Sunday, November 19, 2017

Dust Settling

Tessa is doing very well down at Riding Buddy's place.  She is in loooove with Hawkeye and is enjoying being a horse for a while.  It did go to her head for a bit (doesn't it always?) and she started to behave like a foolish, lovesick twit (or like a herd-bound horse instead of a sensible donkey).  I went down and had a talk with her and showed RB some ground-work exercises to do with her and it did not take long for Tess to remember that she is far to mature and sensible for such nonsense.  She is now having fun going for walks with RB and she is basking in all the extra attention she has been getting.

Not having her around has certainly been an adjustment for me.  Oddly enough, I don't miss her around the barn too much since the donkeys take up such a vast space in the universe, but it is a jolt when I drive by RB's on my way to work and see Tessa out in her field.  Even when I am expecting it, seeing my horse out in the wrong field never ceases to give me a twinge of panic and make me feel like I need to rush home and check my fences.  I guess there are some things that are just hardwired into the deepest, darkest crevices of a horsewoman's heart.

The donkeys were more curious about Tessa's departure than upset by it.  They were also a bit jealous of her adventure.  Emma and Ramsey remain inseparable and there was no real change in their behavior.  Ben, on the other hand, spent a few days cautiously watching for her return and then seemed to take a deep breath and relax.  He was quite nervous around Tessa when he first got here and it took him several months to feel comfortable living with her.  He did finally get relaxed with her, but he is noticeably happier to be biggest equine around.  He has taken to hanging out in all of Tessa's favorite spots

Since her departure, I have even caught Ben playing with a toy several times, which he never did before.  He hangs out with Emma and Ramsey and the three of them are becoming a very tight little group.  Ben used to be a little bit shy and aloof - not anymore.  He has become almost as much a velcro donkey as Ramsey.  If I walk in the pasture now, I have Ben on my right, Ramsey on my left and Emma just behind, nudging my elbow.

Oddly enough, I think the donkeys spend more time outside the barn and are getting a bit more exercise.  They used to spend a lot of time in the barn and Tessa would would stand about 30 feet outside of it.  I always thought that Tessa wanted to be out more, but would not go out without her friends.  Now I wonder if Tessa wanted them to stay in.  She has always been very maternal toward and protective of the donkeys, especially toward Emma. I wonder now if she wanted them in the barn where she could watch over them.

Mind you, the donkeys are still total barn babies and it is a very, very rare raindrop that ever falls on one of them, but they are out and about more.

I always find it fascinating to see the way herd dynamics change and adapt to every new situation.  I have been observing and studying animals all my life, and yet they never cease to stop surprising me. 

All-in-all, this massive shift has been a big adjustment for everyone, but it is working out.  The increased riding time has not happened yet, but it is always hard this time of year anyway with the short days and bad weather.  Now that hunting season is in full swing, we can't be out in the woods regardless, so, for now, it is a moot point anyway.  Tessa is happy pretending to be a horse and the donkeys are happy being donkeys so all is right in their worlds.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Shooting and Shooting

I officially declared my camera dead last night, pulled its battery, memory card and tossed it.  It died the night I was chiseling the holes for my barn posts, but I had some hope of reviving it.  The nasty, grinding, squealing noise it made when I tried to restart it changed my mind.

I need a new camera and all the big holiday scams are coming up so please tell me what your favorite camera is.  I am not terribly fussy, but I do have a couple of criteria:

  1. It has to fit in my pocket.  It doesn't have to be tiny, but I carry it around all the time so a  "real" camera is not an option.
  2. It needs to have a rechargeable battery, not "AA" because of above.  I prefer rechargeable lithium because regular batteries never last more than a week.
  3. I don't care about wifi, GPS, touchscreens, etc. I just want it to take good pictures.
Any suggestions??

I may as well be doing some camera shopping tomorrow since it is opening day of rifle season for deer and we all have to stay close to the house and out of the woods.  
Image may contain: text and outdoor

Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Buddy System

 The super scary insulated water tub finally made it all the way into the barn.

Just in time too as the weather has taken a sudden dramatic dip into winter.  Ben still had some concerns that the terrible water demons might come back.  Scary monsters which should not be confused with the frisbee demon.

After much careful thought and wary inspection, Ben finally decided to put his faith in the buddy system.  If Emma says it's safe, then it must be safe.

It's always good to have a buddy when confronting monsters. 

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Rioting Protestors

This Fall, I have been trying, again, to get everyone to accept grazing muzzles.  All I can say is that I have finally found something that all the donkeys agree on wholeheartedly. 

