Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Langer Farm Sheep Faces, and Showing Off Intelligent Species

This is Sherman. Sherman is a ram and I don't know, but the last time I saw a ram he seemed a lot smaller than Sherman here. Sherman is the size of an extremely muscular shortish horse.

Interestingly his nose appears much shorter than the girls do. A sex related trait or a Sherman related trait? I don't know haven't seen enough rams lately to be competent on the issue.

But first, why all of a sudden are we talking sheep? Yesterday I went out to the Langer Farm of Mary and Bob Langer. Mary makes all kinds of incredible edible Christmas goodies so I had to go try some. It was a culinary experience, homemade caramels, fudge, turtles, peanut butter cups, Italian pressed cookies, cashew cookies, Russian tea cakes-you get the idea. It was worth getting lost both getting there and getting back home. And they had an Eagle sighting on their property not long ago.

But what about the sheep? Daughter Jenny is in 4H. For those of you unfamiliar with 4H, it's a sort of club for kids, mostly rural ones, of all ages, where you can do anything from putting on a play to, yes, raising sheep. Jenny is raising sheep. Then the sheep go off to be shown at the County Fair and if good enough, the State Fair. There are prizes and it's quite a big deal.

So after eating myself into a near diabetic coma (that's a joke) we went out to the barn to see the sheep. It struck me that sheep, which rather seem kind of interchangeably the same, really aren't. And just like any other animal that you pay close attention to, they have facial expressions along with their different faces.

By the way, everything sticks to them, as you'll notice as we go along.

Here are a couple of young ewes and they appear pretty similar. But look closely, their noses are different in length and breadth and their ears are set differently. Compare with Sherman, in the lead shot.

My apologies to the ewes, there were quite a number of them so I couldn't learn all their names in the short time I was there. I'd call this a sweet faced sheep. Also this is a pregnant sheep. Look at her abdomen. Looks kind of lumpy doesn't it? There are one if not two lambs in there and they'll be coming out very soon. Exactly when of course as with all mammal females, is always up in the air.

This is what happens if you're covered in wool which is full of lanolin which increases the sticking factor of foreign objects, and you've just pulled your head out of a manger full of hay.

And this is two month old Boo. ( He was born a few days before Halloween, hence the name.) I want to know what those bright white tufts are around his eyes. Is it part of the cuteness endowed on all baby mammals? Whatever the case you have to admit he is kind of cute and we're humans. He'd be exceedingly cute to his mother who is obviously a sheep.

All baby mammals have a kind of consistent "cute face" according to research. The Awww Factor. Why? The "cuteness" is an evolutionary advantage which helps keep exhausted, harassed, overworked, fed up parents caring for their young. Who therefore live and then breed causing even more cute babies to be born to harass and exhaust their parents and live through the experience.

This is Jenny and one of the pregnant ewes. She's doing a vaginal exam to feel if there is any cervical effacement and dilation. There's another big clue as to when a ewe will go into labor-- an examination of her udder. If there is "milk", she'll go into labor in six to eight hours.

Which brings the thought to mind that this colostrum test and time factor must not work in humans otherwise you'd think somebody would mention it so you'd have plenty of time to pack your suitcase for the hospital.

Photo by Samantha Browne-Walters

My daughter Samantha and I often talk about the intelligence of different species including our own.

Well as most of you have likely heard, 20 inches of snow fell in Manhattan. Any snowfall at all in NYC let alone enough to collect in significant amounts is rather rare. Well Sam was out earlier and saw a man shoveling the sidewalk in front of his shop and piling the snow on top of a taxi that happened to be parked at the curb. Now the question is--

1. Does this show lack of intelligence?
2. Is it intentional bad manners?
3. Or was the person just oblivious? (Though this kind of oblivion does rather lean toward lack of reasoning power doesn't it?)


I want one.

Being that Crows are some of my favorite birds and a display of their intelligence might conceivably change people's minds about the species being messy vermin that should be destroyed, it could be a good teaching tool.

I don't support making any wild species "serve us" in significant ways as they then will likely become "captives of use". Their wild status, their lives with their extended families and flocks would be disrupted and that isn't the point. Human respect for wild creatures is the point.

Humans have used captive pigeons for centuries to aid their endeavors and look at the reputation they have. We don't respect animal servants in many cases particularly if they can make it on their own in what we feel is "our" environment.

But if Crows happened upon coins in their daily foraging I see nothing wrong with them paying for their own peanuts and showing under-observant-egocentric-humans what they can do.

Donna Browne


Photo by Donna Browne
Merry Christmas from Pale Male and Lola,

Photo by Donna Browne
...from Survivor of the Cathedral nest,

Photo by Donna Browne
...the backyard Cooper's Hawk, the House Sparrows in the twig and snow igloo,

...the gorgeous Common Milkweed,

Photo by Donna Browne ...the belligerent Cardinal,

...belly band-less Grove,

Photo by James O'Brien
...all wildlife rehabilitators, especially Bobby and Cathy Horvath,

Photo courtesy of Tufts University
and the Boston Train Station Cooper's Hawk.

