I’ve been watching a TV programme which goes behind the scenes at one of the UK’s biggest zoos, “The Secret Life of the Zoo”. It’s very good: plenty of baby animals to coo over, including surprisingly cute baby black rhinos, and lots of interesting facts about the various animals.
One animal which piqued my interest was the equid. I’d never heard of Onagers, a wild and endangered equine.
Onagers are also known as the Asiatic Wild Ass, a name I am more familiar with. Anyway, the programme caused me to do a bit of reading about these endangered equines.
Onagers look like miniature horses, not donkeys like other asses do, and grow up to about 14hh. They have either a reddish brown or yellowish brown coat, with a dorsal stripe. Unusually for equines, they have never been domesticated and are known for being very skittish characters, and are one of the fastest in the equine family – they gallop at speeds of 64-70 miles per hour!
Onagers consist of five subspecies, and are from Asia; they used to be found all across the continent but now are only found in arid and desert regions towards the south of Asia. As with many other large grazing animals, the onagers have suffered with reduced habitats and poaching, so were listed as endangered until 2015 when they were reclassified as Near Threatened, which shows that the zoo breeding programs have been successful. One subspecies is extinct, two endangered and two near threatened. The Persian Onagers are currently being reintroduced in to the Middle East to replant Syrian Wild Asses, which are now extinct, in the Arabic peninsula ecosystem.
As with other equids, such as horses and zebras, Onagers are social animals and live in herds. There is usually one stallion with a hareem of mares in a herd, and each herd tends to be territorial. Mares can breed from two years old, and as with horses, the gestation period is eleven months, with births occurring from April to September.
Wild Onagers live up to fourteen years of age, but they can live into their mid twenties in captivity.
Their diet is similar to that of horses and zebras; Onagers eat grass, herbs, fruits and leaves, and also browse on shrubs and trees in drier territories. Onagers are prey animals, and are hunted by apex predators such as leopards, hyenas, tigers and wild dogs. Together with the reduction of their habitat, heavy droughts, and being hunted for meat and hide the population of Onagers is reducing rapidly.
Maybe I’ll organise a visit to see these captive Onagers in the flesh!
I had a bit of an epiphany earlier. Or rather a realisation of what’s to come.
Now the kids have gone back to school it’s quieter. Well, I’m not sure if it is quieter or if it just seems quieter as things get back into their normal groove. To fill my time, I decided last weekend that I would repaint the garage door frame. And next weekend the door. Of course, living in Britain the weather never helps us fulfil our plans, and it ended up being too wet to prep the frame over the weekend, so the job is dragging into this week.
I’ve just put on the first coat of gloss, and as I put everything away I realised that I had more paint on my hands than on the frame. It’s a talent worthy of Britain’s Got Talent really, that I can manage to make that much mess and make it to adulthood.
Anyway, as I was in the bathroom scrubbing the white gloss off my hands with a pumice stone, I suddenly remembered the time when I was seven.
I’m sure this story will still be etched crystal clear on my parents memory because it’s perfectly clear in my mind!
My Dad was painting the side door one March Sunday, while I cycled my bike up and down the drive. I loved my bike, it’s yellow and purple was my pride and joy. Dad was supervising me. Or perhaps I was supposed to be helping him. But if you know my Dad, you don’t want to help him painting because he’s very particular about not dipping your brush in too far, or not brushing the wrong way, etc etc.
Anyway, with a burst of inspiration, I asked if I could paint my hands. Dad said “yes, yes”. In hindsight, he most definitely wasn’t listening to me.
So I cycled over to the tin of white gloss and proceeded to dip both hands in it, all the way up to my wrists. So with hands that resembled Caspar’s, I proudly showed my Dad.
I think he took it pretty well, because I carried on cycling around while he finished painting, covering my bike handles in white.
Once he’d finished the side door, we went inside and tried washing my hands. Half a bottle of fairy liquid and my Dad’s best attempts with the pumice stone, and my hands were no longer thick with gloss, but rather a washed out, sticky off-white. My finger nails being edged with white.
The only problem? It was school picture day the next day!
Despite my parents’ best attempts, my hands were still off-white the next day, which is why one of my school photos has me with my arms cleverly folded to hide my hands.
Today, all I could wonder was what scrapes and predicaments am I going to see, be the rescuer, or have to prevent? And that’s just my husband, let alone the baby! Perhaps I’ll be starting a new blog to record it all!
If Kirstie Allsopp ever leaves Phil Whatshisname then he should give me a ring. In fact, budge over Kirstie, I’m what Location, Location, Location needs.
I’ve been doing plenty of hacks around the local villages over the last few weeks and have discovered I’m a bit of a property connoisseur. With expensive taste.
There’s a half timber, Tudor style house that I really like. It’s not black and white though; the timber is natural and the rest of the wall a warm cream colour. Much more tasteful. Another property used to be the village shop, and “General Store” is still legible in the brick work on the second storey. Peeking through the windows I can see the white railing and half step that would have denoted the counter. The windows have those swirls in some panes, typical of shops. I love these sorts of houses embedded with history. Another house I pass used to be the forge, and there’s a row of rusty horse shoes on the lintle. You can see how the garage and lean-tos have been adapted from the original buildings. The house itself is double the original, I noticed last week, with a true to type full size extension at the back.
I spend quite a lot of time looking at the extensions and gardens, noting the features I like. I’m not convinced by the giant stone pear in one garden, but I do like the wisteria that has been grown into the shape of a porch. I admire the brave people who planted pampas grass in their small garden, and I like the rustic wooden fences with bent, au natural planks. I try to work out if the numerous wells in gardens I spy are authentic, or modern features. I like the house with the massive window, displaying their mezzanine floor. However I’m not sure that I like how public it is – it’s mere feet from the lane so can’t afford much privacy. I’m no so fussed on the new build bungalow that has just been completed, but I don’t understand why there is a different number of gaps in the new hedgerow each day – I have visions of pensioners (which seems to be the average age of the population) digging up the baby shrubs each night, leaving plant pot sized holes behind.
I’ve seen what I find a very ugly house, white washed, with a flat, timber roof akin to Spanish villas. I’ve also discovered that I dislike pebble dashing, and post war pre-fab houses. And the dilapidated bungalow with rotten wooden outbuildings would be demolished as soon as I collected the keys!
One house I absolutely adore is on Millionaires’ Row, with plenty of palatial neighbours with manicured gardens. It has a circular drive surrounding a large well, sandwiched between 100ft high conifers, and a beautiful lawn, electric gates, and large, simple, white house. I looked it up on Zoopla. In preparation for when I buy my winning lottery ticket … I only need £1.8 million – gulp!
Another aspect of houses that I ponder about, is the naming. Does Steep Wood have a steep garden, or woodland, at the back? Is Foxwoods named so because of the foxes who lived in nearby woodland? Should The Firs change their name now they’ve cut down the fir trees along their boundary? Little Slade obviously can’t be named so because of the small house as I think it’s at least four bedroom. But then I remembered that slade means little valley, and this house must have stunning views of the valley behind. I can see why they built a small balcony to the rear. Cauis Cottage sounds rather ostentatious, but I like the way it rolls off the tongue. The series of semi detached numerical cottages must have been some kind of residency for the farm labourers, especially as the plaques are identical.
Perhaps when I get bored of horses I’ll digress into property. On which note, I’m going to catch up on last nights episode of The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes!