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.

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 , 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.

Christmas 2013

December 25th, 2013

thanks for the sweet potatoes Donna

Twas the night before Christmas and left at my house, a bag of sweet potatoes for the Museum Bears.  (If I were Sarah, I am sure I could have come up with some great rhyme… in fact she probably could write my entire Christmas post to the Poem Twas the night before Christmas- check out her previous poems here and here).

The day started with me very very tired, and unable to find my glasses. I’ve got about 10-15 pillows on my bed and even removing all of them still no glasses. I gave up, found my spare glasses, made a cup of coffee, and made my way to the Museum around 5:15

Here’s the rundown for the day so far:

I move all the logbooks in one space and check out my “to do” lists, and in a room that has light not on a timer so I can see easier.

 

 

Katy has set up the supplies I need for treatments, and Jill has left a note for Donald (click on the note to enlarge it if you want to read it).

all the syringes and bowls and medicines lined up so I can work more efficiently. (Thanks Katy)

Jill’s note to Donald. The last part is my favorite as I have lived through this happening and it is not a pretty sight.

the muskrat had gathered all this food in the 5-10 minutes or so it took me to get my camera and come back

Yesterday, we solved the mystery as to why the waterfall at wolves was not running, so I was able to cross that off my list. (The wolves- I assume the male wolf – ate the electrical wires. That will have to be a separate post at a later date). Concerns about the muskrat were top priority so I donned my headlamp to go check him out. I couldn’t really see him, but did see that he had eaten overnight so I sigh of relief for now.

I fumble around- not getting into any sort of groove.  I put all the diets on the kitchen counter to help me make a plan of attack. My plan of attack is quite chaotic. I start something, realize I can’t see too well in the dark, re group, start something else…things go on like this for a while and before I know it I’ve been here 90 minutes.

Katy warned me that the ferrets would be difficult to keep in their exhibit and would rush the door upon closing. I felt confident in my plan however: I knocked on their door to wake them up (wanting them to use the litter pans before cleaning). Came back in five minutes with a CRATE and put all four inside:

Katy said to put them all in the yellow ring (below) upon leaving and that gives you enough time to close the door.  However, what really gives you enough time to close the door is spilling furotone (oil supplement) on each ferret so that everyone is licking everyone else and not even concerned about the door!

 

It’s light enough so I go make sure I can see the remaining animals. Franklin is busy eating his food and everyone else seems fine.

Franklin eating his lettuce

Donald and his granddaughter Caroline arrive a few minutes before 8AM. Caroline looks tired (I feel her pain), but Donald gets her to pose for the camera. I’ve never seen Donald not smile. It’s really amazing if you think about it. We review the plan for the Farmyard, get Caroline some gloves, and head outside.

Donald reading the note from Jill.

 

 

It takes a little effort to get our vehicles started, but we prevail. I was so hot working inside that I forgot it was just over 30 degrees outside and my drive is more than quite chilly.

I drive through the Farmyard to check on the critters, and then move on to the Explore the Wild Critters.

The alpacas seem fine on this chilly morning

male on the bottom and female towards the top of the den.

I take a bit of a skid through the icy patch at the MIST entrance in Catch the Wind. I hit wolves first. Both the wolves are waiting at the den area. No issues at all here. Everything is fine so move quickly to the bear exhibit.

Mimi, as expected, is sleeping in the house. I wake her, she huffs at me, I feel badly, she huffs at me again, I toss out food, she goes and eats. Gus is snoozing in the cave (sorry about the bad photo): he lifts his head and then puts it back down.

Gus in the den

Lemurs is the next stop. Absolutely no problems here- it’s actually a bit confusing. No one yelled at me, no one peed on me. I did not step in anything I didn’t want to. I did not dump my poop bucket. No lemur exited their stall. I think this is a first on Christmas to not have even one small problem occur. (Although as I type I realize I left the dustpan in the disinfectant can… I’ll have to remember to get that tonight.

The last stop is the bear cliff to check things out and give Yona her meds. I thought this would be a bit difficult, but Virginia has made her way down into the yard, so Yona just needs to stretch, stare at me for a minute or two, and then wander over to me at the fence.

I was even prepared: I had no yogurt cup but grabbed an extra bowl from lemurs to give Yona her meds in.

Yona was easy: “blueberry preserves” worked really well.

