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 http://www.cafepress.com/sheaffer 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...