Animal tracking is something I'd never really heard of before Daniel and his family introduced me to it. The Gray boys can get lost for hours staring at a small patch of dirt, deducing what animals came through, where they were going, and where they were coming from.  Sometimes I really enjoy tagging along, sometimes it's boring for me.  It all depends on the day I guess.  
Juniper hadn't logged too much outdoor ground time until recently.  This summer we were so worried about bugs and sun that we generally kept her in her peapod when we were all outside together.  Last weekend we had somewhat of an impromptu picnic in a grassy park.  It was only then that we realized Juniper had never really been able to explore grass before; our yard isn't grassy and really grass does not abound anywhere we usually spend time.  She thought it was pretty cool and made for a not-so-tasty snack.  Juniper has been really using her pincer grasp lately, so tiny blades of grass and pine needles are excellent toys.  
Yesterday afternoon, we loaded up to go tracking with Cobo (grandpa for the uninitiated).  I erroneously forgot the baby carrier at home so we just carried Juniper in our arms to the tracking destination just a few hundred yards off the road, and set her on a blanket.  She didn't stay put for too long because not only did the pine needles beckon to her, so did the dirt.  

Mmmmmmm, tasty, tasty dirt.  She basically dove face-first into the sandy dirt surrounding her and got a huge mouthful.  I wouldn't say that she liked it (she did let me wipe her mouth out with a damp bandana), but she didn't really complain, and seemed rather pleased with herself.  
okay, mama, I guess you can take these hunks of gravel out of my mouth
After some dirt sampling, she moved onto pine needle sampling.  I think she is maybe, sort of, starting to move out of the everything-goes-in-the-mouth phase (I realize that seems ridiculous to say given this post is about her dining on dirt, but there you go).  She did try out the pine needles, but she was definitely more interested in moving each one with her fingers, breaking them in half, and grabbing for new ones.  
So far, she doesn't seem worse for the wear.  There has been, um, evidence that she did in fact eat and swallow some dirt, but otherwise all is well. I guess she just needed some more minerals in her diet?

Photos by G Gray, 2013

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