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Entry # 28C – Third full week with baboons
Monday, September 11
11:00 – 1:00 Smalls
Busy day including ship and then cooking dinner with Kim. We had planned to do Tuna Noodle Casserole and Brownies, so I made the pasta during my lunch break.
It was fun to get back to the babies and see them again. Not too many bite from them, but I got hit in the nose and eyebrows a lot today and was little grouchy by the time I was exiting mediums.
Crates took longer than expected and as I was sitting at monitoring, I heard rustling behind me. I had assumed it was a baboon, but when I looked, it was in fact, a medium size monitor lizard right behind me and heading around to my right toward the water drain. Twice the size of the ones that I had worked on Kangaroo Island, not quite as colorful but still very impressive.
Today we were down 4 volunteers, 2 newbie’s and 2 sick with dehydration. I must admit, I am a little weary of having the under 25’s not taking care of themselves to the point that the rest of the volunteers have to take on extra duties. I told Sarah that I would bring up the topic of respect at dinner, respect for self and for the team.
Star is much improved in temperament and today when I was with the smalls, she only had one minor altercation with the mediums and was quickly diverted away from the ledge. New for today, Flash was put into the biggest babies, as he was rather a bully in the mediums. There was very little drama surrounding his visit today and when I looked over in the middle of the afternoon, he was being groomed by one of the females, something that never happened in mediums, as he was also being big and running around scaring all the little guys. When we picked him up this afternoon to put him back in his pen, he looked very sleepy and was very calm. No bites from him today, which was a rare occurrence when he was in mediums. Not sure where he will end up tomorrow.
The tuna noodle casserole and brownies were a huge hit, even with the two that had been sick. Lee came for dessert and helped us discover how to turn the light on in the shower. NO MORE TAKING THE TORCH TO THE SHOWER WITH YOU.
I found out when I went to look at the schedule for tomorrow that I had 7 am monitoring (Great! I get to document how they sleep!) and that she had changed my laundry day to Wednesday instead of my usual Tuesday. CRAP! I am out of tops as I had planned my attire to end exactly on laundry day. I am feeling very tired after my safari yesterday and am probably not dealing with life’s little bumps as easily as I should. Well, tomorrow is another day and another opportunity to excel!
We watched a DVD about the release that is currently in the field that was filmed by a professional film company. It was lovely and I think we were all happy to see the results of so much work and care. The only hope is that the process can speed up so that more troops can be released in a timely basis. It will mean more staff or permanent or long-term volunteers to go to multiple sites, but with 14 troops waiting and permits pending, there will be a permanent backlog if the current system stays in place.
Tuesday, September 12 – Alethea’s last workday.
7:00 Monitoring with Pam
8:00 Clean Up
9:00-11:00 Small Babies
I woke at 4am and had a hard time getting back to sleep but did not really feel like I was sleep deprived all day. I had a wonderful realization about waltzing through life as my metaphor for the proper balance of give and take, leading and following, giving and taking, accepting and receiving within a structure and framework that works for me. WONDERFUL!
Except for getting up early, monitoring first thing in the am was great and the troops were doing lots of things. I took Alethea to see my babies as this was her last day. She also tried to get some shots of Charlie, but not sure if he posed for her.
I feel totally in the routine here and realized as I sat in Medium Babies for my hour that I really do know most of their names and have my little system them. As I went in with 4pm bottles, there were several melt downs that resulted in diarrhea on the back of my head and all down my left side. Poor Billie Bob was having a bit of a drama.
At one point, I was learning how to put the Meer Cats away with Sarah when Verena came running past looking for Sarah and saying that there was an emergency and an injury in the baby hok. She went flying out leaving me with the responsibility of getting the second Meer Cat caged, which was a little daunting as I had been told that they have a fierce bite. Luckily, she left me a blanket so I shooed the little guy into the cage. YAAH!
The kitchen is looking better and better and the rats have less and less to eat of our foodstuffs daily. The last two blue plastic containers have been washed and are ready to receive our supplies and maybe we will be able to get the milk out of the freezer so that we can use it, as we need it.
Dinner will be a wonderful stir-fry ala Pam and Alethea has made a pear, chocolate, marshmallow crisp? Should be interesting.
We have three new volunteers over the last three days - Alice from Toronto who was down for the count today, Leilani from Hawaii and more recently Boise, ID who will stay for 10 weeks and yesterdays addition, Jack (or Jacqueline) from Red Deer Alberta. All enthusiastic, and on their first trip to Africa and first major international trip.
