Monday, September 3, 2012

It's been a while since I visited this blog ... but that doesn't mean I haven't been thinking about a few things. Take for instance, flies...

Do you think a housefly 

can have a personality?

I was just wondering, do you think a housefly can have a personality? Is that at least likely?

Well, I can almost hear you chuckling and asking what I’ve been drinking, but think about it. Let me explain. There I was, standing at the kitchen sink washing up the breakfast dishes, my hands in water that was a tad bit too hot to be comfortable, when the carrying on of a couple flies caught my attention.

My view when standing at the sink is of the back paddock. Back in the old country we’d call it a pasture but down here it’s called a paddock. I don’t know why. The ewe owned by my next door neighbours, Robert and Megan, lambed a while back and the little woolly fur ball wasn’t giving up on suckling. Robert said it would naturally, as the mama sheep’s milk dried up. Well that didn’t happen.

Megan had named the lamb, calling it Molly, I think, and Molly couldn’t get enough of Mama’s milk. Poor old Mama didn’t seem to care but as Molly grew it got too big to fit under Mama to get at the teat. Soon the knees of Molly’s front legs showed signs of wear as the little idiot would kneel to get under Mama’s udder. Something had to be done to help with the weaning. That’s where my back paddock came into play.

Robert asked if he fenced off a section of that area he could put Molly back there, separating the getting-bigger every day beast from Mama Sheep. That sounded good to me. Molly could eat down the grass, saving me from having to run the mower over it so often. So one fine morning it was done. And the separation lasted about three hours.

It was the bleating going on by both Mama and Molly that got to Megan. I ignored it thinking that sooner or later they’d both get over it and that would be it. Well, Megan said something to Robert and an opening was cut in the wire fence between the two pastures. Uh, paddocks.

Even that was alright as far as I was concerned. Whenever I was standing at the sink doing up the dishes I could watch mother and child as they chewed up the grass. They didn’t bother the chickens and it gave me some entertainment while having my hands in water that was too hot. A bad habit of mine, using water that is just off the boil.

Watching the sheeps and the chickens I discovered that both had their own personality. I had noticed early on that the hens each went about doing their scratching and pecking in their own way. The white hen would scratch here and there a while, then run like mad over to another spot to take it up again. One of the brownies didn’t pay much attention but the light brown one would be right behind the white one. Silly birds.

The sheep was Robert’s part of the deal, he had butchering plans for Molly. Megan, on the other hand took care of the chickens and turkeys that were being raised on their property. My hens were a gift from Megan. It was the brown one that attracted one of Megan’s roosters. For a few days the long-tailed crowing bird would hang around Brownie. I only saw him mount the hen once and then it happened so fast I almost missed it. Brownie didn’t pay any attention. Not really. Just waited out the five second attack on her virtue and then went back to scratching and pecking. Being a male he just puffed up his chest and crowed, letting the world know how great he was.

For the next week or so the rooster stayed close to his lady love, kind of overly protective. The other hens didn’t pay any attention to him nor did he to them. Then one day he didn’t show up and I heard him over across the way crowing his head off.

Probably back servicing his harem over there.

Now I’m explaining all this to show why I think it is possible that even a common fly could have a personality. If sheep can, as dumb as they are, and chickens do, why not flies?

Doing the dishes and watching two of these beasties flit around, buzzing and going from one side of the window to the other, I noticed a difference in them. Now these aren’t really your common housefly. Nope. We’re in farm country. These are the big, black and dark green monster flies. The kind you’d find around cows and sheeps and other farm animals. But they didn’t do their buzzing the same way.

One was staying higher, flying first to one glass pane then walking along the mullions like it was a sidewalk. The other bugger was working an area lower down. At first I thought they might be territorial but then, thinking about it as I rinsed the soap off the plates, it dawned on me; one had been in the house longer than the other. The newbie fly was still stronger and could maintain the height while the other fly was getting tired; he spent more time walking than flying.

It wouldn’t be long, I knew, before they both turned up dead. Flies don’t last long inside and finding little black cadavers lying around was a typical spring occurrence. Too bad but the buzzing does get bothersome.

So I guess that’s the answer to my question. Flies may have individual personalities but they don’t live long enough inside for anyone but another fly to notice. Now that spider over there, working on building a web in hopes of catching a flying dinner, he looks like he plans on being around a bit. Maybe he has some personal traits I can observe while doing the supper dishes.