Saturday, December 27, 2008

Post-Christmas Sogginess

The weather is completely out of control. After nearly suffocating in snowdrifts while enduring frostbite, it has now been pouring for an entire day. Water is creeping into the run-in, turning it into a mud pit and the melting snow has revealed all sorts of debris. We were let back in the barn around one o'clock and given hay and very deep beds so we could relax in comfort. I find myself strangely drawn to thoughts of building an ark.

My Christmas report is as follows. As far as I can tell, the humans spent the day in the house eating and unwrapping things. When the woman came out to do our night feed, she smelled strongly of poultry and apple cider. I don't care for the poultry aroma but the apple cider smell is quite pleasant. I should note here that we weren't offered any.

I received my usual Christmas fare; one plastic candy cane filled with stud muffins and a new bucket. Jack received a strange snacking device called a Likit. It hangs up and contains some sort of block of sweet stuff. I don't know what the woman is thinking - the veterinary dental torturer won't approve at all. Doc and Molly also got buckets and stud muffins. Very little imagination was shown this year. I expect the woman to put a little more thought into my Easter bucket.

The cat and dog received far superior presents. The dog got a toy that looks like a Santa Claus that has swallowed tennis ball. She also got a replacement for her rubber hamburger which has suffered irreparable collateral damage. Unfortunately, she received a bag of snacks that combine lamb and trout flavourings. Her breath smells like bilge water from an ocean-going fish factory. They may also have heroin in them as she has become fixated on the cupboard which holds the bag.

The cat received a hideous object called a Loofa toy - it is pink, furry, dog-shaped and has an alarmingly manic smile. It is stuffed with catnip and something crinkly, so she can become inebriated while driving everyone nearly mad with the sound effects. Continuing the fish theme, she received herring and whitefish snacks, which may also contain heroin. She drools when she sees the bag and like the dog, emanates a strong cloud of fish odour wherever she goes.

Jack and I took our "Merry Christmas" banner down today. We are in preparation for our New Year celebration. Removing the banner had the unexpected but rewarding result of seeing the woman crawling around on her hands and knees looking for the pins that affixed it to our stall. I'm afraid she found them all. I was looking forward to performing the role of a poor, suffering donkey who may (or may not) have swallowed one. Nothing much else to entertain us at this time of year.

I hope you all enjoyed your holidays and unlike the humans here, are not pale green and complaining about overeating. Oh well, at least they're confined to the house with the pervasive smell of canine/feline fish breath.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Violet's Thoughtful Christmas Gift

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house
Not a creature was stirring - well actually, a mouse

Imagine our surprise when in the middle of last night a light went on in an upstairs window. The top half of the woman appeared and she seemed to be yelling something. Fairly typical - the yelling part. Her hair was standing on end and she was doing a series of clumsy balletic moves. "She's as mad as a hatter", I said to Jack. "Yep", he replied. 'crazy as a bedbug". We just assumed she was having some species of fit and had turned on the light to see better. But no. The feline had thoughtfully contributed a mouse to the festive table and had awakened the woman by loud howling so she could present it fresh and on the hoof, so to speak. The feline believes in combining her gifts with the elements of shock and awe.

A misunderstanding arose when the woman thought it was one of the felt mouse toys, of which the cat has many. She is notoriously short-sighted without her spectacles (the woman, not the cat - the cat has x-ray vision and night goggles). She went to pick it up and put it away till morning and then discovered that it was still moving. Hence the lively riverdance-like routine we had witnessed. Apparently the dog then got in on things and confusion reigned. According to first hand accounts, the mouse had so many holes in it that it looked like it had been the victim of a mob hit with a machine gun.

The woman retreated to bed, leaving the cat to finish off the poor, suffering mouse. The morning light revealed a scene of bloody carnage in the front hall but no sign of a body. This could prove most interesting as the cat has a habit of consuming the top half of the victim and presenting the bottom half as a gift. It looks like a pair of small furry pants with tiny feet and a long tail. Utterly revolting. The cat may be saving it for later presentation, which would be ideal, as another group of humans are coming over to dine this evening. One can only imagine the chaos as fifty percent of a mouse is discovered under the tree or in a gift bag! The cat is saying nothing but is looking even more smug than ever. I will keep everyone updated, but our hopes are high of having another piece of high drama played out for our benefit.

Wishing everyone of you a very happy holiday. I wish you could all be here with me to share in the festive season (not the snow and cold part, of course). There would be hot mashes for all, dry twigs to chew on and lots of those mint sticks. We would finish off the festivities with a rousing game of pin-the-tail-on-the-woman. Joy to the world!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Old Friends and Dignified Seasonal Greetings

One of the best things about this season is that old friends come to visit (one of the worst is having to dress up). Two female humans appeared yesterday to see me (although they were polite and spent some time in the house with our humans). I've known these two visiting humans all my life and was anxious to introduce them to Jack.

Jack was a bit worried at first - he feels that any stranger could be a potential abductor or abuser or axe murderer but when he saw how donkey-friendly they were, he relaxed and unpursed his lips. Mary Jane understood how worried Jack was so she crouched down at floor level and stayed very still. He grew much more comfortable and tried to climb in her lap. She is an extremely polite human and let us choose which brushes we liked and said many, many complimentary things about our appearance, intelligence, bravery, furriness etc. "Sheaffer, you're growing even more handsome with age and your tail is magnificently full", she said "and honestly, I don't know why anyone would say you're too full-figured - you're in peak condition." I draped myself over her shoulder and breathed heavily.

Mary Jane even managed to remove the dried food from Jack's beard. He becomes so literally wrapped up in his hot gruel that some of it ends up welded under his chin. He grows impatient with our woman and stomps off after only a few crumbs have been removed. Although it was bone-chillingly cold in the barn, Mary Jane stayed crouched down and gently worked away till his beard was nearly food-free. Meanwhile, Janet, the other visitor, held the ends of my ears to warm them up. Beard cleaning and ear warming; it was a most excellent, civilized, visit and we look forward to seeing them again soon.

The woman relented on the decorating front and has installed a low-key, yet festive, banner on our stall. I fervently hope we don't have to wear it at some point. You never know around here. She chopped up some apple pieces very fine so Jack wouldn't choke and put them in a bowl. Then the male human held them for us to eat while she took photos. They call it a photo-op but it is actually a thinly disguised bribe. We allowed ourselves to be bribed.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Sounds Of The Season

As I mentioned the other day, the sounds of the season have pervaded the airwaves in our barn for the last week or so. As a strong supporter of the musical arts, I applaud the idea (figuratively of course, not having opposable thumbs) but some of the modern compositions are absolutely bizarre and others frankly disturbing.

I prefer an all-classical selection or at least some of the older and more dignified standards. I enjoy Schubert's version of Ave Maria, anything sung by Caruso or Pavarotti or the Choir of King's College, Cambridge. I've even been know to bray a few notes of "Good King Wenceslas" or God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen". Good, solid, traditional fare.

And then there's Doc. His taste runs to the dregs of popular culture at it's worst - nothing sacred for him, only the profane will do. His all time favourite is "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer". Whenever it comes on the radio, he rushes to his door and his head starts bobbing up and down, until by the end he has a stitch in his side and is in a state of near hysteria. He never, ever grows tired of it. He also has a soft spot for "Zat You, Santa Claus?", sung by Louis Armstrong; heavy on the sound effects, including tremendous crashing noises as Santa falls down the chimney. "Dig that crazy Santa Claus", sung by Oscar McLollie and his Honey Jumpers comes in a close third. Other than that, anything loud with lots of loud bell ringing and drums and tubas makes him happy.

Molly's selections are, not surprisingly, highly self-centered. She has memorized the lyrics of "Santa Baby", sung by Eartha Kitt and it has become her seasonal mantra. It's the story of a brazen gold-digger dictating her Christmas wish list to Santa. It runs to light blue convertible cars, platinum mines and diamonds - absolutely no mention of peace on earth or good will toward men. "Five Pound Box Of Money" sung by Pearl Bailey, is another of her favourites and requires no explanation.

Jack's preferred compositions harken back to his youth. He loves the Gene Autry original version of "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer" and got quite stroppy with me when I pointed out the biological impossibility of a red nosed member of the deer family. "Ha", he said, "I seen plenty a red-nosed humans this time of year, why not a reindeer?" I didn't have the heart to point out that the logical conclusion is that Rudolph is a lush. He is also very taken with "Jingle Bells", especially the part about bells on Bob's tail ringing. I think I'll just leave that slight mis-reading alone. Last Christmas he wasn't expecting to be around for another one so I want to ensure he spends as much time revisiting his early donkey-hood memories as possible.

The cat tells me they have put a monstrously large real spruce tree in the house and festooned it from top to bottom with shiny cat toys - none of which she is supposed to touch. Last year she was told off for removing the tiny people from the tiny stable and batting them around the living room and down the hot air vents. She hasn't touched those this year but sits by the hour staring at them longingly with eyes the size of saucers. If one of them makes a move, they're done for.

Yet another storm is predicted for tomorrow. Please think of me, locked in the barn, being forced to listen to "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer" again and again and again..... Meanwhile, I shall coninue to "troll the ancient Yule tide carols", even if they fall on deaf ears.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Global Warming ? No, It's Snowmageddon

The Apocalypse is upon us - it has arrived in the form of winds that sound like runaway potato trucks and is accompanied by snow that blows in from all directions at once. And it's not even officially winter yet. I've consulted my legal tomes and it seems there is nothing that can be done to stop it. Apparently the laws of nature over-rule all other laws.

When the woman thrust us rudely outside it was merely windy. When she returned an hour later it was snowing heavily, with the result that we all had full body suits of snow. She let Jack and self back into the barn and gave us a mound of hay to soothe our weather-frazzled nerves. Doc and Molly got another pile of hay in the run-in but it was too late to put coats on either Jack or Doc because they were completely snow-encrusted. Fortunately Jack and I were able to double the time it took her to clean the barn. Jack kept pretending to have amnesia and walking into the tack room in search of food. I whittled the handles of the wheelbarrow and we both went in the horses stalls and rearranged their beds. We whinged a bit to see if she would give us our hot meal several hours early, but unfortunately failed in that endeavour.