Wednesday, September 13
7:45-9:00 Small Babies
10:00 Medium Babies
1:00 Medium Babies
I ended today with a star pattern of 5 scratches on my left cheek from someone’s fingernails in Small Babies first thing this am. Took a bite by one of the mediums when I was helping with ship, probably justified because I took the shovel away from him.
What does Bottles mean? Depending on what time of the day, when you are assigned bottles you are preparing somewhere between 10 – 45 bottles with up to three different milk concoctions. The largest bottle duties are 7am and 4pm, beginning and end of the day with every enclosure needing to be fed and bottled. Also included at 7 and 4 are two groups of adult animals that need extra nutrition and the Samango’s. Various groups get either their second or third bottle of the day during the mid-day bottles and if needed, more food is cut up.
What are in the food buckets? The daily selection varies widely but can include apples, pears, oranges, carrots, melon, squash, peanuts or other nuts, hard kernel corn, sweet potatoes, bread, assorted veggies such as broccoli, cauliflower, onions, green peppers, corn on the cob, cabbage and sometimes dried fruit such as bananas or apricots. Depending where I am with my meals, sometimes what comes out of the bucket looks pretty good.
WHO ARE THE SMALL BABIES?
Paprika – Yellowish female who is rather obsessive about getting into the nursery enclosure and races around like a lunatic when she does.
Roxy – Gray female - really a Medium baby, but with her injury from her previous owner, she was having a hard time in Mediums. Now in the Smalls, she has taken two of the smaller ones under her wing and carries them around like infants.
Star – Ms. ADHD with a tendency to taste all new volunteers for several days before she accepts them. Grayish with a wild fringe of hair and sort of blank look until her eyes really focus on you.
Valentine – born 2/14/06, smooth yet fluffy coated petit little girl. She had cataracts and has already had the surgery. Very sweet, but is very particular who gets to hold her. Whinges a lot.
Nigel – Smooth coated with and equal mix of yellow and grey hair. Lovely profile, fragile ego and loves to play. Likes green peppers and broccoli. He loves me to groom him and he appears very preppy. I can see him in a letterman sweater and surrounded by adoring cheerleaders.
Goku – Grey coarse hair with sort of a permanent surprised look on his face. I also monitor his mom, who’s really name is Queen Louise. Sort of bumbly and lots of energy. Always looking for action and if it is not happening, makes it happen.
Mr. Stubbs – One of the small guys, grey and yellow. He was very friendly at first, but has pretty much ignored me except to race by on his circuits with the other guys playing.
Oros Lemos – One of the little guys, dark grey named after the lemon-flavored drink popular in South Africa. Very sweet and missing three of five digits on one of his front hands.
Zorro – Feisty and hugely particular on who gets him, dark grey with a yellow eyebrows and a very serious face and bare tail. Roxy’s special little charge.
Bowie (as in David) – Skinny, sparse haired of grey and yellow, sort of the underdog of the group.
Thursday, September 14 – ONLY ONE WEEK LEFT! WHERE DID THE TIME GO?
7:45 - 9:00 Small Babies
10:00 Medium Babies
11:00 Lower Deck
2:00 Medium Babies
During my breaks today, I took my camera and began to get some shots of the compound and the babies. I was in the nursery for a while trying to get shots of the mediums and the smalls and ended up with tiny babies approaching me. Lee took some photos of me and I am happy that they are finally coming to me.
I am determined to make my final week one of wonderful days and experiences. Sarah said at one point that they were thinking of expanding the minimum stay to maybe 8 weeks. I said that would be better for them and the volunteers, but it may limit who can volunteer as 8 weeks off for someone who works in the US is highly unlikely unless you are in the school system. Lee also said that she was ignoring that I was taking pictures because that is usually a sign that someone is leaving soon. I will be sorry to go in so many ways, but in other ways, I will be happy to be back in contact with civilization. This place can get under your skins and time just shoots past. I admit it is only in the 4th week that I am feeling totally integrated and effective. Week one, everything was so foreign, week two the tiredness sets in and the make wrong and anxiety of not knowing how exactly everything works was eating at me, week three was getting in the groove and now, week 4 I feel that I can be very effective.
As Sarah was doing the schedule, I saw that I had another early morning, my 5th in a row. I whinged to her and reminded her that I had not had a late start in a while. We will see what the next days schedule brings to me. My whinge left me in disrupted energy.
