Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A Prisoner in My Own Home

The full horror of my situation is beginning to dawn on me. Living next door to a hyperactive, juvenile delinquent mule is indiscribably awful. Not satisfied with having half my room, he now wants the other half. He spends his time with his head shoved between the boards, making what he takes to be hugely funny faces at me and spilling my water bucket. Tonight he managed to steal my dinner - of course he eats at warp speed while I prefer to chew each mouthful at least twenty five times. Now he's taken to rattling the chain that keeps the gate closed between us. I just doze off and he gives the thing a shake while saying "wake up ole guy. i'm board do summthin innerestin fer a change.". I barely get my ten hours of restorative sleep these days. The male human says he will add an extra board this weekend. I'd prefer he board the mule up in a wall the way they did in the middle ages.

On a happier note, we derived some amusement from sorting through the woman's things that she foolishly left on the ground. It was her own fault, of course. She had driven us from the lush paddock into the bare one to enforce a break from grazing (she calls it gorging). Then she put up the electric wire to make us stay put. We wandered around the corner of the barn and there was a veritable cornucopia of horse amusement. I tested the arms of her sunglasses and they came right off. Good thing I checked - who knows what might have happened otherwise. Doc grabbed the lunge whip and began whirling it around like a lion tamer. Molly sorted through her jacket for food, in the process turning the pockets into mushy slime. TJ got her hat and paraded around, holding it by the brim and waving it frantically. There were other interesting things, such as a telephonic device and a pair of gardening gloves, but we were rudely interrupted. "HEY YOU DEADBEATS!" she bellowed, and proceeded to charge at us, waving her arms. The objects became scattered far and wide and it took her a good half hour to retreive everything. Let it be a lesson to her. If she keeps us from our preferred food source, there will be unpleasant consequences.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

A Damp, Dark Day

Owing to discrimination against the portly, I am still confined, along with my tormentor, to the paddock with virtually no grazing. Complete waste of time - I haven't lost an ounce, unless you count all the patches of hair TJ has yanked out. Just a typical day of boredom punctuated by bouts of sheer terror.

I was pleased and intrugued to see the humans wheeling a bright blue machine with various cords and hoses and brushes out to our barn. The male human proceeded to demonstrate it's talents, which consist mainly of shooting water at great force thereby blasting dirt off anything it's aimed at. Sometimes it expels soapy water, sometimes clear. He foolishly left the woman alone with the thing and I settled in for the show. She pushed various buttons and the thing made gurgling noises and next thing I knew, she'd blasted the light bulbs and removed the paint from the ceiling. At the end of fifteen minutes the barn looked like a tidal wave had roared through and the woman looked like a nearly-drowned rat. Highly satisfactory from my side of the door.

The carefree mood vanished when I headed for my stall this evening and discovered a gate and TJ living on the other side. He immediately stuck his head through and said "hey, fossil, i lik yor side much mor better." Then he sneezed in my face and bumped his head on my water bucket, spilling half the contents. The nightmare begins and all the humans can do is inexplicably call us Oscar and Felix. Nothing makes sense anymore.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Two Old Birds Battle It Out

With the absence of our white cat, the bird population has decided that the run-in rafters are an excellent site for avian condominiums. The woman is determined to evict them and I just stand and watch the show.

The birds, the black kind that seem to number in the millions, carry various twiggy building materials in and arrange them on a rafter. The woman rushes out and says "Gahhhhshooossssttttt" and the birds say"Ackkkeeeepbleee". Then the woman fetches the broom and waits till they return and they repeat the process. Then she gets the hose and blasts the twigs out the door. Then all the soggy stuff left up there falls on her person, causing more sound effects and some rather questionable language. Highly amusing except she then says "Sheaffer, why can't you just chase those things out of here?!" Do I look like some sort of security guard or bird bouncer? I mean, really, there are limits.

At our last place we had several families of avians called Swallows who built mud nests all over the barn. She must have liked those better, because she let them stay. I was very careful with the offspring when they were learning to fly and never hurt one, only gently huffed on them when they landed in my stall. When the second or third batch of the summer were ready, they gathered in huge groups and discussed their flight plan back down south. Then I had to keep my ears low going in the door or risk a nasty collision.

