On land and in water, animals can be very intuitive
EWE GOT A FRIEND IN ME ROSEMARY FRANCIS
Woolly was already an elderly ewe when we inherited her in 2000. Her daughter, Cloudy, was also one of the small mob we adopted. They both quickly settled in their new paddocks on New Zealand’s Banks Peninsula and were content to share the hillsides with a pig, a donkey, several goats and a few llamas.
After several years we noticed Woolly wasn’t able to keep up with the flock. She stumbled occasionally and banged into fence posts. We also saw that Cloudy was staying close to her mother’s side. So, we put a dog collar on Cloudy and added some bells. As Woolly’s eyesight started deteriorating, she listened for the tinkling bells moving towards them. By the time Woolly was completely blind, she had learned to depend on her daughter.
Cloudy never moved far from Woolly and checked on her frequently. She led her to good pasture to graze and to the water trough when she needed to drink. They both responded to my voice, coming to the fence for treats when I called. In howling gales and cold winter storms, Cloudy would walk alongside Woolly, guiding her to the shelter of manuka scrub or into the barn.
A decade later, Cloudy’s anguished
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bleating alerted us to her mother’s demise. Cloudy died the same week.
Sheep have a reputation for being stupid, but I’ve seen with my own eyes that they are intelligent and can be very compassionate.
A WHALE OF A TIME WILLIAM FACKENDER
On a journey around Australia in 2004, my wife Betty and I visited the Kimberleys in Western Australia. When we became aware of the various cruises offered in the area, we decided to experience the fantastic colours and rugged terrain from the water – and booked a tour out of Broome.
The vessel had four small, flatbottomed boats for sightseeing and fishing. Early one morning, while fishing with another man and the skipper, we heard excited shouts coming from some women in another boat about 300 metres away. We decided to investigate. Coming slowly towards us were two humpback whales. They were black and appeared to be the length of two cricket pitches.
The skipper shut down our motor and we watched the whales approaching. “They’re heading straight for us!” I cried.
“Don’t worry, they know we are here,” replied the skipper. “Just sit still, say nothing and all will be well.”
Then it happened. The whales came right alongside the boat. The one closest to us stopped and this great black eye, the size of a dinner plate, stared right at me. I looked back at this huge majestic animal in amazement. This eyeballing was unbelievable. It sent tingles down my spine.
About five seconds later, although it seemed much longer, this incredible animal slipped silently under the water and proceeded on its way.
The three of us just sat there silently in awe of what just happened.
Finally, the skipper said, “Hey mate, do you think it will recognise you next time?”
Seeing those whales up close was one of those rare, once-in-a-lifetime experiences.