Meet Rosie. She’s a bit shy, and might need a little encouragement to come closer. A few treats should do the trick. Before you know it she’ll be perfectly content to snuggle close and put her head on your lap. 🙂
Patricia rested a hand on the sturdy gate and squinted, the other hand shading her eyes from the morning sun glinting through the underbrush. Was that a shadowy, two-legged figure, or just one of the cycad fronds blowing in the breeze? She scanned the small paddock, fumbling with the gate latch blindly for a moment before looking down to thumb the pin back and unhook the chain.
“Alright, where are you Rosie,” she murmered as she swung the gate open. The paddock was not very large, but the small shed in the corner was dark and empty, and nothing stirred in the grove of thick cycads surrounding it- like thick, stumpy palm trees, but pricklier. Of course. Rosie had to be hiding there.
Patricia shut the gate behind her and pulled the wagon closer to one side of the fence, where the ground was trampled and a thick plastic bucket hung off the rails. She reached into a large canvas bag inside the wagon and pulled out a heaping scoopful of pellets that smelled of earth and tree sap. She dumped it into the bucket and swished them around like dry beans in a bowl.
“Rosie!” Patricia reached for another scoop of pellets, and shook the bucket again. She made a clicking, chirping noise in the back of her throat, but she didn’t think it sounded very much like what Pete did, so it quickly died in her throat. “Rosie, Rosie, Rooosie!” She added a third scoopful, and dropped the scoop back in the canvas bag.
A rustle in the cycad grove caught her attention, but she focused on walking to the faucet and filling up the water trough a little ways from the feed bucket. Movement shifted along the edge of her vision to the left, but she reached into the wagon for some gloves and pulled them on. Padded steps shifted the ferns and cycad seedlings behind her, but she reached into the wagon for a bundle of soft conifer branches.
“There you are Rosie,” Patricia turned just enough to see the two-legged creature bury her small, turtle-like head into her feed bucket. Patricia shook the conifer branches onto the ground, and Rosie’s head darted back up, her brown eyes large and watery. She shifted further away, her weight on one strong, three-toed left foot, while the right foot curled limply. The thick pad on the bottom of her foot was swollen and red under torn, dirty bandages.
“Oh you poor thing,” Patricia cooed. “Mr. Diggle’s not here today, but I’ll be taking care of that for you.” While the dinosaur was distracted with the bucket, Patricia reached into the wagon for a halter, a lead rope, and a large burlap sack. She clicked the rope onto the halter, and held the contraption loosely as she crept towards the limping dinosaur. Rosie’s head was still in the bucket grinding at pellets, and Patricia kept on her toes as she crept past the thick tail, closer to the rose-colored neck…
Rosie’s head bobbed up, pellets tumbling out of her half-open beak, and Patricia pounced forward and threw the halter over the dinosaur’s head. But Rosie arched her long neck back, and the rope slid through Patricia’s fingers just as they tried closing around it.
“Well,” Patricia set her hands on her hips as Rosie danced away on one foot, the halter hanging around her neck and rope dragging. “At least it’s on you.” Rosie shook her head, but only managed to stumble off to one side as the halter slapped the sides of her neck. She chirped and scratched at it with her her dainty hands. Patricia laughed.
“Good luck taking that off,” she said as she walked slowly towards the dinosaur. “Now just hold still a second…” She reached forward to grab the rope, but Rosie hobbled a few steps away. Patricia changed direction, sidestepping to work around to Rosie’s head, but the dinosaur simply turned on one foot, tail swiping the air between them. No matter which direction Patricia went, Rosie danced away just a few steps too far. How fast could a critter with a bum leg be?
Time for a new strategy.
Patricia pulled her gloves off and threw them into the wagon, breathing hard from her two-step with the dinosaur. From a small package laying in the needle-covered bottom, she took a handful of what looked like small, red berries. Rosie cocked her head to one side and cooed, fidgeting from side to side like a nervous pigeon.