And yes, Ramsey's muzzle is half off, Emma is in the wrong place and the fence is all messed up.  That's what happens when the populace starts rioting in the streets.

I finally fenced off the yard again and let them all out on the lawn, much to Connor's dismay (you can never please everybody).

There was much excitement at first at the joy of being loose in forbidden territory. 

The excitement quickly morphed into dismayed disgust and betrayal when they found that the muzzles worked on the lawn too.  There was much complaining, demanding and pleading.  I finally opted for the better part of valor and left them to hide work on my new shed.

Maybe by the time Spring gets here they'll have accepted the necessity.  One can hope right?

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Comfort Food

I don't normally post recipes because I am a highly indifferent cook.  However, with all the chaos in the world (which I am not indifferent to, but neither do I have any words for), I thought we could all use a bit of comfort food. 

This is a super easy recipe that even non-cooks will like.  It allows you to consume large amounts of sugar-free, calorie-free, fat-free, gluten-free, guilt-free chocolate.  It has ZERO calories and may even help you lose weight and lower your blood pressure.  There are no dishes to wash and the ingredient list is super short.  All you need are two ingredients:

1. First, you will need a pair of these.

They come in a variety of flavors, just pick the one that appeals to you.

2.  Second, you need a chocolate donkey (you can substitute any other type of furry critter here, dappled donkeys also provide very nice results, but the chocolate really melts down nicely.)

3.  Apply the first ingredient liberally and firmly to the second ingredient and you will soon have a lovely pile of melted chocolate.  Feel free to consume as much as you like as often as you like.  It is guaranteed to make you, and your chocolate, feel better. 

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Taking the Devil's Word

After reading Ben's Tale Of Terror, you will understand why I have to make any changes to the water system very carefully and gradually.  Ben is fully stubborn enoug to die of dehydration before he compromises his values. 

My water hydrant is just on the other side of that barn wall to the left and the stock tank is just below it.  This winter, I would like to go back to using my insulated, heated water tub instead of the stock tank.

It was not big enough for four animals, which is why I had to use the tank heater last winter, but it is just right for the three donkeys.  If I can get Ben to drink out of it.

In the hope of convincing a very skeptical Ben that the blue tub is not actually filled with donkey-eating-monsters, I've had it sitting out in front of the barn for a week now so he can get used to it. 

I move the tub to a new spot every few days and Ramsey has been demonstrating its safety.  He loves the blue tub and prefers it over all other water sources, which just goes to show how fickle the individual preferences of donkeys can be. 

Ramsey is doing his best to set a good example for Ben.  Whether Ben will take the word of a Little Brown Devil is yet to be seen 

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

A Very, Very Scary Story

"Hello blog world, Ben here.  I've heard about this blog thing for a while now, I'm a bit dubious, but I feel that it is important to tell this story so that others will be aware of a grave danger that they may encounter.

Last year, about this time, my human, who I am generally quite fond of, was possessed by a dark, evil demon who led her to do a terrible, awful thing.  

I must preface this terrible story with some facts that you may not be aware of so that you can fully comprehend the evilness of this foul deed.  Watering holes are very dangerous places for a donkey, they attract predators and one can never know just what sort of monster is lurking in those shimmery depths, just waiting for a tender, delicate muzzle to be lowered into reach of claws and teeth.  Water must always be approached with wary, careful, alertness.  

Now that you know this, imagine my horror when the water trough, our only source of life sustaining hydration, was invaded by a monstrous demon of such hideous ferocity that just the mere thought would make your ears curl.  It had a huge, gaping, black maw surrounded by terrible, fierce fangs dripping with saliva at the thought of sinking themselves into a velvety soft nose.  It was covered in flat, grey scales, the color of ugly, slow death.  Behind it was a long, slithery, snake like tail coiled all around with venomous tendrils.  

As if this were not bad enough, my human, the one Emma and the Little Brown Devil call Ma, the one, as I mentioned, I am fond of - she was taken over by this dark, fearsome spirit.  Under this foul influence, she did her best to convince me that the monster was harmless!  

She succeeded in this awful plan with the others of my herd.  They fell, one-by-one, under her tainted spell.  I was not surprised when the horse gave in, she has impaired auditory senses after all.  She is only a horse and can't be blamed for her failings, but the other donkeys....Oh, the terror of it all.  

It was a dark, dark time indeed.

