Kathy Bassett: Who sez animals are stoopid?

Kathy Bassett

Kathy Bassett's column, "The View from Maybell," appears in the Saturday Morning Press.

If you really believe this, then you haven’t been around too many critters in your lifetime. I give four-legged critters a lot more credit than I do lots of two-legged critters.

For example, there are several species of animals that mate for a lifetime. They know exactly which “woman” is theirs, and they don’t go prowling off in the bushes looking for something else. They even help raise the young and don’t go running off into the forest with a clothespin on their noses ever time a poo poo appears or a barf rag is needed.

Four-legged critters don’t lie. Even if they could, who would they lie to? Hah!

Can’t you just picture it?

Mr. Blue Heron is bragging to Mr. Bald Eagle “Why yeppers, I caught a fish three times longern’ my leg!”  

Mr. Baldy replies “So? I caught a baby whale the other day and now I won’t hafta go hunting fer the kiddos for a couple months!”

Yeah, right.

I love watching animals. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat in the woods and had deer come up to within six feet of me, keeping a wary eye on “the thing sitting on a log that doesn’t move,” while they munch.

On the other hand, I’ve had two-legged critters walk right in front of me, who were so intent on wherever they were racing off to that they didn’t even see me sitting there even though I was dressed in blaze orange.

DUH!

One time up on the Flattops, I was sitting on a log waiting for an elk to meander out from the trees.

It had snowed about a foot, but I wasn’t cold.

The sun was out and it felt good. It was so quiet. Suddenly, a weasel came dashing up onto the log beside me and gave me a tongue lashing like you’ve never heard.

He was so pretty, all decked out in his white winter outfit. I figured I musta been sitting on his house and he didn’t like it much. Well, I kept waving my hand at him, and he’d back off and then come right back up there and chew me out again.

I’m a knowin’ full well that there ain’t gonna be any elk come strolling along with all that ruckus, so I pointed my 243 at him and told him in a stern voice that if he didn’t vacate the premises immediately, he wouldn’t be around to change clothes come spring time. 

Did he understand what I said? Well, shoot no, but perhaps the sound of my voice got him to thinking that maybe he’d better go hide out somewhere, because he left and I never saw him again.

Then we get into domesticated animals.

No, they aren’t stupid either. I’ve heard folks say that sheep are stupid. I don’t think so.

When the kids were growing up, a neighbor gave us a little crippled lamb and my daughter had him all cozy in a big box on the back porch and was bottle-feeding it. One day, she overslept. Now, this little lamb had never been in the house before, but he came limping in and walked straight into her bedroom and tugged on the blanket while impatiently bleating that he wanted to be fed. I don’t call that stupid.

When we lived at Greystone, I wanted a chicken house. We won’t go into the conversation that preceded building one, but one got built.

It wouldn’t have won any prizes in “Farm & Ranch” magazine, but it did a super job of raising chickens and one poor ol’ turkey that came to us with no feathers because someone’s dog kept them pulled out.

The turkey thrived and grew, and the chickens laid eggs and raised babies like crazy. I kept a heat lamp in there during the winter and had eggs year round.

One day I cleaned out the garden and took all the corn stalks up to the chicken house where I built a sort of tipi and put straw in there for the baby chickens to go into.

The straw mixed in with the corn shucks made a sort of crude trampoline, and I stood there and laughed hilariously watching 10 baby chickens jumping up and down on the straw. It was a sight to behold. Is that stupid? I don’t think so. Those babes were having the best time of their lives.  

Here on the ranch, there was a wild tomcat living in the haystack that I named BT because he has a bent tail.

As time went on, I coaxed him in closer and closer and now he won’t get out from under my feet. Momma cat came up to the house one afternoon, leaving her babies down in the haystack yard.

I was totally amazed and amused that BT very carefully picked each kitten up and carried it up and laid it down beside momma.

Nope, I don’t believe animals are stupid. I’ve had some really enjoyable moments watching animals. Sure beats some of the garbage on TV nowadays.

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