Pizza is going well...the stone is helping, and I may even try baking cookies again :-). Tonight is a chicken taco pizza...we'll let you know how it is :-).
We are almost ready to have Al's mom and sister move completely into the house. The important stuff is there now...the personal items from storage has been moved in and put away, and Friday the cable/telephone/internet was hooked up. Good to go! Just waiting on a few pieces of living room furniture to arrive, but they can work around that.
We've had company this week, our close friend Ed from New York has been spending this week with us. Al and Ed have been getting plenty of quality golf time in, a good thing! They've been having a good time, aside from a close call involving a long golf shot and a sandhill crane...the crane is fine :-).
Speaking of sandhill cranes, I started my new volunteer job at Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park last Wednesday. The sandhill cranes had just hatched a chick five days prior, and that day was the first day they had the chick out for viewing. It was very cute, and I wished I had brought my camera...I will from now on!
My first day I worked with a long-time volunteer on the panther exhibit. We have a cart that we wheel out that has different skeletal exhibits, pictures and a footprint casting, and informational sheets on the Florida panther. I also have a talk to do for guests that would like to hear more. I'll give a synopsis of it here for you, to see if I remember it :-).
We have two cats on exhibit here, Maygar the cougar and Don Juan the panther. It may seem odd that they are the same species of cat, but have different names. In fact, the same cat is called by five different names: cougar, panther, mountain lion, puma and catamount. They are ALL the same cat, the different names that they are called come from the different regions of the country that they originate from. Don Juan is from Florida, so he is a panther. Maygar is from the west, specifically Texas, so she is a cougar.
Today we have Maygar in the habitat. She is a 12 year old cougar, born in Texas and was sold when a cub to an individual who wanted her as a pet. She was subsequently spayed and declawed, making it impossible for her to ever be rehabilitated to the wild. When she became full grown and unmanageable for the family, she was abandoned, and eventually rescued and now resides here at the Wildlife Park.
Maygar and Don Juan are unable to be together in the habitat at the same time. Being that Maygar was spayed, Don Juan does not recognize her as a female, and considers her a threat to his territory, and would attack her if they were put together. So we do alternate them in the habitat on different days.
Don Juan is a 17 year old panther, and had lived his first ten years in the wild in the Florida Everglades. He was one of the wild panthers that the US Fish and Wildlife Service had tagged and were keeping track of. However, Don Juan became a bit lazy as he got older, and started hunting on private farm land. Apparently livestock was easier to catch :-). The farmers did not take kindly to this, as one would think, and Don Juan was tracked, captured and given shelter in the Wildlife Park for his remaining years.
There are currently 59 wild panthers that the US Fish and Wildlife Service have tagged and are keeping track of. The estimate that there is another 60 wild panthers that have not been tagged. So there are only about 120 or so panthers in existence in the wild at this time. They are on the endangered list.
DNA testing has shown that of the tagged panthers, Don Juan is the father of a little over 50% of the panthers. That is how he came to receive his name, Don Juan :-).
That's the basic "story" and then we answer any questions they may have. Its very interesting, and I will enjoy learning more about the exhibits and interacting with the guests. There are several different carts for different exhibits: red wolves, shorebirds, raptors, whooping cranes (thats another interesting story) wading birds, reptiles, manatees. I'm already looking forward to next winter :-).
Other than that, we just finished our work weekend at Otter Springs. Its getting a little busier as spring approaches. We have had some rainfall, so the river and springs are getting higher, but we still need so much more. Its been a very dry winter down here. We've been raking leaves, and they are so dry and dusty they fly all over the place.
This is our crabby kingfisher who hangs around the springs. He squawks like crazy whenever we come around :-).
Tuesday we have plans to take an airboat trip down the Homosassa River, to the Gulf of Mexico, around the St. Martin's and Bird Keys, and back through the Chassahowitzka Refuge. It should be fun, and I will finally have some pictures to make things interesting again. I'll bring the camera to the Wildlife park as well and see if the sandhill crane chick is out. Until then, have a good week!