Farmyard Posts

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.

Farmyard Visitors

August 23rd, 2014

Early one morning, I got a radio call from Sprout Cafe asking if we could come pick up a bird who had flown into the glass. Ranger Greg got to the cafe before me and handed me a small, white paper lunch bag; bird inside.

Look who it was!!

This is either a female or an immature (male or female) Ruby-throated Hummingbird. The little bird had a few sips of sugary Gatorade and rested for about 10 minutes, before flying to the top of a River Birch tree.

Only a few days after the hummingbird visit, I picked up this scaly, little fellow. This Rough Earth snake had been hunting insects (or napping) in the middle of a big mulch pile that I was in the process of spreading out and kept getting right in my way. He/She was relocated safely away from the tines of my rake.

 

Most recently, this lovely lady dropped in to visit. I think this particular Grey fox has been visiting the Farmyard for several years. She uses the train tracks like a highway from the wooded areas at the back of our campus to the more populated sections by the train station and farmyard. She was a common morning visitor back when Ducky was alive. She would  creep around the edges of the farmyard and Ducky would puff up and charge at her and scare her off. Without the duck to try and catch for breakfast (assuming that’s what she was after), she hasn’t come around much in the mornings.

Ranger Greg has done many blog posts featuring the resident foxes. Check out his blog for better fox photos than my old cell phone camera can take.

 

Nearly every morning, I get to say hello to one of the most frequent (and my favorite) farmyard visitors: a female Eastern Towhee. Like the Grey fox, this little bird was also attracted to the farmyard seemingly because of Ducky. She hops all the way from the front entry plaza where she spends most of the day, up to the farmyard where she pops in and out of the animal yards, picking up bugs or pieces of spilled chow. She used to share Ducky’s breakfast with him and could be seen later in the morning tucked up alongside him taking a nap. Nowadays, I see her hopping her old route along the back of the farmyard, often with a male in tow. She’s identifiable by her consistent lack of tail feathers (she usually has only 2 or 3) and spotted rufous left side.

Join the conversation:

  1. love hearing about our guests- thanks for sharing Sarah!

    Posted by sherry
  2. Your hummingbird photos are really impressive, such a cool experience to see one so close.

    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.

There’s a Pig on my Trailer!

August 20th, 2014

I heard some noise coming from the compost trailer when I was cleaning the pig yard. Look who had hopped inside!

Auggie checks out what Miss Piggy is doing, but quickly finds something else to do.

All done inspecting the trailer.

I think I’ve earned her approval.

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  1. Love Miss Piggy’s snout of approval!!

    Posted by djcronce

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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.

Update: Frog Eggs

July 29th, 2014

A few weeks ago, I wrote up a post about some frog eggs we found in the alpaca pool and the tadpoles they hatched into.

I’m sorry to report that none of the tadpoles made it into frogs. However, only a few days after the last tadpole disappeared a whole new batch of eggs was laid in the alpaca pool during a night of heavy rainstorms. I collected the eggs up and the new group of tadpoles have already hatched and started swimming around. I’ll post new photos when these guys get a bit bigger; which is likely soon as this group is growing a lot faster than the first bunch did!

An interesting fact to leave you with:

It’s entirely possible that all of the tadpoles in this new batch are siblings! A single female Grey Treefrog (which is what we think these tadpoles are) can lay as many as 2,000 eggs at once!!

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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.

Cows Have Horns, too!

July 24th, 2014

Lots of guests come into the farmyard, see Max, and call him a “cow.” I assume that a few know he’s not a cow but choose to use “cow” rather than “steer” because it’s an easier word of small kids, but I’d bet more people just don’t know what the difference is. So here’s a quick run down of the various common terms used for cattle:

Cow – A female who has had a baby (or many babies).

Heifer- A female who has not had a baby.

Bull- An intact male.

Steer- A castrated male.

Ox/Oxen- adult, male or female, trained in draft work (pulling). Often males that have been castrated as adults.

Calf- A baby, male or female.

Bullock- In the UK, a castrated male. In the USA, an intact male, less than a year old.

Cattle- either gender (or both) in a group.

 

What about the horns?

