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.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Doc Gets Religion - And Then Loses It

There are several small churches in our little town and on Sundays many local folk can be seen on their way there, dressed in what Jack calls their "Sunday go to meetin' clothes". We're not sure what they do there but years ago, at our first barn, Doc had his own encounter with religion.

The woman was away and had left us to graze on the several acres of grass in front of the house, making sure to close the gate behind her (drat). Being young lads, Doc and I did some mock stallion fighting, chewed some fencing and even managed to eat a bit of late fall grass. Then strangers appeared at the gate. We rushed to greet them. They were fiddling with the catch on the gate and we took them by surprise, causing one of the females to scream. This mysterious outburst caused Doc to become overwrought and he galloped around in tight circles next to the gate. The people looked highly agitated and left. Most perplexing - and disappointing.

The strangers appeared again the next week but this time our woman was in the barn. She came out to meet them and one of the strangers, who was clad in a collection of animal pelts sewn together, began speaking very earnestly and quickly and trying to give the woman two magazines that had to do with religion of some sort. The woman said no thank you but still the strangers stayed and talked and talked. Then Doc, who was at the top of the paddock, spotted them and came barreling down to welcome them, sliding to a stop just inches away from the gate and showering them in clods of mud . "eeeeeeekkkkkkk !" screamed the pelt-clad female, "It's HIM - it's that big horse again! We were here last week and he wouldn't let us in the gate." A complete lie; we very much wanted them to come in but they rebuffed our warm invitation. Doc snorted in her face, inspected the pelts closely with his tongue, which caused him to sneeze violently, and snatched the magazines from her hand. With that the stranger hiked up the fur pelts and the whole group beat a hasty retreat to their conveyance. Gravel flew and they were gone.

Doc was devastated. "I liked them dudes", he said "expecially that fur one - and she even thought I was a BIG horse. Those paper things was borin - I wonder what humans see in this religion stuff. It tastes like cr**" He sighed and trudged off. The woman sighed and trudged back to the barn and I sighed and trudged off because that's just my normal mode. The whole ordeal has caused Doc and self to swear off anything to do with religion. There's an old saying about staying clear of religion and politics but I must confess, I find politics too enthralling to ever consider withdrawing from that sphere. I'm quite happy to leave religion to the humans though.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Meds and Muzzles

Jack is back to his old self and says he's forgotten about "the incident" when he turned Smurf blue in the face. The woman is watching him like a hawk and is concocting all sorts of things in the blender device to get his meds into him. Jack can smell one molecule of antibiotic in four gallons of feed so it's proved a challenge for herself. When she isn't looking for a nano second he tries to slide it under the divider to my side of the stall but so far I haven't had time to so much as taste it before it's rudely snatched away and put back in with Jack.

Jack is very touched by the concern shown by his blog friends and would like to say " it's mighty kind and mos appreciated by a ole timer". It seems some of our blog friends are also enduring health issues such as getting their heads stuck in fences and their hoofs afflicted with the dreaded abcess. Good grief, it's a veritable season of plagues. The foot man caught a touch of thrush in Jack's right hind today and Jack wasn't too pleased by the odoriferous liquid that gets squirted on it. Molly's mud fever is almost gone but it seems the record breaking rain we've had is responsible for both ailments. I'm sticking to high ground.

I've included a photo of self in the unspeakable anti-grazing muzzle. The endless rain has produced a bumper crop of grass and this is their idea of a solution to what they call my ever-expanding waistline. What nonsense. They know perfectly it's my luxuriant winter coat coming in and not layers of what they term donkey cellulite. Philistines.

The potato harvest is underway now the fields are a bit drier and I will write a full report on this highlight of my summer. I might as well - there's nothing else to be done when wearing a muzzle.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Jack Scares The Bejeebers Out of Us All

Last evening was much as usual - line up in the run-in and complain that our dinners weren't appearing fast enough, encourage the woman to improve her feed mixing skills and generally agitate until she let us in our stalls. She calls it slopping the hogs but her sense of humour is notoriously crude. The sounds of contented munching ensued. She went off to do some lawn maintenance while we finished. Then Jack started choking and coughing and gasping and got himself and the rest of us in a right state. The woman reappeared and vaulted over the front of his stall and began massaging his throat. It moved the mass further down but he was still most distressed. She raced off to the house and returned with the male human and told Jack the vet was on her way.

The vet was a long way away and took some time to arrive. Meanwhile Jack would cough and drool and snort and then suddenly have a panic attack and throw himself around the stall, nearly falling down. The humans stood with him and stroked him and he did his best to merge his body into theirs. When the vet came she gave him a needle to make him sleepy and then - I kid you not - stuck a garden hose down his gullet and began pumping warm water into him! It seems nearly his whole dinner was stuck and he began to spout quantities of food in all directions, drenching both the woman and the vet and the general surroundings. The vet got him cleaned out and left various meds for him and said he couldn't have any food for the next day and then only a sloppy mash. Jack looked like a he'd been in a bar fight and was suffering a violent hangover. The woman sat with him till he was awake and then checked on him through the night.