Friday, September 15
10:00 Break but I ended up doing dogs
11:00 – 1:00 Nursery
1:00 Dogs, but I had traded with Verene
Very strange energy this morning (probably a result of my whinging last night) and as I descended the hill for my first shift, I had hip hit by a wild male. Proof positive that they are not all tame and that I must constantly be on my guard.
I took several bites from the mediums as I was carrying them into the pens this am, so it looked like the energy was weird for them too. As I had a break after my first shift, I decided to put on my Ipod, have a cup of tea, spend some time grounding and balancing, pull a vibes card and change my mind about how my day was going to go. I was approached my one of the workers to come to the river to see the lion tracks, but my intuition told me to follow through with my original plans. Vibes Card – Call on the Your Helper Guides! It was wonderful and really helped to change the outcome of my day.
As I ended crates, Verene indicated that she had not had orientation, so I offered to exchange my dog shift for hers so that she could be free at 10am. As we got into the mountain lodge, Pam said that the freezer was working and had begun to clean it out. I pitched in, as Pam had to leave to get her visa sorted out to extend her stay so that she can spend a little more time with her baby, Koyoshi. Sarah said that those type jobs can be assigned, but I told her that I didn’t mind doing it as to delay would mean a bigger, smellier mess tomorrow. As it turns out, the freezer is not working as Davi found that the switch was bad.
I had my second wonderful day with the tinies in the nursery, and Jack and I were covered in babies for two hours. Also pee and poo and spilt milk, but it was worth it to have littlies asleep on your lap or chest. We were without any of the mommies, that changed the energy and it was a very calm time, except for the mediums trying and succeed in pulling my hair through the wire fence.
During the pm dog shift, Mollie managed to catch but not quite kill a rat in the lower bedroom. I took the rat by the tail and put it outside, but it was obvious that it was not going to recover. I took it farther away from the house and euthanized it. I hate to have them in my bedroom, but I couldn’t stand to think of it suffering.
The Medium babies are having a trial run at being by themselves for several hours during the day. I was the first people to have them after 4 hours alone so they were very happy to see and jump on me. My usual lap attendants are Violet and Caley, sometimes Belle, Alice and Zoey, the screaming Jane with various fly bys from Pickle and Paris. The only boys that make regular appearances that I can recognize are Beau and Basil and recently, Hilton.
WHO ARE THE MEDIUM BABIES?
Belle – Yellowish, slender dominant female. Has learned that I give good monkey massage and is content to sit next to me if the lap is too full
Caley – Miss pushy, blow-in-her-mouth all the time with a tendency to bite when she is happy, stressed, playing. Usually we have 35 minutes to leaping around and over me and finally after a confrontation, she will settle and begin her nap about 3 minutes before the end of my shift.
Jane – The hysteric who is low on the pecking order and if anyone looks at her funny, screams loudly and races around the cage. She ends up in my lap for 3 seconds, tried to lodge under my right arm and them launches herself back into the troop for another cycle of chase, whinge, land and leap again. If she does settle for a minute, she obsessively grooms my hair rather painfully and then leaps off again.
Violet – Second dominant female, yellow and a little tubby. She and Caley are my two most common lap attendants but they know the rules, no fighting on the lap or you get ousted. Violet tends to take longer naps and how she can manage to sleep with Caley grooming her eyeballs I will never understand.
Pickle – One of the lower females who only gets lap time when new food has been introduced or everyone else is off somewhere else. I can only recognize her by a scar on her hind foot.
Paris – The smallest of the girls and well down on the list, she is very petit of the girls with a very narrow face. Her coat is the softest and I think she is the one who runs past and offers me her butt to scratch but hardly ever comes up on the lap.
Alice – Out pickpocket, Alice is very adept at getting every button or snap on your clothes off you and into her and someone else’s mouth. A lot weight challenged, Alice needs to cut down on how many bottles she steels from others or she will never fit into her clothes again.
Zoey – Miss Tubarina with a double chin. Similar to Alice in weight challenge and is pretty low on the dominance chart. She is pretty funny and knows her name very well and when called to come over, she sometimes does a little dance with her hind legs before she comes over.
Beau – The primary male, yellowish and slender. He only this week has been on my lap and loves his monkey massage and pushes everyone else off except Belle or Violet. He came my lap recently and was content to suck on my rain slicker and be held.
Basil – The larges, chunkiest, dark male, who was the first boy to come to the massage lap. He will usually try and take one of my fingers in his mouth and gently chew or lick the finger. I guess that is his attempt at grooming.
