Sunday, March 30, 2014

Hay Feeder Addendum

1.  Now that muddy conditions are prevailing, having the wall-mounted feeder assists in clean hay.

Fran has had a tendency, however, to aggressively pull all the hay out of the feeder so it piles on the floor.  When I first noticed this, I'd watch her, then pick up mounds of hay off the floor and place them back in the feeder.
Thankfully, she seems to be changing her style a bit. And, thankfully we've not had full-out flooding in the shed.  Only the front section is water-soaked.

2.  Behold the combo of ice, snow and mud.

3.  Amend #2 to say melting snow.
Recently there's been a small lake in front of the hay door.  You step from the boot-sucking mud into a couple of inches of water.

But you know what -- I'm not complaining.  I'm looking out on a sunny day with a little less ice out there. That's fine with me.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Posterior View

I happen to think the bee-hinds on our dogs, my horse and the donkeys are particularly winsome.  But most especially on three little donkeys.

From left to right:  Gabriella, Francesca, Luigi

For those not familiar with the history of the donkeys, they are a family unit.  Now this will be important to remember when I begin explaining individual personality traits of each (coming up next in the posts).

Gabby is Fran's and Luigi's offspring.  You can see from their coloring in the photo above, she is clearly a blending of the two.

Oops, just now I started to compose amusing tales in my head about the dynamics of the trio, but that will have to wait for the upcoming posts.  Until then, think warm -- with no snow -- and no mud.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Donkey Delight

Good friend Diana wasn't able to visit the three donkeys until they'd set up housekeeping here for a couple of years.  But she was so eager to meet them that when finally the day came... it was pure delight.

She'd erupt in giggles and laughter while feeding treats to the three moochers.  Gentle donkey lips do make for smiles and giggles, don't ya know.

I love their sleek summer look.

Disclaimer:  these photos were taken prior to our (again) removing large weeds from the pasture.

Note to Diana -- you must come again this summer.  Donkey lips are calling to you!  

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Donkey Zen

One of my favorite places to look for inexpensive books is Daedalus Books.  As you will recall I am contemplating adding chickens to the mix of backyard critters next year (see post of 3/9/14) and toward that end picked up the book,  the Way of the Hen, Zen and the Art of Raising Chickens by Clea Danaan from Daedalus.

In the first few pages I found this passage:  "In the midst of cell phones that connect to the Internet and cars that tell us where to go, fifty-hour work-weeks and three-hour lines at the airport, we long just to sit on a hill and feed grass to a chicken... Our true nature is to slow down.  Sit.  Watch the clouds.  Chickens, in their simple scratches and pecks, call us back to our true nature."  

That struck a strong chord with me.  That's exactly what my sweet donkeys give to me.  A re-connection with my true nature. When I let them.  When I'm not angry at having to push a wheelbarrow through the slush or getting exasperated with Luigi's penchant for blocking my way on the narrow snow paths.  When I stop and listen to the soft munching of hay and feel their gentle nibbles on my hand.  That's when I reconnect.  And that's how they help me slow down, look up at the sky and enjoy.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Yes Mother Nature, You Are In Charge

On Tuesday the bare earth showed on the trails in the donkey yard.  And it was a glorious 50 degrees.  Spring was coming...  Moods were lifted and people smiled.

And then Mother Nature slammed the door on that hopeful weather and took us back to many inches of snow and bitter cold.  When I got home from work on Wednesday and stopped to feed the donks I could barely make my way through the huge drifts -- up to my knees in snow.  I do mean it was no mean feat to get to the gate and then to the shed.  Holy moly!!

This doesn't show those dandy huge drifts very well, but obviously there's no bare ground any longer.  Nope...   I barely got the gate open.

This morning I had to make new trails for the donks.  It was clear they hadn't stepped out of the shed during the whirling dervish on Wednesday.  Not even to get to the water.  Unacceptable!  The picture above was taken this afternoon.  The brown marks smearing the snow means they had tromped the trails.  As Martha Stewart would say, "that's a good thing".

