Saturday, December 29, 2007

Another Page From My Past

I was expecting spring by now, but since it appears to be delayed I thought I would share another chapter from my youth.

I suspect I may have some gypsy blood because I have always had the urge to see the world and follow my nose wherever it might lead me. Before I was a year old, I had hatched a plan to make my way onto the road in front of our paddock. The woman is very crafty and was always able to thwart my attempts to slip out unseen beside one of the horses - till the sunny spring day in my second year when I eluded her and made unerringly for the road at a ground-covering trot.

I hoped the fact that the woman was dressed very much in stay-at-home attire might discourage her from following me. She had just washed her hair and it looked like a half-dried haystack, she was wearing a stained tee shirt with no -ahem - underpinnings, and sported a dusty eyeshade, cut-off track pants and old duck boot with no socks. A frightening sight. Unfortunately she and the dog were on my trail immediately.

I shot out of the driveway and was startled by a large boat-like automobile, driven by a very old male human. It screeched to a halt just inches from my nose and I gave him a frosty glare. He turned an unusual shade of greyish white and the automobile continued bouncing gently up and down while we locked eyes. The woman was closing in, panting and trying to speak to me in reassuring tones, so I turned and made my way down the yellow line leading up the hill. Many other automobiles were rushing past us on all sides - participating in an exciting event called rush hour. An enormous vehicle with a turning drum on it's back came over the hill and was so intimidated by the sight of me that it drove onto the gravel part to give me the right of way. The three of us - donkey, woman, dog - formed a strung out line in the middle of the road. I felt wonderful. The woman was fading fast and I was ready to trot for miles.

THEN, an interfering busybody in a pickup truck came up beside me and gradually pushed me to the side and down a driveway. Honestly. Some people just can't stand to see someone else having fun. I trotted briskly down the driveway and turned into some open fields to my right. Still the woman pursued me. She was very sweaty and red in the face - not something the public wanted to see, I'm sure. I finally ended up in a corner between two fences and stopped to have a snack. I'd forgotten that running away from home should always involve packing a lunch.

I made a couple of token efforts to escape and then allowed her to attach a shank to my halter. My goodness, she was in a state. She was shaking like a leaf and gasping that I had scared her nearly to death and put us all in danger and blahblahblah. I felt a smidgen of guilt but overall was much buoyed up my my unexpected adventure. The trip home was much less eventful and she has never in the last decade let her guard down again. Nevertheless, I live in hope...

I like travelling in our metal box on wheels and she has promised to take me on some forest walks next summer. I plan to hold her to her promise and in the meantime I'm keeping an eye on the gate just in case an opportunity should arise.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Day Of Boxes

Apparently that's what today is. I've been keeping a close watch in case some rogue boxes try to sneak up on me, but nothing so far. I have an intense fear and loathing of all boxes. We once had a young female donkey staying with us and when she discovered this deep-seated fear of mine, she went out of her way to find these cardboard demons, sneak up behind me and press them against my person. My heart rate soars just thinking about it.

The woman left a broom within my reach last night so I used the opportunity to give myself a good dental cleaning. First gnawing the wooden handle and then massaging my gums vigorously with the bristles. It felt wonderful but the woman just sighed and said "Oh Sheaffer, not again."
You'd think she'd appreciate my attention to proper dental care.

She also met my secret friend, though that was unintentional on his part. He's a small, brown, furry creature with long back legs, long ears and a very nervous disposition. He reminds me of my great aunt who got caught with the cooking sherry. He likes to come in the run-in and rummage around in the hay but always makes sure to leave when he hears the house door shut. Today he didn't hear it and the woman was almost in the run-in when he noticed her. Well! The excitement! He shot straight up the wall and then out the door, almost colliding with her and the dog. The woman leapt backwards, flailing her arms in the air and the dog shot off after him, yipping and yapping with excitement. Poor creature, I hope he comes back. He's excellent company; quiet, timid and polite - the complete antithesis of TJ.

