Thursday, March 25, 2010

Spring Fling for Your Viewing Enjoyment

My friend Gale has sent me another film clip that I would like to share with you. It's of a very large donkey and a very small donkey having an all-out rasslin match. The large donkey is a study in stoicism and patience, the small donkey is obviously part Jack Russell terrier and hounds his friend mercilessly.

I have a strong suspicion that the small donkey is a close relative of TJ (Virgil). Those ankle biting moves look awfully familiar.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Grand Day In

As expected, winter returned with a vengeance yesterday, armed with rain, wind, freezing rain and blobs of snow the size of my ears. Though like Lord Byron "nasty, brutish and short", this appalling weather will soon skulk off to make way for spring. At least I hope so...

Jack and I took one look out the door and presented a united front (well, rear, actually). We refused to budge from the shelter of the barn. We had the run of the barn, except for the tack room, which is unfortunate because we find that the most stimulating and diverting room of all. We had a huge pile of hay, a salt block, fresh water and some of my childhood toys that the woman keeps for sentimental reasons. We ate, drank, licked the salt block and prodded each other with the above-mentioned play things.

We were becoming somewhat bored when Herself appeared out of the gloom and proceeded with her chambermaid duties. We are selfless souls, Jack and I, and immediately began to help her in any way we could. We pressed ourselves on either side of her to show support, literal and moral. We stepped on the fork thing. We chewed on the wheelbarrow handles - actually, Jack gummed them. Then Sally joined us and mewed pitufully at the woman`s feet until she was picked up. Still, the woman seemed rather tense and distracted.

What she needs, we thought, is to be more thoroughly distracted. First I tried to roll in the newly cleaned rooms and Jack pounced on me. Then we reversed roles and I did the pouncing. Then Jack backed me into a corner and sat on me. I ran into his room and we began to spar over the halfwall. By now we had raised a tremendous amount of dust and had bedding spread liberally everywhere. The woman seemed to be taken by a fit of coughing. We could hear her but could not quite see her through the dust storm. Then Jack was inspired. He stood on his hind legs and planted one front hoof on the top of the partition wall whilst waving the other one dramatically in the air. I bit him on the fetlock and he made loud growling and grunting noises.

Of course you know what happened next. Herself rushed over, threw her arms around Jack`s neck and forced him to climb down. She simply can`t stand to see anyone have fun. Then, trying vainly to beat the dust out of her clothes, she announced she was going to the house for tea and some recovery time. We sighed and went back to our hay.

Today is sunny so we are in the paddock, helping her with the outside cleanup. She still seems rather peevish, so we are sticking close by, hoping to cheer her up.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

How to Retire a Donkey

My good friend Gale, who is also a long-time blog reader and donkey supporter, has sent me an extremely interesting film about a donkey retirement function in Russia. I will include it here so you may join me in celebrating the happy event.

As a long time member of a famous Russian ballet troupe, Monika the donkey, after 19 years of faithful service, at age 21 was deemed to have earned not only a comfortable retirement, but a truly fitting retirement party, worthy of a distinguished lady donkey moving graciously to dowager status. She was dressed in one of her stage costumes, including pink tutu, leg ribbons and a tiara and then led amongst her adoring public with her young replacement at her side. The young replacement looks suitably awe-struck and mindful of the importance of the occasion. Monika donkey is polite but firm with her throughout their walk together. The tutu will not be passed until the last moment.

They then adjourn to a banquet table, overflowing with all sorts of donkey hors d'oeuvres. Always a perfect lady and a consumate professional, Monika samples the delicacies without so much as a crumb on her tutu or a disarranged tiara. She then makes a final bow to her admirers, leaving not a dry eye in the house, I'm sure. And that, dear readers, is how one retires a donkey. With love and respect and gratitude for a job well done.

Jack's retirement was rather more of a near-death experience, brought on by years of neglect. He doesn't like to dwell on "them dark days" but he seemed rather wistful about the idea of a magnificent send-off into the senior years. He tells me that every day here is a party by his reckoning and we intend to keep it that way.

