Tuesday, April 3, 2007
A Face Only A Mother Could Love
Yikes! What is that thing? This, my friends, is a Mountain Beaver (Aplodontia rufa). I'm sure you are wondering, 'Why in the world is she writing about something called a Mountain Beaver? For Heaven's Sakes! She is a goat!'. And you would be right. But trust me. There is a reason.
First I want to let you know a little about this ugly face that I'm not sure even a mother could love. Allow me to direct you here.
Now this guy isn't even a beaver. In fact, it is simply a bigger version of those stupid mice that live in the barn - minus the tail. And if you look at the link above, you will find that the ones who live here are actually Aplodontia rufa rufa. Great. We get the ones that stutter.
Still, I have to admit that there are some kind of interesting things about them. For instance, did you know that they are considered a living fossil? Figures. If it's old, they dump it here. Also, due no doubt to their fossilization, they have primitive, inefficient kidneys and must drink 1/3 of their body weight in water every day. They are one of the few mammals able to shed tears - which, by the way, are milky white, and last, but in NO way least, they are host to the world's largest flea (>1/3"). Oh, yay.
So now we come to the real reason I decided to write about these not-so-lovable fellows. We have them. We have LOTS of them. They are not cute. They are cool, cunning stealth rodents! They put the mice to shame. They dig holes. They can't be satisfied with just one like Ella had. No, they have to dig hundreds of them. And mind you, they can't just dig the hole and leave it out in plain site for crying out loud. They have to cover them up or go underneath things so no one will know they are there. Like that could happen. So any person or goat who tries to walk through the woods falls prey to their evil plan and falls into the holes. It is like navigating a mine field. I don't worry that much about it because I'm so skillful and agile (dancers always are you know). But Ella is always afraid she'll break a hoof. Boo just kind of plunders through, but I've seen the goatmother go down many a time.
And I have a theory that this is the real reason why the goatmother has to put water in the pond. We're locked in the barn, but I hear noises at night. I'm quite certain there is a long line of these guys winding it's way nightly down to the pond - like lemmings. I mean anything that has to drink that much water every night has to get it somewhere and I haven't seen any taking any dips in the water bucket.
But the very worst problem is this. The goatmother has often wondered why all around us seedlings sprout up here and there. Everywhere except on our farm. And so, this year the goatmother bought 40 small trees from the county conservation district and laboriously planted them about the farm. And believe me, in this ground that is no mean feat! Several went in behind the barn. The old alders there are beginning to fall and we need the shade. But the mountain beavers had different ideas. The mountain beavers thought, "Oh! How nice! The goatmother has brought us lunch! Isn't she thoughtful?" No milky tears shed here. Yep, you guessed it. Goatmother to the rescue once again - albeit not by choice. Once again a poor down-trodden group of unfortunates lower on the food chain is sustained - not with mere everyday food, but with gourmet delight! Oy. Where are those coyotes, bobcats and owls when you need them? They're probably all out chasing the bat.