Monday, April 29, 2013

Lets have a hay day!

Every other week, we get a shipment of feed and hay and straw. The straw that we get is used for bedding in the animals' dens. It makes for a nice insulated bedding in the cold weather, is fairly affordable, and is easy to clean. The animals don't seem to mind it too much. They tend to snuggle down into their snug little beds and make a nest to sleep in for the night.

All the straw is loaded and ready to go out to the storage area in the turkey barn.

You and me and rain in the woods

Some days out on the trail are a bit soggy.  The rain doesn't seem to affect the critters too much, sometimes they even seem to like being out in a light rain. When early spring sneaks up on us, it always amazes me how quickly the trees green up and start getting their tender leaves, seeking the warmth of the earth and the sun.  Nature is almost magical in its transformation each year as we transition through the seasons, spring to summer, summer to fall, and fall to winter, winter to spring and so on.  Each season seems to have its own particular natural magic.  That being said, on one of the earliest days of the start of spring, I was able to catch the mood of the trail in the rain as I went about my early morning routine. For those of you who are familiar with the woods around the VLM, there is a small stream that runs through the forest in the middle section of the outdoor trail.  Here, I've taken a photo of the creek as it makes its way down to the lake:

Graceful leaves frame the rainy creek

When one of the more intense bands of rain was making its way through, I paused underneath the boardwalk beside the bobcat's exhibit to observe:

Boardwalk support crosses underneath the walkway
Here, the bobcat crouches underneath the trees to avoid the rain.  Can you see her?

 She's in there somewhere!
In the deer pasture, one of the does is staying under the gazebo. She's right beside one of the posts underneath the structure.

This is a nice place to rest
As the rain splashes down onto the trees, the bright green leaves start peeking out on the ends of their branches and frame the boardwalk and trail.

bright green and gray
A little bit later, as I was cleaning in the coyote building, another heavy downpour tumbled down from the sky! The golf cart I use to help with my routine is getting soaked.  Can you see the little robin that's hopping around looking for breakfast?

It's wet out there!
And finally, while inside the exhibit cleaning and picking up before the animals go out, I found a gorgeous little violet, one of the earliest flowers that is seen in springtime, that was kissed by the rain:

violet beauty
So even if it's raining outside, we are still here to take care of the animals and sometimes, even though it's very wet, it's really not all that bad, on occasion. 

Friday, April 19, 2013

It's Enriching!

This weekend, the VLM is hosting an Earth Day Celebration that includes an animal enrichment day.  There will be several chances to see the animals play and enjoy interactions with their keepers.  There will be many different critters out exercising in the new and improved animal playground.  Come see the critters climb over a gigantic animal friendly see-saw, or roll and dig in a sandbox and get covered with sand.  There's even a large wooden carved bear that an opossum enjoyed climbing up onto recently in the playground. Watch the otter interact with a plastic slide and sandbox on the shores of his swimming pond. Come out and see the animals play.

The raccoons have learned to paint with the assistance of our keepers
A pause to regroup for the next paw print
While at the festivities on animal enrichment day, you may see:

A bobcat in a box! Photo by Sarah Van Bavel

A Jolly Ball that the coyotes play with

The newly renovated animal playground

An opossum exploring the playground. Photo by Sarah Van Bavel

In addition to enjoying watching the animals, come and take a look at our local wildflowers and plants and take some home for your very own garden at home from the wild flower sale.  Kids! come check out the new playground that's just opened and climb onto a giant rope spider web, or explore the hobbit house. There will be various activities all around the museum's grounds so come and support your local Museums and learn about how to take care of mother earth. For more information check out the VLM website.

Monday, April 15, 2013

'Ello, mate!

Today, at the gray fox exhibit, there was a little visitor who was exploring the top of the fox's den. The pollen didn't seem to bother him one bit! Check him out: