Friday, February 29, 2008

TJ Learns a Painful Lesson

Much as he irritates and torments me, I feel a certain responsibility to show TJ the do's and don'ts of living here. He came up here from Texas last summer and has no clue about the hidden dangers of winter.

This morning I was telling him that jumping up and down on the frozen surface of the water trough would eventually end in an icy drenching and he said "Lalalala, I can't hear you, I'm making too much noise. Hahahahah!" He continued his infantile kaboinging and eventually, seeing that I had made a point of turning away, he ran off to commit more vandalism.

One hard lesson I learned as a youngster was to never, ever, put your tongue on a metal surface on a cold winter's day. I was trying to explain this to TJ, who kept saying "Yeahyeahyeah, blahblahblah, you're not the boss of me ole furface." Whereupon, he rushed up to the metal gate and jammed his tongue against it. I must confess, I had mixed emotions. I couldn't resisit saying "I TOLD YOU SO" but seeing him struggling and whimpering, I felt a slight twinge of remorse. Doc came over and gave him a hard shove on the backside but that only caused him to howl louder. The woman appeared and made reassuring noises but when she tried to help him, he came unglued (except for his tongue) and threw himself backwards. We still have bits of tongue welded to the middle bar of the gate. Revolting.

He blames me entirely - of course. "Thish ish all yor fault" he said, "jusht you wait an shee, I will caush you lotsha pain." Wonderful. Now in addition to his hyperactivity he has a speech impediment. I can't wait for winter to end.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Freezer Geezer

That's what the woman has taken to calling me. She stole it from some televised presentation. I must admit, it's very much the way I feel these days. She drags me down the lane to retreive the mail and that's the extent of my movement until she lets us back in our rooms.

I believe spring must be stirring somewhere because the night time noise levels from the wildlife have reached deafening proportions. The coyotes convene nightly right behind our driveshed. I wouldn't mind a five minute outburst but they go on and on, working themselves into a state of delerium. Sometimes the woman races out of the house in her night attire and shrieks at them while hurling chunks of ice in their general direction. It works very well and they slink off to party elsewhere. I'm not sure who's more shrill and grating on the nerves, but I rather think it's the woman.

Now the enormous owl has returned to add his two cents worth to the din. He only says one thing "Whooooooo, whoooooo, whooooo?" You'd think by now he'd have figured out the name of who or whatever it is he's seeking. On moonlit nights he casts a shadow like that of a flying dinosaur. All this acreage and he has to sit in the one big tree in front of the barn and talk to himself for at least an hour. The woman thinks he has something to do with the disappearance of my shy friend. Of course TJ is just itching to get outside and "kick some butt" as he so boorishly puts it. Hmmm. I wonder if an owl can carry a mini mule far, far away from here? We can only wait and hope. I must ecourage TJ to take a midnight constitutional.

I am awaiting news of my standing in the race for the leadership of the donkey party. I am quite willing to don a turban if that will motivate the voters. No matter what, I can't see myself in a pant suit like that of the Clinton woman. Too frightening.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Meeting the Basic Needs of Your Donkey in His Early Years

I have added three pictures to illustrate this post. I can't over-emphasize the importance of intellectual pursuit and travel in the formative years of the young donkey.

You will notice that the young male human in the first illustration has a clear understanding of a donkey's thirst for knowledge. He has invited the donkey into the house and onto the sofa so they may explore the world of reading together. Donkeys love being read to and retain everything they hear. No doubt the female human whose offspring is shown here shortly thereafter rushed into the room shrieking about "barn animals" being allowed in the human abode. I speak from experience; my own woman has behaved exactly this way when I ask politely to explore her residence.

The second illustration is of the preferred means of transport for long distance travel. This very young donkey shows the correct way to exit a motorized vehicle. Notice his poise and obvious inate good breeding. He is disembarking in an almost regal manner and allowing the human to feel useful while holding the door for him. This encourages the human to stive for an even greater level of service in the donkey's employ.

The third illustration is of an infant donkey being transported in an overnight bag. His human has recognized the inherent donkey need to travel. We donkeys posess Romney blood and have an incurable sense of wanderlust. This mode of transport allows the young donkey to view the wider world without tiring himself unduly. The pouches on the front of the bag are for donkey snacks and a thermos of tea that the two can share. I cannot over-stress the importance of travel in the early years. Without it a donkey grows jaded and weary and spends his days looking over the fence and wondering what he might be missing.

