Thursday, January 08, 2015

Animal behavior

I find it interesting to watch the domestic animals around me and try to figure out what makes them tick.  It amazes me how much they know, things nobody teaches them... they just know.  

I haven't had a house cat for years, and don't want one.  I do get a kick out of watching the two fat barn cats, though.  Even though they have never been in our house, both of them like to station themselves either at the front porch or the back, watching us through a window, if possible.  If Mama Kitty is on the back porch looking through a window and I lower the blinds and close them, she will move to the front porch.  Cats just feel so entitled, don't they?  Mama Kitty seems rather unique to me because of the way she follows us around the place.  She even went on our walks with us most days.  She was a wonderful mother, back before we had her spayed.  I did THIS ENTRY about her teaching her children to hunt.  I was amazed!  She caught the young rabbit and brought it to them, still alive, then turned her back on them so they would have to deal with it themselves.  But when the rabbit got away from them and ran for cover, Mama Kitty chased after it, caught it, and brought it back.  

Dogs are interesting, but for the most part they become people.  They're like children:  all lovable, all somewhat spoiled, all of them having different skills.  They are four-legged people, only they aren't judgmental and they forgive a lot better than we do.  This is why so many people have dogs that they treat as if they were their children.  Because dogs serve that purpose, but they never turn into juvenile delinquents or run away from home.

Chickens are stupid, but still interesting.  It seems to be built into their genetic code to lay eggs in a nest.  You can put young chickens in a hen house and wait for them to grow up and lay eggs.  Put a couple of nests in the hen house and when they are ready to lay eggs, they somehow know they are supposed to get in the nest... that's where they lay eggs.  Unless they have the misfortune to be in one of those huge egg factories, in which case five or six of them are shoved into a small cage and they have no choice but to lay their eggs right there.  

I enjoy watching Grace-the-cow raising three babies, two of which are adopted.  I allow them 15 minutes together twice a day.  When I go back outside to separate them after their time is up, the two Holsteins have stopped nursing because the milk is all gone.  Grace's natural-born daughter, Gypsy, though, is still attached to a teat, even though she isn't getting anything from it.  When I call Grace into the barn, I have to fend her calf off or it would follow her out into the pasture.  

After the Holsteins have stopped nursing because the milk is gone, they go up near Grace's head; you could almost say they are cuddling with her.  Sometimes she licks them, just like she would her own baby.  And you would think she really believes they are hers.  

But she is smarter than that.  I learned this last week when I turned her out with all three calves.  Once she had full access to her daughter, she couldn't have cared less about those other two.  It's amazing, I tell you!  

Another thing that I've mentioned before is this:  Calves fed with a bottle will almost always try to suck on one another, on any body part they can get hold of.  But these calves, after spending only 30 minutes a day with the cow, sucking on an actual teat, have never shown the slightest inclination to suck on one another.  

I'm glad I have some animals to observe.


CountryDew said...

I really enjoyed these observations. I have noticed that our beef cattle will "babysit" for each other's calves. You'll see one mama surrounded by all the current little ones, while the rest of the herd wanders off. Eventually the mothers all return to collect their babies. It's very fascinating to watch animal behavior.

Sister--Three said...

All so interesting. Wonder what all those animals think about people? Are we the lowest or highest of the chain? In many ways I think we are the lowest!

I know chickens aren't that smart...maybe that is why i like them so. They up my self esteem? Sister likes goats. I don't. Too much like deer! I am not fond of hawks or snakes, either. I love dogs. Like you we had cats at the barn. I think my Momma liked cats but not Dad. I would not mind one outside but my squirrel dogs would kill it I am sure.

Donna, I enjoy what you have to say. We are friends from afar. I like this type of friend. My fellow teachers eat at W. Sizzler once a month. I worked with some of them 30 years. I have no desire to sit and gab with them. They think I am weird, probably. I guess I am part window peeker?. I can visit you with worrying about a clean house or having to offer you a snack.

Have a good day, my friend.

Paula said...

As long as we've known each other online I'm sure you know I agree with what you're saying here about animals. They really have their own personality like humans do. Susie was so different then a lot of cats I've had. We still miss her but don't plan to get another. I'll just give my scraps to the neighborhood cats. Liked this post so much.

Lori said...

I'm glad you do too. And I'm glad you share your observations with us!