Tuesday, October 27, 2009

On The Brighter Side...

Any day at the end of October that dawns so warm that it produces a heat haze can be nothing but good. The heat was accompanied by those miniscule flies that climb in our ears but it was a small price to pay.

The upward trend began on the weekend when Penny rolled in something so utterly disgusting that it caused the woman to make retching noises as soon as she got a whiff. In keeping with what Jack call the "hollow ian" season, it seems to have been some sort of putrefying, ghastly mass - black, sticky and almost impossible to remove. Three baths later Penny is only somewhat improved and is still looking quite smug. As one of Kipling's canine narrators said "I found a badness in the road. I rolled in it. I smelled good." Jack was so inspired that he found something nearly as revolting and worked it into his mane, causing it to stand up in spikes. He calls it his "hollow ian" costume. The woman, who is particularly sensitive to offensive odours, is beside herself. Tsk tsk.

Today the woman made her way down to the stinging wire fence and, wearing a pair of garish gardening gloves, began to wind it round and round a piece of firewood in preparation for winter storage. Good riddance to the monstrosity, I say. She then pulled out the metal sticks on which it is strung and stored them away, too. While she was in the process of wire rolling, she made her way into a corner we use as a "rest station" and which consequently makes for hazardous navigation. A serendipitous chain of events then unfolded as Penny flushed a rabbit out just a couple of yards away from the woman's feet. The rabbit exploded into the air and nearly flattened the woman, Penny in such hot pursuit that she was later discovered to have some rabbit tail fur in her teeth. The effect of the sudden burst of excitement caused the woman to simultaneously yelp, stumble sideways and sit down abruptly in a patch of unpleasantness. The irony was not lost on Penny who returned, fur in teeth, and grinned down at the now odoriferous woman.

Finally, Sally has had a slight head cold for the last few days but is beginning to feel better. The woman has installed the heated pad in her bed and has been bringing her bowls of chicken broth. Sally, who was a feral cat until last January, thinks this is a good thing indeed. Today she felt well enough to run along the top of the fence as Penny ran beside, swatting at Penny's tail and pretending to be a fierce predator. Then the fierce predator suddenly felt tired and went back to her toasty bed. I'm very fond of that cat and was glad to see her feeling her usual playful self.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Electronic Quill Quits, Colics, Dies

And that is why the quill and quire are mightier than the modern method. The night before last I was preparing to dictate a missive to the woman (not pontificate, as she will have it) and the damnable machine just shut itself off and refused to waken. Some sort of torsion or colic-related ailment is my guess. Even the experts could not get it to respond. So, we have a new writing machine which Herself is trying to cajole into working mode. Even on one of her brighter days she can barely operate one of those Bic pens so please bear with me.

I have a request for my dear readers. She has, not surprisingly, lost my electronic mail account and cannot remember my exact address. She knows it starts with Sheaffer (what a brilliant feat of deduction) but can't quite remember the rest. Could one of you who has corresponded with me through that method please remind her of the address. I know - I'm embarrassed for her too. Not surprised, just embarrassed. Of course, this is someone who treks out to the barn for some reason known only to herself and then stands there massaging her forehead and saying "Sheaffer, why did I come out here?" As if I can read what passes for her mind!

None of us equines is having memory difficulties. Every morning we remember the newly opened grazing area and gallop off in the fall fog to begin our daily feast. Unfortunately, the grass knows winter is creeping up on us and has gone into hibernation. We will indulge ourselves until the last blade is gone and then have to make do with the pittance she allows us.

Monday, October 19, 2009

She Opens The Gate To Paradise

These mostly windy, rainy cold days of autumn take it's toll on a donkey's psyche. Jack says he feels just fine and advised me to stop "broodin and frettin". His theory is that for him the bucket is always half full and for me it's always half empty with a hole in the bottom. I told him that his unbridled optimism makes me worry even more because I know fate is lurking around the corner.