Horns are common on both males and females, especially in dairy breeds. It’s not usually possible to tell if you’re looking at a bull or cow just by looking at their face. You’d need to get a look at their bellies to tell them apart for sure. Udders are only visibly present in cows. Heifers have udders but they aren’t typically distended or visibly hanging because she’s never had a calf. Intact males are bulls, castrated males are steer.

Some cattle are naturally hornless. This is called being “polled” and is a genetic trait in cattle that can be passed down to their offspring. It’s also common for cattle on farms to have their horns removed as very young babies, so they never grow, and to have the horns on adult cattle cut or blunted so they don’t hurt each other or the people working with them. Max keeps his own horns blunted by rubbing them on all sorts of stuff, like toys, stumps, and his fence.

Max

Max, napping in the sun

jersey heifer

An adorable little Jersey heifer with her horns

Here’s a handsome naturally polled, Jersey bull from MaryJanesFarm in Idaho.

 

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by , Keeper
I've been at the museum for many years now. I spend most of my time behind-the-scenes in the Vet room. You might catch me out and about with one of our many veterinarians checking on the animals.
When I'm not hanging out with one of our vets I'm usually in the Vet room running a fecal looking for intestinal parasites! If I'm not up to my elbows in poo you'll find me at the computer updating the health records of our animals or preparing for Vet Rounds.

Quick Pics

July 17th, 2014
Retro

Retro

100_5502

Mudsy

Franklin

Franklin

Auggie

Auggie

Salt

Salt

Zoe

Zoe

Gus

Gus

Canebrake

Canebrake

 

 

 

 

 

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by , Director
I've been at the Museum sooooo long - longer than many of our interns have been alive. I do a little bit of everything as part of my job: care for the animals, work with the keepers and other staff, spend time with guests. Lucky me!
I spend a lot of time behind-the-scenes, or here after hours, but if you really want to see me, you'll have to sign-up for a behind-the-scenes program.

Donation for Max

July 8th, 2014

max donation 001

Last month, a 2-year-old Museum member who is a huge fan of Max donated some items and money to take care of our big bovine. She and her family thought it would be great to celebrate her birthday by spreading some love to Max. A big thanks from the animal department for the recent donations. A couple of cute Max photos to share with you all below.

 

 

Max used to be little

Kent teaching Max to walk on a leash.

A young Kent, teaching a young Max to walk on a leash.

 

But not anymore

2014 Mar 13 033

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by , Director
I've been at the Museum sooooo long - longer than many of our interns have been alive. I do a little bit of everything as part of my job: care for the animals, work with the keepers and other staff, spend time with guests. Lucky me!
I spend a lot of time behind-the-scenes, or here after hours, but if you really want to see me, you'll have to sign-up for a behind-the-scenes program.

Farewell our Feathered Friend

July 2nd, 2014
Christopher resting in the vet room

Christopher resting in the vet room

Christopher, our barred owl that resides on the Farmyard, was euthanized on Monday. Keepers found him about one month ago not eating and on the ground several days in a row. We brought him inside, checked him out and then sent him to the NCSU vet school. To be honest, I assumed he would not improve, but after multiple tests, treatments, and supportive care, he took a turn for the better and starting eating and perching. Unfortunately, that turn for the better didn’t last. Sadly, the difficult decision was made this past Monday. He will be missed by so many people!

My favorite blog post about him was talking about when I took him to a classroom. There is a great drawing of him (and me, looking skinny, with my hair down, tongue out, and purple Museum dress).

 

Join the conversation:

  1. Keeper Comment :

    Last night when I was pet sitting I was outside with the dogs and a Barred Owl flew over our heads. It was very cool. I like to think that is was the spirit of Christopher letting us know all is well!!! And then I had a dream about him last night… he was acting very cute in the dream!!!

    Posted by Katy Harringer

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by , Keeper
I've been at the museum for many years now. I spend most of my time behind-the-scenes in the Vet room. You might catch me out and about with one of our many veterinarians checking on the animals.
When I'm not hanging out with one of our vets I'm usually in the Vet room running a fecal looking for intestinal parasites! If I'm not up to my elbows in poo you'll find me at the computer updating the health records of our animals or preparing for Vet Rounds.

