Monday, December 28, 2015

Carrot Monsters

Our neighbor used to have several horses next door, but due to zoning issues moved them a few miles away.  I miss three in particular, but now have these cuties to talk to in the mornings on my way to the donks.

Behind Eyeshadow stands her cutest-of-the-cuties, daughter May.  The neighbors say she was born in May but I found a photo from April 28, when she was just a few days old.

It has been so much fun to see her grow up.  Learning to run, learning to leave mom's side just a little longer each week.  And now, learning to love carrots.

But cute doesn't hid the fact both of them are carrot monsters!  Of my own creation.

Now, each morning before I reach the donkey yard, they look up and eye me to see if I'm stopping at the fence to offer carrots.  If not, Eyeshadow will yell at me.  If I do, she'll nicker to May.  Just the other day, May was in the back of their property with the two cows and mom called to tell her it was carrot time.  She came runnin' at a full gallop, sliding to a stop by mom at the fence.  For the first time, the cows came on the fly behind her.  Now the cows are carrot monsters too!

Guess I'll need to go to the Farmer's Market next weekend to stock up.  Ay yi yi...

Friday, December 18, 2015

Donkey Mornings

Alice tries to enjoy her oats...

...until Luigi comes in the barn to investigate.

Luigi insists he needs to be co-manager in distributing hay.
(while Gabby, the grain co-manager, makes sure the lid is securely fastened) 

And, in this abnormally warm December in Michigan, there is the ever-present mud.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Donkey and Chicken Fraternization

During the day when four chickens are allowed to roam with four donkeys, comraderie reigns.  I actually continue to be a little surprised.  Donkeys don't mind chickens underfoot (and I do mean underfoot) and chickens don't mind big ole 300 pound beasts looming above.

The four girls are in heaven when they get to the straw before the donkeys.  Those little feet get to work immediately to separate the pile so they can gobble up the chaff.  Which, of course, is exactly what the donkeys are after too.

And when I give donkey Alice her oats mixed with a little oil, ooh-la-la, if the chickens are out, they fight her for it in the bowl.  Alice, being so passive, just stares at them eating her oats.  Some mornings I have to stand guard.

Here the girls are scrounging the remains; not only what was in the feed bowl but also what stuck to the kitchen bowl I mixed the oats and oil in (rats, ending in a preposition!).

There is no doubt that they are treat terrorists.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Remembering a Friend

One year ago yesterday, I lost a good friend.  The 4-legged kind.
Natural will be in my heart forever.

We were together 24 of his 30 years.  He was my first equine love.

He was low man in the small herd of our second barn.  But when we moved to our last barn of 98 acres and 50+ herd he came into his own.  And was the head honcho for many years.  June, the barn owner, would tell me, "I don't know how he does it.  He doesn't need to nip or kick.  He just pins those ears back and the waters part."

One of my wonderfully vivid memories.  Natural was in his prime.  I owned another horse at the time too, Friea.  I had taken my son out with me, who was maybe 8-ish. Freia, my son Zach and I were standing in one of the pastures. From the back 40 you could see the whole damn herd coming toward us at a gallop, up over the hill, with Natural flying in the lead.  I yelled at my son to "Go to the fence -- NOW!!"  I was holding Friea's lead line wondering what she's going to do as the herd is almost upon us.  Thankfully, Friea was nonplussed about the whole situation and just let the herd whiz by without batting an eye.
But to see my boy out in front of the herd, mane a flyin' in the wind -- what a sight.

And then there was the time when he and I were first a team and my son was 1-ish.  I was pushing the stroller with one hand while I had Natural's lead line in the other.  Natural bent his head down to take in the smell of that little human in the stroller.  And my son took in the smell of that big face in front of him.  Melted my heart.

He'd gleam like a copper penny with his chestnut coat against the snow.

And when I'd lunge him and ask for a canter, he'd kick out one of his hind legs as though to give me the finger.  Each and every time.  

He sure wasn't perfect.  Before he came into his own, Natural would jump at his own shadow, with me in the saddle, and just quiver if I used a stern tone of voice while atop him.  And I got dumped on more than a few occasions.  But I surely did love that horse.

* * *

Cheers to you my wonderful companion.  May your hay be sweet, your mares lovely to see and the sun warm on your back.  Thank you for sharing your life with me.