Saturday, January 17, 2009

Animal Ice Sculptures

I am one of the above-mentioned ice sculptures. And that's just from being inside. Well actually, Jack and I haven't been outside in two days - we are given the choice each morning and flatly refuse - but I must reluctantly admit, the barn is quite bearable. This is in spite of the fact that the invisible but relentless Jack Frost has now painted the inside walls with his demonic rime. He did the windows before Christmas and they have stayed frosted. He's a complete lunatic. I loathe him.

Our Jack insisits that I mention his new accomplishment. He's very pleased with himself. Earlier this week, we were outside and he decided he wanted to go back inside. The woman was cleaning our rooms so he honked politely and tapped on the bottom of the door. When she didn't answer immediately, he began to work at the horse-proof latch on the door. Within five minutes he had it figured out. With that, he threw the door open wide in a dramatic fashion and marched in. The woman was dumbstruck (well, dumberstruck - she's not that bright to begin with). Jack may have only a handful of teeth left but he has positively prehensile lips that are a match for any hardware.

As for Sally, my new cat friend, she is slowly settling in and beginning to relax just a little. The woman can pat her all over and Sally even bumps the woman's hand onto her head when she stops. Sally stays in her heated cat den because the barn is so cold but she's quite toasty and warm in there. I'm very anxious to make her acquaintance and am leaning so far over my stall-guard, straining to see into the tackroom, that the woman says I will topple over and do myself an injury. She's threatening to put a helmet on me to avoid a concussion. Jack is much more phlegmatic on the cat front. "Ya seen one cat ya seen em all", he said.

Molly's ego is swelling to Hindenburg-like proportions. Every human at her winter barn stops by her stall to hug and kiss her and give her tasty morsels of various foodstuffs. "She's so keeee-yooot" they rant. "We can't let you take her home in the spring". Hmmmm, I'm sure that could be arranged - everything has a price. Now the woman is glaring at me.


robert5721 said...

Mystery Donkey?? Whaddayamean?? That distinguished brow can only belong to one donkey on this planet, and we ALL know who HE IS!! And with that full a hair coat, we ALL know where HE lives too!!
I am glad that Mr Jack has learned the ins and outs of those equine proof door latches..get him to show you and Doc how to do it, and then you will be able to get to the foodstuffs and will at least give some entertainment for you all while locked in the barn on those cold days,
Mr Gale

billie said...

Oh, Jack the locksmith! Among all his other talents and knowledge - what luck for you and Doc! I anticipate some interesting adventures now that Jack has discovered this skill. :)

And I have such an image of you and Jack in the barn, defying the cold that lies outside. Sometimes I imagine having a different sort of barn than we have, where instead of an aisle there is a big round central room where all the stalls open up to, and I would have sofas and lamps and a perfectly safe woodstove on which I would make tea and equine treats and muffins and things.

I suppose since I can't bring everyone in the house I'm dreaming of taking my living room and kitchen into the barn! A sort of equine salon, if you will, with music and art and movies. Can you imagine? It would be quite the conversation with Doc and Molly and Keil Bay and Cody and the pony. Rafer Johnson and Redford would be thrilled to have you and Jack to talk to.

They had two very grand uncles at their first home, who taught them good manners and endured all kinds of young sprog shenanigans. Keil Bay tries his best, but he is just not fluent in the language and cultural history of the donkey world.

Stay warm, Sheaffer, and demand entertainment and treats! I'm sure Sally has some stories to tell once she settles in completely.

billie said...

I meant to say, but hit that send key too quickly - that Dougie and Buddy and Ginger and Fred would be there too! What a gathering that would be!

Dougie Donk said...

Sheaffer, would you be kind enough to pass on my admiration to Jack?

My human will not remove my headcollar until she has shut the field gate of a morning, so I have learnt to assist her in the closure process. But opening of a horse -proof fastening? I am lost for words & you know how difficult that is for we donkeys!

