Sunday, December 16, 2012

Hey, Wait a Minute

I think I've mentioned there are three areas to our property that donkeys can access -- the donkey yard (fenced in area surrounding the shed), the pasture (self-explanatory) and the compound (large area surrounding the house, originally fenced in to corral the two dogs, but when the gate to the donkey yard is opened donkeys are fenced in).

Got it? There will be a quiz...

Well, it's been an unusually mild December for southeastern Michigan so the pasture has been off-limits for those 12 little feet.  We're coddling the newly redone area and don't want them to make a mess of it.  So, on the weekends I let them into the compound.  The sight above was what I saw as I was trying to leave to visit my horse.  

Hey, wait a minute!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Holidays Bring...

It's the holiday time of year.  Christmas, Hanukah.  And how are the donkeys celebrating -- with lights, of course.
All right, it's not quite dark enough to see the lovely lights, but the donkeys ooh and aah each night when they get plugged in.  Take my word for it.

It's also the time of hot slop.  You've heard me talk about it before when the cold weather arrives and Natural gets a bowlful once a week.  He loooooves his hot slop.  Licks the bowl clean until it's shiny.  Well, maybe rubber feed bowls don't get shiny, but darned close.

For donkeys it appears to be an acquired taste.  And, this morning (yes, Sunday is slop day) I saw some good scrapin's left in three bowls.  You'd better get back at it donks.

What are the irresistible ingredients in hot slop, you ask?  Take a healthy serving of hay cubes (never pure alfalfa for donks, too rich), add a cup of bran, as many carrots as you feel like cutting up, and a little splash of cooking oil.  Mix with hot water and stir vigorously.  Put the cover on the plastic bucket to marinate.
Voila, tastiness in a steaming bowl.  

Monday, November 12, 2012

It's That Time of Year

It's that time of year when donkey faces start getting shaggy...

When water has to be hauled...

And donkeys prefer to eat inside...

Friday, September 14, 2012

Julia Child Has Me In Her Clutches

I'm entranced... with Julia Child.

I'm in the middle of reading a book of letters between Julia Child and Avis DeVoto (a familiar name if you've watched the movie "Julie and Julia").  I recently re-watched the movie (which I love) and have read the book the movie was based on and, which, was the inspiration for this blog.  As you might suspect, for the moment, I am immersing myself in the world of Julia Child.

The letters in the book pave the way for her first book to become published.  They were written in the early 1950's (well at least that's where I am in the book right now) and include long details about cooking equipment, knives and all things culinary.  I'm on the verge of ordering this book as I'm finding her attention to detail fascinating.  Now the ironic part is, I don't usually like to cook.  And, I don't eat meat, which seems to be a huge part of her recipes.  But the sauces are appealing.  Take the mirepoix.  Now basically it's just sauteing some vegetables in butter.  But she mentions in a letter to Avis that she's freezed this sauce and whips it out to economize her cooking time.  I'm liking that angle a lot.  Then she mentions using her Waring mixer (which is actually a blender) to make this sauce.  This part is puzzling me.  But I'm game to try it.

Yes, next installment I'll return to the donkeys, but I may bring you highlights of my journey with Julia.
And yes, like you, I was crushed in both the movie and book that she did not react well to Julie's tribute to her.  But I'll forgive her that.

By the way, I'm also entranced with Michael Phelps, but that's another story.  

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Typical Mornings with Two Black Dogs

Let me tell you about the morning routine.

I'm usually up first and feeding the dogs is almost #1 on the do-it-first-thing list.  Mostly because Dudley turns into a starved hyena until I do.
 (don't let those charming good looks fool you -- he can be a maniac when there's food involved)

OK, now breakfast is out of the way, I've looked at the paper and now it's time to go out and feed donkeys.  The dogs are insistent that they accompany me and I usually oblige -- just makes life easier.  However, the new rule is:  I, being queen of the pack, do not let you two dogs bowl me over while you fly out the door.  Dudley is 85 lbs and Gunner is 60 lbs.  When the two of them lunge for the door, I'd better hold on to my hat.  So, now they must sit and wait while I open the door to the garage, press the garage door opener and we wait for the door to completely open.  Waiting is r-e-a-l hard because out in the garage is the most scrumptious cat litter in the world!  That's why they turn into maniacs wanting to fly out the door.

