but still enjoy your poems..:)

  11. Keeper Comment :

    I’m glad you enjoy them!

    Posted by Sarah Van de Berg

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by , Keeper
I've been at the museum since 2010. I love to read and learn; it's rare that a day goes by at work when I'm not suppressing the urge to spew out something cool I just learned to my coworkers. In my spare time, I play the 'cello, snuggle my dog and reminisce about snowmen and Nor'easters.
I work Sunday through Thursday. You can find me raking the Farmyard in the morning or training the donkey and dwarf goats in the afternoon.

Big Word of the Month: Prehensile

January 21st, 2014

If you’ve been to a Meet the Keeper program at Lemurs, you may have heard someone ask if the Red Ruffed Lemurs have “thumbs” or “fingers” on the ends of their tails. The answer is “no”; the little bit of naked tail that sticks out in varying lengths from the normally furry tails of our lemurs is a by-product of over grooming. The Red Ruffed lemurs will occasionally groom their tail tips by licking, chewing or rubbing at them with their fingers and subsequently, have removed tufts of fur from the ends. The naked bit of tail can bend and curl just like the rest of their tails, but it isn’t prehensile.

So what exactly is “prehensile”?

It’s defined as an appendage or organ found on a vertebrate animal that has the ability to grasp or hold.

Though the definition seems simple enough,  it’s not always so black and white. Think about the tail of a Virginia Opossum or the lips on a rhino or donkey. They have the ability to grasp or manipulate objects, but can’t really hang on tightly. In those cases, the appendage is considered “semi-prehensile.”

 

Here are some examples of prehensile appendages in the animal world: new world monkey tail (like Spider Monkeys), octopus arms, chameleon feet, prehensile-tailed porcupine tails, Giraffe tongues, primates with a thumb have prehensile hands and sygnathidae tails.

Photo Credit: ARKive.org
Photo Credit (Prehensile tailed porcupine): The Creature Teachers, Littleton, Mass.
Lycus the Lemur is our photo.

Here are a few more “semi-prehensile” appendages: elephant trunk tip, camel lips and snake tails.

Photo Credit (elephant): ARKive.org
Photo Credit (camel): ImageShack user “poojambasaurus”
The grumpy baby Northern pinesnake is our photo

 

Join the conversation:

  1. On the other hand, nobody is sure if these v3 diet pills that are being advertised through v3 diet pills online work well for the obese patients. Fen-phen was a combination of the v3 diet drugs fenfluramine and phentermine.

    Posted by Judson

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by , Keeper
I've been at the museum since 2010. I love to read and learn; it's rare that a day goes by at work when I'm not suppressing the urge to spew out something cool I just learned to my coworkers. In my spare time, I play the 'cello, snuggle my dog and reminisce about snowmen and Nor'easters.
I work Sunday through Thursday. You can find me raking the Farmyard in the morning or training the donkey and dwarf goats in the afternoon.

One of These Things…

January 15th, 2014

One of these things is not like the others

One of these things just doesn’t belong.

Can you tell which thing is not like the others

By the time I finish my song?

(Sesame Street: episode 1, December 10, 1969)

 

Looks like we got an unseasonal surprise mixed in with this batch of pumpkins and gourds! Can you spot the thing that doesn’t belong?

Join the conversation:

  1. The thing that doesn’t fit
    Has seeds that you can spit!
    And inside watery red and sweet
    Is its fruity juicy meat.

    Posted by Wendy
  2. La pasteque verte, n’est pas. Didn’t want to give it away.

    Posted by Hans
  3. Nice, Wendy!:)

    Posted by Marilyn
  4. Auggie and Miss Piggy told me to tell you that they would be happy to volunteer to taste test all of these and let you know which one is different.

    Posted by Ranger Ro

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by , Keeper
I've been at the museum since 2010. I love to read and learn; it's rare that a day goes by at work when I'm not suppressing the urge to spew out something cool I just learned to my coworkers. In my spare time, I play the 'cello, snuggle my dog and reminisce about snowmen and Nor'easters.
I work Sunday through Thursday. You can find me raking the Farmyard in the morning or training the donkey and dwarf goats in the afternoon.

Who Weighs More? Round 3

January 6th, 2014

Time for some little critters this time!

Who weighs more?

Boba Fett, the Garter snaker

or

Gordon, the (now tailless) Crested Gecko

 

Join the conversation:

  1. Before or after breakfast?

    Posted by Wendy
  2. Hard to say since the size is difficult to judge in the photos. I’d have to say, though, that Gordon appears kind of weighty. He looks rather full of soft mushy stuff.
    Boba Fett looks young, trim, and slim.
    So, Gordon the Wall Street lizard weighs more.

    Posted by Ranger Greg
  3. Hm.. I’m guessing Garter wins this one.

    Posted by Colet
  4. Wow- that snake has an awesome name!

    Posted by Jill
  5. Keeper Comment :

    It is quite a challenge! Keep those guesses coming, you’ve got a 50% chance of being correct! I’ll post the answer here in the comments section tomorrow.

    Posted by Sarah Van de Berg
  6. Boba Fett

    Posted by Ranger Ro
  7. Keeper Comment :

    And the winner this week is:

    Gordon the Crested Gecko!

    Boba Fett the garter snake is very long and thin. He weighs in at 46 grams.

    Gordon the Gecko is much chubbier in appearance but she only outweighs our tiny garter snake by 4 grams! Gordon weighs 50 grams.

    Wendy, asking if they had eaten was a really good question to ask. Gordon the gecko eats a small amount of food every day, so her weight stays pretty constant. Boba Fett eats twice a week, so depending on which day he gets weighed, he could weigh a little more or less.

    Posted by Sarah Van de Berg

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by , Keeper
I've been at the museum since 2010. I love to read and learn; it's rare that a day goes by at work when I'm not suppressing the urge to spew out something cool I just learned to my coworkers. In my spare time, I play the 'cello, snuggle my dog and reminisce about snowmen and Nor'easters.
I work Sunday through Thursday. You can find me raking the Farmyard in the morning or training the donkey and dwarf goats in the afternoon.

Who Weighs More? Round 2

December 15th, 2013

Who weighs more?

Ray, the Alpaca

or

Auggie, the Pot-bellied Pig

Put your guesses in the comment section!

Join the conversation:

  1. Ray is pretty big and solid. I’m picking him for the upset.

    Posted by Adam
  2. I’m picking Auggie because I always like seeing him in the Farmyard and maybe Ray has lots of Alpaca Fluff.

    Posted by dj
  3. I’m betting on Auggie, with at least 22-34 kg difference.

    Posted by Colet
  4. Ray!

    Posted by Shawntel
  5. Keeper Comment :

    And the winner is:

    Ray!

    Auggie was in the lead for a really long time, but just recently, Ray has had a pretty big growth spurt and has jumped ahead.

    Auggie weighs around 42kg (about 92lbs) and Ray is currently 47kg (about 102lbs).

    Auggie is a small adult pot bellied pig but Ray is still a growing girl. When she’s full grown, Ray will probably be around 70kg, like her mom, Retro.

    Posted by Sarah Van de Berg

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