His tenet of unbridled optimism was proved at least temporarily sound two days ago when the woman strode down to the stinging wire and let us into the lush swaths of grass in the front paddock for the first time in months. She told us that's where she was headed and so we followed closely, Doc walking importantly at her side with her hand draped over his neck. When we got there she wrestled with one of the metal sticks that hold the wire. Meanwhile Doc and Molly began to gyrate on the spot, urging her to hurry up. When she finally got the dreaded wire down, Doc was so excited he jumped over it, clearing it by a good five feet. Molly followed closely but merely hopped over it. Jack and I stayed behind and waited until the wire was safely out of the way. Then we made our way carefully into the ankle deep carpet of plush green. We've only come up for air a couple of times since. Unfortunately, the grass does not renew itself after the first few frosts so we know the heady days of gorging are nearly done.

We're not the only ones enjoying the last days of autumn - Sally has welcomed the cooler weather by finally becoming so comfortable in her role of barn princess that she is allowing the woman to pick her up and pat her. She accompanies the woman and Penny on their walks down the farm lane and makes a point of climbing various trees, perching on branches and addressing the world in a small but confident voice. She has lost the perpetually worried look that she has worn since her arrival and is sleek and glossy. It's no secret that I am a great admirer and friend of cats and it does a donkey's soul good to see her so happy.

Lest you think I have weakened on the doom and gloom front, I'd just like to add that today the woman peered at me and said, "Sheaffer, we need to start thinking of a fun costume for your big birthday bash next spring." We all know perfectly well that the words "fun" and "costume' strike fear and dread into a respectable donkey's heart. Now I'm going to have nightmares all winter about appearing in public dressed as a figure of ridicule. If I weren't so terrified of shavings bags, I'd just put one over my head.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

A Black and Bitter Disappointment

I think you know from the title what I am about to say. I have been horribly betrayed at the last minute and left, literally, waiting at the fence for my ride to the opera.

This is how the betrayal unfolded. My friends from Ottawa arrived and rushed to my side. They brushed and cossetted me and removed the residue of burrs that was stuck to my person. They said I looked slimmer, fitter, wiser and infinitely furrier. In short, they are the perfect visitors. Yesterday Jack and I took them, and Herself, for a stroll - I understood it was an afternoon constitutional to ready us for an evening of sitting and absorbing culture.

In late afternoon, the humans retired to the house to ready themselves. Now, I had been assured just that morning by the youngest visitor that I was most certainly in the opera party. I have known her all my life and most of hers; she is the one and only human ever allowed to sit on my person. I trust her words completely. She has never told me anything but the truth.

Well, out comes the woman, her face somewhat clean and her hair somewhat under control, nearly ready for the departure. She let the other three into their rooms and I politely went to the fence nearest the opera vehicle and waited. Nothing happened. I waited a bit more and finally went to the barn door to remind her that I was ready. My dinner was in my room and she encouraged me to enter. I refused. She finally strong-armed me inside and snapped the stall guard into place. I began to cry plaintively that there was a terrible misunderstanding and all she said was that she would see us later. My cries followed her out the door.

The young visitor pleaded in vain, saying I would behave better than all the human attendees combined and that I would love the elevating device and the refreshments. Herself laughed raucously at the very idea and they all piled into the vehicle. I was utterly bereft.

Of course the opera was magnificent - featuring all the required elements of drama, pathos and betrayal (I know about that first-hoof). The young visitor described all I had missed (there was even what looked like a hoof paring knife wielded by the heroine!) and said she had missed having me in the seat next to her. It's nice to have at least one ally, athough I'm stuck here with - I can't even bring myself to mention her name.

Jack was fine with missing the performance. "huh", he said, "if it don't got minnie perl in it, it ain't worth bendin an ear to."

Thursday, October 8, 2009

I'm Going to the Opera!

Yes! Finally, they seem to have recognized my unquenched thirst and desperate longing for a few hours staring at the splendor of classically trained singers in full operatic garb. My top hat is buffed and and my opera glasses gleaming. The opera in question is Madama Butterfly and of course I have already committed every note to memory. I may feel inclined to burst into song at the more dramatic bits.