I head back to the Farmyard, deal with the raptors, and then head to the building. Dishes goes much better than last year (I just did not wear my glasses).

It’s possibly been one of the easiest Christmas’ I’ve worked – and I’ve worked every Christmas since 1993! I know the afternoon is still coming, but so far, so good. Merry Christmas everyone.

(Click here to read about some of my past Christmas’ at the Museum).

Join the conversation:

  1. Keeper Comment :

    ‘Twas the morning of Christmas, and left on her porch, a bag of potatoes from Donna next door!

    The bears won’t be hungry this Christmas day; not that they’ll eat them again until May.

    The day started rough with glasses amiss, pillows were tossed, the room searched forthwith!

    Resigning their fate to the bedroom elves, spare glasses were acquired and some coffee was quelled.

    The morning began a mile away in the dark and quiet of the museum’s early day.

    Logbooks were stacked to be ordered and checked as the morning went on, there’s no going back to bed!

    Treatments were finished, notes were read. “Don’t let the pigs find the pumpkins!” Jill’s note to Donald said.

    In Explore the Wild, a present was left. “A gift from the wolves” the unwanted tag read. A gasket was shredded, the pumps’ plug was chewed off. “We’re saving you energy! A gift you didn’t think of!”

    As the morning wound down, all the animals were checked. Nothing went horribly wrong this year, how ’bout that?

    So thankful we are for this day of the year, when our boss comes in so we can stay here.

    “Here” might be close or miles away, but it matters greatly to us to be home Christmas Day.

    This year went well, and with a new one in sight,
    “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

    Posted by Sarah Van de Berg
  2. Sarah for the win!

    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 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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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: , , , , ,

Signs of the Season: Year 2

December 10th, 2013

Last year, it was Misha calling in the cooler weather. This year, it’s been the two big guys in the farmyard acting silly that let’s us know the crisp fall air is here to stay. Both Max and Lightning really seem to like playing with keepers much more once September and October roll in. You’ve seen Lightning play fetch with his Jolly Ball before, but did you know that Max will play Tag?

YouTube Preview Image

 

Join the conversation:

  1. very intersting

    Posted by Gor Isaverdyan

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by , Keeper
I have been a keeper at the museum since May 2012, but I was an intern back in the spring of 2011. I am very passionate about animals and my favorites are native species with the exception of sloths. In my spare time, I am working on a Bachelor's degree with OSU online in environmental science. I have two dogs, a snake, and a cat.
I work Tuesday through Saturday and you will usually see me somewhere in Explore the Wild. I love giving keeper talks, so hope to see you at 2 pm for our meet the keeper programs in Explore the Wild.

Back to the Farmyard

December 1st, 2013

It has been awhile since I was last in the FarmyardAll the changes that the animal department has had for the past few months has kept me in Explore the Wild most of the time.  Last week, I got to go back to the Farmyard.  It was great to see all of the farmyard animals and catch myself up on the duties of farmyard keeping.

Keeper Jill helped me reacquaint myself with the Farmyard tasks plus gave me some tips on time management when it comes to getting tasks completed.  Getting this information is vital when keeping in the Farmyard since there is a lot to do in the mornings.  Now that I got a refresher in the Farmyard, you should see me there most Fridays.

After lunch, I went up to the Farmyard and checked on all of the animals.  Once done with the tasks,  I was walking by the Alpacas and saw this…

 

Ray on top of the mountain.

Ray looked very stoic with the sunlight in her hair but the picture does not do her justice.  So, come by the farmyard and hopefully you will see Ray on the mountain.

 

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by , Keeper
I graduated from NCSU(go pack) and have worked in the animal department for about 8 years. Some of my favorites include ferrets and birds. I am also known for my weird obsession with Boba Fett.
I work Tuesday-Saturday in either the Farmyard or inside the main building behind the scenes.

Bathing Birdies

November 25th, 2013

The other day while I was closing the farmyard, it began to pour. I had to construct a makeshift poncho out of a garbage bag, because I didn’t follow the golden rule of the boy scouts and was unprepared. I stood there for what seemed like an  hour waiting for the duck to go into his stall for the night. Duck, being the duck he is felt it was better to be out in the rain and bathe in his pool instead.