She then let Doc and Molly inside and we were given further piles of hay. We slept and napped, repeated the process at leisure and soon it was time for our afternoon high tea. Finally, a hot meal was served at this version of Fawlty Towers and we got extra bedding. The wind continues to howl and hurl snow at the windows and Jack Frost, the lunatic graffiti "artist" has defaced every pane of glass. I might as well live in outer Mongolia.

The woman did leave the radio on for us, setting it on an all-Christmas music station. There is division in the barn as to what constitutes proper festive music but I will tell you about that later. For now I will post some photos that were taken today so you can see what I must endure for the next four months.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Portrait Of The Donkey As A Young...Reindeer?

Today started off quite well. The wind was minimal, the ice has been covered by a few centimetres of fresh snow and the sun actually made an appearance. We had our breakfast served in front of the barn so we could enjoy the token warmth and the woman said over her shoulder as she made for the house "this is Christmas photo day, so don't roll in anything horrible".

Photo day, I thought, hmmm, this might prove interesting. I envisioned someone like Cecil Beeton or Josef Karsh showing up with dignified seasonal props - an ermine cape or a few yards of red velvet. I would pose, resplendent against a snowy backdrop, captured for the ages as the ideal of what a festive donkey should look like. What a fool I was. I should know by now not to allow myself to be taken in by someone like the woman, whose bad taste is surpassed only by her feeble sense of humour.

Around noon she emerged from the house, laden down with all sorts of nonsensical looking items. I felt a strange foreboding. She proceeded to put something like a festive dunce cap on Doc's head, fastening it with her own hairclip because of Doc's extreme lack of mane hair. He was very pleased and mugged for the camera like the Grade A ham that he is. She then fastened a ridiculous badge to Molly's forelock - you can read the message for yourselves in her photo. I find it highly distasteful and refuse to give it any room on this page. Molly just smirked and said she hoped it could be read as far away as Nevada. That girl does NOT need to be advertising her charms to the world at large.

And then...oh the indignity. Jack and I were sunning against the cedar hedge in the front paddock when she tracked us down and began affixing what appeared to be comic antlers to our heads. The best Jack could manage was a one ear forward pose, saying something about not biting the hand that feeds him. I left hastily but she caught me in front of the barn and put BOTH sets of antlers on my head. I just hope my new friends, especially the Regional Dean at the Anglican church, don't see me thus covered in shame and embarrassment and antlers.

So, no dignified elder statesmen of the professional photographers guild to take our portraits, just herself with her modern excuse for a camera. If she's going to make me look like a circus freak, she might as well invite Diane Arbus over for the day. The woman just laughed and said it's too bad Ansel Adams is no longer with us because he was used to taking photos of large geographical features - and then she looked pointedly at my waistline. I forbade her to publish these travesties - you can see how far that got me.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Feline Update

I'm happy to report that the two mini-felines who were discarded in our ditch are now installed in their new cat-centric household, with two humans to see to their every whim. They have blossomed in every way while under the tender ministrations of Alison and are now happy, healthy and very much in favour of interaction with the human race. Their new humans emptied their bank account and have bought them every toy and accessory they could find. We're all very pleased to hear that the brothers will be together for life.

The woman has promised me my own cat and I just wish she'd hurry up. She says we will know when the right one comes along. Maybe she'll get me two. Or a baker's dozen. I plan to spend lots of time educating them and showing them all the important things felines need to know. Well, except for catching and dismembering rodents - they'll have to work that one out on their own.

The woman went away today to visit relatives - some nonsense to do with the festive season and while she was gone Doc helped me to prepare a surprise for her. I'm still quite annoyed at having been told off about my self-help plan to overcome my fear of shavings bags by ripping them all open. I was staring through the gate at the rows of bags that she had placed out of my reach when Doc came along and asked what I was doing. I explained my frustration at being denied the tools I need to conquer my phobia and he immediately offered to help. "Dood", he said, "ya just had ta ast me." With that he reached over the gate and by latching onto the keystone bag in the middle, he pulled over the whole pile. Then we went to work , ripping and pinching and puncturing until we had shavings and bits of plastic everywhere. I felt like a born-again donkey, in charge of my life and afraid no more of the crackling demons. We were so hard at work that we didn't see herself appear at the door. "WHAT.HAVE.YOU.DONE??" she bellowed. We exited hastily, leaving a churning mass of shavings in our wake. "Thank you so much for turning the run-in into a snow globe", she shrieked after us.

She became so embroiled in cleaning up after us that I'm sorry to say dinner was late. When I made a pathetic whuffling noise to indicate that I was light-headed from starvation, all she said was "you brought this on yourself, you conniving little donkey". Any festive spirit that she acquired today obviously wore off on the way home.

Monday, December 8, 2008

A Most Peculiar Visitor

This morning dawned cold and windy. That in itself is not noteworthy, because it has been cold and windy around here for the last eon or so, but today the woman decided it was time for Jack to don his new checkered sport coat. She has been dithering about the timing for this wardrobe upgrade. Jack has decided he will graciously accept this new covering because it allows him to navigate the entire paddock in comfort, without being harassed by the buffeting wind.

As someone who despises any sort of equine clothing, I assured him I will do my best to sabotage her efforts. I have begun on the tail cord and am happy to say I accomplished my mission in record time. Said tail cord is now a mere frozen strand of pathetic string. Jack says he's not sure he wants the whole thing demolished but I pointed out that the idiot woman had left the price tag on the front - which is the height of gaucherie. Jack said "I kinda like lettin' the world know I'm a valable donkey with a new suit a clothin".

With Jack in his new coat, price tag flapping in the wind, we made our way to the front of the paddock. You can't imagine what we saw on the side of the road, right next to our fence. There was a huge yellow metal diamond with a flat man on it. He appeared to be shovelling dirt but was obviously working in extreme slow motion because I didn't see him move all day, nor did he ever utter a peep. There were humans in the distance waving flags and stopping traffic and other humans digging up the side of the road but the flat, quiet man kept to himself. "I seen him before", said Jack, "he's allus on his own, never takes no lunch break or talks to nobody and he works real slow. He must be the boss cuz they carry him around an he jus leans on that shovel all day long, watchin' them others work." I'm obviously engaged in a staring match with a member of management.

With that Jack went back to the run-in for a snack. I settled in for the morning to see if the flat man would ever blink. I used classic guerilla warfare tactics to approach him without his seeing me, moving left and right and hiding in the shadow of the fence posts. The woman says fence posts only work as a hiding place if your stomach doesn't stick out on either side. Always harping on the negative. At one point Doc spotted him and galloped over, making loud trumpeting noises, Molly following in his wake. Doc challenged Flat Man to a rasslin match but gave up in disgust and came back to say "Dood just stands there all flat sayin' nothin' - I tole him I'd kick his butt only he don't seem to have one." Poor Doc, he's finally met someone with as many dimensions as himself and it's confusing him terribly.

I've given up spying on the flat stranger for today but I fervently hope he is back tomorrow. I'm growing quite fond of him - maybe he can move in with us. The woman says she needs him for the front of the barn to indicate that a lot of shoveling goes on inside, but it's not gravel being shoveled.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

I Love Happy Endings

I am so elated with the news that came today that I can barely dictate my thoughts to the woman. My first Christmas present arrived - or occured - and it is by far the best I have ever received. Even better than those striped mint canes or a twenty four pack of Stud Muffins.

We received a call this morning from the kind hearted Alison who took in my kitten - one of the brothers discarded in the ditch at the end of our driveway two weeks ago. She took the scrap of fur home and has had all his medical things done and has generally gotten him in splendid form. When she discovered that his brother had been left at the Animal Control Shelter, she rushed over there, worried that she might not be able to identify him amongst the approximately four bazillion other discarded kittens. When the shelter human brought him out, she realized that he was a carbon copy of his brother, though a bit smaller.

It seems that the brother had been put in a cage with a group of other infant kittens but was very depressed and just stayed in the corner. Alison bundled him up and hastened to reunite him with his sibling, hoping that the two would remember each other. After all, five days is a long time when you're only six weeks old. Well! It brought a tear to my eye when Alison said their conversation went something like "Where the heck have you been?" "Well, where the heck have YOU been?" and they entwined all their limbs so they made one solid mass of purring kitten and fell fast asleep. They are now running and playing and have decided that not all humans are like the conscienceless lunatic who threw them in a snow-filled ditch.

The next chapter could have been written by C. Dickens at his festive best. Through a friend of a friend, Alison heard of a human couple who had just lost their twenty-two year old cat, his brother having pre-deceased him at the age of twenty. They told Alison they were still very sad and didn't want to adopt a cat just yet. When Alison had number two kitten in her possession, she phoned them back and told them about the reunion of the brothers. The human couple took this as a very strong omen that they should at least go and meet the brothers. Of course, it was love at first mew and the brothers, now named Bounce and Spring, will spend the rest of their nine (or eighteen) lives being treated as furry Princes. It's a long way from an icy ditch.

We are all delighted and I for one have had some of my faith in the human race restored. To all of the humans like Alison, who go out of their way to help animals in need, on behalf of myself and Jack and Doc and Molly and Violet and Penny (oh alright, and the humans here, too) THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU AND WE WISH YOU THE HAPPIEST OF HOLIDAYS! Alison, you must be one of those Christmas angels of whom I've heard tell.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Damned If I Do - But Saved By a Butterfly

After my near-death experience with the plastic shavings bags (I think I had an out of body experience but the woman says it was just gas from being overwrought) I thought it best if I began a self-help program. I believe the first step in a successful desensitizing program is to get as close to the feared object as possible without inducing a sense of panic. My planning was impeccable.