I ride my bike out to the donks and we start morning duties.

Gunner isn't the helper that Dudley is, though.  He's usually prowling around the perimeter of the yard, sniffing who knows what.

Dudley stays with me, eating manure before I get a chance to scoop it up.

But the real sweet part  is -- he sits outside the gate, lies down and waits for me to finish chores.  Snow or sun, he waits for me. There's no incentive for him; he's just a sweet guy.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Double Take

I'm veering off from tales of the donkeys and pastures (pfffttt!!) to tell a small tale of Mr. Natural.
I had neglected the boy and needed to go to the horse barn to clean hooves, apply fly spray, feed treats and get a hug and kiss.  He's been a pistol this summer (again) and plays the runaway game, especially on those hot-hot-hot days.  I got there at just the right time -- before my dinner, but right after theirs.  Horses were just hanging around, chatting each other up before retiring out to the pasture.  Well, I approached Natural from the rear, without calling to him, and when I got up to within just a couple of feet, he turned and I swear, did a double take.  "Where the heck did you come from?"

The expression was priceless.

Out-takes from photo session ---

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The "Pasture" -- in all it's glory

1.  No rain
2.  A strange weed arising
3.  No rain

This, gentle readers, is what our "pasture" looked liked until just a few days ago.  Doesn't look like a grass pasture you say?  I would agree, while gnashing my teeth.

Rick discovered this delightful foreign vegetation taking over, I'd estimate" 30% of the half-acre.  He delivered a sample to MSU Extension Service (have I mentioned how much I love these people) and they ID'd it as being in the turnip/mustard family.  Well great!

I called the store from whence the seed came and expressed my displeasure, trying to be as polite as possible while the volano was erupting in my head.

Then I called the "pasture guy" at the Extension Service back and he said those little turnip seeds could have been buried in our soil all along and when we tilled they were exposed to air and light, and voila -- a delightful addition to our already puny pasture.

Can you see me shaking my head???  The time and money we've invested -- ah yes.

 So, we decided to let the donks out on the so-called pasture -- don't have much to lose. 

P.S.  Rick mowed all the weeds down a few days ago, so from afar, it looks like the real deal.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Views From My Chair


Luigi and Franny


The fledgling, and very dry, pasture

and, finally, the skyward view.  Gorgeous, huh, if you take the time to look  

Saturday, May 19, 2012

It's Done !!!

Can't believe the last steps were completed yesterday so now we have a seeded, rolled, raked, de-stoned, de-rooted pasture ready for rain.

This is a shot just before I went around to pick up some of the hundreds of rocks upturned from the rototilling.

Before Rick raked and rolled for the second time.

That's my load (rocks plus roots) and you can see Rick's previous bounty in the background.
Boy, have we got a rock pile now!

Now that the pasture is done I can think about planting.  Donkeys stay away!  (they ate my dianthus last year so I'm replacing them with these red beauties)
A "Keep Out" sign will have to go up.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Sweet Luigi

The boy is starting to shed his fuzzy winter face, a little bit at a time.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Readers, Please Comment

Sending you a "please, please, oh please" message.

A new feature through the blog allows me to see how many folks are visiting the donkey site.  Yes, lots :)))) (at least to my standards).
But I'm not receiving comments  :((((
Help turn my frown into a smile, by leaving a little response.

It brightens my day.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Work Continues

Steps 3 and 3 1/2 of previous post are done!  Right on schedule, for a change.  Last weekend was spent moving manure from the "pile" to the pasture.
Yup, four hours of shoveling *#$! into the bucket of the tractor where it got dumped onto the pasture.  At about hour 3 I actually didn't care that my (yuckie and old) tennis shoes were covered with the brown stuff.  

