Someone is testing me!

I’ve been a zookeeper for very close to 10 years, starting with birds and then moving to Great Cats & Bears, where I’ve been for 8 1/2 years. Many zookeepers would tell you that they prefer animals to people. I’m not in the most hardcore sector of this view, but man, some days test the limits of my tolerance for people. This weekend was one of those tests.

On Friday, a visitor — a grown man — climbed the safety fence around the lion yard into a planter that put him over a water moat that was part of┬áthe lion exhibit. Fortunately (?) he did this in front of me so I could scream bloody murder at him! He sheepishly said that he was retrieving his cell phone. I quickly ascertained that he was not crazy — just remarkably, inconceivably stupid. I told him that if he were to fall in, there is nothing I could do for him, and the zoo police would kill my lions in order to try to save him. After my tirade (which I kept professional — professional meaning no f-bombs in this case), I thought he would just leave the area. Nope. He followed me to my next exhibit and proceeded to engage me and apologize and worry aloud about being arrested. He hung around for the next 20 minutes at least. (A normal person would probably be so mortified at being yelled at that they would leave the area, right? Not this guy.) I ended up calling the zoo cops to check him out. Dealing with idiots occasionally is above my pay grade. A grown man at a zoo by himself is a little odd anyway…

Trail of hay coming from Staff Only area
The barn, post-hay looting

Saturday, I was working the late shift at the Kids’ Farm. Around 5:30 pm, I saw at least 20 people of all shapes and sizes grabbing fistfuls of hay from a staff only area and throwing them in with the farm animals. There was a trail of hay from the staff only patio through the barn, and all over the cement walkway in the barn. I lost it. It was like CVS was being looted, a total melee involving random combinations of people. I kicked everyone out of the barn after yelling, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! Who do you think cleans this up?! ME. I have to! How inconsiderate!!” I was so angry I closed up the barn and swept as angrily as one could. We really get the lowest common denominator at our zoo sometimes. It really makes me sound like a misanthrope, but I’ve seen the worst behavior in my life at zoos. Adults and children — but I don’t blame the kids. The parents are the worst!

Sunday, I was afraid to go to work — bad things happen in threes, right? Fortunately, somewhere in the skies some stars aligned to get me through the day incident free. And fortunately, I have tomorrow off to stay out of harm’s way!

(Photo credit for featured image: Clyde Nishimura)

Compost Win

imageimageI have a pretty big compost pile, comprised of loads of leaves, brush whackings, kitchen scraps, really old horse manure from the previous owner’s horses, the usual. I haven’t upgraded to a barrel storage system yet, so turning it is pretty heavy stuff. I tossed a couple of gnarled, unconventional gourds and pumpkins in there long after Halloween. I just chucked them over the fence, just adding to the pile of undecomposed yard refuse. I now have a glorious, immense vine patch that is flowering and has a new young’un. Hoping it has a chance to develop before the deer figure out it’s there. Hopefully all of the fresh corn ears around here will keep them busy. Sometimes nice things happen with complete lack of effort. Guess I’ve got good garden gold in there somewhere.

From 800 square feet to 8 acres…

I’m excited to join the blogosphere — I’m new to blogging, so “fumbling” may indeed be the appropriate term as I start this process.

I’ve lived in southern Maryland with my husband for two years after spending nearly 15 years in the city. It’s been a real lifestyle change, all for the better except the gnarly commute I have. Coming home to rolling fields and old tobacco barns is quite lovely.

I’m a zookeeper/retired roller derby skater/animal geek. My husband told me if we moved out of the city, we could get as many animals as I wanted. Dangerous words… we are slowly building our menagerie at our farm. We are in final fence mode for when we get four Nubian goats in August. I can’t wait to have some lady goats, but I’m not looking forward to the introduction of our three hound mixes to said goats. I’ve got a plan that’s pretty solid but we’ll see how it goes. Our hounds can be pretty “howly.” Our next steps are acquiring chickens and growing hops. The goats will be utilized to clear brush mainly, thereby eliminating my job of using a bad-ass machete like I have been doing.

My hope is to share some stories about the glories and pitfalls as I fumble through farm life, married life, zoo life, and roller skating.

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