We were nearly out of bedding by Monday and so the woman summoned the persons who supply us with shavings, which of course come in those dreadful plastic bags. All four of us feel compelled to assist with the delivery and unloading of anything destined for our use and so we lined up at the gate to give advice and helpful hints. We're so helpful that the woman had an extra, and of course unnecessary, gate installed to keep us at a distance.

When the shavings humans left, we discovered that they had stacked the front row of bags directly against the gate that keeps us out of the storage area. I spent the rest of the morning just staring at the unmoving mound of plastic rectangles. By dint of deep breathing and some basic meditation techniques, I edged my way over to within a few inches. Still they remained unmoving, so I casually brushed one with my muzzle. I took the precaution of springing backward with a great snort, but still the thing just sat. Time for some retribution, I thought, and pinched a hole in the plastic with my front teeth. A small avalanche of shavings poured forth. I methodically worked my way through all the rows, pinching holes in each bag until there was a mountain of shavings at my feet. "Take that, you dastardly cowards", I said, , as each bag fell victim to my razor-sharp teeth, "vengeance is mine at last!" I was euphoric. And of course you can guess who runined it all.

She completely misunderstood my motives and scolded me for being a self-centered, thrill-seeking vandal. She threatened to make me WEAR one of the terrible bags as a hat! That completely and utterly undid all of my self-therapy work and when she dragged out the first somewhat depleted bag for our bedding, I succumbed to my usual panic attack and bolted for the trees. "You don't see Jack up to this sort of nonsense", she shouted after me. Of course not - his teeth just aren't up to it anymore so the whole burden falls on my shoulders. She's completely gormless and without empathy for a donkey's emotional state.

Fortunately, my good friend Billie, human to Rafer and Redford the donkeys, has sent me a Butterfly Award for my scribblings on everyday life here at the Gulag. SHE understands the inner life of donkeys and I am most appreciative of her recognition. You can read her blog at And be sure to linger over the photos - you can actually see how much warmer it is than here at this Siberian outpost. Thank you Billie.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

She's Trying to Scare Me To Death

I strongly suspect the woman of having succumbed to the equine fad of "desensitizing' . Not only is it not working, it's putting a terrible strain on my inherently sensitive self. She claims it's all coincidence. I ask my readers to decide.

This morning dawned somewhat warmer, a mixed blessing, as the higher temperature caused the large snow load on the barn roof to become water-logged. The result when this occurs is that large slabs of snow suddenly break loose and thunder onto the ground. There was a particularly large slab hanging precariously over the front door and unbeknownst to me, the woman decided to prod it with a shovel . I was standing, back to the door, eating my morning hay ration and thinking deeply about all sorts of important issues. Next thing I knew, there was a thunderous roar and I was all but engulfed in a soggy avalanche. She says I was the only one who reacted at all and in fact it barely covered my ankles. I certainly did react, I snorted, did a spectacular forward jette and galloped away, giving off loud blasts from my distended nostrils. And what did she do? Laughed at me and told me to "hire a hall and take my histrionics public"!

THEN, not an hour later, Jack and I were rummaging for bits of hay in the run-in when she callously threw three empty shavings bags over the half-door. She calls them shavings bags but I know in my heart they are the devil's handiwork and are possessed of supernatural powers that can kill a donkey. One blew in front of the big door, another in front of the smaller door and the third came to rest against Jack's front leg. I was nearly hysterical. Here were two innocent donkeys in a death trap and she just carried on chambermaiding our rooms. Jack continued eating and eventually used his nose to flip the offending object off his leg. Poor old man - he doesn't know the forces of evil when he sees them. Then he casually walked out, actually stepping on one of the offending objects. Now I was alone with the murderous, crackling plastic demons. I began honking and braying at the top of my lungs. The woman appeared, summed up the situation, and unblocked the doors, chuckling to herself. Do you see what I mean? It was obviously a cunning plan on her part.

The final insult occured when we were quietly eating our warm dinner and there was a horrible swishing. dragging noise. It was obviously a creature from the nether world come to steal our souls. The others just glanced up and carried on eating, oblivious to the threat. It was the terrible wooden board with a string attached and she had two lumpy shapes piled on it. How was I to know there was food in there? I mean, it could have been anything. I can't help it if I have a finely tuned nervous system. The woman's advice to "take a pill" may be my only option of remaining sane around this loony bin.

What do you think? Were her actions premeditated or simply coincidental, as she claims? Dear readers, I think you know the answer.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

It's All Very November-ish Around Here

By that I mean, damp, dark, cold and generally not what a donkey looks for in ideal weather. The woman says I'm prone to seasonal affective disorder and should use Jack as a role model, since he has so many more autumns under his belt, so to speak. Jack is his usual cheerful self and tells me I'm a product of this "modren" age and gives broad hints that I am a tad "soft". I suppose someone as ancient as he has earned the right to hold strong opinions, but I have trouble believing he spent his youth in an igloo.

The cat holds the same opinion as myself, but at least she gets to hold it in the warmth and comfort of the house. She made a trip to the barn this morning, labouriously trying to avoid the wet spots but she arrived at the run-in with her undercarriage soaked right through. She was furious, and made a long, angry speech which we didn't understand fully but the gist is that she is taking this weather as a personal affront and wants something done about it. Then she stalked back to the house, leaving us more convinced than ever that she is one of those mad aristocrats one hears about. I'd even say barking mad, if she weren't a cat.

The woman found all this very amusing. I just carried on with looking glum - I've got it down to a fine art. To cheer me up she said we should start thinking about what we want for the festive season. She knows what I want. A waistcoat, a watch and chain and a first edition of "The Great Philosophers" - one printed on very old paper that tastes like bran mash. It should be bound in leather, which is also an excellent snacking material (I've sampled many halters through the years). Will I receive those items? No. I will receive the usual equine snacks and probably a new brush. Sigh. Jack only wants one thing - a new set of teeth - but this time he would like them in blue or green so they can be easily found if they pop out. I told him not to get his hopes up.

By sticking my head through the fence I have managed to amass an enormous collection of burrs all the way back to my shoulders. I do this every day so the woman will spend as much time as possible removing them. I think it's good for her fine motor skills.

Friday, November 21, 2008

I Just Don't Understand

Yesterday started out pleasantly enough - barring the cold, windy, snowy weather of course. The foot man showed up and having my feet done is one of my favourite things. I excel at standing still. Jack is much less worried each time and only had a minor attack of squitters just as the foot man finished his last back hoof. The foot man did mention that the timing was a little close for comfort. He was most complimentary about Jack's condition and said he was shinier and plumper than six weeks ago.

The woman put us in around four o'clock, just before it starts getting dark these days and we settled in to our warm appetizer followed by the hay course. Lights appeared at the end of the driveway and stayed put for awhile and then slowly crept toward the house. A male human knocked on the door and consulted with our humans. He seemed quite upset. When he left our humans rushed out to the end of the driveway and began searching all through the ditch and tall thickets of weeds. After a long time they returned to the house, the woman holding something very small.

I have pieced together the story and though it seems incomprehensible to me, it is sadly true. Sometime while we were safe and warm in our rooms, eating our dinners, a human slowed down their vehicle at the end of our driveway and threw two infant felines in the ditch. It was well below zero and snowing sideways. I simply don't understand what this person hoped to achieve through their actions. Those infants would have quickly frozen to death or been hit by a speeding vehicle. Is that what the human wanted? Why? There is another world out there of which I know nothing, apparently, and I don't wish to make it's aquaintance.

It seems the person who knocked on the door saw the two throw-aways by the lights attached to his vehicle. He leapt out and caught one feline but the other eluded him by tunneling into thick brush. When they finally located it, the humans rushed the tiny feline into the house, causing the resident Princess Violet cat to have what Jack calls "a hairy conniption fit". The micro-feline was soaking wet and shivering and was calling pitifully for his mother and sibling. He had had only one experience with a human and it had made him rather skeptical being of touched by other humans but they got him thawed out and dried and gave him some quite odoriferous fish paste type cat dinner and he began to come around. The woman put him in a furry blanket so he would feel at home and he slept in her arms all night.

And amazingly, the story took a very positive twist. Violet was due for her annual needle sticking, nail trimming, poking and prodding today and the woman told the humans at the vet clinic about our feline foundling. Alison, who helps run the Sharon Veterinary Clinic, is a very great friend of all animals, and said to bring him in and he would be transferred to her friend who helps needy cats and dogs. And so, the tiny scrap of fur went into Violet's travelling crate and was delivered. Dr Maya examined him and declared him in good health apart from fleas and ear mites and probably worms (good heavens - that's a lot of freeloaders for a tiny being!). He is thin and his coat is quite dry but they say that's because his mother was probably struggling to keep her children alive. He is at most six weeks old.

The humans debated long and hard about trying to include him in our animal family and decided that Violet being a fairly recent rescue herself, and her being so upset at his presence, that another home for him would be best. Violet's level of outrage, nervous hysteria and worry about being replaced has evaporated. Very good news, as none of us cares to live with an agitated Violet. Now the woman is washing everything the visitor touched in case we all come down with fleas.

We are all relieved that the saga of the throwaways has ended so well but try as we might, none of us can understand what motivated this callous behaviour. A friend of ours always says that indifference, not hate, is the opposite of love. He must be right - otherwise how could one explain the neglected donkeys at PrimRose Sanctuary or kittens thrown in a ditch or the myriad of other animals tossed aside with casual indifference. From now on I'll keep an eye on all the ditches I can just in case there is someone who needs saving in there. The woman took some blurry shots of our rescue and I have instructed her to post them. My mind is still quite boggled though Jack, having lived much longer and not always in ideal circumstances, didn't seem nearly as surprised.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Mud Donkeys of The Great White North

The woman returned yesterday and true to her word, she was heavily laden with various dewormers. Molly got a new bit and Jack got a raincoat and Doc and I got a new hoof pick. You can tell who she prefers. The woman is still "coming down" from her time away, eating sugary foodstuffs and rushing around acres of equine shopping. Twenty four hours of driving have made her appear even more crazed than usual. She's already talking about Ohio in the spring and purchasing more dewormers. I'm afraid she's developed a strange version of obsessive-compulsive disorder, focussed entirely on internal equine parasites.