Of course these are just the most basic elements in the education of young donkeys. We crave artistic expression, especially music. A mere two or three thousand dollars will equip the barn with a modest system. Fine dining is also critical to our well-being. Paper, leather, compost - we like to experience a broad range of taste sensations . We savour works of art on both paper and canvas, to mention only two of the media that appeal to our aesthetic nature. Canvas is chewier, paper more ethereal.

In short, if you wish your donkey to be content and well-rounded in every sense of the word, you must nourish his desire to expand his mind and body.

Friday, February 22, 2008

A Busy Week

We had a friend visiting for the week - she has known me for years and is a great admirer of all things donkey -especially me. She had to pretend to be here to help in the civilizing of TJ but we all knew I was the real reason. She is very tuned in to my wants and needs and spent much time fussing over my grooming requirements and offering me a steady stream of treats. In other words, she is far superior to the resident woman. I'm trying to arrange an exchange.

We had a few unusual occurances this week. The first was when they returned with the dog from the vet's; just the routine annual stabbing with needles and much personal prodding and poking, according to the dog. The dog had a build-up of itchy matter in her ears and they were cleaned out. The woman mentioned that I had the same condition, with equally itchy ears. Well. I was standing there being massaged by the two woman when suddenly there was a whooshing sound and an icy blast of liquid nearly deafened me. I shook my head frantically and just as things stopped spinning, squoosh, another blast in the other ear. Apparantly this was vet recommended! When my ears stopped glubbing, the resident woman took long sticks with white fuzz on the end and rummaged around in there. I hate to admit, it felt quite good. She has to take some of the black stuff on the stick to the vet to be looked at under a microscope. There is simply no privacy in the modern world. The dog tells me they got even more personal with her...I shudder to think where where they looked.

The two women spent far too much time with TJ. I hung over the stall guard and complained in various tones and turned my head nearly upside down (that generally gets a positive response) and tried to get my eyes to fill with tears but still the two of them fawned over the idiot mule. There was one amusing moment (to me, anyway), when the visitor, who was wearing crackly snow pants, kept trying to touch TJ and he kept retreating in horror. It was the pants of course, which followed him relentlessly (much like the Tell Tale Heart), making a swishing noise not unlike electricity. The visitor had to walk in a strangely bow-legged fashion in order to silence the pants, quite amusing from my side of the stall guard.

There is talk of dividing my quarters so TJ can live in one half - we'll just see about that hare-brained scheme. My attorneys are looking into the law as it applies to squatter mules.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Karma at Work

The old adage that you reap what you sow (which is just Karma in another guise) was played out at our barn today and I am 50% pleased with the outcome.

Another weather system has swept over us, melting most of the snow and giving us an envigourating combination of rain/freezing rain. The property looks like one of those blasted, muddy battlegrounds of WW1.

As is usual these days, the woman let me stay inside while she did our housekeeping. She shovelled, I watched - the usual arrangement. On her way out with the wheelbarrow she gave me a meagre hay snack in the aisle and proceeded to tidy up our hay storage area. Unbeknownst to me, she had gathered up a huge ball of baler twine to put out in the garbage. Thoughtlessly, she tossed it over the half door leading into the barn and the whole thing landed squarely on my head. One minute all was Zen-like tranquility and the next, sheer terror. I only figured this out afterward - at the time all I knew was that some spider/octopus creature straight from Greek mythology was trying to smother me. I began snorting and plunging around blindly until the thing began to unravel and I could finally see what it was. The woman was all false apologies and comfort, patting me and making soothing noises, but she was smiling all the while...

She led me outside with the others and went on her way with the wheelbarrow. Nearly at the gate, she hit a patch of solid ice submerged under about six inches of melt water. Her feet flew up in the air and down she went like a ton of crushed stone. "Eeeeee, (sploosh) auuughaaaohcrap" she said. The waters parted in tsunami-like waves. There she lay, like a stunned Orca, staring up at the sky.