One spring a lone male Swallow appeared and landed on the wire right above the crossties while the woman was grooming Doc. She welcomed him back and he sat there, within arm's reach, chattering away in bird-speak while grooming his glossy feathers. We were all wondering where the "missus" was when she flew in and there was a touching reunion of the couple. Then she went to inspect the nest and flew into a fury. It seems he was sent on ahead to "open up the cottage" and all he'd done was loll about and visit. Well! He began frantically cleaning the nest and bringing in new material while she sat at the side and continued to express her thoughts about handsome males who think they don't have to help out on the home front. He carried on till long after dark, when she finally let him sit on the ledge next to her, but she kept her back firmly turned to him. He worked hard till the first batch arrived and then got distracted with teaching them to fly and playing games with them and at that point she gave up and raised batch two without much help. The humans quite enjoyed the pagent and declared him a case of "arrested development".

I await new developments in our rafters. So far it's a draw.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Such Excitement

When the humans were out this morning, a most exciting event unfolded, though I really can't say what it was. I was trying to avoid TJ in the paddock by lurking behind the barn - his kamikaze tactics have left me with many missing patches of hair. Molly was inhaling grass and trying to catch Doc's eye and Doc was strategically facing away from her in case she mistakenly thought he was an available bachelor. TJ was strutting around, trying to incite mayhem and chasing birds. Just a typical day around here.

Then I noticed a lot of automobiles assembling at the potato farm across the road; some of them had large light displays attached to the roof. Others just looked like the everyday variety of human transportation. The drivers spoke to our neighbours and then donned an array of clothing gear I've never seen before. Then they all rushed off to the building that stands alone on the other corner from our farm. Good thing I'm blessed with unusually acute vision (I owe it all to carrots) because there was much sudden activity and rushing around. Then large vans and other vehicles arrived and there was more activity. Then a large truck with an arm arrived and a human was lifted to the top of the tall pole where he did a lot of things with wires. I simply cannot fathom what went on and am waiting for my humans to explain. TJ was all for going over and asking if they were mule torturers planning to abduct him but he feels everything is about him. I'm fairly sure this was unrelated to mules - or possibly another type of mule. I am a great observer of the human species but must admit their actions are sometimes simply baffling.

The woman told me I was being a "busybody" and to just let them get on with their job. Nonsense. We live out in practically the middle of nowhere so when something on this scale takes place right on our corner, I most certainly will oversee the operation. I mean, the potato farmers are extremely good friends and neighbours, but all they ever do is grow potatoes. I could hardly call myself a donkey if I didn't stick my head through the fence and stare intently at an apparantly unoccupied building that suddenly erupted into a hive of activity, could I?

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Chaos Theory

Only a theory involving chaos could begin to explain the goings-on at this mad house. With our access to the lower two verdant acres cut off, Molly and Doc are allowed only one hour each to graze in there and they are put out separately. This usually works fine except that the anti-trollope shot Molly had seems to have make her even trampier and she has turned our property into a pee-soaked toxic waste site. She won't let Doc out of her sight.

Two days ago the woman put Doc in the front section and took Molly down the lane on her lead rope so she could graze out of sight. She thinks this will accustom everyone to doing things on their own. She could not have been more wrong. Molly began calling Doc in her horrible gutteral voice, Doc began answering in his rather high-pitched tone and TJ bolted around the paddock making a noise like a large machine that is moving along briskly and is suddenly thrown into reverse. It's like a deafening metallic grating combined with a thousand pigs in full voice. I stayed well out of view in the run-in and said nothing. No one would have heard me anyway.

Simultaneously the dog flushed a large rabbit creature out of the undergrowth and they began circling Molly and the woman at high speed. The rabbit made loud squeaking noises and Penny kept up a steady stream of yipping. The rabbit swerved and shot under Molly, the dog in close pursuit. Fortunately Molly is so love-lorne that she failed to notice the drama being played out in her shadow. Shriek, bellow, grrrronk, yip, squeak - on it went like some demented chorus. No gentle strains of Vivaldi here, telling the tale of spring's arrival.

The woman and I exchanged glances and she said "Sheaffer, sometimes I think you're the lone voice of reason in this place". She's right, of course.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

I'm Dreaming of a TJ Shaped Speed Bump

Yesterday bright and early some quite noisy and interesting equipment rolled down our driveway and began attacking it. A scraping machine scalped the top layer and the scrapings were taken away by a hyper-active machine with a large bucket on the front. Then the most wonderful black and grey mixture of rocks and chopped up old pavement arrived in big trucks. A giant roller device then squashed it all into place. How I dream of a TJ size mogul on the new driveway after the roller accidently flattens him. He'd make an excellent speed bump. I strongly encouraged him to squeeze through the fence and cavort in front of the machine but as soon as I suggest anything, he becomes even more mule-ish and simply refuses.