It has rained virtually non-stop for the last four days and last night the absolute worst happened. It turned into snow. When we went out this morning it was almost up to my knees. The woman let Jack and self have our hay in the aisle because it was still snowing heavily but mid-morning she ushered us out into the run-in. Molly and Doc were running around outside, snorting and shouting like idiot children about how exciting it all was but we wisely stayed put and watched from just inside the run-in door. Jack just keeps saying "Tsk tsk tsk, oh lordy, it's just not right an ole donkey hasta walk in that stuff". My sentiments exactly. He has gained some more weight since his two loose teeth came out so I hope he has a good head start on battling the coming winter.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

She's Gadding About Again...

She's just shaken off her heaves and settled back into our usual routine and now she tells us she is off to a massive equine affaire in the state of Massachusetts. I believe that's the place where, long ago, they threw all their tea in a harbour. She will either have to drink coffee or pack some tea bags. She is not a very pleasant individual when deprived of tea. She is travelling with a herd of like-minded females and they will take the brunt of her tea-less state if she goes without for a few hours. Just think of a human pinning their ears and wringing their tail and you get the general idea. She says I exaggerate wildly but we all know the truth.

The main goal of this trip is to buy supplies for the PrimRose Donkey Sanctuary. She will use the monies from my Cafe Press line of merchandise and she is leaning heavily on the male human to extract even more funds. I applaud (figuratively, of course) her efforts but was stunned to learn her main purchases will be wormers! Apparently, in her mind, nothing says she cares like the gift of vermifuge. Not snacks, not playthings - wormers. She means well but her taste in festive gifts is wanting.

Jack and I received a warning about our enthusiastic level of play - she called us "wild men". This is all because the other day she saw us stand on our hind legs and lock our front legs together, like two stallions of the plains. She is afraid Jack will fall and break something but the truth is I would probably be the one in traction. Then yesterday we had a wild chase through the trees, reaching approx. mach 3. Jack was dodging and snaking around like a bronco and then he broke into his best elevated dressage trot. I thundered around, making dragon-like noises, flicking my ears and hoofs in all directions. I think that fine British phrase 'gob-smacked" pretty much sums up her reaction. Hehhehheh...

I will let you know when she returns, laden down with vast quantities of wormers. We have given her a list of the things we want but she snorted and said something about hades and snap freezes. I just know we'll all be getting wormers in our stockings this year.

For those of you who requested my e-store address, it's. I'm exhausted by the hustle-bustle of the world of commerce and public appearances (well, three so far) but am unswerving in my dedication to Jack, and therefore other donkeys like him. The woman called me a "plucky little soldier" but my ears are large enough to filter out sarcasm when I hear it.

Sunday, November 9, 2008


Having the cat plummet out of the rafters and nearly onto my head the other day got me to mulling over the great number of visitors our run-in has hosted. Some are just passing through and others wish to take up permanent residence. The woman wants to rename it the Beatrix Potter Hostel for Wayward Wildlife, she's always being possessed by strange ideas - the woman, I mean, not B. Potter, whoever she may be.

We have had an endless stream of wandering cats, often just after the festive season. They come in all shapes and sizes and take refuge in the hay when the weather is especially nasty. One made himself at home in a bin filled with used baler twine and another tunnelled into a bale, where we could just make out two large, saucer-like eyes when we got up close. Most simply move on when the spirit takes them and some are captured in a box thing, whereupon the woman takes them to a cat rescue league.

In springtime we have all sorts of birds scouting out nesting sites in the rafters but Violet, the house feline/princess, stretches out along a rafter and scares the bejeebers out of them when they try to land. Any squirrels or those small striped tree rodents know better than to forage around in the run-in when Violet lurks nearby.

The strangest visitor dropped in a few years ago. We were eating our breakfast hay in the run-in when there was a tremendous racket in the cat-catching box. When we looked closer, it was a greyish, cat-sized entity with a furless tail, pointy ears and feet with huge claws. We kept an eye on it but went back to eating breakfast.

In comes herself and says " Ooooo, another kitty". And with that she went into the hay section. She blathered on in reassuring tones, peering nearsightedly at the creature in the morning gloom. It had curled itself into a ball but as she lifted the container, it unfurled itself and let loose a flood of hissing and growling, accompanied by an impressive outburst from it's hind end. The stench was horrific and the woman staggered backwards, holding a gloved hand over her nose.

She said "Aughhbluhhgargg, you're a possum!" and that's how we found out what the creature was. They are newcomers this far north and it was a first encounter for all of us. Frankly, I was intrigued. The woman backed up the vehicle, having lined the back with newspapers, and proceeded to carry the box through the run-in at arm's length. I slipped up behind her and put my nose to the bars "Good morning, sir or madam," I said. My goal was to make acquaintance with the thing and then question it closely. Instead the lunatic spat at me, showing an extensive collection of pointy teeth. I stalked off in a marked manner - I refuse to make an effort in the face of that sort of ignorance.

The woman says the vehicle never smelled the same afterwards and I don't doubt. A rendering plant in the tropics couldn't come close to the stench produced by that creature. Our canine at the time was very elderly and stayed in the house most of the time but I'm sure Penny the black and white speed demon who now resides with us could have had the thing routed in no time.

I live in hope that the bear who lounges around in our valley may come up to the barn and surprise the woman one of these mornings. She never wears her glasses first thing and I'm sure she'd think it was a dog and would try to wrestle it into the back seat of her vehicle, where she would force it into a seatbelt. Jack and I could sell tickets and go south on the proceeds.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Indian Summer

I'm told that's what we are currently experiencing and I for one am all for it. Jack and I have been sunbathing and having leisurely dust baths, with the occasional snack of dry leaves. Ahhhh. Jack likes the leaves so much that he wads them up in his cheek and the woman then has to fish around and remove them. He says they're "near as good as chewin' baccy".

The extraordinary weather has brought the cat back into our orbit. When it's the least bit cool she lounges in the house in whatever spot takes her fancy. These days she's been prowling in the barn, searching for small rodents to demolish in a long drawn out ritual. It always ends with tiny body parts strewn throughout the place. Even by cat standards she is eccentric and Jack and I both behave very respectfully in her presence. TJ found out that taunting her results in painful lacerations to the visage. Jack always says "Mornin' ma'am, jest on muh way", and scurries off without looking her in the eye. She has the ability to suddenly materialize out of thin air ( she once dropped down out of the rafters into a flake of hay we were eating ) so we must be on our guard at all times. We think she slipped and fell out of the rafters but would never dare suggest it because any of you who know cats know they will never, ever admit to a mistake.

Arctic weather is supposed to return by Sunday so we are making the most of these few short days. With the cold weather, the cat will vanish back into the house and the vast number of tiny spleens and tails and who knows what else that she lavishes upon us will dry up until spring.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Festival of the Orange Gourds

After a spell of ear freezing weather, we were blessed with a day of sun and balmy breezes. I know the weather gods will make us pay later, but for now a donkey can snooze and graze, snooze and graze and then repeat at leisure. My friend Buddy in Nevada was asking when we are forced into winter clothing and the answer for now is a joyous - NOT YET! I absolutely refuse to keep the damned things on and would rather freeze to death but Doc and Jack have extensive wardrobes. Molly has a plush double fur coat designed for the high Alps so she swelters if she is anything other than "au naturel".

This date each year marks a bizarre ritual in which humans seem to take great delight. They dress up in ridiculous and/or hideous costumes and rush around giving the option of either tricking or treating. The excitement builds during the day and at nightfall the offspring from the farm across the road are driven over. They spill out of their vehicle, unrecognizable in various disguises and wearing eerie glow-in-the-dark rings around their necks. Then - and I'm not making this up - they hammer on the door demanding candy. And the humans give it to them. Can you imagine if I were to conduct myself in that sort of brazen manner? It would be hard labour in Siberia for several decades. Yet another example of the double standard by which humans operate.

I have heard tell of a donkey in our area who goes out with the human offspring, one of whom is dressed as something called a "Shrek". This donkey receives so many handouts of apples, carrots and other delicacies that they are rationed out over the next few weeks. I could probably work up greater enthusiasm for this Halloween charade if I were to find myself in that sort of supporting role - even if every second human felt compelled to shriek "Donkehhhhhhh" at the mere sight of me.

One last terrible and truly gruesome thought - what if TJ takes part in this ritual? His deceptively innocent appearance would result in mountains of treats - meanwhile he would be in his glory plotting the "trick" element. I shudder to think of the carnage.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Someone Turn Off the Wind Machine

The weather gods have obviously decided to hit all the buttons on the weather machine simultaneously. That can be the only explanation for this nonsense. We may have to fashion a sail for our barn and just go where the wind takes us. South, hopefully.

Jack hates the wind even more than I do. His, ahem, rather large ears don't cope well with anything over a light breeze. He tries to keep them folded along his neck but the wind keeps prying them loose and tying them in a corkscrew shape. He shakes them out and it starts all over. Coupled with the last of the autumn leaves, which today are more like flying missiles, the weather is extremely donkey-unfriendly. Doc and Molly just turn their considerable backsides to the wind and keep eating.

I think we have finally solved the Jack dinner bowl crisis. He has had a dish just like mine since he arrived but he suddenly decided he didn't like it. He finds the woman makes his dinner too sloppy, even though he knows it's because he has had choke. He began treating the dish like a curling stone, shooting it around on the mat and finally tipping it over in utter disgust. Then she tried a feeder like Doc and Molly's, which hooks over the stall front, and that was too high. The woman snatched it away when he started making gargling sounds. Now he has one of the big water buckets, hung over the stall front with a long hook. He likes this the best because he can whack it back and forth to mix things to his liking, but the bucket stays upright. And, as the woman rudely noted, I can't jostle it under the partition. Don't know what she's complaining about - I leave it spotless.

