Sunday, June 5, 2011

Local Bunnies

When I go for walks in my neighborhood, I sometimes get lucky and see a wild bunny or two. They like to eat dandelions and clovers, so they're good for your yard! (Unless you have a vegetable garden, in which case, you might not be too excited to see them.)

I even saw a really small one in my backyard area... I think it was very young because it was so much smaller than most of them. I took a couple photos with my iPhone, but he was too small, and too far away to see. So I got another camera, and he stuck around for these photos... keep in mind, he's about the size of a squirrel. Very small!

He took off when a car came down the alley and startled him. Before that, though, he was just hanging out and munching on some dandelion leaves. Last year, I saw a lot of bunnies during the summer... just while I was on my little walks. They are so cute that I always stop to take a picture! Do you have fun little creatures in your neighborhood? If so, what kind?

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Alpacas are an animal that seems to be growing in popularity in the US. Their wool is made into yarn, which is made into sweaters, hats, scarves... anything that can be knit or crocheted. Their wool is very soft and warm. I've never seen any in person until recently.

I met some this weekend and did this short video to show you how adorable they are. We met some at the Lebanon Wine Festival. All the footage was taken by my boyfriend, since I was in the pen with the cuties, petting them and swooning.

Alpacas from Shari Durfey on Vimeo.

The sound they make melts my heart! And you can't really tell, but their eyelashes are about 2" long... the white one has white lashes, the black one has black lashes, and the brown one has brown lashes. Ha ha... they are the cutest! And yes, they are very soft.

I hope you enjoy the video of them. 

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Wolves II

IMG_4114 by ms. smartypantz

IMG_4114, a photo by ms. smartypantz on Flickr.

I adore wolves. I know that there are terrible stories out there about them, born of fear and loathing for a creature that's misunderstood, but they're mainly just stories and have little truth in them.

Wolves are predators, yes, like humans. However, they don't eat people or their babies! They are a social animal with rules within their communities. I went to college with a man who got lost in the tundra in winter, and he was saved (literally) by wolves. They fed him and they kept him warm. His art thesis was on his experience with these wild friends. I may have mentioned this in my older post, I don't remember. But it's important to note: we feared wolves for so long because they were after our livestock. That's the only reason our species hated them, as a species. They hunt the sick and weak of wild and domestic flocks of animals like elk, sheep, cattle, etc. We were in competition with them, but we needn't have been. They only hunt when they're hungry, and their predation actually keeps flocks healthy. Without their natural culling, grazing animal populations grow out of control and ecologically devastate the environment. (There are many examples of this in Colorado, where wolf hunting is deplorably legal, as well as the widely publicized problems in Yellowstone National Park after wolves were killed to extinction there. They've been reintroduced, and their presence has been the cause of major debates.)

I've visited the wolves at Wolf Mountain Sanctuary a few times. They are amazingly loving animals. When you look into their eyes, you can see their wild spirit, but it's not frightening at all... it's wonderful. They are caring creatures. They mourn the loss of their life mates. They have integrity and nobility. They embody traits that we wish to see in all humans, but rarely do. I love these beautiful creatures. 

I encourage you to set up a visit, if you're ever in Southern California, to go to Wolf Mountain Sanctuary. They ask for donations, if you want to go into the wolf compounds. It all goes to helping care for these wolves, some of whom were being used by drug dealers as "guard dogs," though they aren't dogs at all. Dogs are canines, wolves are lupines. They're the same species, but different family. For more information about their differences and similarities, you can read about them here

It is in my humble opinion that humans should never have messed with the setup that Mother Nature put in place in the national parks humans have created and called their own. They pulled out important animals, thinking that they would "save" the parks, only to find out that those animals they removed served a vital purpose in those wildlife systems. Then they introduce a different animal to take the place of the ones they removed and are surprised that things change. Well, it's not nice to mess with Mother Nature, and now everything is unbalanced where there was once stability. People should learn to leave things well enough alone. Say what you will, animals kill other animals, just as humans kill animals, to eat. But at least wolves only kill as much as they need to survive, whereas humans kill to extinction or, at best, endangerment. So who's the scariest predator? Humans.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Cat Love

I haven't posted anything about my cats in a while, and I really want to! They are such different cats. Jimmy Boo is so gentle and loving, and Beckham is refined and yet a little bit brutish. He chases Jimmy around, bites him, and even bites me every now and then. But then, there are times, like this morning, when all he wants is to lay next to me while I'm sleeping, and he cuddles up and plays nice.


Jimmy Boo

They look alike when they're sleeping, don't they? The only difference is that if you pet Jimmy while he was sleeping, he'd just start purring or look at you. If you pet Beckham while he's sleeping, you might get bitten. I love them both a LOT. They make me happy!

Did you know that when a cat looks at you, and blinks slowly, almost sleepily, it means they love and trust you. When they look at you intensely, they are challenging you. So when you want to show your cat that you love them, remember to blink slowly, like a cat, and don't stare into their eyes. It will put your cat at ease.

I hope you have a lovely, love-filled day with your pet. xo

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Savannah Cats... Bigger is Better

Image source
I've been fascinated by this recent breed, created by breeding Servals with domestic cats, ever since I saw one a few years ago in a magazine. I still haven't seen one in person, but they are gorgeous, and from the videos I've seen, very friendly!

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For cat & dog lovers, they're like the perfect kind of mix! Big enough (like dogs) to romp around and play with... they average about 30 pounds, but with the independence of cats. They're really gorgeous animals, and quite intelligent. They have more energy than domestic cats, though, so if you have a few thousand dollars to spend on one, then be prepared to also give them room to run around and leap, and put the Faberge Egg away!

Image source
They are graded by how many generations away they are from the first breeding with the serval. An F2 will be the closest to the first, and very expensive (think $50,000) and an F5 is further away, so they will be more affordable and possibly a little smaller than the F5, I'm not sure. 

If you want a kitten, there are people who breed them, but you need to make sure that it's legal to own one in your state. I found this one family that are registered raisers of Bengals, Maus & Savannahs. They're at Wild Trax Exotics. They raise the kittens in their home so that they're very well-adjusted and comfortable around people. And there's definitely a waiting list!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Hawk Sighting

Keith and I were so lucky yesterday to spot this raptor in our neighbor's tree. It moved from the tree to the clippings pile below... We think it's a Sharp-shinned Hawk, except that they don't typically like to be around people. They're very rural.... however, the pile of clippings it was on is full of sparrows, and possibly a squirrel or two, which is what they like to hunt.
He moved below after viewing the pile from above...
Then he stretched his leg... 
We must have watched him for over 10 minutes, trying to identify him from an old illustrated bird book I had just gotten from a library book sale. I don't know if we identified him correctly, but whatever he/she is, they're definitely immature. You could tell from the white tufts of downy feathers on his bottom. 

If anyone can identify him, please let me know!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Working With Cats...

As most cat owners will tell you, it's challenging! They are naturally curious, and mine like to hang out wherever I'm at... and sounds of paint brushes on paper, or dangling threads, will bring about a whole new aspect to distraction!

In the end, it's less a frustration than an exercise in cleverness. I can easily get the out of the room if I play "toss the treats" down the hallway for a bit. They become interested in other things. For a while... and then it's back to thinking of ways to get them off the work in progress! Truthfully, I love it!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Does Your Cat Do This?

Jimmy Boo falls asleep often with his tongue sticking out! If I touch it, he stays asleep and his tongue stays out. Sometimes he wakes up while I'm playing with his tongue, but he just opens his eyes and doesn't pull his tongue in for quite a while!

It's very endearing, and makes me love him all the more!