It was a chilly morning, smothered by gray clouds and filled with incessant wind.
The chimps did not seem excited when I opened the gateway to Young’s Hill, and they sneered as the wind lashed their faces and caused the prairie grasses to whip around them. Soon, they had all retreated back to the warm security of the Greenhouse. Inside, they used blankets and other enrichment items to make elaborate nests.
All seemed to be subdued by the weather. The exception, of course, was Burrito. As Diana demonstrated in yesterday’s blog and video, Bubba’s appetite for play has been insatiable. This morning, he stomped around the Playroom and Greenhouse while clutching a decapitated doll.
The clouds eventually dissipated and the landscape began to feel warmer around midday. As we normally do on Sunday afternoons, I stayed in the building to write the blog while Chad hopped on the Gator and took care of the cattle. When he came back to the Chimp House about thirty minutes later, he appeared frazzled. Although I was hesitant to ask, I inquired “How are the cows today?”
Chad caught his breath and recounted his tale. Apparently, after mucking the barn and refilling the water troughs, he had trouble locating the cattle to give them their daily fly treatment. He drove all over the property with the Gator, growing more frantic with each empty pasture, until he was on the verge of sending a radio transmission for backup. He began to fear that the cattle had escaped (which wouldn’t be the first time one of us had that thought).
Just as he was about to call Katelyn and I to join him in the search for four missing Jerseys, he saw movement down in the wetlands. Sure enough, hidden in the thick vegetation that grows along a seasonal creek bed between the pastures, Chad found Betsy, Honey, Meredith and Nutmeg. The cattle had not escaped, but they were remarkably camouflaged.
I found this story amusing, but was also obviously relieved to know that the cattle were safe. A few minutes later, I grabbed the sanctuary’s camera and trudged up the hill to take some photographs of the intrepid bovines. Honey had climbed out of the ravine and appeared to be on high alert as she watched me approach. (Honey is the ultimate skeptic.) Betsy and Meredith were grazing together in the shady areas beneath the Ponderosa pines, and Nutmeg was still browsing in the muddy creek.
Going into the vegetation to forage is nothing new (e.g., J.B.’s photo of Nutmeg from Friday), but we’re still constantly amazed by how wild the cattle have become despite their commercialized past.