This morning he was his usual cheerful self and couldn't believe he was being starved. We stayed in all day and I got hay in my stall but poor Jack had nothing. The woman has modified his already soupy dinner and brought a device to the barn that has glass jar on a metal thing. It makes a screeching noise and pulverizes everthing to smithereens. Jack was so hungry he drank his whole dinner, meds and all, without blinking. Doc said, "Whoa, that is so cool, I always wanted my own blender!" He spent the rest of the day humming a dreadful tune called 'Margaritaville". Molly looked in the tack room window while the woman was mixing Jack's dinner and tried to place an order but the woman shooed her away.

Jack shrugged off the whole incident saying, "Twern't hardly nothin, I just got a speck of food stuck in muh craw." He says he got into the habit of eating as fast as possible when food was scarce and now his teeth are nearly useless, it can cause problems. His already soggy food is now positively awash and in addition the vet suggested putting rocks in with his feed to slow him down. She also said he's in remarkably good shape for a donkey of any age, and both Jack and the woman are just beaming over that one. Other than that the woman looks like she's been trampled by migrating caribou, but that may have something to do with lack of sleep.

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Tree Incident of '08

Imagine our surprise when one morning last week we stepped out of the barn and discovered a section of fence draped in tree branches. We hastened over, followed closely by the woman saying "Wait, hold it, let me check it out first". Of course we ignored her and increased our pace. We arrived in a dead heat and discovered a huge tree had split down the middle, taking two others with it, leaving just the bottom rail of the fence standing. The woman burrowed inside the tent of branches and emerged to tell us that there was no way we could squeeze through. We'll just see about that, I thought to myself. We played along and wandered off into the paddock looking innocent.

When she had gone, we sidled back and Doc said "Keep a lookout. I'm goin in". He muscled his way inside and a chorus of snapping and popping emerged as he reconnoitered. "I dunno," he said, sounding like he was inside a cavern. "One of you little guys could prolly get through." As if on cue, the woman appeared on the horizon - much like the proverbial bad penny. She was counting "One, two, three...oh cr**", she said "where's Doc?!" We all froze, including Doc. She arrived, panting, and Doc chose that moment to explode out of the tree like a thing possessed, branches attached to various parts of his person. The woman did a very good impersonation of a gymnast doing a back handspring. There were dark looks and much glaring and two fence repair male humans showed up soon after.

We were sorry to lose our potential route to freedom but supervised the humans closely. They used a loud, hand-held device with a rotating chain. It made intriguing demonic sounds and created a shower of dust and wood chips. It was eerily reminiscent of TJ on one of his missions. In no time at all a new rail was installed and the old ones back in place. Disappointing, to say the least. Jack and I rolled in the wood chips but really, as of that moment, the corner holds no further interest for us.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Departure of An Equine Super Model

Well, the beauteous one hopped in her travelling box and is gone from our lives. Doc's broken-hearted bellow could be heard in upper New York state. The four females went for another forest tour this morning before she packed her tack box and I still remain puzzled by this overwhelming desire to commune with nature. They found an enormous dead toad on one trail and that is simply not my idea of a fun time in the woods. Yechhhh.

Things are back to their usual tranquil pace and that's probably best for everyone's nerves, especially Jack, who has been gazing at Annie non-stop since her arrival on Saturday. He's exhausted and maybe now he can stop trying to hold his stomach in. We had an ungodly downpour last night and poor Annie got stuck in it in the front paddock. We helped in her rescue by calling loudly while her human braved the elements to rescue her. Doc would not come in, even for his dinner, until she was safely in the run-in. Annie was so scared and cold we thought she would shake herself to death but she quickly revived and scarfed her dinner.

The humans are very pleased with the 25km ride they did with the other hundred pairs of horses and humans. They raised around twenty thousand dollars altogether and plan to do it again next year. All that walking - I wouldn't do it if you paid ME twenty thousand dollars. They didn't even have Sherpas to carry their lunches.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Beautiful Visitor

On Saturday afternoon a truck and metal box with a horse whinnying inside pulled into our driveway. A breathtakingly beautiful bay female horse sashayed out and said "I'm Annie and I'm here!" Doc flexed his muscles and bellowed at her "Hubbahubba, who's the hot mama??" Jack and I added our voices to the chorus and chaos ensued. Turns out Annie and her human were here to join our woman and Molly in a 25km ride to raise funds for some human vet clinic. Frankly, I can barely envision 2.5km but if they want to traipse around forests in the heat, let them have at it. I'm glad to stay home and keep an eye on things.

Annie is staying in the run-in at night which is most exciting, as she can peer over the door and make announcements when she feels the urge to say something. Doc is absolutely besotted and actually nipped Molly chasing her away - Molly was quite dejected, so now Annie is kept in the front half of the paddock during the day and Doc patrols up and down the fence. Peace reigns once more.

The four females completed their ride on Sunday and came back with ribbons and certificates and things and then off they went again to a bbq. Typical. Bring the hard-working horses home and go off to have fun. Yesterday the four went off to a forest again. Annie does not want to go home and is trying to convince her human that they need to stay here. She likes the attention from the three male equines and the companionship of Molly but especially likes everyone commenting on her great beauty. Jack said she was "a fine figure of a woman and easy on the eyes". She does make a nice pasture ornament.

Must rush, Annie is getting out of sight and the male chorus must call her back where we can gaze upon her. I think Molly will be glad when she goes home...