Eclipse: Moon over my animals

Tales From Tanglewood Farm

It was Eclipse Day! After all the build-up over this rare solar event, I was looking forward to seeing what kind of impact it would have on the animals. Would the farm grow eerily quiet? Would the animals take the unexpected midday reduction of light as a sign it was time to leave their pasture and head for bed in the barn? Or would the horses go reeling off from end to end of the farm like they do when the wind is up, strangely excited by the unexpected change in light?

Well, not exactly. As far as the peacocks were concerned, odd shadows were no reason to stop making noise. They still threw back their heads back, sending a full-throated cry out to the world that bounced off the woods and echoed through the neighborhood.

The alpacas, too, seemed disinclined to be still. At one point that afternoon, they appeared to catch sight of something they thought the rest of the world needed to be made aware of. Obi cut loose with their characteristic warning cry, an ululating squeal that is a cross between a the screech of an eagle and the sound Donald Sutherland makes when he opens his mouth at the end of (spoiler alert!) “The Body Snatchers.”

But I didn’t spot anything worrisome in the pasture. The only thing I could figure is that he was concerned about a small flock of wild turkeys wandering around on that side of the fence. I had a couple dozen of the birds stopping by for dinner all winter, but when spring arrived they apparently decided they could shift for themselves and took off.

It wasn’t until the eclipse that six of them made themselves known for the first time since May and perhaps that unnerved him even though they were quiet. It wasn’t until a few days later that I heard them gobbling among themselves.

Outside of the bird incident, the alpacas did engage in a bit of spitting. Obi’s noise must have ticked off Tapiola because she walked right up to him and spat in his face. Alpacas are beautiful, gentle creatures, but sometimes even they can get a little cranky. If you had to be pregnant eleven months at a stretch, you’d probably spit too!

Meanwhile, the goats ignored these antics. They were too busy watching Kissee getting her head stuck in the fence. Again.

This happens on a regular basis. To keep the goats from eating everything in sight, including my flowers, I keep a metal fence around shrubs and anything else I want to see growing. Unfortunately, I used hog panels so the holes in the weave are large enough to tempt a particularly stupid goat to stick her head through in order to get at some of the green goodies. But not large enough for her to pull her horned head back out again.

Four or five days a week, sometimes (God help me) twice in a single day, I will hear Kissee bawling pathetically, letting me know that yet again I need to haul out the heavy bolt cutters and cut away that section to set her free. In other words, nothing odd there.

Finally, I had to check on the aptly named Moon to see if he was affected by the eclipse. If any of the farm animals would be moved to do something weird,

I figured it had to be him. Nicknamed Looney Tooney Moony for his uncanny ability to get out of any fence in his never-ending quest for adventure, the huge appaloosa was right where I’d expect him to be, his head hovering over a fence gate as if plotting his next escape. But that was all. No sneaking out with his bud, miniature horse Sally, his usual partner in crime.

No climbing up on the deck to see if anything interesting was going on inside the house and then expecting me to somehow get him back down again. Nothing.

And that’s when it struck me: the absolutely weirdest thing Moon could do under the influence of his namesake was nothing at all. He gave me a cheerful snort as if applauding the insight and wandered off to check out the turkeys.