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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Bow's New Hammock

Bow received many gifts this Chistmas: from his uncle, a basket full of fruit, including pineapple, tangerines, oranges, mango, kiwi, apples and pears. From his grandmother, he got a share of the assorted chocolates that she sent for us all. From Lawrence, he got a sturdy army shirt. It's all in camouflage and says U.S. Army on it. However, Bow has declined to wear the shirt, preferring to use it more like a blanket to lie on, or a flag to wave during aggressive displays. From me, he got a glitter ball, a new green blanket and a Grand Trunk hammock.

The hammock was intended to replace Bow's old teddy bear on which he goes to sleep every night. Bow is nine years old now and will soon turn ten, so even though the teddy bear is gigantic, it's getting a little small to serve as a mattress. I wanted to replace it with a reasonably priced hammock. The idea is not that Bow can have unlimited access to the hammock, because then he would surely trash it in short order. But at night, when Bow gets very tired, he will not destroy the bear and the blanket I give him to sleep on. That much self control he has, and no more. In the same way, the hammock is something he can have at night unsupervised, but which requires close supervision during the day.

It's very easy to put up the hammock, provided you have something on which to hang the hooks. The first time I put it up though, one side was not secure, and Bow fell to the floor when he attempted to get on. After that, even though I did a better job of securing it, he was very wary. I even showed him that I could lie in the hammock and nothing bad happened, but still he did not trust it to bear his weight.

The first few nights after the 25th, I would put up the hammock in the evening, and I would find Bow sleeping on his green blanket on the floor the next morning. But today we've had a breakthrough. Here is a rather blurry picture of Bow in the hammock early this morning:

It was too dark to get a really good shot, so later on this afternoon I let him have the hammock under supervision, so I could take better pictures.

Of course, when Bow is wide awake and active, he doesn't lie in the hammock, all still and snug. He uses it more as a swing.

Bow is very happy with all his Christmas presents, and he seems ready to face the new year.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Rooster Attack

This morning Sword came to the pen to ask for some help with one of the chickens, who had somehow gotten herself entangled in a wire. I left Bow to go help, but because I am always concerned that Bow will get into trouble if left alone, I hurried to the chicken coop to try to get the hen freed and did not take all the precautions I should have. I put on the big wading boots, went into the muddy chicken enclosure, closed the door behind me and then hurried into the hen house and knelt by the hen who had managed to get herself shackled by one leg. I was trying to untwist the wire around her "ankle" when suddenly, without warning, something flew at me and I felt myself attacked, scraped, scratched and pecked. I didn't even see my assailant. But no sooner had the attack started, than it stopped, and I found myself with a chicken hanging from my neck like an albatross.

Confused, I went out of the chicken house, and I loosened the chicken which was hanging by one leg from the keychain around my neck. I set it down, thinking maybe it was the hen who had been trapped earlier, and believing that I had freed it.

It wasn't the hen. It was the rooster, who had attacked me, but as soon as he got himself tangled in the keys hanging from my neck, became completely calm and peaceful. When I set him down safely in the yard, he was satisfied and felt no further need to peck me. I went into the house to tend to my wounds, and it was eventually Sword who freed the trapped hen.

I now have a deep scratch on my face and several bloody wounds on my left arm. After I washed and disinfected the wounds, I went back into the pens with Bow. He had not made a mess, and he waited for me before he eventually used the potty. When I brought out my wad of Kleenex to wipe him, he took a tissue in his hand and gently wiped at the bloody wounds on my arm, instead.

Later he spelled: "That was not Bow." I just hope that nobody who sees me like this will think Bow did this to me. Roosters are a lot more dangerous than chimps!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Raindrops and Brown Paper Packages: Bow's not so favorite things

Someone recently asked me what Bow and Lawrence talk about. They talk about whatever comes up. Yesterday, as Lawrence was coming back from lunch, a brown package was delivered by UPS to our doorstep. It was heavy, like a book. Lawrence brought it in and placed it on the coffee table in the living room as he was coming in to take my place with Bow in the pens.