Fortunately, I was able to holdfast to my true donkey nature and eventually, it broke through the noxious spell that had been laid upon my human.  She finally shrugged off the evil taint and, with her help, we were able to banish the monster back down into the lowest regions of Hell from whence it had spawned!

I tell you this story as a warning so that you will be aware of this danger and can recognize it when you see it.  My fellow equines, do not let your guard down! These monsters can creep into your world and you must remain ever vigilant.  Keep a sharp eye on your humans, lest they be taken over by the demons and start placing these items in your water.  BE CAREFUL!!!

So that you can more easily recognize the demon, I have convinced to human to include a photo of it.  This may be hard to look at, but for your own sake, I beg you, do not turn away!"

Blogger's note: For anyone who may not recognize these, they are stock tank heaters that keep the herd's water from freezing in the winter.  They are both new.  I gave up on the grey demon on the left after two weeks and bought the red one.  I was finally able to convince Ben that the red heater would not eat him.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Fall Frenzy

I took this last week off from my job in order to do some real work and to try and finish all the many projects I got myself into this Fall.  Despite the nice weather we have had, I can feel the icy breath of Old Man Winter breathing down my neck.  I am sore, tired and the past week is already fading into a blur, but I did get a lot done....

Finished the roof:

Two out of three sides:

Re-leveled and replaced the posts, repaired the windows and got them closed for the season, (just in time):

Rain gutter, I hope it survives the snow, but I have my doubts:

Very sweet new farrier client who came up suddenly lame a couple weeks ago with laminitis trouble.  She got a trim and wraps followed by bloodwork and padded hoof casts.  Glad to say Rosie is feeling better and will, hopefully, continue on to a complete recovery.  She has a super cute donkey boyfriend named Al who is lending his donkey healing vibes so she is in good hands.

  • A sheep sorting chute in FB's barn
  • A day working with Tessa and Riding Buddy because Tessa's brain has turned into mush living with her new boyfriend.  Isn't that always the way?
It is now pouring rain with up to 5 inches predicted for tonight and tomorrow with high winds.  All the new gravel, gutters, posts, siding and roofing will be getting a good test.  Old Man Winter is closing in fast.

The Glow Worm

A guest post from Farm Buddy:

Okay, blog readers, this is the big day….Now I know Sara from Punkin’s Patch is going to try and tell you that it is National Hug a Sheep Day, and that may be true, but most importantly, today is Scout’s birthday, and he is 15 years old!!!!! 

(I don't recommend anyone trying to hug Scout, he is a grumpy old man and he will bite you.)

Is that a milestone or what? Not only is he fifteen, he is active! He greeted his morning and evening hikes with enthusiasm! He had a definite dog trot AND he carried a big stick both times! Not many 15-year-old dogs will do that!  

Oh, I admit Scout is not without a few problems; I have to be careful to make sure he doesn’t fall when getting out of bed in the morning, and he can be a bit unsteady crossing rock walls, but he really is in remarkable condition for a dog his age. Kris did have to get him a glow-in-the-dark collar so I can find him after dark.  He likes to go wandering about in the evening and he is rather deaf so it was hard to keep track of him.  Now, he looks like a glow-worm wandering about the yard.  He has an insatiable appetite for just about any type of food, and he is still able to keep all of the other dogs in line, even big Bess. No one argues with him, including me! So here’s hoping he can make it to the big 16, as my world will definitely not be as bright without him. 

Scout comes from a litter of seven pups, all males, and he still has one surviving brother, Moss, who lives in Massachusetts with the kind woman that raised the litter. Scout and I want to wish Moss a very happy birthday too. We also want to always remember the brothers who have passed, Tanner, Gyp, Dru, Beck, and one that I am not positive of his name, but I think it was Barley. Of these brothers, Scout and I were closest with Tanner, whom of course you all knew, and we miss Tanner very much and always will.

Now hopefully Ms. Dancing Donkey can come up with some appropriate pictures to acknowledge this extraordinary occasion!!

Friday, October 27, 2017

You're doing WHAT?

This Fall has brought a very rare stretch of beautiful, dry weather.  I'm not sure if it is this weather or just a lingering sense of frustration on many fronts that has pushed me into tackling some big projects that I have been putting off for some time.  Most of those, I have already written about, like the new shed, the gravel and the flooring projects. 

There was one other big project that has been nagging at me for several years now.  I've tried to hire someone to do this project, but every contractor I've talked to about it has taken one look and then disappeared off the planet.  I can only assume that either there is a voracious black hole that only eats contractors or they just don't want any part of my projects.  I suppose I should try to be understanding as I have gotten dubious looks from just about everybody on this one...