Gale, I'm not sure about this New Year's thing. The humans said something incomprehensible about TJ wearing a diaper and being the "New" year and me wearing a flowing robe, grey beard and carrying a walking staff and being the "Old" year. I'll let you know when I find out what it all means. They have a primitive and poorly developed sense of humour, which I fear is at play here.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Seasonal Greetings!

I feel rather elated (the woman says inflated) and rather giddy so I assume I've been assaulted by the Christmas spirit. Thank you to all blog friends and a very Merry Christmas to gale and completecare and cruiser and alex and elfwood and smokey and everyone else who spends some time reading my musings. My life is much improved by having an outlet for my views and a network of similar minded beings who share them with me.

As usual, the male human showed up with a container of Stud Muffins and a huge bag of peppermint flavoured snacks. I may share them - or may not, depending on how long this state of semi-euphoria lasts. Molly got shampoo and heaven knows she needs it because she's not exactly a girly girl. Doc and TJ got a shank and a container to keep things in. We always get a special hot Christmas dinner with lots of good things in it, so although the sun is absent, there is something to look forward to this afternoon.

Yesterday was worming day, which I feel is not entirely in the festive spirit but the woman says it must be done (she says that about a lot of unpleasant things). Doc cheered us up no end when he snorted and sneezed a mouthful onto the woman's face. She had orange blobs all over her front and stood there making spluttering noises and turning purple. Only fair that she get a taste of her own medicine - this time literally.

Although he's two years old, this is the first Christmas TJ has celebrated and he's alternately bemused and overexcited. I told him all about Santa Horse and the tradition of presents and leaving SH a snack. He got all worked up and said he'd wait up and eat the snack and then jump Santa Horse and extract presents from him. Fortunately he fell asleep or there would have been an unpleasant holiday incident.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Some Early History

I have a lot of time to devote to brooding lately, what with the cold, dark, short days and I was reminiscing about my arrival in the humans' lives on a frigid December evening twelve years ago. I thought I would share the tale with my readers since TJ apparently has something called ADD and thinks anything further back than two years ago happened in biblical times.

As an infant donkey of some six months, I was residing in a field with a shelter, part of a social network that included my mother, aunts and half siblings of various ages. On the above-mentioned evening, the resident human and his friend came into the field, put a halter contraption on my head (it was too large and kept sliding down my neck and off my nose). I was lifted into the back of a motorized box called a van. My travelling compartment was lined with printed paper and the second human sat in the seat in front of me, angled so he could give me reassurance. Kind of him, but I was really quite composed and enjoyed the ride enormously.

We soon became part of a huge herd of similar boxes, all flying along in the dark, sometimes nearly stopping and then crawling forward in fits and starts. The entire trip took two and a half hours and by then I had discovered the printed paper contained some shocking left wing views; I tore it into small strips. There seemed to be no bathroom facilities but I found a pocket on the door that served admirably.

On arrival, the door was flung open and I was lifted out onto a snowy driveway. The woman and male human were there to greet me and formed a sort of cradle of arms with the other two to carry me through the drifts to the barn. There was mention of royalty being borne to their palace upon a sedan chair. I ignored their babblings. I didn't let on that I had never actually been in a barn but made a furtive and thorough study of my surroundings. The place appeared empty but the woman was outside bellowing for someone called Daisy. In trotted a hairy creature about the size of my mother - they referred to it as "the pony" and I surmised it to be some sort of equine. It immediately began bossing me around. I was put in a huge room for the night, with a curtain thing in the doorway but I simply crawled under it and slept in the aisle, in front of the hairy equine's room. Daisy was a strange creature but adopted me as her own and I remember her fondly to this day. She now lives with friends of the woman, teaching the miniature humans how to behave around equines.

