Back when I was a wrangler at a central California dude ranch, the Head Wrangler decided that what the stables are really needed was a petting zoo. It was a great idea, and the whole staff launched into project with enthusiasm. We created an outdoor/indoor enclosure area, and within a week the Head Wrangler was pulling up into the stables area with a veritable barnyard in the stock trailer.
We had a potbellied pig named Boomerang. Boomerang was so named because even though the shelter had adopted him out in the past, he always ended up returning due to one issue or another (usually because he did NOT like to share his food with other animals).
We had a baby emu we named Edward… who later became an Edwina after she fell in love with me and continually followed me around, thrumming her love song and continually sinking down in a “Welcome home, sailor!” gesture, inviting me to make little bitty emu babies with her. What can I say? I’m just that attractive.
We had some ducks that I eventually set free in the lake because their constant quacking was annoying the horses—- and by annoying the horses I mean annoying me. And by constant I mean CONSTANT. From 5:30 am to about 8pm at night, they never stopped. EVER.
“QUACKquackquackquackquackquackqauck. QUACKquackquackquackquackquackquack. QUACKquackquackquackquackquackquack. QUACK!”
They even kept it up when we set them free in the man made lake that was on the property. We offered them shelter, and tried to bring them in at night, but they wouldn’t have it. They sat there in the middle of the lake like a bunch of retarded ducks, quacking non-stop from dawn till dusk. I’m ashamed to say that I was secretly relieved when they slowly disappeared, one by one, during the week that the bald eagle chose to visit us.
We had a guinea pig and a pair of bunny rabbits who lived in separate cages. Whenever the kids were there, they were free to pet/play with the smaller animals (as long as they had adult supervision). The animals all had a pretty good existence, except that after awhile I started to feel sorry for caged animals. When I was a kid, I dragged my poor guinea pigs with me everywhere. These animals, although they had a wonderful cage, plenty of fresh nibblies, and lots of attention… well, they never got a chance to stretch their legs. I felt sorry for them, and decided to remedy the situation. Once—and only ONCE— did I attempt to give the bunny rabbits (Caramel and Latte) some “free time” in the outdoor enclosure.
I put down some carrots and set them down, smiling down benevolently. Look, little rabbits! I have provided you with freedom and yummy things to eat! Frolic and be free!
It turns out that when you set two male bunny rabbits free they don’t care about free space. They also don’t care about carrots. All they really want to do is see who can rape each other the fastest.
Bunny rabbits are kind of creepy.
My sounds of dismay drew Edward(Edwina) out of the indoor area…. and do you want to know what else I learned that day? Emus not only like to eat emu food, they apparently like to eat little bitty rapist rabbits. Edward(Edwina) began flying about the enclosure, hissing angrily, and doing her darndest to stomp the rapist rabbits to death. I’d never really respected his/her leg talons in the past, but let me assure you— emus can be nasty if they want to be. S/he’d chase one of the rabbits down, then raise his/her foot up reeeeally high, and bring it down with a sudden stomping/stabbing motion. The photo below is of a cassowary, but you kind of get the point:
Anyways, every time I’d manage to scare the emu out of her attack mode and try to herd her back inside, the bunnies would immediately start trying to rape each other again— complete with disgusting little bunny grunts and EVERYTHING.
Of course I had invited some of the parents and their young children down to the stables that morning to watch Caramel and Latte get some free time. So as I’m darting about trying to do damage control, I can hear the cries of the alarmed parents and the frightened children in the background. GREAT. It was like having my very own sitcom soundtrack.
“Come bring the kiddies!” I had cried gaily. “It will be fun! They can watch the bunnies frolic freely! They can see them nibble yummy carrots! They can watch them bounce sprightly about the outdoor enclosure like little baby Thumpers!”
“Mommy! The rabbits are fighting! MOOMMY! The EMU IS SCARY! DAAADDDY!!!”
They can watch the deviant rabbits rape each other repeatedly before they get stomped into a quivering bloody mess by a sexually confused emu with gender issues……
Of course the other wranglers weren’t helping me in the least. Oh, no. Those of you who have been around bonafide cowboy-types know exactly the kind of help I was getting. They were all lined up against the fence, hats tipped up against the bright sun, occasionally offering out bland, humorous advice. I think they were actually disappointed when I managed to corral Edward/Edwina back inside and deposit the stupid rabbits back inside their cages, where they spent the rest of their miserable, horny little existence. Stupid rabbits.
And don’t EVEN get me started on the llamas. I really, really, REALLY hate llamas. But I’m going to save that story for another day.