A Look Back … Part 1

June 24th, 2014

Let’s take a look back at some of the goings on in the Animal Department. Some of these critters have moved on to further their careers and education, some of them have retired, some of them have passed away and some of them are still with us in the Animal Department, just older and wiser now! I have 10 years worth of memories and pictures of all the happenings in the Department… here are a few of my favorites! Keep your eyes peeled for many more to come!!!

Ursula

Ursula

Yona post surgery

Yona post surgery

Mikey

Mikey

Jill post surgery

Jill post surgery

Annie and Sonny

Annie and Sonny

Pig

Pig

Gizmo

Gizmo

Templeton

Templeton

Young Gus

Young Gus

1227 Red Wolf

1227 Red Wolf

Beaker

Beaker

Sonny and Cher

Sonny and Cher

Kerby in Q

Kerby in Q

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

Frog Eggs

June 18th, 2014

The alpacas found themselves with quite a number of visitors in their yard one evening last week. I was in the farmyard with Jill and Kent when they called over to me to come see the frog eggs in the alpaca pool.

The substitute “vernal pool”

The neighbors

I rescued as many eggs as I could and moved them to a 5 gallon bucket. I say rescued only because we drain and scrub the pool daily and these eggs were soon to be “thrown out with the bathwater.” Generally, wild animals are very rarely in any need of actual rescuing and human intervention often causes more problems for the animals than it remedies.

Look closely. See all those tiny black dots clumped together? Those are the eggs!

After our newly laid egg masses were removed from the pool and settled into their new home, Jill called Ranger Greg to help us answer my “what now?” question. He assured us that there’s nothing more we can do for the eggs but wait and once they hatch, they should be just fine eating the algae in the water for at least a little while. One source I looked at said the eggs will hatch into teeny, tiny tadpoles in anywhere from 4 to 14 days.

So now we wait. I am terrible at waiting -really, I’ve checked on the bucket at least a dozen times today, just to make sure they’re okay-.

In the meantime, do you have any ideas as to what kind of frogs these will grow up to be?

 

Quick Edit:

In the time it took to write the first blog post, our little eggs have hatched! In 3 days, many of the eggs became tiny tadpoles, each a maximum of 1/4 inch long.

There are four tadpoles in this photo, can you spot them all?

 

 

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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.

Hay Stacks

June 6th, 2014

The biggest barn in the Farmyard is used to house our tools, bedding and hay. Loading hay into the Hay Barn generally takes a few people, mostly because we get a little competitive and stack as quickly as possible (7 minutes and change was our best time to load 70 bales into the barn!). This needs to happen every 6 to 8 weeks depending on how many bales we order (or how many our local farm has to offer us), the speed we go through them, and the size and quality of the bales.

Hay bales change size and weight throughout the year depending on how the grass is growing. Early to mid Spring can be a bit of a challenge for us since the bales tend to be at their smallest and Max is eating a whole bale on his own. The smaller, Spring bales don’t fit in our stacking system quite as easily as the larger bales we have during the rest of the year. The last hay delivery was not attended by Kent or myself. Apparently, when the people who typically help load the barn are on their weekend breaks, those who get involved in loading the hay barn decide to get a little bit creative with their stacking.

IMG_20140511_141256_868

This is how I found the hay on Sunday when I came in. To an untrained eye, this might look like well-ordered hay; however, note how all of the hay bales are facing the same direction and the slight lean of the bales toward the left side of the photo.

IMG_20140511_141453_640

This is how I found the hay barn later that day. In total, 17 bales fell and several of them slipped out of their strings, leaving hay pretty much everywhere.

IMG_20140512_105418_254

A volunteer and I unstacked every one of the bales and restacked them in a more traditional pattern.

IMG_20140512_105428_741

Look how nicely organized they are!! Bales stacked in alternating directions use gravity to keep the bales on the row below them from falling, plus, they look pretty.

 

Join the conversation:

  1. I had no dealings with this debacle

    Posted by Jill
  2. Director Comment :

    I was involved in this stacking. It was amusing to say the least, as there were disagreements among the stackers as to the method the bales should be stacked.

    Of course, our main goal was to provide information for a blog post, so we succeeded.

    Posted by Sherry Samuels

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