Billie, I thank you kindly for including me in your thoughts of a donkey gathering. We have a u-shaped block of stables & our human often stands in the middle with a mug of coffee, but that is nowhere near as luxurious as your vision of an equine salon. I would advise copyright of this superb idea!

ponymaid said...

Mr. Gale, you know me too well! I must admit I have a fuller-than-usual winter coat this year, complete with overhanging eyebrows (they help to conceal my thoughts). You would think Jack had discovered the Holy Grail or Atlantis or something, the way he is all puffed up about his new skill. Doc and I have both tried but have not yet mastered the art.

Billie, the very thought of a central salon in your barn has set my brain a-spinning. I have glimpsed Utopia and it is at your farm. Are you an artist? Could you paint that scene so I could gaze at it throughout the winter? It reminds me of those wonderful pictures of Ratty and Moley in their dens in "Wind In The Willows". Those lads knew the meaning of "homey".

Dougie, we are all rather in awe of Jack. He keeps muttering about old donkeys learning new tricks and then he snorts gleefully and flicks his ears. When your woman stands there with her coffee mug, does she offer you any? In my experience, Donkeys are inveterate tea drinkers but Jack swears by a "cuppa joe". He likes it strong and gritty and swishes it around in his mouth. Ask your woman to let you have a sip - I'm sure she won't mind. If you don't like it, just spit it back into the mug politely.

billie said...

Sheaffer, I'm not an artist, but if I were, this is exactly what I would paint.

Anonymous said...

I waaaannnnaaa goooo!!
Billie - I sense that you are a southern belle. Such hospitality. As Blanche demurred, "I have always depended on the kindness of strangers." I am heading your way as soon as I can figure out this %#^&& gate latch. Perhaps I can get some assistance from Jack?

The only thing keeping me here is the Elfwood Farm feed revolution. The fat lady has purchased a new feed for Miss Annie. Annie's usual ration is zero + an apple and a carrot but she has stoutly rejected her vitamin supplement for the last six months. I guess the fat lady is worried about her disintegrating or fading away or whatever happens when horses aren't pampered enough.

She has purchased an elixir called TizWhiz and we have all lost our minds over it. Fred and I were given four or five pellets each and now refuse to eat any hay until we get out meagre share. The bag is garishly emblazoned with the words "Easy Keeper" which I believe is not an underhanded compliment but a veiled insult. However none of us three equines are letting on that we can read. When we are not eating piles of hay, drinking heated water, wrestling or chasing each other, we are reading Sun Tzu's The Art of War and secretly plotting our attack on the feed room.

billie said...

I'm afraid that right now you would all be miserably disappointed - we have 5 inches of snow on the ground and it is still coming down! However, the temps are mid-twenties, so on that count it would probably be quite tropical for some of you used to the true extremes!

Rafer and Redford are quite adamant that they have no desire to stroll in the snow. They are staying in the barn, with access to barn aisle, a nice dry stall, and another stall that has the back door open to the paddock, in case they do decide to venture out. The barn doors are open at one end just enough so they can watch the snowy scene, as well as Salina, who although with them, prefers to stand out in the snow and look quite the picture with her green blanket and regal black head.

I guess she is used to this, coming from Germany!

Keil Bay and Cody and Apache Moon are out gallivanting in the back field, coming in as they want to for hay munching.

I will probably serve everyone a warm beet pulp mash during Salina's more substantial lunch, as it seems terribly cruel to make them all stand there and listen to her slurp the meal. Normally she just comes in at her lunchtime and has it privately while they stay out and graze.

I propose that Doc take charge of securing a huge boxcar at the nearest train station, and then he, Jack, and Sheaffer can set out to collect the rest of the salon crew. Jack can pick locks as needed. Dougie will have to brave the airways and we will pick him up at the airport.

Finn the Wonder Pony said...


We are frozen here in NH as well. Certainly not as cold as you, but were down below zero for several days last week. Sunday we got 15" more of the white death. UGGHH!! I've instructed my woman to send you a picture of us yesterday morning... you can hardly see my pony behind a huge snowbank.