Animals can bathe in dust or water and is extremely important to a birds health because it helps in the maintenance of feathers. My coworkers think I am weird because I bring my pet parrot in the shower when I have to clean up. (Bird people are very interesting)

Here at the museum, we provide ample amounts of water for all of our birds to bathe in. Its not uncommon to see the duck in water, but when we are lucky we catch a glimpse of  our raptors.

Look closely below, our Barred Owl-Christoper is spreading his wings and taking a shower during the down pour.

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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?

November 19th, 2013

Which animal do you think weighs more?

Gus, the black bear

or

Lightning, the donkey

Post your guesses in the comment section!

Join the conversation:

  1. Director Comment :

    I’ll wait for others to chime in, but I have two answers!

    Posted by Sherry Samuels
  2. I’m going to say that currently it is Gus, but at any other time of the year it’s lightn’n.
    Am I close?

    Posted by Ranger Greg
  3. I would guess that Lightning is around 400 pounds and Gus is around 380, maybe?

    Posted by Ranger Ro
  4. Keeper Comment :

    This time of year, Gus outweighs Lightning by about 10Kg, making him the heavier of the pair.

    Lightning’s about 385 Lbs and Gus is about 410 Lbs.

    Lightning’s weight doesn’t change much throughout the year like the bears’ weights do. We’ll have to see what this spring brings, but typically, Lightning is the heavier of the pair after the bears have slept off their Fall sweet potatoes.

    Posted by Sarah Van de Berg

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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.

QuikPost: Costume Vote

October 30th, 2013

Which Costume should Rocky wear for Halloween: Panda or Elephant:

 

Join the conversation:

  1. Elephant. No question.

    Posted by kelly
  2. I like the Panda but Rocky looks extremely cute in both!

    Posted by Shawntel
  3. Panda

    Posted by Jill
  4. The panda seems to fit his head better and it is important to be able to see through your Halloween costume when crossing streets. :) :) :)

    Posted by dj
  5. Greetings! I know this is kind of off topic but
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    hackers and I’m looking at alternatives for another platform.
    I would be awesome if you could point me in the direction of a good platform.

    Also visit my web site: president obama health care plan

    Posted by Valentin
  6. Thanks so much, Sherry, for the “Bears Up Close” tour on Sunday! You made it all so interesting and you were great with the people And the bears.
    We are lucky to have this wonderful museum in Durham.

    Posted by Suzy Ward

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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.

A Little Farmyard Fun

October 15th, 2013

When I first started working here at the museum, I was told a very useful piece of advice from Kristen: “if you ever fall into the muskrat pool, toss your radio somewhere dry as you fall…radios are really expensive.” The last person I know of that fell into the pool was Larry and I have no idea if he saved his radio; it was before my time. While I’m sure you’d all love to laugh at me for falling into our muskrat pool, you’ll have to wait for another day. This adventure was strictly for my radio:

 

YouTube Preview Image

 

Lightning loves to grab tools and toys from keepers and play games with them. His antics caused of death of my first radio, so I’ve made a huge effort to keep my communication devices away from his prehensile lips ever since. This time, my radio made it through without even a tooth mark on the antenna. Needless to say, I was quite thankful.

Join the conversation:

  1. haha- I’m glad Lightning was gentle! more good pool advice: if your sprayer falls in the wolf pool, don’t let it go down the drain. Blocking up the Explore the Wild sewers–also expensive…

    Posted by Kristen
  2. I’m sad to report that my radio did not survive. Also a small guest was heard to remark “why is that man scaring the muskrats.” Finally, don’t expect Jill to help in that kind of situation, she will just pass out laughing.

    Posted by Larry

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by , Keeper
I graduated from NCSU(go pack) and have worked in the animal department for about 8 years. Some of my favorites include ferrets and birds. I am also known for my weird obsession with Boba Fett.
I work Tuesday-Saturday in either the Farmyard or inside the main building behind the scenes.

Rabbit joy!

September 18th, 2013

The other day I was in the farmyard and observing our two rabbits, Betty and Jean.

Occasionally, I will give them access to run around inside the whole barn where they are kept so they can get some exploring time before guests arrive.

At this time, I see them hopping back and forth and sometimes they will jump in the air and twist. This behavior is associated with positivity and excitement. This behavior actually has a name and its called “binky.” Unfortunately, I dont have a video of our rabbits cutting a binky, but there are many on youtube!

YouTube Preview Image

 

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  1. I would like to see video of keepers imitating cutting a binky instead of random unknown rabbits.

    Posted by Leslie

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