Later in the week Rick spent quite a bit of time spreading it.  He had to change his technique in the middle of things -- particularly true when you're jury-rigging implements.  No, we're not going out to buy the proper equipment for this one-time project.

You can see from the picture what a good job we did of killing the weeds -- gone!

Rototilling guy is supposed to come Monday -- please, don't let the weather screw things up again!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Pasture Project Hits Snags

We've got some catching up to do with the pasture overhaul.  Weather conditions have caused major delays and I'm getting very anxious.  We have 7 steps and we've only completed 2.  Woe is me!

Step 1:  remove dead/unneeded shrubs
Step 2:  remove weeds (which in our case means most of the pasture)
Step 3:  spread manure
Step 3 1/2:  fertilize
Step 4:  till
Step 5:  compact soil
Step 6:  sow seed
Step 7:  rake

Holy crikies we've got a lot left to do.

Who would have thought it would be so hard to find a local farmer to till.  I think I've spoken with everyone in our community and beyond.   Would you believe the only person we've found (and you betcha we booked him) is about an hour away.  Everyone else I called either 1) didn't call back, 2) said our pasture is too small for their equipment or 3) just said we don't do that.

We won't make it by mid-May as had been recommended by MSU Extension Service.  By the way, I highly recommend taking advantage of their services.  The "pasture guy", Phil, has been as nice as a guy can be, spelled out the process for me, and reassured me when I called back with more questions and anxiety oozing through the phone.

We're due to complete steps 3 and 3 1/2 before farmer comes on May 14 and then we have to hustle our bustles to finish 5-7.

Wish us luck, gang!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Anxiety Sets In as Weather Delays

We've been delayed significantly with our pasture project due to weather conditions -- too cool temps and wind.  Today was another example.  We decided to forge ahead with weed spraying in spite of the cooler temps (means you have to wait longer for the herbicide to work) and once at the ready, found the wind was much too forceful.  Another potential work day down the drain.  We've got to finish this stage soon or we'll be in real trouble!

So, we set to work on two other donkey-related tasks.  Clearing out a consistently mushy area right in front of the shed, and straightening out the fencing that keep the donks separated from hay and straw.  (They had recently done a right fine job of pushing the fence in toward the straw and made a holy mess of things.)  We scraped and shoveled the mush out and then laid some sand on top.  Rick found some scrap metal to weave through the fencing to brace it against nosy noses.  Ha!  Take that you three hooligans!

The semi-relaxing afternoon meant I was able to spend a leisurely hour working on some homeade soup.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

A New Start

Work has begun on re-invigorating the donkey pasture.  We're starting over to cultivate a sustaining source of food (there's not much of value left now).  To those readers shaking their heads, clucking, saying "but they didn't do it right", I say, but we tried.  Brush hogged the fields to prevent weed seeding.  Kept the donks off in the spring.  Just didn't work.

Step 1:  remove dead bushes (mostly autumn olive)
First Rick cut down all branches and, after the donkeys had examined them carefully and chewed any last goodness from the bark, they went into our burn pile.

Here's Rick using the tractor to extract the bushes.  Hard, hard work.  

Close-up of the remnants.

The dogs pretended to be king of the mountain, resting casually but regally on top of the dirt piles.

Today we begin Step 2.  Killing weeds.  Good times...

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Mauled by Three Lovies

It's a beautiful March day in Michigan (no, we normally never ever say that) so I thought it a fine time to take a deck chair out to the donkey yard, park it for a few minutes and talk/scratch things over.

I started with sweet Fran.  Was giving her good scratches when normally touch-me-not Gabby horned her way in.  She was insistent!  It's my turn.

Although she is normally adamant she does not want her head touched, I started scratching the side of her face and she couldn't get enough.  More, more, more...  She was practically in my lap.

I got stomped about three weeks ago by Natural, the large equine boy, and my foot is still tender.  So while Gabby is getting closer and closer,  I was anxious to keep that right foot out of the line of 300-lb beasties.