I made my way over and received a terrible shock. She is hardly a thing of beauty when upright, but seen upside down and on her back, the effect was unbearable. As I was averting my gaze, I registered the slight odour of peppermint emanating from her coat pocket area. I quickly changed focus and hastened to see if the contents had received damage. "Thank you SO much, Sheaffer" she said in an icy tone, much like the pungent brown water that cascaded off her person. She squelched off to the house, leaving me free to whittle the wheelbarrow handles.

I can only assume that Instant Karma exists and was at work here today.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Shamefully Neglected Donkey

I would like it to be known that I am not receiving my full quota of attention from the woman. What with planning the rescue of another donkey and the time she devotes to TJ, I am simply not getting enough of what is currently called "face time". I don't like it.

Today was actually sunny and we were able to warm up somewhat in front of the barn. The snow is so deep that we stay in that area, which is more navigable for short legs, but which allows TJ easier access for tormenting me. I got him in a scruff-of-the-neck hold this morning and he squealed like an angry pig. Ironic, as he is constantly using that hold on me and I remain stoically silent.

The snow is so deep in the fields that our resident wolf has been using the farm lane behind the barn for commuting. He's been with us for a few years and makes his home in the wooded valley at one end of our property. I am generally extremely anti-canine but he and I have agreed to ignore each other (I have the same arrangement with the house canine). He is very large and has a huge coat and bushy tail. His footprints are the same size as the woman's, she takes a size 6 but I don't know what that is in wolf.

He's extremely preoccupied - with what we don't know - and trots along, oblivious to his surroundings. Molly and the woman have surprised him several times while out riding. When he finally notices them, he gasps with surprise and does an excellent side-pass before tearing off into the woods. The humans have also surprised him when walking our own canine and she woofs at him and then hides behind the humans' legs. I can empathize with him as he seems to be a contemplative, reclusive bachelor who wants to be left to his own thoughts.

We don't have a photo of him as he moves too fast but the woman is putting a photo of our own canine on here. Like TJ, she is also a rescue case. She was a young single mother of six who was abandoned in Ohio in the middle of winter. A kind lady took her in, found homes for her offspring and taught her things like how to climb stairs (she hadn't lived inside before). My humans offered her a home and here she is two years later. Of course, SHE gets to live in the house...I'll say no more on that front as emotions run high (well, mine do - the humans won't even discuss it). Her name is Penny and her ancestry is a complete mystery. I suspect she crawled out of a canine spare parts bin.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Something Exciting and Something Shocking

I have discovered many like-minded persons on the Donkey Breed Society Forums, which is based in England. It sounds like a wonderful country, with many donkey-focused humans - as it should be. Along with my extended family on this blog, it makes me feel there may be hope for the world. TJ still doesn't believe any of it.

Last night when the woman was doing her brushing and patting with him, she went to give him a horse kibble from her pocket and he received a small static shock on his muzzle (we have a lot of those at this time of year). I actually feel sorry for the lad. He had a complete meltdown and now won't let the woman put her hand near his head. She's beside herself and feels just terrible. I explained to him that it was an accident and that nothing has changed. He's adhament that the nightmare is beginning all over. He has hardly eaten anything and has the screaming squitters again. Although it was a very minor shock, he says it reminds him too much of the electric cattle prod that was used on him in a former home. Oh dear.

We are also trying to extract another donkey from a terrible home. His feet and teeth have not been done in years and he lives in a pen with a herd of sheep. The owners (jailors, really) feel that twenty dollars is a ridiculous sum to pay for a hoof trimming. I simply cannot believe that there are donkeys who live without deep beds, cups of tea, walks in the woods and night-time snacks. These seem to me the minimum requirments for a donkey. I will lobby for legislation of a donkey bill of rights when I become President.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Great Indoors

She has finally seen the light. I stayed in all day, with access to everywhere but the tack room (pity, it's the most interesting room). It was wonderful. I rolled in the shavings in both Doc's and Molly's stalls and used TJ's stall as a bathroom. HehHeh. It is still ungodly cold outside and the others come in with frost on their coats and eyelashes. With her huge blonde coat and massively hairy legs, Molly looks like one of the Valkyries in a Wagner opera. Stick horns on her head and she could clomp on stage at a moment's notice.

The woman replenished our feed supply today and at this time of year, it's quite a production getting it from the truck to the barn. The driveway from the house to the barn is unplowed, so she wrestles the bags onto a toboggan and drags it through the snow. We know very well what she's transporting and offer to help her as soon as she gets to the gate. She always says the same thing "Back off you bunch of hypocrites." Most ungracious.