My woman tries to make the barn more like a salon; she has rugs over the dirt floor which gives a nice ambiance. It is usually a good 10 degrees warmer in our rooms than outside, but I really love to go outside no matter what the weather. I just wish the weather would be nicer. If I stand around in one place too long, my ankles swell. I know, sounds like an old lady, but I am -ahem- of a certain age, and I do have arthritis in my joints from being such a great athlete in my younger years. Well, certainly not an Olympic level athlete, but I carried my woman to many victories in Training Level Dressage and Horse Driving Trials, not to mention the great trail rides and drives we still do.

My woman says this last storm, well this whole awful winter, has pushed her over the edge and she is thinking of selling this place and getting a place in ... wait for it ... warm, sunny North Central FLORIDA!! And it will have plenty of pasture for all our friends to come visit!!! That includes every one of your fans!! But that definitely won't happen for a while, as she has multitudes of things to sort out and fix up before she can even put this place on the (non)-market. And then, of course, the US economy has to get sorted out so people can start spending money again. sigh... Hey, maybe we can come to Canada in the summer when it gets sooo hot in FL!

But I digress. I want to congratulate Jack for opening the door. At the risk of seeming too boastful, I myself am a pretty good lock-pick. When we were at the Training Barn, I opened a gate in the paddock that was supposedly horse proof. HAH! I have a prehensile nose just like Jack, and set the whole herd free. Boy did we have fun that day! None of the humans could figure out how I did it because the gate swung shut and latched after the last horse left. Unfortunately, I didn't wait long enough to try to open it again and was caught in the act. Whereupon my woman made an alteration in the latch that made it impossible to open without opposable, thumbs. sigh.

Meanwhile, please remember to pick us up when you get the train together. There is a station just the next town over; I'm sure we can meet you there.

billie said...

CindyLouWho, I knew I was forgetting someone important! Between you and Jack the lock-picking part should be a piece of cake. :)

Finn the Wonder Pony said...


I forgot to mention that my woman asked me to have you tell your woman that she will not be attending Equine Affaire in Ohio. She only goes to this one because it is 2 hours away. I'm not sure if I would like it... being on the less petite size (17hh, 1800#), it might worry me having so many people underfoot... literally. The adulation would be just wonderful though; my woman says the Dales Ponies they took to this EA were drunk with all the worshipping.

Thanks Billie! Maybe between the two of us, Jack and I can figure out the ones that need more than one prehensile nose... maybe even figure out how to turn doorknobs so little donkeys can get into the house and enjoy some well-deserved luxuries...

Buddy said...

Hay Sheaffer - love the new pics of Sally - very pretty kitkat.


ponymaid said...

Ginger, I too receive a pathethic portion of some ghastly vitiman/mineral concoction. Tasteless, except for a lingering metallic "je ne said quoi". By all means, send me a bag or two of this TizWiz and I will conduct thorough scientific testing. I have been called an air fern in terms of my diatetic robustness and have figured out that it is not complimentary - I initially thought it had something to do with fragile greenery and hot houses.

Billie, we're having a bit of bother procuring a boxcar. Doc has discovered one that was formerly used to transport coal and I absolutely refuse to consider it. Surely there are some used exclusively for carrots? We may make it to your farm by July.

CindyLou, I am sorry to hear of your puffy ankles. Does standing in the snow prove therapeutic? Does the woman rub them with essential oils and provide you with a divan on which to elevate them? Jack says that with you on his side, the world is your oyster - no lock unpicked is his motto. And you have both ends of the height spectrum covered. Your woman is not missing much at the Ohio equine thingy - as far as I can tell, it's simply a bottomless pit of dewormers.

Buddy, my new friend Sally is proving to be a stellar feline. She ventures out at night and we have said hello from a distance. She's relaxing more each day and is gaining weight - she has a mania for something called kitty Temptations, which the woman purchases by the bagful. She also has an impressive in-board motor which is switched on much of the time.