And that, dear readers, is the abbreviated version of my merger into the lives of my two humans. Since then I have grown somewhat in all directions and have learned much about many things. Mostly, I have learned to be patient with humans because they have limited abilites and respond better to kindness than force. I don't know what they'd do without me.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

I have my bags packed, now I just need the means to get somewhere much further south. Somewhere near the border (the Mexican one) would be ideal. I quite like the idea of baking in the sun and nibbling on a cactus. TJ of course will stay here.

Our area of operations is limited to a smallish circle around the barn. We have our eating spot thoroughly stomped down but even Doc the adventure horse is staying close to home. TJ goes off on short trips around the paddock, looking like a large dog tunneling in the snow, but unfortunately he always comes back. He still hurls himself at me in a random fashion and I have a cut over my eye from his hijinks and one on my posterior. He simply doesn't comprehend the concept of moderation. The woman lets me come and go as I please in the barn when she is out there, so it gives me a respite from the harassment. TJ's nose appears at the top of the Dutch door but he's too short to actually see anything; I make chewing noises so he thinks I'm eating delicacies non-stop. It drives him to distraction.

The woman had her teeth floated today, and a good thing, too. We have our annual appointment with the gag and rasp, so it's only fitting that she endure the same scraping and grinding. I hope they remembered to remove her wolf teeth.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Please Make It Stop!!

This has gone beyond nightmare territory. I can't bear to look at one more snowflake. I'm marooned in the run-in like a shipwreck survivor. TJ plows his way around and even seems to love standing out in the cursed stuff. The woman just shovels and shovels. First to get to the barn, then to get the wheelbarrow to the manure pile, then to get the truck out of the garage - and on it goes. I almost feel sorry for her - almost, but not quite. I've requested to stay in till March but she insists I get fresh air. She knows I prefer stale air and close quarters.

Yesterday, the humans put us in around two o'clock because the storm was so fierce. Then, they came out to our barn with lumber, power tools etc. They made TJ a proper stall at the end of the aisle. They left the door open so he wouldn't feel trapped and when he saw how much we enjoy construction work, he became much more interested. He even chewed the saw they left in the run-in. Doc is obsessed with power tools and managed to stand on the contractor's Makita saw when the barn was being built. The contractor blathered on and on about how sneaky we were because he had only left the door open for thirty seconds. The male human says Doc should do an ad campaign because the case broke but the saw didn't. I myself have a preference for those square yellow carpenters' pencils and sampled quite a few when the contractors left their tool boxes open. Humourless bunch, contractors.

I am so happy to have contact with the outside world through my diaries. It's my only link with sanity in these terrible days of ice and snow. Please lobby for a law that would see all donkeys flown south for the winter.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

This Could have been Predicted

When I saw them drag that tree into the house I thought to myself "This will all end in tears." Sure enough the grey cat who lives in the house tells me there's been a terrible misunderstanding. She thought it was a gift for her; sort of a climbing apparatus/toy dispenser. It's covered in shiny things and yet she is expected to touch nothing. Strangest of all there is some family heirloom that consists of a group of tiny figures in a tiny barn. Apparently, those are highly untouchable and the miniscule people are not to be chased down the heat grate or carried around by their heads. She tried to make amends by leaving her old toys under the tree but the humans aren't interested in an exchange program.

Speaking of toys, I thought it best to give TJ my rubber chewing blob - it's called a Kong - I haven't played with it in years, so I pushed it from the back of my stall and out into the aisle. He beat the thing even more lifeless, keeping us all awake into the small hours. The woman went all maudlin and said "Oh Sheaffer, you do like him afterall!" Amazing how she can leap to such spectacularly wrong conclusions.

She forgot to close the tack room door last night and TJ vandalized the entire room. He ate five pounds of carrots and some mints and tipped over the garbage and went though every item. He tried to operate the pump handle but fortunately couldn't quite manage. All we need is to be frozen to the floor, encased in ice up to our knees when the woman comes out in the morning. He didn't even offer to share the looted carrots - not that I would ever be tempted by stolen property. Molly nearly lost her mind and left dents in the bottom of her door.