Photo by Brett Odom
Merry Christmas from Pale Male Jr. and Charlotte,

Photo by Donegal Browne
...the Rainbow Drive Black-capped Chickadees,

...the chemical company Sandhills,

Photo by Bobby Horvath
...the Allen Park nesting Red-tailed Hawks,

and Louie the tool using Amazon Parrot.

Merry Christmas from Astoria's Andromeda and Atlas,

Photo by Cheryl Cavert
...from Tulsa's Kay and Jay,

...the Cowbirds and Chipping Sparrows,

plus the Cox Road Turkey Flock.

Merry Christmas from Doorstep Dove and Friend, from their favorite snuggle spot,

...from their 2010 fledglings,

Photo by Donna Browne
...the Clever Crow,

and the Bird Bath Drinking Cat.

Merry Christmas from the Drew University Parking Lot Ducklings,

Photo by Donna Browne
...Wisconsin's Hooded Mergansers,

...the copulating Blackwaters,

Photo John Blakeman
...the trampoline using Bald Eagles,

...the field gleaning aerodynamically regimented Gulls,

Photo by Donegal Browne
...the momentarily grounded fledgling bat,

Photo by Francois Portmann
...the Mallard Hen in the Central Park planter,

photo by Francois Portmann
...the One Fifth tiercel,

and the Goody Stump flock of Crows,

Photo courtesy of The Legend Of Pale Male
Merry Christmas from the Hawkwatchers of New York City,

Comparison photo collage by Francois Portmann
...the Houston Street Female,

photo by Donna Browne
...the world's ingenious Gray Squirrels,

photo by Donna Browne
...all the urban rats that feed urban eyasses,

...Janesville Wisconsin's Rock and Jane Bald Eagle,

Photo by Cheryl Cavert
plus Kay and Jay of Tulsa and their fledgling Kat

Merry Christmas from the Storr's Lake Red-tails, J.B. and Issy,

...Jolly Bunny,

...the clever Wisconsin Juncos,

Photo by Eddie Yu
...the juvenile Bald Eagles,

Photo by Pat Gonzalez
and all the juvenile Red-tailed Hawks who winter in New York City.

Photo by Donegal Browne
A Very Merry Christmas from the Mall Planter Mallard Hen and her ducklings,

...Mama, Papa, and their fledgling who managed to return to the nest,

and the migrating Sandhill Cranes.

Photo by Donegal Browne
Merry Christmas from Mr. and Mrs. M,

Photo by Pat Gonzalez
....the mystery farm duck drake and his new mate,

Photo by Donna Browne
...the wing tip kissing Canada Goose pair,

Photo by Nicola Cetorelli
...Isolde and Norman's fire escape cold wind refuges,

and all the daring ducks in all the boroughs of New York City,

Merry Christmas from the adaptable feral Rock Pigeon,

...Wisconsin's pole disputing Red-tailed Hawks,

Photo by Francois Portmann
...the ground breaking Queen's Ravens and their nestlings,

plus Reggie the Madison Avenue Bluebird.

Photo by Donna Browne
Merry Christmas from the rehydrating Christopher Crow,

Photo by Richard Fleisher
...the Great-horned Owls at the New York Botanical Garden,

...all the roadside Red-tailed Hawks,

and Rocky Raccoon and Pyewackit.

Photo by Richard Fleisher
Merry Christmas from Rose and Vince of the Fordham Nest,
(Do Rose and Vince look alike or what? Good thing she has a band or when Vince's eyes go completely dark they could be very tough to tell apart when seen separately. )

...Samantha Browne-Walters and the baby Starling,

Photo by Francois Portmann
and Samantha Raven's Cooper's Hawk buddy.

Photo by Carol Studebaker
Merry Christmas from Quicksilver, me, and the tree we were in,

photo by Donna Browne
...all parrots who yearn to drive cars,

...Jewel of the Emerald Grove Road Red-tailed Hawks,

....the horribly perturbed House Sparrow hen,

...and beautiful Isolde.

Merry Christmas from The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine Blue Peacock,

...Steam, the Cox Road Red-tailed Hawk,

...the 2010 juveniles of Jamie and Claire Sandhill Crane at Thresherman's Park,

Photo by Roger Brown
...the northern Wisconsin synchronized Tom Turkeys,

...the twig envy-ing Robin,

Photo by Francois Portmann
Merry Christmas from the Unisphere Red-tails,

.... from the Walmart Red-tail and the wing riding Red-wings.

Photo by Francois Portmann
Merry Christmas from the Yellow-crowned Night Herons

Photo courtesy of Yana Paskova of the New York Times
And a very special Happy New Year from nearly 28 year Old Gal!