Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leap Day/Sweet Audrey

Thank goodness for Leap Year or I would be out of luck for getting even one post up in February. It's been a crazy month. We've experienced both the coldest and the warmest temperatures of the winter in the past few weeks. Mostly, it's been an extraordinarily mild winter and that is turning into a ridiculously early spring. Perhaps the weird weather has something to do with the antics of our dear buffalo. Click on the following to see them in full lounge mode (those two lumps to the right of Eschol are the girls flopped, warming their bellies in the sun).

After Effie's recent innovation in yoga poses and Eschol's questionable intervention, I really wanted to write about Audrey. She has always been our sweetest, calmest buffalo. She will happily soak up all the attention you want to give her and doesn't seem to care if she's on the bottom of the pecking order. But when Mr. Headbutt McRandypants is busy tearing the doors off of the barn (3 more since the last post) and rolling them downhill into the ditch, we tend to focus on him. Even Effie has been more rambunctious than usual, joining up with Eschol to push Audrey away from the hay until they've had their fill.

Fortunately, Audrey is no dummy. When the others get pushy, she walks away. She knows that in the morning I'm mucking out the barn while they're distracted with eating, so she comes over to see me and is rewarded with lots of love and attention--the kind she rarely gets when the others are around because they get so jealous. Not only do I love being able to positively reinforce her affectionate nature, these stolen moments help me get her accustomed to being handled all over. That contact should help once we get to milking.

And not to worry, she gets plenty to eat. She is very savvy about going in early or staying late at the hay trough to get what she needs and she's always been more adept than the others at seeking out fresh forage. Of the three, she's the only one who will eat anything out of my hand, having figured out early on that if I have a handful of something green, it's worth scarfing it down.

A couple of weeks' back, I was hanging out at the main gate, watching the buffs up in the barn devouring the hay I'd just put down for them. As usual, Audrey was being forced to wait outside for her turn. She spotted me at the gate and did the most cartoony leap into the air, giving a big shake of her head, then proceeded to run down the hill towards me. I can't tell you how happy she looked. If you've ever had a dog that greeted you when you came home like it was the best day ever just because you showed up, that's what it felt like. But 1400 pounds of dog running downhill toward you. Fortunately, I know Audrey well enough to know that she won't run me over, so I could just bask in the expression of pure joy. She got a lot of tummy and dewlap rubs that day.

I wish I could capture her sweet expression on camera but the photos never do her justice. Take my word for it. She's wonderful. And since the weather has turned warm and the grass has started to green up, the others aren't being as mean to her so we're all feeling much better about life.