The humans keep running off to festive occasions and having mobs of people over here, so many that a donkey can hardly collect his thoughts. To a person, they ask if my New Year's resolution is to lose weight. If only I could talk, there'd be some humans suddenly struck dumb when I began to ask THEM highly personal questions.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Bah Humbug!!

The weather is targeting me personally. It must be. The woman put me back in my room around 11am so I woudn't become too soggy. It takes me a very long time to dry out. TJ first said he wanted to be in and then he wanted to be out...typical. He stayed out and got soaked. Molly mare came in with snow in her feet and did a spectacular and klutzy version of a horse on skates when she hit the aisle floor. She stopped when she kaboomed into the door at the end of the barn. The woman just stood there shaking her head, mumbling about collateral damage.

We had a long driveway at our former place and as a mere stripling I used to gallop up and down it at high speed. If it was icy, I could attain cruising speed and then lock my legs and slide for miles. I also perfected a sitting-on-my-bottom-sliding stunt on particularly icy occasions. Unfortunately, my bottom is somewhat larger these days and doesn't lend itself to sliding. Ahhh, the heady days of youth. I've been regaling TJ with tales of my younger days and he's most unappreicative and says "Shut it, Grampaw", and runs off doing what he considers daring moves in the snow. Pathetic, really.

I hope to melt the snow overnight through sheer willpower but I have doubts...

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Tree in House Day

We had our hay in the sun in front of the barn again and it's really the only thing that makes these dark days of winter worthwhile. The snow is as high as a donkey's kneecaps. TJ doesn't care, just charges around all over like a tiny, demonic snow plow. He and Doc staged a Wrestlemania match and Doc ended up licking his face so thoroughly afterwards that it looks like he's wearing glue.

The humans drove off after lunch, clutching various saws, and sure enough, they returned with a tree trussed up on the roof of the car. Every year they go through this ritual - I assume it's so they have something to snack on. Molly was very excited when they returned and ran to meet them while whinnying - of course she thought it was a snack for her. That horse could stay fat in a lunar landscape.

GALE, I would love to see the pictures of your donkeys. I showed TJ how a civilized equine stands for their foot care but he simply can't take it in. Maybe an image of other donkeys being equally composed would help. Can you include it with your comment? I feel the more donkey-influence in his life the better. Just between us, Doc isn't always the best role model - he's inclined toward immaturity himself, even though he's 13 years old.

I will try to post images of the others. The woman took some this morning before the camera froze. You can see for yourself just how intimidating TJ really is. Quite massive and brawny.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Hoof Care Day

We were put back in our stalls around noon because the foot man was coming for his regular visit. I much prefer him to the medical types who show up in the spring and stick needles in us and peer at our teeth while making clucking sounds. The sounds are followed by a medievial procedure called floating. It involves rasps and gags and lots of noise echoing around the cranium.

The foot man is a pleasant youth of some five decades and he's done my feet since I was an infant donkey. We understand each other perfectly. We were in our stalls and TJ was in the aisle and although the man was calm and quiet and wasn't anywhere near him, TJ had a panic attack and threw himself over my stallguard, landing upside down and very nearly bowling me over. He says the man is an evil entity whose goal in life is to torture mini mules. He then proceeded to have several massive attacks of what my grandmother called the "screaming squitters" all over my clean stall. Very smelly and unfestive. Sigh.

He's now letting the woman rub his withers with her hand but he stands there rigid and ready to flee the whole time. I think it's a cunning ruse because the woman hands him a steady stream of treats. Occasionally he fumbles and a treat bounces into my stall and even though it has mule spit on it, I manage to choke it down.

I am so pleased to have other donkeys amongst my readers; it makes me feel I'm not alone in this strange world of other species.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Was that the SUN??

We were quite surprised this afternoon when the clouds parted and the sun burst forth. The woman put our hay out in front of the barn and we thawed out and soaked up the warmth. I find the best way to take advantage of these moments is to press myself against the side of the barn as flat as possible - though it does tend to make my midriff bulge out further on one side.

