Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Off to town

Late last week I was making some chili and found in the pantry a pack of no-sugar caramel-pecan candy. I never eat candy. Well, until I tried the "caramel-pecan" stuff that some evil troll had left in my pantry. Right away it popped off a crown. Like magic! I called my fang-carpenter and he asked me if I had any pain. "Only in my wallet!" I told him. Tuesday, he said. Come see me Tuesday.

So today I made my way down the long road to town and ran into this citizen on the way. Nice little antelope buck, about 12". The thing to remember about antelope is that they do not jump fences, like deer,— they squeeze under them.

I still feel some guilt for what I did a few years ago when I first moved here and knew diddly-squat about prairie ghosts. One was ahead of me on the road and I was in a hurry. Thinking he would simply jump the fence I pushed him and he jammed himself under the fence at great speed. I'm sure he had to have hurt himself. I learned my lesson.

I gave this guy plenty of room and when he fell slightly behind and to my right I gunned it and left him standing. No harm.

No harm at the dentist either. He just re-glued the damned thing and sent me on my way.


Anonymous said...

You're lucky. A crown here costs around $900 now.

Anonymous said...

They're amazing creatures -- not your crowns, Rio, the pronghorn.

They're monotremes, meaning they are the only known surviving species of their genus and are closely related neither to the African antelopes nor to any of the deer family.

They are running machines, not only the fastest land animal in the New World (top speed near or over 60 mph) and second only to the cheetah in that category, but capable of sustained speeds of over 30 mph for hours at a time, something a cheetah couldn't do for thirty seconds.

He has a 320-degree field of view. If he's standing with his head straight ahead, the only place you can hide from him is directly behind his butt, and he can detect the slightest movement from 3 miles or more away.

He doesn't jump over fences because he can't. The suspension mechanism in his hip/pelvis necessary for vertical jumping -- as all the deer have -- either never evolved in his physiology or has evolved out. All his joints are hinged to maximize movement in the line of travel, so he has to shift his weight to turn, though he can do so very quickly. Few would suspect that an animal capable of covering 25 feet or more of ground in a single stride wouldn't be able to get himself far enough off the ground to clear a fence.

His heart and lungs are huge for his size and he is capable of taking up 3 times as much oxygen as any other animal his size, which is how he can maintain such speeds for as long as he can.

Studied 'em in high school biology, blah blah blah . . .


Rio Arriba said...

Now, 'Berg, that's really interesting stuff. I'm ashamed to admit that I live among 'em and haven't yet got around to really studying them. But I sure do like 'em. Ever since I strained that one thru an 8-wire fence I never push them on the road anymore. If necessary I stop and let them sort themselves out.

They are indeed fast. Last year two bucks paralleled me on the OTHER side of a fence and I got up to 55 and they were right with me the whole time. They seemed to enjoy the race. The road wasn't worth a flip and I backed off and "let" them win!

They are really impressive critters.

Thanks much for your post, sir!