I opened the package. It wasn't something I had ordered, as I always have things delivered to my PO Box. On the inside, it wasn't wrapped like a Christmas present, and there was no indication of who had sent it. It was a book entitled A Foreign Policy of Freedom, and it was by Ron Paul. Some anonymous donor had sent it to me. Maybe it had something to do with my recent post on PubWages.

Around three-thirty, when I was placing the chicken in the oven for dinner, Lawrence popped out from the pens for a moment. "Bow says he wants an apple," he said to me in passing.

"Well, there are plenty of apples," I replied, gesturing in the direction of the dining room table.

Lawrence selected a couple of apples and was going to return to the pens. But he remembered something, so he turned back to me and said: "Oh, and Bow also wanted to know what was in the package."

I smiled. "Tell Bow it was a book by Ron Paul."

"A book by Ron Paul," Lawrence repeated, trying to make sure he wouldn't forget before he got back  to Bow with the apples.

Apparently Bow did not have much to say about the book after that. Lawrence thinks Bow was probably hoping the package was a present for him. Later in the day, Bow became very agitated, and when Lawrence asked him why, he spelled: "I don't like rain." It was not raining at the time. About an hour later, it started to rain. It was quite a downpour, while it lasted.

Today, when I took Bow outside to the outer pen, he was very careful not to step into any of the puddles.  He really does not like rain.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Too Bad The Elephant is Dead

Bow has been enjoying the toy elephant that my mother brought him during her Thanksgiving visit. He chews on it quietly for hours. Little by little it has been dismembered, losing first its tusks, then the trunk, followed by an ear, a part of a leg, and most recently the entire head.

During the past week, Bow would hand me the elephant and suggest with body language that I chase him, holding the elephant in my hand and trying to tag Bow. At first he didn't have a name for it, but then sometime last week he came up with this request: "תפילי אותי" It sounded as if he wanted me to make him fall, from the root נפל.

"You want me to make you fall?" I asked.

He handed me the elephant and repeated the request. Then I understood that he was interpreting the root of the word as פיל, meaning "elephant", and he was actually saying something more like: "Elephant me!" At that time the elephant still had its head, or most of it, and so I started to chase Bow around the pen, touching him with the elephant's broken trunk edge.

Yesterday, when the head came off completely, revealing that the elephant is hollow on the inside, at one point Bow took my hand and spelled: "חבל שהפיל מת" That means "Too bad that the elephant died."

I looked at him. Did he feel no responsibility in this matter? "Well, Bow, why did you kill it?" I asked.

He looked sad. "Bow is bad," he spelled. He managed to look saddened, but unrepentant.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

What Bow and I do to earn

The new John Wheatcroft novel, The Portrait of a Lover, is now published and available on Amazon. Who published it? Inverted-A Press. And who is Inverted-A Press? Here's a picture of the staff.
It's not every book that is chimpanzee tested, but here at Inverted-A , we can guarantee it! At least, prior to publication every book has to pass Bow's quality assurance test!
We are hoping to sell a few books in time for Christmas, to pay for our daily bread -- or rather bananas, apples and grapes. No, we don't have federal funding. No, we are not a non-profit. We are not in on any of the usual rackets, and we hope to make some money without taking it away by force from anybody else.

Am I serious about my research with Bow? Yes. Am I serious about my commitment to him? Yes. But do I think that Bow and I have a higher priority than anybody else? No. We don't rate a special tax status, and we don't come before other people. That said, we could certainly use some money.

If you would like to make a contribution to Project Bow this year, you might consider visiting our estore and making a purchase or two. It could be a book you buy for yourself, or one you are buying for a friend. We have books about primatology and about philosophy; we have children's books and literary fiction.

If you buy a book I wrote, then we gain most. If you buy a book I published but did not write, we profit a little less. If you choose a book that we are merely selling, we still get something out of the deal.

Someday, I plan to write a history of Project Bow and what I learned from it. That day has not yet come. In the meanwhile, if you want to get to know us better, you can read between the lines of the books we like to read.