Fortunately, her heaves seems to be abating, though at one point they wanted to keep her in the human vet clinic. She explained that, owing to our needs, she could not possibly stay and made them do all the tests in an afternoon. Much better that way- our routine remained undisturbed and she's here where I can stare at her from a distance.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Don't Worry, We're Doing Fine

The woman's heaves has turned into some sort of super-heaves and she has become a revolting sight. She coughs up unmentionable things and yesterday her eyes become protruberant and red and began oozing hideous yellow matter. She's been to a vet, so we think she's just sick but we have an exorcist on call just in case. Until she stops all that honking and snorting, we're keeping a safe distance.

I must admit, she does know how to prioritize. The one thing she has continued to do is to see to all our needs and our rooms are freshly made up as usual before she staggers back to her pallet. Today she thought we were still in the lush paddock but we had sidled back up behind the barn to sunbathe. When she wheezed off with the wheelbarrow, we saw she had left behind some interesting objects by the fence.

We know she has some something edible in her pockets because she keeps popping these small paper-wrapped discs into her mouth. Her jacket was hanging on the gate post so I trawled through her pockets and we began sampling. I had the wrappers off in no time so Jack wouldn't choke and we began our work. The first ones were quite pleasant, the same fruit flavour of one of our wormers, the second were positively revolting and tasted like something used to cure splints. We went back to the first type and finished those. Then we examined the small box that contains the thin paper squares she keeps holding to her nose and honking into. They taste of nothing in particular but are linked together in an intriguing chain. Pull on one and the next one magically appears. We took turns removing those until it looked like we had been caught in a snowstorm of immense flakes. Her bulgy red and yellow eyes appeared over the fence "Gahh whadareyoudoig " she rasped with what is left of her voice. "Geddout"! We got out as fast as we could, leaving her in a shambles of wrappers and white nose blowing papers.

Jack says that when humans blow into the white paper squares, they are actually blowing out their brains. He makes a good point. Her modest intellect has certainly ebbed since she has had this ailment. My great fear is that she will become a roarer and drive us all to distraction.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Great White Hades

Just a few days ago Jack and I were standing in the shade, swatting flies and now this. It has been snowing sideways all day and is now accumulating on the ground. It's the terrible wet stuff that trickles into a donkey's ears and soaks them through. Jack galloped off snorting and bucking this morning when the woman got out one of his new blankets. Now he says he might wear it afterall.

The woman continues to battle the huaman version of heaves, which has provided us with some excellent comic moments. She has let us onto the lush side of the paddock now that the grass is dying down, with the condition that we must come back up after a couple of hours. I wait till the other three are up there and drift back down to the far end of the lush paddock. Now she has to reinstall the electric strand to contain the others while she cajoles me up towards them. I allow myself to be led, slowly, the length of the field. When we get near the wire, I pretend to be a wild stallion who has scented a large predator and gallop off again, nose stuck in the air, tail whirling madly in circles. Beads of sweat pop out on her brow and she makes noises like an old steam radiator. On Sunday she got so dizzy she had to go back to the house to enlist renforcements. I had a most enjoyable afternoon and feel it makes up somewhat for the muzzle outrage. Now she carries a long, long whip with her and makes phlegmy growling noises at us while honking her nose into a white paper thing. Not at all attractive and enough to make us run for cover.

And now...all is doom and gloom. Jack says he personally knew the old farmer who started the almanac book and all the signs point to a long, hard winter. He bases this on the circumference of the woolly caterpillars, the quantities of food being stored by squirrels and the extra layer of fur that has sprouted in his own generously-sized ears. Not sure about the last one, afterall, he is ancient and extra ear hair seems to be one of the hallmarks of the truly aged. I do know that Voltaire called this country "Quelques arpents de neige" (a few acres of snow) and for that alone he is one of my favourite philosophers. The man knew whereof he spoke.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Party Is Over

We were still tucking into our six o'clock hay feed at ten in the evening (Jamie is very generous with portions) when the door creaked open and a horrible croaky voice said "I'm back!" Yes, it was the woman returned from her roaming and she is incubating some sort of heaves called "a cold" to which humans are prone. It makes her already un-dulcet tones positively freakish.

Jack was ecstatic and called her over for a huge session of patting and hugging, the horses just asked for more food and I was able to use my patented Sheaffer freeze-out technique on her to excellent effect. I snorted and reeled back, while shrugging off the hand attempting to pat me. I gave every impression of never having seen her before and in fact of suspecting she was a serial donkey abuser. It makes her gratifyingly annoyed and hurt. After a while I let her stroke the end of my nose but continued to express my fears that she might be the reincarnation of Lizzie Borden, without the charm.

Except for the issue of muzzles, on which our views are diametrically opposed, Jamie is an excellent minder. He gives us everything we need and more and does a thorough job of chambermaiding our rooms. Before his current employment, he worked at a place with one hundred and thirty high-strung race horses, which the woman says is just about the right experience for dealing with four spoiled, calculating equines here. Typical of her tendency to massive exggeration.

Jack has been bitten by what he calls"the rasslin bug" and spends much time offering to put me in various complicated holds. This worried Jamie terribly until he realized it was Jack doing the instigating and not me. I am happy to indulge this cool-weather whim of Jack's and we spent many hours last week snorting and grunting and stirring up the dust like Roman gladiators. Jack emerges as fresh as paint but I usually go off under the trees for a restorative nap. I just don't know where he stores all that energy.

The humans' travels sound distinctly boring - they brought us not one gift nor did they see any donkeys on their travels. I really don't see the point in all that fuss and bother if all they do is drive around and eat and look at things. Next time I will go with them and will steer their travel plans in a more exciting direction. A tour of a carrot plant or a visit to another church event or a spin around one of those historic gardens they mentioned (I would love to sample some heritage plants). I was born to travel and they are thwarting my desires and ambitions. Typical.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

My Work Here Never Ends

It took me a few days to recover from my most excellent adventure last Sunday. There was so much to mull over and so many things I needed to share with Jack. He tends to slumber whilst I analyze and dissect the day from the very first minute to the last. His motto is "If it ain't broke, don't fix it", so he doesn't hold with a lot of in-depth musing. He's adhament that I've done enough "galavanting" and should now just stay put - forever.

Hard on the heels of my first missionary project came the second stage of harvest at our place. The main crop was potatoes but the secondary was soy beans and they need my presence, leaning through the fence, to pull the whole thing off successfully. I'm spent, but the last of the harvest has safely been hauled away. While the potato harvest is long and drawn out, the soy beans were gone within the afternoon. My very favourite machine, the huge green combine, thunders up and down the fields, collecting all the beans and flinging the rest out the back in a gigantic cloud of dust and chaff. Jack says the whole thing makes him dizzy and tells me I'm a "modrun" donkey to find it so interesting. Inhaling dust all afternoon doesn't bother me one bit.
I would be willing to climb up in that high glass box on top at a moment's notice.

The resident humans are going off on something called a vacation tomorrow, which means our friend Jamie will move in to cater to eveyone's needs. Unfortunately, the woman has told him about the muzzles Molly and I must currently wear. The officious ninny even wrote it down so he won't forget. Pahhh. She's not the only one getting a vacation. I am unfortunately dependent on her for my typing needs, so dear readers, I will be back at my post in a week. I have selected some photos I wish to share and instructed her to post them.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Mission Accomplished!

I'm still recovering from my grand day out but every minute was worth it. We were gone for six hours, three of those spent in my metal box crawling through something called a traffic jam. I'm not familiar with those but can safely say I don't like them - there is absolutely no jam involved.

We arrived at the church with not a minute to spare and I was thrust into hat and tie. Everything in the city seems to be covered in a hard black surface so it was a relief to cross the street and enter the church paddock, or front lawn as they call it - it even had an apple tree so I knew I had come to a donkey-friendly locale. There were 81 other animal participants, including a rabbit and a blue bird called Bubbles in his cage. I've never seen so many dogs in my life but I behaved perfectly and didn't try to murder any of them. I was intrigued by the very busy road in front of the church - the traffic went in both directions at all times. I suggested we explore but the woman wouldn't let me off the lawn.

I could hear someone who turned out to be the Rev. Kevin talking in the background, saying nice things about the importance of animals in the world, when all of a sudden a huge din broke out and everyone was singing about "All Things Bright and Beautiful". The woman kept glancing at me to see if I would make a sudden exit because of all the noise and activity but I simply stood still and studied the new and fascinating things around me. I was patted on the forehead by so many people that I think my hair has gone a bit thin. They all said complimentary things and asked many questions about donkeys.

We animal guests each received our own personal blessing and the Rev. Kevin thanked me for coming and told everyone how I was a great gift to my family and he wished me a long and happy life. Then he told everyone how donkeys have a cross on their back because it is a special gift that is mentioned in the bible and there was much amazement when they saw mine is so clearly visible. The woman gave him a stack of papers that tell all about the PrimRose Donkey Sanctuary and they were snapped up in no time by the crowd. Our goal was to raise awareness of the sad plight of many donkeys and I think we were quite successful in our mission. The ceremony finished with a portrait of self taken with the three clergy in attendance, including an important person called the Regional Dean, who very rarely visits. I was not able to give my sermon this time but am quite sure I will be invited back to do so in the near future. I wouldn't want to waste all that latin.

Back I went into the trailer, not to go home but to the home of friends who live near the church. I've never seen anything like it. No paddocks, but lots of greenery and more of those lawn things everywhere. These humans have an acre in the city which is considered a lot of land - I was a bit concerned about the small size of their farm but then they took me into an area behind the house called the backyard. Pure magic. It was full of amazing things. The most amazing thing is a huge blue body of water they swim in - of their own choice! I stared in disbelief - the only way you'd get me in that much water is - well, you couldn't get me in there and that's that. It has a board on springs that they use to catapult themselves in there - insanity! There is a perfect little house next to the pool that a donkey could live in very comfortably and lots of tropical plants all over the place. I peered through the windows longingly but the woman wouldn't open the door and let me in.