Patricia made a cooing, chirping noise in the back of her throat, trying the best she could to imitate the sound the timid dinosaur was making. It wasn’t as good as Pete’s imitation, but Rosie blinked and shuffled forward one step. Patricia sat down on her heels, her arm resting on her knee with her hand open and full of the berry-like cycad cones. The dinosaur lowered her head and took another uncertain step forward.
“Good girl,” Patricia said soothingly, and waited. Rosie sniffed and weaved her head from side to side, her arms held close to her brown speckled body. As carefully as a mouse plucking cheese from a trap, the dinosaur took a few red cones in her beak, and Patricia reached forward to take the rope. Patricia let out a long breath she didn’t realize she’d been holding.
“There we go,” she stood up and allowed the dinosaur to take the cycad cones from her hand while she fastened the halter around her neck. Velcro secured cotton flaps over the dinosaur’s head, but left the muzzle exposed. “Now let’s get your foot taken care of.”
Patricia led Rosie to the wagon, and with a few strokes of gentle pressure the dinosaur sat on the ground with her legs stretched off to one side.
“That’s a good girl,” Patricia said as she gathered fresh gauze, padding, herbal salve, and duct tape from the wagon. “Oh this is looking better,” Patricia said as she unwrapped the dirty bandage from the sore foot. The wound was still the open hole from where Pete had cut out the infected thorn, but it was a healing pink. Rosie sat with her neck arched against her shoulders, the twitch of a toe the only sign of feeling. Patricia smiled, surprised by how easy it was. Not all that different than caring for one of her own chickens. She wrapped the new bandages with duct tape around the foot and up the ankle, cut the tape, and dumped the supplies into the wagon.
“All done!” Patricia unfastened the halter from Rosie’s head, and Rosie chirped. She blinked, head cocked to one side, waiting. “Oh yeah, here you go. Good job Rosie.” Patricia held out another treat, and Rosie took it happily.
This month was full of research! I sat down at the beginning of the month, all set to finish the model of Steggy’s habitat so I could finish that illustration, when I realized I hadn’t done any research into the plants of the area. All my drawings so far were just based on ferns and general conifers from a habitat that’s kinda similar to where Steggy lived…which just so happens to be kinda similar to the Texas Hill country.
Similar in the amount of rain and general open woodland/ savanna type terrain anyway. 😀
But Steggy lived on a floodplain, not hill country, and I figured there might actually be some fossil plants available…
Boy did I open up a whole can of worms!
So just to recap, I started this whole thing with the stereotypical, lush redwood forest…Pay no attention to the words in this picture, because they’ve changed dramatically since then. 😀
Turns out Steggy could actually be in a scene like this, but only near permanent bodies of water, and I wanted to avoid the “fallen log in a lush forest” trope. So I moved Steggy to a dry river bed. The picture below is what I came up with for a drier area of the floodplain. But now that I’m researching specific plants, I’m drawing a more refined version including the changes I wanted to make. 🙂
I’ll be switching the children so that the boy is up close to Steggy. Since he is wondering if his sister would like the spikes, I thought it would make more sense if Sister is farther back, so we are left wondering too. 🙂 And the trees will look a bit different…
So it’s a work in progress! I hope to have more to show for it by next month, maybe I’ll even have a little color next time! This next month will be a true test to see how long it takes to get a complete illustration done. I might add a few things to my model to get the lighting right, but for now I’m just working with what I have so that it doesn’t take forever.
I don’t know about you, but I want to finish this book eventually! I think two years is realistic, considering my first priority is my family. But I’m chipping away at this little by little, and I am so grateful to you for stopping by for a short while. Thank you!
Until next month, check out my Instagram @paleopetshop to see what shenanigans Pete and the critters are up to the rest of the month. 🙂
Coming Oct 1st…
This little guy loves to curl up in his bed with his favorite teddy. 🙂