Today, she was halfway from the gate to the barn when she suddenly began blowing and snorting like an old plow horse, bent so far over she was nearly parallel to the ground. When she paused and turned around, she discovered Molly had one hoof firmly planted on the back of the toboggan and had ripped open the corner of a bag. Such language! I added a few new words to my vocabulary. She continued, the bag leaking a trail of horse feed and all of us frantically cleaning it up. We're very environmentally aware and dislike any kind of littering.

This morning she brought a mug of tea out to the barn. Given that she knew I was inside, I thought it very rude that I didn't get my own mug. She had to go back to the house and hid the mug around a corner so I couldn't see it. Silly woman. I could see the steam rising into the air. I had been sampling some powder she puts on the stall floors to cut ammonia odour and thought I would see how it tasted with tea. The answer is: delicious. I drank the tea very carefully, alternating with mouthfuls of powder. It formed a sort of paste and I was just mouthing the last of it when she returned. "Oooooonoooo!" she said "Sheaffer, that's going to turn to cement in your stomach!" Gave me a bit of a turn, but she was wrong; I feel just fine, with only a slight heaviness in the mid-section. Next time maybe she'll be more thoughtful and I'll get my own mug of tea.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

On a Lighter "Note"

TJ's stall has been reinforced and he's not happy about it at all. He actually spent the entire night in it, unable to parade around the aisle creating havoc. I had a full night's sleep, uninterrupted by a crazed visage appearing over my stall guard every five minutes and saying "ARE YA SLEEPIN' AGAIN, OLDMAN?" I'm sure it won't last.

I was supervising the male human while he worked on TJ's stall - I pointed out that he was using the wrong drill bit - he eventually saw the light and went to get another. Then I sorted out the tool box for him while he was gone. I think he was quite surprised when he saw the radical changes I had made.

He and the woman were idly chatting while she did chambermaid duty and he worked on the stall. The conversation turned to the musical tastes of each of the barn inhabitants. My tastes are well known; anything Gregorian goes at the top of my list. I can see myself in a long woolen robe, spending the day chanting in the company of other like -minded individuals. For light listening, I enjoy a bit of Gustav Mahler.

Molly's heroine is Dolly Parton - for whom she is a dead ringer. I can see her in a too-tight, over-the-top evening gown, warbling "Islands in The Stream", half a litre of lipstick on her bulbous muzzle. She would, of-course, open a "Molly-Wood" theme park that featured mainly booths selling fatty foods, and a lake, with truck tire inner tubes, in which to wallow. A place I would never visit.

Doc's tastes are equally easy to pinpoint. Anything heavy metal, or Bruce Springsteen's "Cadillac Ranch" (or any Springsteen song dealing with steel mills closing down). He favourite tunes for humming out on the trail are Stompin' Tom's "Good Old Hockey Game" or "Sudbury Saturday Night". He loves the lyric "Ohhhh, da girls are playin' bingo and da boys are gettin' stinko" from the latter song, which he repeats over and over and over, ad nauseum.

TJ knows very little of anything musical but heard a recording of AC/DC - some sort of electrician's orchestra - and he's very taken with "Dirty Deeds" and "Highway to Hell". Why am I not surprised. I tried to introduce him to some light opera but he rolled his eyes back in his head, stuck out his tongue and said "Blehhhhhh" before galloping off with a flick of his tail.

There you have it - a bout of silliness from humans grown addled by winter. But, addled though they are, they know to never leave a rock station on in my barn. I smashed the radio at the last place and since then it's been strictly classical.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Alas Poor Rabbit, I Knew Him - Slightly

Yesterday while the woman was serving us breakfast, the dog was very busy with something on the lawn. As the woman made her way toward the house we heard her say "What the...oh no! Drop it, drop it, ewwwww!" The dog looked guilty and tried to hide the fact she had bloody fur sticking to the corners of her mouth. Whenever the dog is guilty, she actually smiles in a feeble attempt to ingratiate herself - the effect this time was positively macabre.