It's a tough season this year.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Reader Question - Raising Chickens

Rick and I have talked about adding chickens to the menagerie mix next year, but one question is kind of stopping me in my tracks.  What to do with the girls when they stop producing eggs.

As a person who prefers not to eat meat, I would not consider turning them into chicken stew.  A friend gave her brood to a rescue farm when their egg-laying days were over, but I'm assuming you can only do that so many times before they politely refuse.

A friend recently said, but why not just keep the "spent" girls as pets.  My thinking runs this way.  If you build a coop for "x" number of hens and your numbers keep increasing as you add girls to keep your egg supply sound, over time you have twice as many as when you started.  And can't they can live to be 10.

So for my blog buds out there who are chicken "farmers", what do you do?

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Ooh-la-la, Snug As A Bug

There is ONE thing that has razzle-dazzled me in the midst of this extravagantly snowy and cold winter.  And that is... my new coat.  I was forced to replace my long-standing barn coat in December (and that baby was years old) and about two weeks after getting the new one was gushing about it to Rick.  Its fabulous.

I'm modeling it here as I offer Gabby some loving which she mostly just tolerates

I have a few (obvious) criteria for a barn coat.  Warm, washable (Natural my horse tends to like to return some of the hot slop I feed him on my coat, thank you very much), warm, and warm.

This one I got from Lands End (on sale) mainly because it was rated very warm, was washable and came in a tall.  And I thought the color was too cool for a barn coat.  I really don't like having to wear a scarf when going to the horse barn or out to see donkeys, the darn thing always get in my way.  The neck on this one comes up so snuggly under my chin I don't need a scarf.  The sleeves are nice and long and the coat comes below my knees.  I have never been cold while wearing it.  And that's in the darn -20 degrees we've had in Michigan.  Yes, I do often wear a hoodie underneath but I've always done that with a barn coat in the extremes.

The only down side -- I could use a couple of extra pockets.  There are only two - I have a hoof pick in one (and sometimes my phone) and treats in the other.  I had more pockets in the old coat and had room for a couple of pieces of baling twine which occasionally came in handy in tieing the donkey gate when the latch was frozen, and could give the phone a designated pocket without fear of any scratching.  And maybe throw a couple of tubes of wormer in another pocket.

Well, there is one more problem with the coat -- it may be TOO warm when we actually do get spring.

Lands End, you done good!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Hay Feeder Ready For Action

The first thing that came to mind as I sat at the keyboard ready to regale you with the newest story is "now we're cooking with gas", but I realized no one but someone my age would have ever heard of that expression, except perhaps my son.  I remember my dad using that, as well as, "we're cheating John D." as we'd coast down a hill in the car.  What unique expressions do you remember from your childhood?

But, on to the story...

Friday I picked up the hay feeder from the local feed store ($10 more than the catalogs but still cheaper) and yesterday was the big installation day.  We made the mistake of taking two ridiculous black dogs out with us and for some reason they were all jazzed up.  Made the donkeys nervous.  Chastising the dogs/hyenas fell on deaf ears.  Idiots.

The hardest part of the process was climbing over the huge snow pile next to the shed.  Rick said, "you go over there and hold the bolts while I put on the washers and nuts".  I said OK.  Until I walked around and saw the size of the snowbank I'd have to climb over.  For those who aren't personal friends, following  surgery 10 years ago, I now have the balance of a baby.  Zip, gone.  So perchinging atop this huge pile of snow was not for me.  Instead I got the job of putting on washers and nuts and then tightening.  Piece of cake.

Then the grand unveiling.

Actually it took some coaxing for the donks to want to come in and examine it - darn dogs had them skittish. And, I had the pure audacity to want to measure them with the scariest tape measure in the world.  Good lord.

No dogs, you're not invited next time.