Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Day in the Life...

Since I have let over a week go by without a new post, I decided to let you all know what a typical day at the Roo Ranch is like for us. We started a new schedule, going to work at 8:30 instead of 7:00. The new time did give me a chance to practice my piano. I was getting rusty! Seems I'm most in the mood for it in the early morning. I banged out 3 Bach Inventions, a Chopin Waltz and a Debussy Arabesque and felt quite good about it, clunkers and all.

The pictures above are of a sugar glider, an Australian marsupial, and a llama, not from Australia!

First thing in the morning we let ourselves into the kitchen at the office where we clean up puppy poop and squeeze the puppy some. What a cutie! Then I fix 2 small bottles for the wallabies in the joey room, and 10 larger bottles for 6 kangaroos, 1 wallaroo, and 3 wallabies in the barn. The highlight of my day is bottle feeding Smores, the male swamp wallaby. He sits on my lap and we cuddle. At the barn I find 5 red kangaroos at the fence all waiting on tippytoe and tail for their warm drink. It's a wrestling match because when I'm feeding 2, the others are trying to steal the nipple away for themselves. I only have 2 hands, guys! Wait your turn! They are the girls Meeka, Belle, Jitterbug, Jasmine, and the biggest, a male named Yaba. Yaba has the annoying habit of grabbing me around the waist from behind when I'm not looking. Those skinny arms with their long claws are quite strong. No, Yaba! Get down! The wallaroo Shadow is easy, always waiting by the fence, too. Matilda, an eastern grey kangaroo, is a challenge because the big dominant male, Sunnyburst, wants to interfere so she can't drink. If I'm lucky, Matilda's joey will poke its head out of her pouch while I'm feeding her. Also in the same pen there is a wallaroo joey big enough to hop around on its own now. Could there be anything cuter? My last 3 bottles go to adorable Bennett's wallabies named Misty, Brittany and Gizmo. I must usually go into their pen to find them—they might be outside in the snow, but they come right up and are very pettable.

After bottles we go into the nocturnal building, which houses many different kinds of critters who only come out in the dark. We give fruit treats to the kinkajous and sugar gliders and listen to their curious chirping. The gliders sound like an electric pencil sharpener when disturbed! Next we check and feed the coatimundis and the possums, which are kind of fun to pet. The 5 possums we have here are American marsupials. The Australian possums look quite different from them. Our possums like to sleep in a cozy fleece sack in a pile altogether. I check the hedgehog to make sure he's okay. He sleeps under a rag, and if I poke him he makes a hissing, humming sound. He can be picked up, but only with his rag around him. Otherwise, Ouch! His name is Prickles for good reason. The chinchillas don't do much except sit on their little shelves. They are so soft!

Also in the nocturnal building are some daylight critters, dogs! We have 4 New Guinea Singing Dogs in this area, a male and female, and the female, Bianca, has 2 chubby pups who will eventually perhaps reside in a zoo somewhere. The NGSD is a wild dog, but ours are very tame and quite lovable and sweet. I love to hear them "sing". It's like a wolf howl but the pitch will change enough to make it sound like real singing.

Back at the barn we load up buckets of kangaroo food and distribute it to the 6 pens. 67 roos eat a lot! We change their water, too. Also in the barn we have a zebu, a miniature tropical animal in the bovine family, named Ziggy. He eats hay all day and looks at us with huge, beautiful brown eyes. Up at the end of the barn there are 2 emus, as tall as we are, and 5 cats who live in a large cage with shelves they can climb on, and an outside area they can go to whenever they want. They always get their fair share of petting from me! We did have a tragedy in the barn yesterday, our first death. We found an albino wallaby dead, suddenly. The owners took him out to the vet for an autopsy. We have no idea what happened.

Next we feed the 2 llamas who reside next to the roo pens. Pardon me, but did you know that llama poop looks like coffee beans? We discovered that when a dear friend sent us a bag of Starbucks. No offense, Starbucks! After the barn we get into our Polaris Ranger and drive to where there are 3 big dogs. These guys are always delirious to see us. Stokes our egos! We give each one a dish of food but there is one who cannot be content with his own dish. He has to pick it up, scatter the food everywhere, and then try to get the other 2 dogs' dishes. I stand guard over 1 dog who would rather be petted than eat, just so he does get some food before the big thief comes after his dish. On up the hill we come to perhaps our biggest challenge, 1 horse, 4 llamas, and 2 zeedonks. Since the big blizzard they are confined to a small area. Unfortunately, the shed where the food is kept is in the zeedonks' enclosure. We must climb over the fence, (not easy for 2 old coots with arthritis and other infirmities) to get to the shed. Freddy is fairly docile, but Frieda is a kicker! Why she thinks kicking is going to help her get her food more quickly is a mystery to me! She kicks poor Freddy to make sure he doesn't get his food before she gets hers. She kicked me once but not badly as I saw it coming. For Keith it's a fight to get the food out and into the dishes and all the while dodging this lady and her hooves. We must pass the horse food through the fence, as well as the llama food. That's not easy either, because they are all right on top of us waiting and sticking their noses into every food dish before we can place it on the ground. I love the llamas' faces. They have huge eyes and they stare at us so intently and inquisitively. The horse is a very big one, but gentle.

Now that the feedings are over, we return to the barn to rake and clean, and then we pick one enclosure in the nocturnal building to clean. Old sand, or hay, or other bedding must be scraped out and new material put in. Yesterday our afternoon was taken up with snow shoveling, 4 hours of it! The latest blizzard put drifts into the kangaroos' outside pens on one side of the barn, so we had to shovel a pathway all around the fence in 3 different pens. Since the drifts were nearly up to the top of the fences, the roos could have jumped right out if they took a notion. They'd been cooped up inside for about a week and were anxious to get a little sunshine. The wallabies are from the snow country of Australia, plus their pens didn't have deep drifts on that side of the barn, so they'd been able to go outside for that same week.

Altogether, we thoroughly enjoy our days with the animals. They depend on us and it is our pleasure to serve them. We are thankful to God for giving us this opportunity!

Friday, November 7, 2008


Any of you RVers out there ever been in a blizzard in your RV? And I don't mean the kind you get at Dairy Queen. What a challenging experience—one I hope not to repeat, but since we are in the Black Hills it may happen again this winter. Blizzards make it quite miserable working outside, and dangerous, too. See what looks like a plowed area behind and beside our 5th wheel? That is what the wind did. It made a circle and piled up about 8 feet of snow in front and on the other side of our rig, as shown in the second picture. We were also encased in ice on all the windows, with icicles hanging everywhere. Today is better, very little wind, a tiny amount of new snow. God has protected us, as always, and made it possible for us to get to the animals whose care is entrusted to us. We'll be here for awhile, not going anywhere! Those wheels won't be rolling till the spring thaw!