It was the last day of Mother Nature’s learning sessions in the Green Forest, and when jolly, round, bright Mr. Sun had climbed high enough in the blue, blue sky to peep down through the trees, he found not one missing of the little four-legged folks who had been learning so much about themselves, their relatives, neighbors and animals related to them living in other parts of this country. You see, not for anything in the world would one of them willingly have missed that last session.
Lightfoot the Deer was the first one on hand. In fact, he arrived before sun-up and, lying down in a little thicket close at hand, made himself very comfortable to wait for everyone’s arrival. You see he was eager to hear about his big cousin. Then the others began to arrive and settle in as they greeted Lightfoot and each other.
“The Deer family,” began Mother Nature, “is divided into two branches with the round-horned and the flat-horned. I have told you about the round-horned Deer such as Lightfoot.
“There is a cousin who is the biggest of all the Deer family. It is Flathorns the Moose. As you must guess by his name he is a member of the flat-horned branch of the family. His antlers spread widely and are flattened instead of being round. From the edges of the flattened part many sharp points spring out.”
“Flathorns wears his crown of great spreading antlers as if he is of great nobility. Mrs. Moose has no antlers. As I have said, Flathorns is the biggest member of the Deer family. He is quite as big as Farmer Brown’s Horse and stands much higher at the shoulders. Indeed, his shoulders are so high that he has a decided hump there, for they are well above the line of his back. His neck is very short, large and thick, and his head is not at all like the heads of other members of the Deer family. Instead of the narrow, pointed face of other members of the Deer family, he has a broad, long face, rather more like that of a Horse. Towards the nose it humps up, and the great thick upper lip overhangs the lower one. His nose is very broad, and for his size his eyes are small. His ears are large.”
“From his throat hangs a hairy fold of skin called a bell. He has a very short tail, so short that it is hardly noticeable. His legs are very long and rather large. His hoofs are large and rounded, more like those of Bossy the Cow than like those of Lightfoot the Deer. Seen at a little distance in the woods, he looks to be almost black, although he is really for the most part dark brown. His legs are gray on the inside.”
“Flathorns lives in the great northern forests clear across the country, and is especially fond of swampy places. He is fond of the water and is a good swimmer. In summer he delights to feed on the pads, stems, and roots of water lilies, and his long legs enable him to wade out to get them. For the most part his food consists of leaves and tender twigs of young trees, such as striped maple, aspen, birch, hemlock, alder and willow. His great height enables him to reach the upper branches of young trees. When they are too tall for this, he straddles them and bends or breaks them down to get at the upper branches. His front teeth are big, broad and sharp-edged. With these he strips the bark from the larger branches. He also eats grass and moss. Because of his long legs and short neck he finds it easiest to kneel when feeding on the ground.”
“Big as he is, he can steal through thick growth without making a sound. He does not jump like other Deer, rather he travels at a trot which takes him over the ground very fast. In the winter when snow is deep, the Moose family lives in a yard such as I told you Lightfoot the Deer makes. He is very smart and not easily surprised.”
“A special detail to remember is that all male members of the smaller Deer are called bucks, the female members are called does, and the young are called fawns. All male members of the big Deer, such as the Moose, are called bulls. The females are called cows and the young are called calves. The moose is a forest-loving animal and is seldom seen far from the sheltering woods of the Green Forest.”
“So,” said Mother Nature looking down at Peter and all the four-legged folks, “this wraps-up the learning sessions about the land animals, or mammals, in this neck-of-the-woods that Peter Rabbit was so curious to know and eager to share this opportunity with all of you.”
“There are other animals who live all over this great big world and in the ocean which is the salt water which surrounds the land that most of you have never seen. However those stories will have to wait for another time in the future,” Mother Nature said with a smile.
And so ended Mother Nature’s learning sessions in the Green Forest for now. One by one the four-legged folks thanked her for all she had shared with them, and then started for home. Peter Rabbit was the last to leave.
“I know ever so much more than I did when I first came to you, and I guess that after all I know very little of all there is to know,” he said with a gentle sigh and smile which shows that Peter really had learned a great deal. Then he started for the dear Old Briar-patch, already pondering with gratitude all he had learned, with a lipperty-lipperty-lip skip in his step!
Using these prompts inspired from today’s chapter draw, write, color, paint, cut & paste, or creatively capture your ideas and story adventures in your P.L.A.Y. nature journal!
- Near to where I live there is a walking trail called “Moose Poop Loop”. Can you guess one or more ways to see signs of a moose in an area even if you never actually see the moose?
- Visit this LINK to see and read more moose facts provided by the Mass Audubon Society.