I was received so graciously by my humans' friends that even though the environs were strange, I felt quite relaxed and comfortable. Then the most wonderful human from across the street came over to meet me. His name is Ed and he was a jockey long ago for someone called E.P. Taylor, both here and in Europe. We bonded immediately and he and his other half, Brunhilde, catered to my every whim while my humans went in the house. It was getting darkish and we had to head home, but I balked and didn't want to get in the metal box. I wanted to stay for awhile and visit some more with Ed while I took in more of the wonders of city life.

Jack's minder did an excellent job and except for some initial braying, he wasn't very upset at all. He was overjoyed to see me, though, and tried to pry the gate open with his nose before the woman could get the latch undone. When I got in the paddock, he jammed his nose up against me and didn't stop till we went in our stalls. I was just as glad to see him. The woman says I was overstimulated because I could hardly eat my dinner and couldn't relax for the longest time. I spent the night telling Jack everything I had seen and done. I didn't even stop when he lay down and started snoring.

I know I am cut out for the missionary life and now I have the travel "bug" I plan to journey as far afield as the metal box will go. If I just keep moving I can probably avoid winter for the rest of my life.

Friday, October 3, 2008


I'm in a state of shock. The results of the photo contest are in and the image of TJ's beady right eye came first and an image of his equally beady left eye came fourth. Someone obviously got to the judges with a large sum of money. Susan, the photographer woman, promises that all her entries next year will be of me. I will hold her to that promise.

Jack seems to be on the mend but he has not forgiven the woman. He feels she is dangerous and unpredictable and is treating her the way one would an escaped ax murderer. Very wise of him. She is pleading for his forgiveness and babbling about it being for his own good but he will hear nothing of that. He is well-practiced in sudden-donkey-deafness and simply stares off into space.

I am fine tuning my sermon, trying to find the right balance between terror and inspiration. I have invited Jack but he says he thinks he'll stay home and keep an eye on his teeth in the glass.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Jack's Very Bad Day

I knew something was up. The woman left Jack and self in the barn with our breakfast AND she put Jack's halter on. She put the horses out and put Doc's halter on him. Hmmmm, I thought, this doesn't bode well. And it didn't.

Who should stroll in shortly after but the young woman vet (the one who cleared Jack's choke with a garden hose) and her assistant. The vet woman was carrying her suitcase of dental torture implements - designed by Torquemada and manufactured by Dr. Crippen Inc. Jack said "See ya later". He put up a tremendous fight but eventually they got him sedated and peered into the darkest recesses of his mouth. Our woman says his breath was slightly musty and he was quidding, which is a hundred dollar word for dropping unchewed wads of hay here and there. They removed his tartar buildup and sanded down some points and then the vet woman discovered his two furthest back molars on top were quite loose. "Oh dear", she said. With great reluctance she decided they must come out. Turns out they were attached by the merest thread and had food wedged underneath. Jack said it hurt, though not too terribly, but I was very worried about the whole dental procedure. I watched the entire thing closely, not moving a muscle, but using my concerned tone (a grunt, rasp, moan combination). I interjected lots of exclamation points so they would know I was upset. "He's old", I said "and he's scared, and he doesn't like what you're doing and neither do I, so please stop it immediately!!!". Finally it was over and Jack was put in his stall to recover.

Doc had his teeth done as well, but they didn't give him the filed-tooth cannibal look he greatly desires. He doesn't mind the process at all and gets so relaxed that he hangs from the rafters, eyes glazed and mouth gaping open, looking like an old-fashioned opium smoker. As usual, he had to nearly be carried to his stall to sleep it off.

We had just gotten nicely settled in the paddock and Jack was trying to figure out a new chewing method, when back comes herself and drags us into the barn again. This time it was for the foot man, whom we don't mind at all. Jack was left till last so he could see it was just the usual routine. When the woman went to catch him in his stall, he was furious, and turned his back to her and even aimed a couple of token kicks in her direction. She already felt terrible about what he had gone through (and so she should) and asked the foot man to catch him. He had no problem at all and Jack said "she's a traitor and I don't have no truck with that kind". Then he was positively angelic about having his feet done. The foot man said they're coming along beautifully and praised Jack lavishly for his good behaviour. The woman is very downcast.

Tonight Jack had his hay soaked and was able to eat it a few strands at a time. I'm still very worried and am watching him like a hawk. I realized today just how important a part of my life he has become. I would be very lonely without him. He says he's putting a freeze on the woman till he has her so remorseful she'll never betray him again. So far his plan is working beautifully. I plan to stay awake all night to check on him.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Odds And Ends

We saw Sheila last week and of course she had a TJ update. I don't ask for these updates but the woman tells me anyway. TJ is quite happy with all the activity surrounding him and has settled in to the large group of donkeys. He still zooms everywhere like someone with his hair on fire but has accepted quite happily that certain behaviours will end up with his being pummeled.

Last week an elderly male human came to visit the sanctuary with his grand-offspring. This man has a permanently dour outlook and in fact has a cap that says "Grouch", a tee shirt that says "Grouch" and a metal plate on the front of his vehicle that says "Grouch". TJ examined him from a distance and decided he quite liked him. He became so enamoured of this Grouch entity that he began to shadow him wherever he and the miniature human went. Apparently the Grouch was equally smitten because he showed up the very next day with bags of apples and carrots for TJ and regrets that he couldn't stay to visit but promised he would be back just as soon as he could. He sounds like a perfect match for the tiny terror.

On the wardrobe front, my dreams of tall shiny headgear and flowing robes has been cruelly snuffed out. The woman came back today with a top hat for me to wear and she's now searching for an appropriate tie. I'm bitterly disappointed of course, but l do like the Victorian approach to formal dress. I hope she gets me some spats.

I have transcribed my entire sermon into Latin. I feel it is more appropriate for this foray into the ecclesiastical world. I know it is meant to be an informal occasion on the church lawn but I would like to raise the tone a bit. Besides, I'm sure the young humans especially will be entranced by three solid hours of deep thought presented in that most important of ancient languages. I'm quite confident they will never forget the afternoon. - it will remain seared in their memories for life.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Man - Errr - Donkey of The Cloth

I have some extraordinary news. The humans had dinner with friends in "the city" and returned to tell me I have been invited to St. Nicholas Anglican Church on Kingston Road in Toronto next Sunday. There is a ceremonial service to which all animals are invited on behalf of St. Francis Assisi (a very sensible sort of saint who devoted his life to animal welfare).

I assume I am to give the sermon and have been toiling away into the wee small hours on a talk I have honed down to just under three hours. It deals with the animal/human/spiritual connection throughout the ages. We donkeys are responsible for building most of the ancient world and our spiritual connection to a greater power is well known. A donkey carried Mary into Bethlehem to have her child and a donkey waited at the foot of the cross and a donkey carried Jesus on Easter Sunday. That is how we came to have the cross marked clearly on our back and shoulders. We wear this badge with honour. I was a natural choice for what the male human calls this "gig".

There is much fussing about Jack's welfare - should he come with me or should he stay home. We decided the trip would be far too traumatic, as he might think he was being moved away. A very nice human has volunteered to stay with him and hold his hoof as it were. There is a stockpile of food to ease his worries, a full grooming kit, a route mapped out should he wish to take a walk and various phone numbers in case we need to rush back. He is at an age where he views all change as evil but hopefully three hours without my company won't stress him unduly.

The minister has notified the congregation of my coming and the woman will ask him to mention PrimRose Donkey Sanctuary so more people can find out about the plight of needy donkeys. Now I need to plan what to wear. A simple robe and some sort of clerical headgear? Dear readers, what do you think? I have been told I cannot have that magnificent headpiece worn by the upper clergy of the Greek Orthodox church, so that's that. Can I hope to see some of you there?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Golden Garberator

More than the rest of us, Molly has felt the strain of being put on a diet. She doesn't appear to have lost any weight but she complains bitterly of weakness causes by lack of food. The woman says she could live on air and water and still manage to look like an overstuffed sofa. Molly claims she is wasting away and is now a frail and pitiful sight. Odd, because the barn still shakes when she trots into the run-in.

She has decided that salvation lies in foraging for food when she and the woman go to one of the forests. She manages to snag so much food while on the move that there will undoubtedly be ecological reprecussions. Trees, brambles, reeds - they're all grist to the Molly Mill. Yesterday she expanded her horizons even further. While hauling the woman back to the parking area, Molly discovered a shiny bag that had contained something called potato chips. She said it had a pleasant salty, greasy smell. She snatched it up and proceeded to carry it all the way back to the trailer, resisting all attempts by the woman to wrest it from her toothy grasp. It was only when the woman dismounted that she was able to pry Molly's jaws apart and drop the prize in the refuse bin. Molly tells us it was the mere scent of food that kept her motivated enough to continue.

Tonight, as uaual, Molly received her hay first because it's the only thing that keeps her grating vocalizations to a minimum. She dives in, grunting and scattering hay in all directions. When she made one of her infrequent surfacing moves, the woman spied what she took to be a mass of roots that Molly had masticated into a flattened wad. A tug of war ensued and when the majority of it came away in the woman's hands, she discovered it was actually a bird's nest. Molly was highly indignant at this blatant theft of a delightful new snack object and went back to her hay in a state of dudgeon. The woman sighed and deposited the bird's nest in the garbage bin. That seems to be where Molly's culinary experiments end up these days.

Jack says we should make a stealth attack on the garbage tomorrow to see what Molly found so appealing. If we do, I'll let him do the first taste test.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Rubber Hamburger Incident

I'm under suspicion again. The dog has some ridiculous recreational items that she spends much time carrying around and dismembering. One of her favourites is a hideous rubber hamburger, complete with gaudy condiments and a beige thing with dots that passes for the bun. Yesterday she brought it into the paddock and left it near the barn door. It has "disappeared" and she's blaming me. Typical.