The woman stared at us very hard yesterday and declared we were becoming blimp-like and bloated with the new grass and then she put up what TJ calls the "stinging wire". We can see the lush two acres at the front of the paddock but can only stare and look longingly. We wait months for this time of year and of course she has to somehow contrive to limit our enjoyment - or what she calls unbridled consumerism. It's still better than having to wear that damnable muzzle contraption.

She and Molly are back to their forest tours and even go in a pond and splash around - complete insanity to a donkey who loathes large bodies of water. They returned smug, sweaty and bug bitten. Doc managed to shriek and bellow the whole time they were gone, which much impressed the driveway builders. Even TJ, who has remained silent all these months, let out an ungodly "groonk" noise on their return. It makes him even more repulsive.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

An Auspicious Day

Yesterday morning our barn door opened and the woman said "Sheaffer, this is your special day!" Of course I assumed the worst -more stabbing by Dr. Maggie or possibly more wormer being unceremoniously stuffed down my throat. Turned out it was my 13th birthday. As TJ so charmingly put it, I'm now officially as old as dirt. Then as a birthday present, he gave me rather a bad bite on my face. Fortunately I landed a kick that sent him half way across the paddock. All very festive, I don't think.

Later in the day the woman came to lead me over to the house where I was presented with something called a birthday cake. It was an interesting collection of foodstuffs on a plate but some idiot had set three wax sticks in there and lit them on fire. I snapped my ears to attention and backed across the lawn at record speed. They quickly blew out the three fires but I wouldn't touch a thing until they handed the items to me individually. The male human tried to convince me it was the same as the fire pit that I roll in, only in miniature, but I was having none of it. I don't like my snacks to smell of fire and brimstone and to taste of wax.

All in all I find un-birthdays easier on my nerves.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

TJ Stages A Sit-In

Six weeks has rolled by in the blink of an eye and so it was time for another visit from the foot man. We were haltered and ready in our stalls when he came and it was decided that TJ should be first as that would give him less time to get himself worked into a dither. He has been thinking about how he would deal with the foot man for the last six weeks and he insists he be allowed to give a blow-by-blow account of the proceedings. It was all so bizarre that I wouldn't attempt to describe it myself.

"ok so anyways i been thinkin hard fer tha las while and i was reddy for the foot guy. hullo tj buddy he sez and just clims inna my room all cashual. i show him my butt and when he tries to ketch me i spin and reer and try ta clim over inta mollys room an molly whomp me on the hed with her big fat nose. this gose on fer awhile and finaly he get aholt a my halter. when he try ta pick up my front foot i slide it under me so it stik out the other side and he cant get it. he get it annyways and then the othr wun and then he sa now tj we wil do the bak ones. so he start ta pic one up and i jus sit down and sta there. he sit down beside me and then he start ta laff an the woman laff and still i jus sit ther. i could sit there all day but finaly he say tj time to get up so i do and he finish mi bak feet but i think he get mi point witch is i don wanna get mi feet done. nex time i will think of a even beter thing to do and maibe he wil go away forevr."

What a ridiculous turn events. I was my usual sterling self and the woman made the foot man admit in front of me that I am a very clever donkey and in fact his favourite client. I felt it was important to demonstrate that we are not all barbarians in our barn. TJ is very taken with himself these days because the male human has been telling him he has an impressive mohawk hair style. I explained the origins of the term and after today's side show, he has decided to call himself Chief Sitting Mule. Next thing he'll be bragging that he remembers the days when the west was a sea of buffalo. His imagination and ego know no bounds.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

He Drives a Hard Bargain

I was able to contact the cougar via black bird and offer him the contract of "removing" TJ from our paddock. I was shocked by his response. Apparently he had already heard of TJ and felt I was trying to pull a fast one on him by even inquiring about his services. He said what did I think he was, an idiot, and if I didn't watch it, he would "remove" me. TJ's infamy has spread far and wide. Then the cougar said he might consider it if it involved substantial danger pay, full benefits for himself and family including medical coverage for injuries sustained, and of course a huge signing bonus. Then he said he'd changed his mind and I would be best to approach a SWAT team and see if they wanted the ultimate terrorist removal assignment. Even North America's largest predator won't climb in the ring with the lunatic mule. And I'm supposed to become his roomie.