Flash – Was in with the mediums until this last week and is now in the Big Babies. He is the one with the scar on his head from when he was in the lab and they tried to surgically change his appearance so that he appeared to be permanently flashing, a sign of aggression. He had been fairly aggressive when he was in the mediums and stirred things up a lot. A constant reminder that none of these babies had anything close to a normal childhood and it is amazing that any of them come to us.
Womble – I have only gotten to know him this week, another yellowish male, and he is quite an instigator of play and therefore, bites.
Billie Bob – Dark and fairly quiet, he was the first medium I got to carry in as he is not that particular about who has him. Very sweet, but low in the order, so lap time with him is minimal.
Hilton – A Major instigator, sort of the Star of the Mediums, and very bitey.
I made it an early evening and I opted out of dinner. As it gets hotter, hot food at dinner sounds less and less appealing. I have decided if I cook again, I will do a cold pasta salad and Mexican brownies.
I got up early in the am and looked at the schedule and I had the gift of a 9:00 am start. I must remember to thank Sarah.
Saturday, September 16
9:00-11:00 Small Babies
Alice and Verene are going to Kruger today and I sent Verene with money to purchase the Big Tusker Book from the Elephant Museum and the Big Five Pins that I left behind and decided that I wanted.
It was lovely to get to sleep in, except that Josephine starts very early every day and Leilani and the dogs at 8 am were very loud.
I bought a DVD with the Animal Planet footage of CARE and a book written about CARE.
Very hot today and I am beginning to carry my water bottle with me when I can. It is impossible to have one with you in the nursery, smalls or mediums, as there is nowhere to put it where the babies cannot get it. I can only imagine how hot it will get and during the rainy season, the humidity.
PIZZA TONIGHT! I was put on pizza coordination to get orders and money rounded up by 2:30. At 1:10 Sarah appeared and said that Lee was going early, so I had to hurry up and get the last few orders. I put in more than I needed in order to speed things up, and I will reconcile the money after I see the final bill.
Hello new person – Vanessa from Seattle, New Jersey and recently Boise, ID
Sunday, September 17
7:00 Medium Babies with Leilani
11:00 – 1:00 Nursery
3:00 Small Babies
Leilani had major problems with Hilton this am and took several bites. I am and think others are feeling hesitant to discipline any of the babies since the Star episode. I know in the past that if I put someone down, the rest of the troop would end up coming to their aid, so I ended up with more bites than I originally started with. Leilani will not be in medium babies at 7am for a while until they get more used to her and she used to the system.
Looking back on the hour, I now feel that I should have done more to assist her. I know that I have been hesitant to put down any of the babies recently and have had better results by avoiding their teeth and tolerating a few nips. I feel I should have supported her more and come to her aid. I will apologize to her later today.
There was still a lot of weird energy today, possible because the weather was preparing for our first rain storm and was overcast, still and muggy all day. Paprika in Smalls was going after Charlotte so Lynn went in to assist. Sarah went in within 30 minutes with Vanessa the new volunteers and Paprika went for her. Sarah coached her into putting her down to show your dominance, not as a punishment. That coaching has helped me to understand why we do what we do. It is simply a way to discipline and establish the hierarchy that will be important for them within their troop. I feel better able to cope with aggression when I see it again.
Right after Sarah assisted Vanessa with Paprika, she took Leilani into Mediums and sat with her. I am not sure if Hilton went for her again, but I think she ended the session feeling better about how to handle the mediums.
In my troop today, Hart had a new lesion on his right forearm. Sarah was watering the pens nearby and said it looked like a canine slash and they are common with young males who are sorting themselves into the troop. I also got a good video of Charlie the Samango who posed beautifully for the camera.
I had a lovely hour with Alice in small babies. She has a lovely energy and is very good with the animals. She will go home to Toronto and possible begin a pet sitting business to augment her illustrations. Just as we were bringing in the babies, the sky opened and it began to rain. There was also lots of thunder and lovely streaks of lighting across the sky.
As we were getting ready for dinner, there was a scream from the shower area and Jack announced that there was a snake near the shower room. Earlier in the day, Lee had said that they had found one in the lower bedroom and patched the hole. Rita and her gun were called in and after 4 shots, the snake was dead. It turned out to be a spitting cobra, very dangerous as they can propel their venom at you from 6 feet and they usually aim for your eyes. I was upstairs wrestling with my mosquito netting poles that keep changing positions on a daily basis. Sometimes the nets are taunt, sometimes very floppy. I figured they didn’t need another person on the scene so I stayed upstairs until dinner was called.
Three day of work and then I am off. Bittersweet.