The magnificent Monika can be seen at

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Awash In The Buzz of Spring

I mean that quite literally. Along with a few days of unseasonably warm weather we are moving submarine-like through our water logged paddock with no patch of ground untouched by the lapping waters. I tried to take refuge on a tree stump but could only get my front end elevated, leaving the rear 50% slowly sinking into the evil ooze.

Nevermind, Jack and I are dry as a bone above the ankles and enjoying every moment of warmth on our backs. But we know winter has not finished with us yet. Yesterday a few impatient insects could be seen buzzing around the remaining snow banks, in a hurry to get the next season underway. The usual territorial battles in the avian world are ramping up as nesting season begins and of course the black and white gas dispensing creatures are now venturing forth. There was a fatality to one of their ranks on our front road and the resulting massive explosion of noxious fumes can be smelled for miles around.

This morning I was sorting through my breakfast hay, which the woman had placed atop a remaining crust of snow, when I began to experience an alarmingly loud bout of tinnitus in my left ear. Then I felt an unseen presence slowly tracking it's way down my ear canal. I tossed my head, I shook my ears violently, I clenched my teeth and pinned both ears against my neck. Nothing would stop the infernal buzzing and tickling. Jack, ever helpful, said "sonny if yer gonna take a fit then kinely do it away frum my brekfus." I went off in search of the woman.

She was ankle deep in the murky waters, raking away industriously in a futile effort to house clean our paddock before the return of the next snow. As she bent over to scoop another shovelful into the wheelbarrow, I nudged her firmly on the posterior. It got her attention immediately. "Gakkkk", she said, "what the &^%$%^& do you think you're doing?!" I repeated the ear shaking, teeth clenching and head tossing. She gawked at me, dumbfounded. I rubbed my left ear on a front leg and groaned. I could feel a tremendous urge to sneeze violently coming on. It burst forth in a blast of snorts and trumpets that left her peppered with various bits of nasal debris. She reeled back, one arm thrown in the air in a posture self defense.

Slowly, slowly, the light of comprehension began to dawn in her beady eyes. "Do you have something in your ear?" I stared at her through watery eyes, trying not to look to contemptuous at her less than stellar powers of deduction. She examined my right ear - nothing. Then she peered into the depths of my left ear. She reached in and extracted a small, white, slightly dusty looking insect. "It's a moth", she said,"how did that get in there?!" I have no idea when or how the thing decided to take up residence on, or rather in, my person but now I must remain vigilant against one more threat to my sanity (and aural health). It's always something.

I sighed and trudged back to my breakfast. I should say former breakfast - Jack had eaten every last scrap.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

What Is The Purpose of Donkeys?

I can't tell you how often visitors have asked the woman just that. Not the donkeyphiles, of course, but the ones who are seeing a living, breathing donkey for the first time. They are invariably the ones who also get far too close and say "Hey, Donkehhhh, Donkehhh, Donkehhh!" or ask where our friend Winnie the Poop is hiding. Inexplicably rude, not to mention highly perplexing.

The woman explains that Jack worked hard for twenty-seven years, giving rides, attending parties and parades and putting up with things no donkey should endure. I myself haul the woman around in the cart and do my best to attend social events as donkey representative at large. And still they ask, "why would you own a donkey, what use are they?" I wonder, does anyone ask them to justify their mere existence?

After one such incident, the woman took me aside and said "Sheaffer, I think I have found a perfect quote to stifle those peabrains." I'll give her this - she may critcize us freely and in colourful language but heaven help anyone else who does. She found it in a book called "O Come Ye Back to Ireland" by Niall Williams and Christine Breen. Here it is:

"What is our business here, and in the words of Thomas Merton, 'our business is life itself". Someone, as Thoreau said, must be Inspector of Snowstorms, Inspector of Sunsets...together we are Inspectors of Wildflowers, Secretaries of Sunshine, Surveyors of Meadows, Auditors of Birdsong, Clerks of Clouds, VicePresidents of Hilltops and Valleys, Bogs, Trees and everything." I have read this over several times and Jack and I will both add it to our resumes.