It was indeed my nervous friend - I think. Mind you he has a large extended family who all look the same, so maybe he will return. Something had murdered him during the night and the crows had dropped his remains on the lawn. By the time the dog found him, he was a shadow of his former self. As soon as the woman and dog went in the house, the crows retreived their prize and took it up in a tree to discuss ownership. An avian brawl broke out, with crows screaming and shoving and bits of rabbit falling to the ground. TJ of course had to rush over and paw and snort at the fallout, exclaiming "This here rabbut is ded." He has a genius for stating the obvious.

Doc and TJ spend hours wrestling or "rasslin" as they call it. TJ has his halter on for now so he can be caught more easily and Doc uses it to pick him up and shake him like a towel. Unfortunately TJ is easily overstimulated and becomes crazed with excitement. When Doc finally releases him, he disappears with a muffled thud under the snow but emerges, troll-like, and attacks Doc's lower legs with great glee. I try to stay hidden, but if he discovers me, he hurls himself upon me, trying out various illegal and painful wrestling holds (none of which have ever been seen in true sporting competition).

TJ's stall at the end of the aisle has two boards which form the fourth wall and he delighted in flipping them up and escaping. The humans then devised a clever system that locks them into place. Those worked for two nights and then he figured out how to pry them off. Then they devised a third system to lock the second system and he figured a way around that. They're planning another attempt to confine him and will install it on the weekend. For now he spends the night in the aisle, strutting around and saying "Hahaha, old stoopid donkey's in jail, mules rool, hahaha!" I'd throttle him, if I could just get out of my room.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Rising From The Ashes

Yesterday was fairly reasonable in terms of weather (that is, it didn't cause physical pain to be outside). After a leisurely brunch inside, away from the barbaric mule, I emerged to sun myself against the side of the barn. The woman struggled out of the house, puffing, and dragging a variety of large boxes, some full of scrap lumber. I know what this means; we are going to have a fire. This is ALWAYS an exciting event.

The woman piles some of the material in a heap and then begins striking matches. Some four hundred matches later, a small flame manages to stay alive. The woman coughs and waves her arms and tries to avoid the smoke, which follows her whenever she moves. Personally, I enjoy inhaling smoke and edge up behind her until she steps back and falls over me. The others rummage through the unburnt pile and eventually the woman begins flailing her arms and yelling "getoutofhereyoumorons". We ignore her.

I stand as close to the flames as possible without actually spontaneously combusting. However, the best part comes as the fire dies down. When the fire has turned to embers, I wade in, pawing ,and creating lots of dust and smoke. And then - heaven. I drop to my knees and proceed to work the warmth into my entire body. It's similar to the compost, but much warmer. I must be careful to do this when the woman's guard is down or I get a lecture on fire safety. When I arise, I emit clouds of smoke and according to her, look like I've just stepped out of a volcano. A quick roll in the snow (or sand, depending on time of year) and I feel like a whole new donkey. She refers to the process as a Finnish sauna gone horribly wrong. Of course, I consider her an example of an experiment gone horribly wrong but am too polite to say so.

TJ climbed almost all the way into one of the large boxes and I prayed fervently that he would be tossed on the fire. Alas, my prayers went unanswered. With all the shavings that cling to him, I'm sure he'd go up like a torch.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Woe Is Me

The shocking weather just goes on and on. More wind and blowing snow. I am posting a photo of self in our run-in to show the state of utter despair to which I have been reduced. Please also note the primitive state of said run-in. Unfinished walls, rubber mats on the floor - not a scrap of wallpaper or a square of carpet. I believe it's much like those Gulag prison camps I have heard of. At least I got to stay in the barn for the morning to enjoy a leisurly brunch before being thrust out into the elements.

TJ is more insufferable than ever. His take on yesterday's events with the foot man beggars belief. He has positioned it as a David and Goliath tale in which he fought and vanquished the ogre, leaving the battleground bloodied but unbowed. When I pointed out his newly trimmed feet he used a phrase that has become dear to his heart and told me not to be "utterly bijiculous". Then he shoved me out the door of the run-in and played a new game in which he dashes back and forth between the two doors, denying me entry and shrieking "You's banned from my club - no old fat donkey men kin enter hahahaha!" Fortunately, Molly came up behind him and whacked him on top of the head with her none-too-dainty muzzle; I think I saw stars circling over his ears. I certainly hope so.

I would also like to point out that in this most recent photo, the white light emanating from my eyes is simply a trick of the camera, not a sign of demonic possession as the woman so kindly put it..