"Seriously Ma, you're gonna do WHAT?"

I guess I'm the only one who doesn't think this is crazy.  I'm afraid to think about what that means. 

Honestly though, it's not that crazy.  All I had to do was cut off the posts holding up the side of my barn, dig some deeper holes under them and put some new posts in their place without letting the roof fall on my head.

No big deal.

OK, so it was kind of a big deal and there were some dark moments.  You may ask why I would do such a crazy thing?  The answer is that these post, like those on my deck, heaved badly a few years ago and they get worse every winter since then.  The only way to keep the whole shed roof from tearing itself apart was to fix it.  I rented the big digger machine again to help with the holes...

I did have some willing volunteers, at least until the real work started and then they remembered some crucial sunbathing they absolutely needed to get to.
Everything went well at first.  However, I dug down about three feet (which was about how deep the old posts were) and I hit a layer of impenetrable hardpan that the excavator WOULD. NOT. DIG THROUGH..

Most people stop when they hit hardpan and just set the posts on top of it.  That's what happened the first time and it seems reasonable.  Hardpan is REALLY hard and should not move.  Setting posts on it even works in most places.  But not here.

That is how I found myself, with a badly pulled chest muscle, after hours of hard labor, crouched in the bottom of a deep, dank trench at 11:30 at night with a hammer and bar literally chiseling holes for my posts.  I actually ran out of swear words.  Can you believe it? 

Eventually, a little brown nose poked its way into the hole and whuffled at my hair.  I took a few minutes to rub that silky, soft muzzle from this novel angle and try to remind myself exactly why I have a barn in the first place.

It helped.

I will spare you the rest of the gory details, they are mostly a blur anyway.  Suffice it to say that the posts are now 5 feet deep - buried in the hardpan.  The roof-line and the wall are level again and the windows function once more.  The building did not fall down, I managed to get out of the holes and the new posts are set. 

The only real casualty of this endeavor seems to be the camera.  I forgot I had it in my pocket and all the dirt that got into it when I slither/fell into the holes seems to have done it in, which is why you don't get any pictures of this mess. 

I have some gutter to put up to get the water away from the posts and the barn and I still have to finish filling in the holes (there is another odd phenomena up here - you can dig a hole, which will be mostly rock, and then not have enough dirt or rock to fill the hole back in.  I have no idea where the original contents of the hole disappear to, but it happens all the time.  Come to think of it, the soil probably goes down the same black hole that contractors get swallowed into).  Otherwise, I am calling it a success (for now, we'll see how it fares over the winter). 

I also made a decision while I was chiseling hardpan at the bottom of a hole:  when one of these crazy projects finally does me in, I do not want to be buried.  I do not want all my bodily fluids sucked out and replaced with toxic chemicals so I can be crammed into a nasty little box and buried in the cold, dank ground.  A nice quick incineration would be much better thank you.  Spread my ashes on the wind and let them go where they may.

Farm Buddy gets my dog, the cat and my tractor.  Riding Buddy gets Tessa and the donkeys.  My sister gets the toy trucks and the three of you can sell everything else and split the proceeds. 

Monday, October 23, 2017

The Cat Thing

How's that cat thing go...if you're too busy and tired to write a real post, put up pictures of the cat?  Well, here she is.  You'll notice that Kipper has been hard at work getting ready for winter as well, I think she's gained five pounds.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Quick Updates

Tessa is doing very well down at Riding Buddy's place.  According to RB, she and Hawkeye are like an old married couple already, they hang out together all the time.  Tess is very relaxed, but is interested in all the goings on down there.  She is enjoying all the new scenery and all the extra attention.  Her diet is also starting off well, although she might not agree with that.  She is not thrilled by the grazing muzzle, but is getting the hang of it.  I think her only real frustration is that she can't reach over the fence and eat all the really good grass like she was used to doing here, which is why all diet attempts failed for her here.

The donkeys do not seem bothered by her absence.  They are kind of like a group of kids who get to stay home alone for the first time.  Every morning, I get up and find them all sleeping in the barn together.  Ben has taken over all of Tessa's favorite spots, Ramsey has moved back into his favorite places and Emma just rolls her eyes at the foolishness of boys.

All quiet on the Eastern front at this point. 