Actually, I did take it, but she doesn't know that for a certainty so she has no right blaming me. It tasted horrible - just like rubbery dog spit. Jack and I passed it back and forth for awhile and then tested it to see how far it would stretch. Quite far, in fact, before it changed shape entirely. It has morphed into more of a hot dog. Now I have secreted it in an area of the paddock where SHE is unlikely to look. I got the lecture about how the dog comes from a deprived background, didn't know how to play when she came here and so on and so forth. HA! She has more toys than the average spoiled human child and I refuse to feel guilty about making one of said toys disappear. The drama continues.

Purloining the hamburger inspired me so thoroughly that I removed some of my old playthings from storage at the back of my room and have even gotten Jack to engage in some sporting moments with me. Today I took a red brush out of the tack room and pressed it against his face in an invitation to frolic - unfortunately it was bristle side out and it caught him on the inside of a nostril so he left in a huff. But I did draw him into a slow motion mock stallion fight, which we both enjoyed immensely. Note to self - he may be forty years old but he is still master of the choke hold. He can never be underestimated.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A Disgraceful Display

We were bemoaning our fate today at being locked in what we consider the famine paddock when our collective (herd) eye was drawn by the antics of a large group of crows on the lawn. Their usually raucous voices built to an ear-splitting cacophany and they worked themselves into such a state that eventually a brawl erupted. It seems the pears that grew in abundance this summer have fallen to the ground and begun fermenting. The crows gorge on these and attain a level of inebriation that rivals that of any human post hockey game celebration.

Eventually some of the bolder ones flapped drunkenly to the top fence rail and began strutting up and down , demonstrating their ability to "sing" while hopping on one leg and flailing their wings. Another crow would join the fray, shoving one of the others off the fence, causing another dust-up to ensue. Eventually the woman's head appeared at an upstairs window and, sounding very crow-like herself, she squawked at them to shut up. They looked offended but flopped and staggered off into the soy bean field.

It was my first encounter with the animal world on an alcoholic bender and I was frankly quite shocked. Jack tells me he has seen lots of this type of behaviour but it's usually the human component of the animal world that succumbs to the siren call. "Humins is worse - when they gits inta the sauce they gits crazy ideas, like wantin to jump on a donkey's back an pretend they's in a rodeo". I assured him that would never happen here and in fact my attorney is at the ready should I feel the woman has trampled my donkey rights.

When the woman mowed the lawn this afternoon she ran over all those fermenting pears and the place still smells like a distillery after a major leak in the main vat. Wait till the crows find out the bar has closed for the season. They're certainly mean drunks so maybe they'll turn their wrath on her. I'll watch in anticipation.

Friday, September 12, 2008

It's Always About TJ...

It seems I just get my nerves nicely unjangled and that loathesome mule's name pops up again. With his energy level he could be in Argentia by now if he put his mind to it, but no, he's got to stay in the same province as me, and the woman has to keep asking about his dastardly muleish self.

Sheila, who runs PrimRose Donkey Sanctuary, told the woman that TJ's socialization is coming along well and he is becoming more comfortable with humans. In fact, he now has his own personal volunteer who comes to work just with his tiny horrible self and she is patiently convincing him that humans are not all bad. She is even able to stroke him on his tiny goat-like chin - which begs the question, who on earth would want to? He receives much ooohing and aaahing for his efforts, which in my opinion is just over the top. He's quite smug enough already. Jack's take on this is "Huhhh, I'm reservin' judgement on that boy. I still think he's mosly outlaw". Part Tasmanian Devil is more like it.

It gets worse, though. A friend of the woman's who lives with Nacho the donkey came over in the spring and took many photos of us. Some of these have been entered in a photo contest and I have a sinking feeling TJ might bamboozle the judges into giving his photo a ribbon. His photo is a closeup of his black, beady eye. It is NOT dark, liquid and mysterious as the humans claim. Mine is a closeup of my distinguished grey muzzle. It is NOT bulbous, whiskery and dusty as TJ claims. The woman is using her limited skills to get them posted here - it could take time.

On the homefront, we've been a tremendous help in getting ready for winter (I shudder at the very word). She gathered all sorts of branches and leaves in a pile in the paddock and we spread them far and wide to help them dry out. Surely she wants them as winter fodder for us? I didn't care for her tone when she discovered how hard we had worked. She is also spreading a lovely gravelly dirt mixture in some of the low spots and before she can tip it out of the wheelbarrow, we throw ourselves on it in an attempt to help compact it. "Geroutofthatyoueejits", she bellows, which is a fine way of expressing her gratitude, I don't think. Nevertheless, we remain unstinting in our generous attempts to help. That's just the donkey way.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Two Visitors From Horse Hades

The woman was complaining today about the lushness of our pasture, our expanding collective girth and how she would love to have a fussy eater for a change. As Doc says "same old, same old". She has been mulling over the idea of borrowing some cattle to graze it down. I sincerely hope she doesn't follow through on this new lunatic scheme - I find cattle quite alarming. They can't hold a sensible conversation and I find their demeanor dimwitted and oafish.

One summer she invited two large, pregnant racing QH ladies to live in the front paddock and though their visit only lasted one night, it left us all emotionally scarred. On seeing them the male human christened them "The Vegas Show Girls" because apparently they reminded him of six foot tall human females with plumes on their heads and four inch heels on their shoes. They suddenly appeared in an oversized metal box and the ground trembled when their enormous bulk hit the ground. They looked like Doc but about twice as tall. They stomped down the lane to the front part of the paddock, which had been sectioned off with electric wire. They gallumphed around the paddock for awhile and then spotted the barn. They sailed through the electric fence, dragging posts with them and sending insulators flying in all directions. They completely ignored the resulting shock.

Doc was delighted. He galloped toward them, muscles rippling, tail flying. His idea was to introduce himself and then inform them they were now under his care and leadership. They found this highly amusing and, peering at him from their lofty elevation, pummeled him soundly. He retreated to the corner, shocked and humiliated. The two visiting ladies were put in the barn where they looked like very large dogs in a very small dog house. They loved it and declared a strong wish to stay there till their offspring arrived. The humans reconstructed the electric fence and the two visitors were reluctantly dragged from the barn and reinserted in the front paddock. They made a bee line for the fence and casually demolished it once again. The humans gave up and decided we could all be in together.

I had been observing all this from a distance and felt it was time to introduce myself and make a short speech welcoming them. I made my way slowly and carefully across the paddock and stopped a few feet from them. I cleared my throat and was about to address them when they snorted and whirled around. They came at me like two of the three witches in Macbeth, snarling, teeth snapping and dinner-plate sized feet flying in all directions. I have never seen such a display of sheer savagery and ill manners. Show girls forsooth! More like demonically possessed harridans from hades. I drew myself up to my full height and stalked away in a marked manner. They later approached, all apologies and smarmy false flattery, but for the rest of their stay I resolutely refused to acknowledge their existence. It drove them to distraction.

When we went in our barn that evening, the large visitors were highly annoyed. Having sussed out the place, they felt they should live in there and we should fend for ourselves. The larger one even pushed up the tack room window and inserted her enormous head. She looked like a disembodied moose. They circled the barn all night, rattling the doors and trying to open the latches. It was a very long night under seige. When morning came it revealed many sections of fence that had been demolished by their large yellow teeth. All the barn windows had revolting smears on them and the door hardware had been twisted into new and interesting shapes.

Their metal box reappeared and they jumped in, nearly flattening the tires. The woman and I heaved a sigh of relief but can you believe it, Doc carried on like a love-lorne schoolboy. He said they were his dream girls and his heart was broken. I reminded him of this when Annie was visiting recently and he said "What dream girls?" . Doc loves deeply but fortunately it never lasts.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

A Word About My Mercantile Endeavours

My good friend Mr. Gale has persuaded me that my store front needs to expand it's line of merchandise in order to maximize assistance to the donkeys at the PrimRose Sanctuary and to make more people aware of just what a fine species we are . To that end, the woman and I examined the options and I'm sorry to say we were at odds over what should be added.

I pondered deeply and opted for some small, tasteful hasty notes. She wanted things like wall tiles and calendars. Of course, she has the opposable thumbs and simply added all sorts of bizarre things that I've never heard of before. Mousepad? I say let the mice get their own pads. She has stocked my virtual store with various objects featuring Jack and self emblazoned on the front. Jack is quite pleased with the whole idea but honestly, he's not that discriminating when it comes to objets d'art.

I drew the line at have my portrait adorning anything in the "intimate apparel" category. I refused to even glance at the items but assume they include whale bone corsets and woolen bloomers. The woman assures me there is far less material used than I imagine. I shudder to think.

I am a private and introspective donkey and am somewhat shaken at finding myself the head of this merchandising empire. The woman says it's not an empire, more of a lemondade stand, but I suspect I will soon know the burden of piloting a corporate juggernaut.

So far we have sent the donkeys some bandages and wormers and the woman has just bought them more supplies on one of her tack forays across the border. I suppose I must bear up under the burden of being a public figure. I've sent a message to Queen Elizabeth II, asking how she deals with the situation. I'll let you know what she says.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

They're Back

The humans returned looking rested and relaxed. We'll have them back up to speed in no time. We gave them the usual welcome when they have been away for more than a few hours - we made a great show of pretending they were unknown to us and probably ne'er do wells in the bargain. This drives the woman to distraction. Even the dog barked at them as though they were housebreakers.

We were remarkably well behaved in their absence, if I do say so myself. Jamie, our minder, used to work at a very large racing stable and has seen all sorts of horse behaviours, which unfortunately means he anticipates our every move. Doc did manage to pull down some hay bales and Jack got hold of his fly mask off the front of the stall, but all in all, very uninspired. I have known Jamie since I was a young sprog and we all like him very much indeed. He's quiet and calm and does lots of excellent equine patting. Jack didn't even get the screaming squitters when he cleaned his feet and put the copper concoction in there. We tried to tell Jamie that we had all day access to the front part of the paddock but the woman had left written instructions forbidding it and he faithfully stuck to our usual two hours. I feel he could have shown some flexibility and initiative on that front.