I know I must be invited because I heard the woman saying that our friends from the Nation's Capital are coming and that "we" are all going as a group. Obviously, I am to be one of the party. Jack says he has his doubts and that he would only go if someone called Minnie Pearl of the Grand Ole Opry was singing. Never heard of the woman. He went on to say she was known for her straw hat with the price tag dangling off the front. Then he lapsed into one of his chuckling fits that always ends in a round of coughing. I'm afraid he's losing touch with the real world, poor old man. Doc wants to come as well, outfitted with his air horn and foam finger. I assured him he was not invited and that brawling in the seats is highly unlikely.

On another note (hehheh, pardon the small pun), the woman placed a bag of pellets in the aisle today and went off to dump the wheelbarrow. The bag was already open so I investigated further by tasting said pellets. Not bad at all and certainly better than the dreadful pellets we are served at dinner. She returned while I had my head in the bag and scared me half to death by bellowing my name and asking what I thought I was doing. She pried my jaws apart and whisked out the loose material. It seems these new pellets are some sort of bedding she is trying out - one which expands rapidly when exposed to water.

Jack found the situation hilarious and kept saying things like "Thar she blows!" and "Man the lifeboats!". I spent a day focussed intently on my inner workings and waiting for the rumblings to subside. Fortunately, the feeling of fullness has passed and I was able to manage both lunch and dinner.

Friday, October 2, 2009

A BIG Red Tractor and a Change in Our Linen Closet

I've had an extraordinarily busy week - Jack and I have been on the go from sunup till sundown. We've been supervising non-stop but managed to fit in some time for donkey frolics. The rain and wind have now set in and night temperatures hover around zero so our days of frolic are numbered.

Last weekend the male human and our friend/sometime minder, Jamie, appeared in the run-in with all sorts of wonderful power tools. They began wrestling bales of hay and staggering about with large, flat sheets of thin wood so of course we rushed in and crowded around to help. It seems they were constructing a bin type thing so the woman could buy our bedding in bulk, thus saving millions of dollars (I think that's the number she mentioned). It began to rain (of course) so that meant that along with Sally and Penny, who also insisted on helping, there were eight bodies in a small space.

The only unpleasant part was when Jamie wheeled a metal cart with tool boxes in my general direction - I snorted and fled out into the rain. He felt so guilty that he came out to coax me in and just as I was regaining my composure the male human appeared in the barn door with a yellow snake coiled around his arm. I fled once more into the foul elements. They tried to explain that it was a power cord but I know a viper when I see one.

The next day the woman went off in the truck and re-appeared with a mound of bedding in the back. It was supposed to be covered with a tarpaulin but she was defeated by the wind and made her way home at low speed, leaving a thin coating of wood shavings over two counties. She backed into the run-in and once more we hastened into the breach to give assistance. Well, as much as possible since she had barred the entrances with gates and doors.

It took her ages to move said shavings from point A to point B. We stayed with her throughout and were there when she climbed into the truck bed, stood up, bonked her head on a rafter, promptly lost her balance and toppled into the shavings. Her vocabulary hit a new low as she massaged the top of her head while muttering threats at the rogue rafter. At one point Jack became highly indignant at being locked out of his run-in and began rapping imperiously on the metal side door. Herself threw the door open and hissed at him that her head was already throbbing and she didn't need the sound of a donkey jack hammering on metal, thank you very much, even if the donkey in question was actually called Jack.

The day after this bedding excitement a huge red tractor appeared in our fields and began plowing them up in preparation for next spring. It's even larger than the huge green one and is hinged in the middle like an ant. As is my custom. I stuck my head through the fence for a better look and could see the driver looking askance as he cleared my head by inches. He need not worry, I have it down to a fine art.

Meanwhile, Doc and Molly and even Jack, belted around the paddock, prentending the red tractor was a gigantic monster after their very life blood. Doc did his version of air boxing, Molly did her impression of a runaway freight train and Jack wove in and out of the trees at high speed, his tail rotating like a helicopter's blades. It was exhausting just watching them.