Sunday, October 15, 2017

A Tectonic Shift

A truly major shift has occurred on my farm, one that I never envisioned.  If there is one thing I have learned in my life it is to never say never.

Riding Buddy and I have been talking about this shift for well over a year.  With Izzy's passing last week, Hawkey was left with no herd at all and, somewhat to my own surprise, I have decided to let Tessa go down to Riding Buddy's place to keep him company.  RB needs another horse to work with and keep Hawkeye company.  She also needs it to be a good, sound, young horse, who will be both fun and safe, which is a very rare combination.  Tessa fits that bill.

I have not been able to do much riding this summer for a variety of reasons and Tessa needs more exercise.  She also enjoys getting out and doing things.  RB's place is only a mile away and we should be able to ride out together from her farm easier than the two of us riding out alone to meet in the middle.  We hope that we will actually be able to ride more this way.  I will have one less critter to care for over the winter, the donkeys will have more room in the barn, Hawkeye will have a friend, Tessa will get to hang out with her boyfriend and (hopefully) get more exercise and RB will have another good horse to work with.

It should be a win-win for all of us.

It is a good plan and I think it will work out well, but it is a monumental shift in my world.  Horses have been central to my life for as long as I can remember.  If you had said to me 10 years ago that I would look out to my barn and find three donkeys and no horses, I'd have suggested heavy medication and therapy.  It is a jolt to walk into my tack room and not see a saddle.  It is even more of a jolt to walk to the barn and not hear Tessa's unique and distinctive wuffling, warbling nicker or look out my window and not see a horse. 

The donkeys are doing their best to convince me that no horses are needed.  They miss Tessa a bit, but Ben and Ramsey have been vying for her favorite corner in the barn all day.  Without her wading through their ranks, they feel even freer to crowd around me, demanding attention, affection and entertainment.

Tessa will be sporting a grazing muzzle just like Hawkeye's, maybe she will even lose a bit of weight.  One can always hope.

Last night, I spent a couple of hours repairing my manure spreader and all three donkeys were there for every scintillating moment.  Tessa would have eventually gotten bored and wandered off.  The donkeys didn't want to miss a single swear word, not even the ones directed at them when I tripped over one of them. 

I would never let Tessa stay with just anybody and I wouldn't put her with any other horses.  She is not happy being out with most horses and does not feel safe with them, but she has known Hawkeye for a long time and has always been very enamored with him.  While she will miss her donkeys, I believe she will enjoy staying with him and it is good for her to be around other horses.

All-in-all, I think this will be good for everyone.  It will just take me a while to adjust to this massive change in the world's geography. 

A Long, Quiet, Sweet Goodbye

My friend Riding Buddy said goodbye to an old friend, Izolde, on Thursday.  I have not written much about this mare as she has been retired for many years now.  Her only job has been to keep Hawkeye and the rest of the family company. 

Izolde (or Izzy), came to Riding Buddy 26 years ago from an Arabian breeding farm that became defunct and abandoned all the horses.  Long-time horse people will remember a crazy "bubble" of Arabian breeding during the eighties with Arab horses selling for tens of thousands, even millions of dollars and all the craziness that accompanies such things.  When the bubble inevitably burst, those same horses could barely be given away.  Riding Buddy and several of her friends all adopted some of these horses, saving them from starvation.  Izzy was one of the last of the group to still be alive. 

She was also one of the luckiest ones.  Izzy has lived her whole life since that day on the same farm.  She has been a beloved, pampered Princess her whole life.  Few horses are ever so fortunate.

However, in the past few years, age has been taking its toll.  Izzy lost most of her teeth and has been living on soaked hay cubes and senior feed.  Most of all though, it was her joints that failed her, especially her left knee.  What was once straight and strong had become bent and broken.

We've known for quite a while that this would be Izzy's last summer.  Her joints had failed to the point that no amount of pampering, medication or therapy could make up for the pain they were causing.  While the weather remained good, she was still able to get around and enjoy ruling her kingdom.  There is no way though that she would be able to manage even a small amount of snow. 

As all of us animal lovers must do at some point, we agonized over this decision.  Weighing the good against the bad, measuring quality versus quantity, trying to reconcile our own wishes with the needs of a friend in pain.  Finally, it was time and you could see it.

So, on a lovely Fall day, with all her friends and family around her, we said goodbye to Izolde.  Quietly, sweetly, with thanks and love we gave Izzy the last, kindest gift we have to offer. 

Goodbye Izzy-belle.  Thanks for deigning to share yourself with us lesser beings for so many good years.