Molly's cycle of coming in "season" has so thoroughly traumatized all of us that Dr. Diane dropped in yesterday to stab her with an anti-trollope injection. We are hoping and praying it works. Except TJ, who thinks being soaked in stinky mare spray is "cool". The woman took Molly out on the lawn to wait and the neighbours across the road looked out, and seeing only a horse, thought Molly had escaped. Being potato specialists with no equine experience to draw from, this gave them quite a turn and they franically concocted a scheme to lure her into the paddock with an immense carrot while chanting "heeeere poneeee". Then the woman stepped out of a shade spot and they realized their mistake. Hugely releived, they called to tell us about their near-ordeal and confided that they live in fear one of the horses will escape and make a bee line for their pool. Their pool has an enormous fence around it but they believe horses can jump at least eight feet high and once in the pool would have so much fun they wouldn't want to get out. They may be right.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Paddock Maintenance

I like the homefront to be orderly and well-maintained and was pleased to see the woman puff her way into paddock today, pushing the red mowing machine. She pulled a string that is somehow attached to it's innards and it growled to life. She plods up and down the fence line, trimming the grass that eludes the big mowers. Once she is thoroughly immersed in her task, I ease up close behind her and follow her every move. The only drawback is when she turns around to reverse course and crashes into me. It seems to give her quite a turn and she says "Sheaffer, would you please stop stalking me!" I retire, offended. but before she is halfway down the next side, I'm inexplicably drawn back and begin shadowing her closely and we repeat the whole procedure again.

My favourite mowers are the large green ones that can be ridden like a horse. They are distant relatives of the big field tractors and have fascinating mechanical systems concealed in their abdomens. Occasionally one has a medical crisis and becomes silent and motionless in our paddock. The humans peer into it's depths and go off to find something to revive it. This leaves me at leisure to examine the internal compartment thoroughly. There is a strange rubbery, oily hot smell and all sorts of belts and pulleys. I inhale deeply and conduct tests on various rubber parts with my teeth. I have to watch for the humans' return and pretend to be simply grazing nearby or there are shouts and recriminations hurled at me and then they blame each other for leaving the mower's vitals exposed to my ministrations.

Before these two green mowers we had a duo they called "The Sears Brothers". Ancient and smelly and made entirely of iron - no plastic bits at all. They had wonderfully filthy interiors and I spent many hours studying them. They also had soft yellow, squishy seats. I once began idly mouthing one of these and before I knew it, there I was in the middle of the paddock, surrounded by a sea of little yellow bits and lots of white rubbery stuff. I think it took the woman a full half hour to even begin expressing what she thought of my actions. All that was left of the seat was an iron skeleton. They put some towel arrangement on it but there were nasty mutterings cast my way and it was referred to as the "Sheaffer-ized seat" until the tractor died of old age a few years ago. They certainly can hold a grudge.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Rain and Cats and Parades

There was a complete betrayal on the part of the weather today. Spring was recalled and a cold rain blew in on an even colder wind. The others went out in the paddock but I spent most of the day in the run-in, chewing on some hay the woman provided. The grass is so green and lush that there has been talk of the "Best Friends" grazing muzzle. I despise the wretched thing. I'm also very much afraid of being at the mercies of the lunatic mule, with only one of my ends able to defend the rest of me.

A large cat called a cougar/puma/mountain lion, depending on who you speak to, has been seen north of here. TJ was very curious and I tried to explain that it wasn't quite like the grey feline who lives in the house. He still bears the faint scars of her very sharp nails but of course that doesn't deter him in the least. "oh yeah", he said "i hope it comes here so i can whup it. i'm gonna grab its tale and spin it reel fast like doc on the rope thing. then bimbamboom, i'm gonna stomp it and then i'm gonna tro it over the fence". Oh Lord. Maybe I'll just try to send the large cat a message and ask it to please stop by the paddock and have a light, furry mule snack.

On a lighter note, I've been officially invited to take part in the Sports Day Parade in early June. I am to wear some sort of costume - I have hopes of a shooting jacket and pith helmet. With any luck it won't be -10 degrees with a savage north wind. I enjoyed my last parade but not the icy footing and threat of frostbite.