TJ is finally settling down somewhat. The woman explained to him that he can harass Doc as much as he likes but that I don't appreciate his highly physical sense of humour. Molly lets me hide behind her so that gives me another avenue of escape. You'd need a bulldozer to move Molly when she decides to stay put and she makes such savage faces at him that he pretends he has something else to do.

The seasonal paraphanalia is appearing - but we don't get any at the barn because we feel the need to - ummm - rearrange it. At our other place, Doc and I were allowed to roam on the property and we discovered a huge mass of greenery tied to a porch light. Doc pulled it down and we were so disappointed to find it a fake that we tore it to shreds and trampled the remains. We moved on to a string of coloured lights around the door and enjoyed ourselves thoroughly popping each one and sampling the broken bits. Along comes herself and goes stark staring bonkers. Calls us idiots and vandals and a few other things. I'm not sure how she knew it was us because we were quietly standing by the gate but maybe the hoofprints had something to do with it. We did get a hot bran mash to help the bits get through the system, so that was an upside.

We always get some of the seasonal mints as treats - they're called candycanes - and the male human delivers a bucket of stud muffins on December 25th, but that's as festive as we're allowed to get. The woman says if we get too festive, she'll have to be locked up...hmmmm.

Monday, December 3, 2007

The Weather Outside is Frightful...

I had to borrow from a seasonal tune to even begin to describe the weather we're having. Everything a donkey hates with a passion. The woman let me stay in most of the day - the others preferred to be out for some reason. She closed the tack room door and left the stall doors open and just let me potter around and eat my hay in the aisle.

I did go out for a few hours and was fortunate to witness Doc and TJ wrestling under the barn eaves when a huge sheet of snow let loose and nearly buried them both. Much sneezing and snorting from both and TJ looked like the Abominable Mini-Mule (how appropriate). I also witnessed the woman hanging onto Molly mare's tail and being towed across the ice to the run-in. That horse must be part ATV. She certainly walks as if she has snow tires on all four. Her ancestors are from the Tyrol so she is rather smug about all things winter-y.

I very much appreciate all the nice things people have said about my parade experience. I take my role as a donkey ambassador very seriously and hope to do more meet and greet events in the future. They're talking about training TJ to be my sidekick but I fear there could be lawsuits arising from personal injury and collatoral damage. Maybe if they drugged him senseless and just propped him up...

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Resounding Success

The day dawned bitterly cold but it didn't hamper our festive spirit and we arrived at the parade assembly area in good time. This was only my second public event and there was lots of commotion, noisy vehicles and excited children before we even got started. The humans were hampered in their hitching by blue frozen fingers but I stood like a statue, even when they put first antlers, then a Santa hat, on my head, and silver rope reins on my bridle.

Our place in the parade was between a float depicting something called a Ratatouille Movie and behind, an enormous green gravel truck decorated with what appeared to be comatose midgets - I'm told they were actually "elves", strapped to the front. As we progressed, the crowd grew larger and whenever we approached we heard "Ooooooo, look, it's a ....donkey/burro/errr, what is it"? The footing was rather greasy and given my refined foot size, I had to pick my way carefully through the slush.

Fortunately the route is only four blocks long with just one gentle hill, so the spectators didn't hear too much heavy breathing from self. Including my driving partner, Alex the Elk's mother, I had an entourage of six people, the two younger ones passing out candy canes to the public. I realize from today's tour that I quite like the idea of city living and would be content in a second floor flat with central heating and lots of windows with heavy draperies where I could hide and watch street-level activity. Living in a barn pales by comparison. I'm an urban soul forced to live in a rural setting.

Speaking of "rural", young TJ was amazed to see me hop in the dreaded metal box with aplomb and return victorious a few hours later. He expressed his amazement by leaping on me - it seems to be his one reaction to everything in his life. Sigh.

I received many treats and much adulation, so the venture ended on a high note. I will post a couple of photos - the camera froze, so there will be more later from more robust photographic units.