On a brighter note, Doc has added a new trick to his repertoire. The woman was filling the water buckets and Doc discovered that if he pinched the hose, which runs across the front of his room, it caused her to be very perplexed by what she took to be a blockage in the pipes. Doc would give it a few light pinches and then stare off innocently into space when she turned around. She began mumbling and fiddled with the nozzle. Then she stared down the nozzle opening just as Doc released his hold. The effect was most gratifying. She received a strong jet of cold spring water at a distance of approximately two inches. I've heard the expression about angry wet hens and she provided a splendid visual of the phrase. It was a low-key effort from Doc but much appreciated by us anyway.

Unfortunately the woman was so bowled over by Molly's reorg of the tack room that she neglected to take any photos. A shame really, I think my readers would have enjoyed the sheer scale of the thing. Molly promises there will be a next time...

Friday, August 29, 2008

The Not So Great Escape

What an eventful week this has been. The woman says she'll be glad to see the back of it and that the only law-abiding barn resident is Jack. Jack gets so worried when something out of the ordinary happens that the woman has to spend lots of time cleaning up the explosive digestive results - some of which coat the walls. Jack gets quite annoyed with us and says "Jest quit yer tarryhootin around - I know cases where parties got shipped fer lesser crimes." I think he means what TJ calls "a date with the meet man". Nonsense. The most the woman does is gnash her teeth and call us assorted names. In fact, she is putty in our hooves. Jack can't quite believe it, so he stays on his best behaviour at all times.

This week the humans went off to a concert in "the city". Some outlandish orchestra called ZedZed Top - I assume that's what she meant, though she pronounced it ZeeZee Top. They followed what I take to be a law firm of singing attorneys called Brooks and Dunn. Never heard of the lot of them. A horse minder came at seven and put us in our rooms where the woman had left our dinners, the pellet portion covered with tea towels to discourage flies. All went well till about ten o'clock when the woman usually gives us our nightime hay. Molly became restless and discovered that the minder had neglected to put the clip on her door lock.

What followed was a spate of looting and pillaging that rivalled Ghengis Khan on one of his busier days. Molly made for the tack room and began wrestling the feed bin with the locking handles. She ended up ripping the top off with her teeth but was disappointed that it held only the vitamin and mineral concoction. She knocked over a gallon of Flax seed oil and and wrenched the top off Jack's senior feed. Fortunately there was only a bit left in the bottom. She ground the spilled pellets and oil into a gummy mass and added to the gloop with copious amounts of pony drool. Then the bag of Stable Boy powder was upended into the mess. We could hear her coughing and stomping in there but couldn't see her for the cloud of dust. She says that's when she became disoriented, owing to the lurching and sneezing, which caused her to accidently descend through the rubber tile floor, creating large craters in the dirt underneath. Then our electric fan fell into a hole and got stomped. Then half a bucket of soapy water got spilled and the unopened fly paper strips fell into that. Then she crashed into the cabinet with all the linaments and meds and cleaning products in it...There was more -but you get the picture.

Then the woman came in. She looked quite surprised to see Molly's door wide open and at first thought someone had stolen her for some unfathomable reason. I mean, we're not talking Secretariat here, though Molly would thump me for saying that. Then a pink, filth-encrusted nose appeared around the corner of the tack room door. Molly tried to tiptoe to her room but given that the woman was standing next to her and that Molly was a moving cloud of white dust , the plan failed miserably. The woman clutched her head and tried to assess the damage but fell into a hole in the floor. She babbled for awhile about the folly of owning something with a pony brain and then tried to calculate how much Molly had eaten. Not enough to make her sick apparently, as she produced two huge piles of manure as soon as she got into her room.

Meanwhile, Jack had gotten himself into a terrible state. He was calling loudly to the woman to tell her this wasn't his idea AT ALL. He tried to jump over the front of the stall into her arms and wouldn't touch his hay till she has comforted him for a good while. He had gotten himself hot and sticky with worry so she towelled him till he was dry and he stopped twitching and looking like someone on too much caffeine. He was still rattled the next morning.

Molly was not repentent in the least. When the woman spoke to her sternly about the damage she had caused and the potential for harm to her digestion, Molly simply curled her nostrils and turned into the corner. I did notice that she was particularly fawning with the woman for the next day or so. Molly knows very well she committed a huge crime but given a chance, she says she would do it all over again. She says she would just plan better next time now she has scouted the territory.

The cleanup continues and a new floor has been ordered. The humans are going away for the weekend, presumably to recover.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Narrow Escape

I knew the woman's enforced donkey diet austerity program would nearly be the death of me. It's all very well using draconian measures to control my caloric intake but she shouldn't be surprised when I'm forced to take counter measures of my own. A starving donkey is a creative donkey.

The woman had taken Molly into the barn and tied her up preparatory to grooming and getting her into her trail gear. Doc was loitering around the back of the barn and Jack was licking the salt block and swatting flies with his tail. I was staring through the gate that keeps us away from the hay stockpile and thinking that with a bit of ingenuity, I could access the lot. In six years I have never been able to achieve this goal. I stuck my nose through and inhaled the wonderful grassy aroma. I closed my eyes, turned my head sideways and voila! I was through. I browsed at my leisure but when I tried to extricate myself, found I was stuck fast.

I tried everything I could think of and finally, in a blind panic, lifted the twelve foot gate off it's hinges, pulled the chain fastener out of it's slot and carried off the whole thing. I charged at the doors but the damnable thing wouldn't fit. When I backed up rapidly, it toppled me over. The woman opened the door into the barn and rushed toward me and I tried to get in there. The noise was astonishing - clang, boing, bong - it followed me everywhere. Doc heard the commotion and rushed to my aid. I charged toward him and the gate cut his legs out from under him. Now he and I were lying stunned on the manaic gate. I gave an almighty heave and it released it's vise-like grip; I galloped off down the paddock before it could regroup itself.

Throughout all this the woman had been desperately trying to calm me and wrestle the gate off my neck and she stood in the midst of the wreckage, looking absolutely stunned. Jack had hidden in the trees at the first sign of trouble and Doc said "Cool, now we can climb right inta the food". Molly had watched the whole thing with a look of utter disgust and hadn't moved a muscle. The woman was afraid she would panic too and pull the whole barn down, but it just confirmed her view that boys are "stoopid".

My neck is a tad stiff but I have suffered no ill effects and have no intention of repeating the experiment. It took me six years to steel myself to the task and I feel my work on that front is done. I also don't appreciate being compared to someone called Ferdinand the Bull, whom apparantly I resembled when in full flight with the gate draped around my person.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Other "F" Word

The farmer was leaning on the gate this morning chatting with the woman and right out of the blue he casually began to say that soon we will start to get warnings of overnight fffffff, frrrrrrr, frrrrrooooo, I'm sorry, I'm having a bit of trouble continuing.

There. I think I'm more composed now. What he said was that we would begin having FROST overnight. I haven't recovered from the horrors of last winter and the soul-destroying, ear -numbing, grass-killing thing is creeping up on us again. I'm feeling quite anxious - much like the woman when she saw those funnel clouds. Around here the phrase "We're having a bit of weather" is always a bad thing, especially for donkeys.

The woman returned home yesterday with a winter blanket for Jack. It is dark navy blue with burgundy trim and looks like a regimental blazer - highly appropriate for a dignified older gentleman. He will also be getting a raincoat affair for drizzly days, so at least one of us feels more hopeful going into the winter season. I still refuse to wear any clothing whatsoever - I find it restricting and somewhat embarrassing. Jack likes it just fine,and says he's at an age where virtually nothing can embarrass him.

This morning a foot man came and branded Molly's feet. It's a fascinating and smelly spectacle. He heated up a metal device, put iron hoof-shaped semi-circles on it and hammered out footwear for Molly. These hoof shoes are molten hot and he plunged them in a bucket of water, producing much steam and hissing noises. Then, amazingly, he pressed them on the bottom of Molly's feet and she said she didn't feel a thing. A cloud of acrid, pungent smoke filled the air, engulfed the woman, and sent her into a spectacular coughing fit. All this is so Molly will be more comfortable going off on those "girls only" forest rides with the woman. Molly was already quite smug about her special status and this has only made her more unbearable.

I don't care for clothing but I would like a pair of these iron foot covers so I can make metallic clopping sounds as I walk down the aisle of the barn. They emit a pleasant ringing noise and announce the arrival of someone important enought to sport hand-crafted foot wear. I believe it's called making a fashion statement but of course the woman must thwart my every whim, saying I already have cast-iron feet and don't need any embellishments. Pahhh.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Ode To A Magnificent Machine

I'm including some photos of the enormous green potato harvester that is currently working in our fields. It's the size of a small factory on wheels. It has belts and levers and gauges and piping and tubing and conveyer belts and ladders and wires and it makes a noise like the gods of Valhalla throwing the heavenly furniture around. It takes my breath away and I am oblivious to my surroundings when it's within my view. I wouldn't even notice a carrot held under my nose, and that's saying something. My dream is to be able to inspect every aspect of it at my leisure.

I've been doing many complicated mathematical calculations, trying to figure out just how many potatoes are being hauled away. So far my best guess is in the millions. Jack thought long and hard and said his best guess is "about elebenty billion". I've researched this term thoroughly and can find no references, so I assume it may be ancient Phonecian or possibly Mycenean. He may be more ancient than we think. Doc's guess was "oh man, I dunno, like at least a hundred or somethin". Molly will not even discuss it since she finds potatoes inedible and counting them therefore a waste of her precious grazing time.

We saw some funnel clouds last evening and the woman, who was mowing the lawn, rushed to put the mower away and called us into the barn. The rain came down sideways and the wind howled and the trees bent over but we were too busy making our dinner disappear to pay any attention to it. She said if a tornado came we should all hide under the harvester and hang on for dear life because it's the heaviest thing around. Then she said, "Or we could all just hang on to Sheaffer". From small minds come pathetic attempts at humour.