About this time, Luigi, not to be outdone by anyone else's cute antics, pulled his if-I-inch-my-way-backwards-you-won't-notice-me trick until his behind was pushing the chair.  Thought I was going to get bowled over so I politely told him to knock it off.  Then Fran and Gabby started to snipe about who's getting way too much attention. Sitting there wasn't the wisest move.  Who am I with anyway, the three stooges?

I got a brush out of the tack box in the shed and started some vigorous brushing.  Wasn't that just the cat's meow.  Ooh-la-la.   Everyone enjoyed their turn immensely.

A fine March afternoon indeed.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Ahhh... It's Spring (at least for the moment)

Let's review the situation.

No snow.

No mud (or not enough to shake a stick at)

No straw thrown (warm enough at night)


Easy morning feed and clean-up!

All this could change in a microsecond if Michigan weather throws us a March snowstorm or the 3" mud returns, BUT, for the moment, it's spectacular.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Fuzzy Faces

Luigi is willing to pose
Gabby stops eating long enough to catch a quick look 
Luigi thinks it's self-serve

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Jolly Ball Thief

We were at Tractor Supply last weekend, buying a gate and while Rick looked for the essentials, I was wandering the horse section.  Came across a small Jolly Ball. I said to myself, "what a great idea for the donkeys." I've been keeping the pasture off-limits so they won't tear it up (all this soft mushy ground does not wear well under little donkey hooves) and thought they might like a fun diversion.

Well, Gunner has taken ownership of the ball; I'm not even sure the donks have had a chance to check it out. And, I can't keep track of where the little devil has taken it.

Yea, doesn't he look like a little angel here!

So, if you see a red jolly ball floating around, please give it back to the donkeys!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Amazing World of Electricity

You know by now that our donkey set-up is very basic and simplistic.  No well by the donks so haul water up from the house in the winter and snake a garden hose out in the summer.  In the dark winter days, carry a lantern to navigate.  The only lights are those Rick installed in the shed which either operate via solar panel or a boat battery.  Until recently that is.

Look at these beauties Rick put in at the corner of the yard.  I can now flip a switch and actually see what I'm doing in the morning hours.

You see Rick had labored a year ago to trench in an electric line from the house to put a water heater out for the trio.  They didn't tend to like frozen water.  Sooo, as the title says, electricity is an amazing thing.

The only (ironic) caveat -- I actually like to flip OFF the lights as soon as possible after clean-up.  The naturally dark surrounding are pleasant in their own right.  

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Don't Bother Me With Treats!

Cut into a new bale of hay this morning (by the way it was a beautiful start to the day -- sunshine with birds singing and a little nip to the air).  This particular bale was extra green; I remember noting the color to husband Rick as we hauled it into the shed about a month ago.  Well anyway, the donkeys were drawn to it like peanut butter to jelly.  Perhaps you're asking, "Janet, perhaps it was alfalfa?"  Shouldn't be as we always get first cutting.  Anyway, I called the donks to their weekly treat of grain.  No way, we're not leaving this hay.  Offered a couple bits of carrot.  Again, too busy with the tasty green stuff.

Sorry donks, only one bale of the stuff.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Two of Everything

Only a couple of weeks ago I was up to my ankles in mud, complaining that my boots were getting sucked off with every step, and that it was impossible to slog a heavy wheelbarrow through inches of black ooze.  Now, SE Michigan has turned bitterly cold and it's time to again put two of everything on -- socks, pants, sweaters.  And don't forget a scarf covering mouth and nose.  More hay, more straw, more water for the donks to keep warm and hydrated.

Yups, it's that time of year.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Tools of the Trade

When the weather doesn't allow easy passage of the wagon to the donkey yard, it's time to get out the sled.  No well out by the beasts, which means water has to be hauled out in buckets.  (In the summer several lengths of hose snake out from the house to the water trough.)

The handy blow torch is a must in freezing temps.
I've been caught in the predicament where I didn't have my torch, was able to jockey the latch open, but when it came time to depart, oops, it had frozen up again.  Let's say I wasn't game to try to scale the gate.  After enough rubbing and working the bugger, yes, I did escape.  And my I add, the donks were of no help at all.