Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Donkey's Guide to Living Off the Land

Jack and I have been walking the woman around the property, attempting to get her conditioned for the upcoming riding season. Uphill work, both literally and figuratively, and she still tends to puff and snort like a steam engine, but we nevertheless soldier on. It also gives us a chance to sample nature's bountiful buffet, which is now bursting forth on all fronts. I have compiled a guide to some of the basic florals and greenery should any of my donkey friends care to to imbibe.

I have included handy illustrations and also whatever information I could gather from the woman's babblings. I can tell you that the tri-part white flower is entirely off limits because the woman pulled me away violently as I tried to sniff it and said " Nooooo, don't touch that, it's a Trillium and you'll end up in jail if you damage it!" Good lord, she gave me such a fright that I'll never so much as glance at the things again! Now, those cheerful yellow flowers pop up everywhere in such quantities that she strongly encourages us to eat our fill. Both flower and greenery are delicious and we regard them as a spring tonic. Best eaten before the flowers turn to fluff and clog one's nasal passages. They seem to be called Dandy Lions or those ^%$*&^# weeds, depending on who is describing them.

We sampled two mauve flowers, one is quite fragrant and grows on a shrub, It actually has a sort of mauve-y taste and is slightly reminiscent of the soap the Herself uses to wash down our walls. The other is a darker purple and grows close to the ground in the shade. Very tasty and we consumed quite a few before she noticed and told us to leave the "violets" alone. They provide a light, aromatic finish to a full course of dried twigs or fence rail.

The last plant I cannot recommend, though Jack found it quite interesting. It cleverly disguises itself as grass but on further examination it proves to have a strong, herbal taste that the humans describe as "oniony". Jack sampled a few strands and then ejected them onto the woman's shoe. I took one sniff of the deceitful poseur and that was quite enough. Sally loves it and not only chews the wretched thing but also rolls in it. Cats obviously crave a whole other menu.

And so my donkey friends, and any humans who care to graze along with me, these are my horticultural findings for this week.


billie said...

Sheaffer, I can see the book deals lining up for you. A donkey's horticultural guide, a donkey human's landscaping guide!

Here we would have to add honeysuckle, and the bark of tulip poplar to the sampling menu.

It is my observation that horses tend to go for the big patches of green right in front of their faces, while donkeys search along the edges and the crevices and along walls and fences, in search of a rarer and more adventurous fare.

The grass less traveled, if you will.

Can't you imagine a photographic donkey sampling pilgrimage across the entire continent? Sort of a donkey's version of Bartram's Travels.

ponymaid said...

Billie, I think you may be on to something. If you could release Rafer into my care for awhile, he and I could travel across the continent, the donkey version of Boswell and Johnson, sampling and recording our horticultural findings. We are both so scientific and observant that the resulting tome would surely be the go-to guide for donkey grazing for the forseeable future. Horses tend toward the familiar when it comes to grazing, but being browsers by nature, we donkeys have a far more eclectic menu.

billie said...

The image of you and Rafer journeying with small packs and notebooks, sampling and sketching and making notes - that made me smile.

Then I thought of Redford and Jack and a mild state of panic ensued inside my head. Can you even imagine the two of them on a cross-country adventure? The Woman and I would have to wire bail money on a weekly basis to get them out of the trouble they'd get into.

Somehow I see the two of them wearing red bandanas and holsters instead of scholarly packs.

ponymaid said...

Billie, yes, I thought of the exorbitant cost of bail and fines if Redford and Jack teamed up to tour the continent. Their sense of adventure would soon overcome any scientific goals. Hijinks would ensue, the long arm of the law would be extended and you just know Rafer and I would somehow end up embroiled in the whole mess.

Buddy said...

Well perhaps if you all had a nice equine like myself to keep an eye on everyone - there would be no trouble.

So now - you have beautiful green stuff growing in your yard? Me - nothing but weeds - mustard weeds - they smell bad and taste even worse. Mom has planted trees and shrubs - but she says no Buddy those are not for you. Well I'm ready to pack my backpack and high tail it to your place.
Dandylions - there is a street here called Dandilion but mom says no dandylions growing there :(

Your fren in need of good tasting greens.

billie said...

Buddy, you would be an excellent chaperon. Except that then Molly would demand to go along, and we all know that would turn the entire expedition into a media event!

I suggest this:

Rafer Johnson and Sheaffer go alone. We can trust them.

Redford and Jack can hang out together either here or there, where The Woman and I can keep our eyes on them.

Buddy can go to visit Molly, or Molly can go to visit Buddy.

Well.... wait. If Redford AND Rafer leave, then Salina will be very upset. But if Jack and Molly and Sheaffer were gone, Doc would be alone.

This may require a social coordinator to sort out, but maybe I'm making it too complicated.

Marnie Jackson said...

Fenway Bartholomule lost his orchard grazing privileges after sampling the raspberry leaves and plum branches. He blogged about it at, but asks that it not be brought up again. He was very ashamed of having violated my trust.

I'll share with him your tutorial, which may open for him some other avenues of culinary pleasure.

ponymaid said...

Buddy, ready your backpack and leave room for lots of those Dandy Lions for the return trip. No greenery? Isn't that illegal? The woman says I would greatly benefit from living in your climate but how could she possibly run things without my supervision? And so I must remain here...

Billie, I assume you have taken a month off blogging to plan the logistics of our botanical tour? It will take at least a month.

BentBarrowFarm - poor, poor Bartholomule. I'm told raspberry leaves are quite therapeutic so perhaps he was simply trying to self-medicate? And plum branches - well, we have tried pear tree branches with the blossoms still on and I can certainly understand his temptation. Do you have any of those ^^%$%% Dandy Lions with which the woman does constant battle? They might soothe his ruffled nerves.

Buddy said...

Hay Sheaffer - did I tell you we have brocoli and onions growing? I can't have those either - its just not fair. We do have lots of tree/shrubs called salt cedar and they are in bloom - but they don't taste good either. So i do have greenery - but nothing edible :(

Your fren,

ponymaid said...

Buddy, life is so unfair. If I filled a steamer trunk with dandy lions and sent it overland you might have it by Christmas. Our greenery has gone what Doc refers to colourfully as "todally mentil" and is nearly leaping out of the ground. Although it is supposed to snow this weekend...

Buddy said...

Sheaffer - SNOW??? Hurry and pick those danylions and overnight them to me before the snow falls. We are to have nice 80 degree weather with wind - again!

Enjoy your weekend - pray for no snow.

Your fren,

ponymaid said...

Buddy, Buddy, tell me, what does 80degrees feel like? It's so cold and windy this evening that Doc and Jack were both shivering when they came in so we had warm bran mash with dinner. Frost tonight and gale-force freezing winds tomorrow. I hope my party isn't snowed under. Will ship dandy lions asap.