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Sunday, May 24, 2015

When the Grass is Mowed

The mowers came again yesterday, as the grass had been getting quite tall again. They hurried to get all done in one day this time, because as usual, we are expecting rain. Bow asked to go outside into the outer pen after they came, but when I opened the door, he gestured for me to come with him. I told him I would come, but I had forgotten to bring my phone to film with, so I went back inside

 Alone in the pen with all that noise from the mowers, Bow looked unsure of himself.

When I came back out with the phone, I was surprised by a sight that I never expected to see: Bow was apologizing to Leo. I was not really ready  -- it was so unexpected, that I not able to get pictures of the entire apology, so this is just the tail end of it.

Leo did not quite know what to make of Bow's apology, but even as the dog walked away, Bow was still trying to make up to him, with friendly faces.

This may look silly, but this is the face Bow makes when he is trying to ingratiate himself with someone

In case you want to refresh your memory as to what Bow's full apologies look like, you can read this post from 2013:

Now why would Bow feel he needed to apologize to Leo? What was he apologizing for? You may well ask. He was probably not apologizing for any specific thing, so much as trying to get into Leo's good graces. Bow had wanted me out there for moral support against the mowers. When I left, he felt a little abandoned. Rather than displaying at Leo, the way he usually does, Bow was trying to get Leo to help him against the mowers, in case he needed extra support. He was not saying "I am big and strong and I can beat you up!" as he usually does. He was saying: "If I was mean to you, I am sorry. Now please help me."

Bow's apologies, even when they are to Lawrence or to me, are extremely pragmatic in motivation. He does not really apologize because of heartfelt remorse. He apologizes because he's in trouble, and he is trying to get out of it. That's really not so different from most humans I know.

Even after I was out there and Bow did not need Leo's help, he still was not as aggressive as he usually is toward the dog. His focus was more on the mowers, and he did not seem to be able to decide whether he wanted to court them or warn them. In the video above, the gently rocking up and down dance that Bow initially does on top of the bench is not an aggressive move. He does break into a kind of display afterwards, but it, too, is less aggressive than usual, and you can see that he has no problem with Leo, showing only friendly regard to the dog, while he worries about the "mower problem."

Later, the head mower came in the house, and Bow said hello to him. He has known the man many years and actually seems to like him. He's just not crazy about the machinery that is used to mow the grass and the noise it makes.

When the mower and Bow were communing, I mentioned to him that the next plant about to bloom by the lagoon was the yucca, and I needed the poison ivy cleared away from around it, so I could admire the blossoms. Only just at that moment, I could not remember what the yucca plant was called. So I fumbled around for words to describe it, and here's what came out: "Spiky leaves. Tall tower of flowers. Cactus." Now, I knew that was wrong when it came out of my mouth. A yucca is not at all a cactus. But I needed a fast way to say what I wanted, and I could not think of the right classification: succulent. However, this shorthand, inexact description was good enough for the mower, and he got the job done! It's funny how faulty phylogenetic classification is good enough to communicate with another human being.

Poison  ivy spreads everywhere, and I am allergic to  it, so I have been trying to think of ways to get rid of it that would not harm the other plants. The last time we spoke, the mower said that he had heard of a spray that gets rid of poison ivy. But on further inquiry, he informed me yesterday, that spray would kill everything else, too. "Well, we don't want that," I commented. And he agreed.

In the evening, I enjoyed resuming my favorite walk on the newly mown trail. I got to see flowers that have only just now bloomed on either side of the path.

However, I saw no new wildlife until I got back to the mowed portion of the yard.

I spotted a rabbit from afar. But the rabbit disappeared into the underbrush by the lagoon, and then I heard a sound and saw a deer leap across my fence, and into the neighbors' field. I went toward the fence line to look.

The deer stood there for a while looking at me and twitching its tail, so that I wondered whether it was waiting for a companion to follow. But when no one else came, it went into the woods.

And just as the deer disappeared, I heard some rustling from the underbrush by the lagoon. I thought it was the rabbit coming out again. But no, it was an armadillo!

The armadillo did not seem to be aware at first that I was watching him. He went out to the newly mown grass and started digging at once.

I wanted to get a better look at its face, but when I drew closer it suddenly noticed me and initiated a program of armadillo evasive maneuvers, which are quite different from rabbit evasive maneuvers.
He went straight for the woods and took a very short break there. After taking a short rest among the cypress spurge plants at edge of the woods, he continued on his way in a more or less straight line trajectory -- no zig-zagging for him -- until he hid for a while under the storage building.

The armadillo did not stay there for long, though. Soon  I could see that he had crawled out from under the storage building and was going as fast as he could toward the barn, where he seemed to think he would be able to take shelter. However, no sooner had he gone into the barn than he came out again. I think the kitten scared him away! I watched as he went into the woods by the barn and pursued him no further.

The coming of the mowers causes a temporary disruption in the normal flow of events around here, but that subsides pretty fast. The grass starts to grow again. The wildlife goes back to its usual habits, and so do the rest of us.  This morning, Bow was displaying aggressively at Leo again, and Leo was bounding up in the air and barking at him. Everything is back to normal.


  1. Poison ivy - alas, it's like the state TREE here sometimes! The only way to get rid of it is to spray it with glyphosate (yes, which kills everything around it), or mow, mow, mow it away. We had some in some areas that are frequently mowed, and it finally went away, however, in places we don't frequently mow, it is thriving. Uggggh!!!!! It drives me crazy when I see it climbing a tree, so I take great pleasure in cutting it at its base and letting the vine die, but, it still grows back.
    Out of curiosity, I just did a search and found these 7 natural ways to kill it. I'm going to try the vinegar spray first...vinegar is cheap!
    Love Bow's silly face. Animals can be tough and brave, except when there are machines around whose workings they can't comprehend.

    1. Yes, some of the poison ivy has been left to grow by the lagoon so long it practically is a tree! Or is that poison oak?

      Yes, Bow dislikes noisy machines. He feels the same way about the vacuum cleaner.

  2. I think I did it again ...I forgot to include the link!

    1. Thanks! I will give that a look.

    2. The idea of using a goat looked good to me at first glance. But then I had to ask myself: How do I explain to the goat not to eat my flowers?