Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Donkey's Guide to Living Off the Land

Jack and I have been walking the woman around the property, attempting to get her conditioned for the upcoming riding season. Uphill work, both literally and figuratively, and she still tends to puff and snort like a steam engine, but we nevertheless soldier on. It also gives us a chance to sample nature's bountiful buffet, which is now bursting forth on all fronts. I have compiled a guide to some of the basic florals and greenery should any of my donkey friends care to to imbibe.

I have included handy illustrations and also whatever information I could gather from the woman's babblings. I can tell you that the tri-part white flower is entirely off limits because the woman pulled me away violently as I tried to sniff it and said " Nooooo, don't touch that, it's a Trillium and you'll end up in jail if you damage it!" Good lord, she gave me such a fright that I'll never so much as glance at the things again! Now, those cheerful yellow flowers pop up everywhere in such quantities that she strongly encourages us to eat our fill. Both flower and greenery are delicious and we regard them as a spring tonic. Best eaten before the flowers turn to fluff and clog one's nasal passages. They seem to be called Dandy Lions or those ^%$*&^# weeds, depending on who is describing them.

We sampled two mauve flowers, one is quite fragrant and grows on a shrub, It actually has a sort of mauve-y taste and is slightly reminiscent of the soap the Herself uses to wash down our walls. The other is a darker purple and grows close to the ground in the shade. Very tasty and we consumed quite a few before she noticed and told us to leave the "violets" alone. They provide a light, aromatic finish to a full course of dried twigs or fence rail.

The last plant I cannot recommend, though Jack found it quite interesting. It cleverly disguises itself as grass but on further examination it proves to have a strong, herbal taste that the humans describe as "oniony". Jack sampled a few strands and then ejected them onto the woman's shoe. I took one sniff of the deceitful poseur and that was quite enough. Sally loves it and not only chews the wretched thing but also rolls in it. Cats obviously crave a whole other menu.

And so my donkey friends, and any humans who care to graze along with me, these are my horticultural findings for this week.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Orbs - Large and Small

Molly's eye, the small orb, is progressing but not yet one hundred percent. She is back in work and thank goodness because she was downright testy about Doc being the only one to be ridden. She hammered on the door when he was being groomed, chased us, slammed the door to the run-in (breaking the string) and took the woman's jacket away when she put it on the ground next to the riding ring. There is nothing repressed about Molly.

The large orb is a gigantic, inflatable ball that resides at a friend's house. Doc went off in the metal box on wheels to have a workout session with said ball. On the way he encountered a work crew at roadside and gave them a loud and hearty greeting. They responded in kind, all eight or ten of them, giving a hearty "HEYYYYYY" in reply. Doc says the Flat Man was with them, off to one side, but he didn't utter a peep. And (I find this highly suspicious) he was in exactly the same position as when he was on the road in front of our place over a year ago! I just don't trust him.

Doc tells us the giant ball resides in one of those indoor riding rooms and that there is also an entire collection of objects called a "trail course". He tried them all but liked the ball best because he can herd it around and generally pretend to be a cowpony without having to deal with cows. He has a deathly fear of all things bovine.

He is invited back next week and I fear we will be the objects of the Wrath of Molly.

Friday, April 16, 2010

My Week Thus Far

I am pleased to report that Molly's recalcitrant eye wound is finally consenting to heal. She is still having eye cream put in three times daily and is on some powdery pain killer but she is making a magnificent effort at keeping her caloric intake high. Hasn't lost an ounce and in fact is expanding due to spring greenery. Buddy sent her a get well card all the way from Nevada and she has it displayed next to her valentine, though she would prefer to wear it as a stylish eye patch. Molly the Pony Pirate - the mind boggles.

The woman saddled Doc up yesterday and they went for their first ride in the sand ring. She fastened him on the long rope to spin him around a bit before riding, in case he was full of what Jack calls the "heebie jeebies". He wasn't, but a few minutes in he began making truly alarming noises - a cross between gulping, sighing and gargling. The woman was highly alarmed until she realized he had the hiccups. She plunked herself down in the saddle and off they went - Doc making ungodly "hhhhuuuuunhhh" sounds that could be heard across the county and herself beset by a fit of the giggles every time he did so. It was such a shameful spectacle that I withdrew for fear of encouraging them.

I've been busy supervising those humans on the two-wheeled pedal machines that travel in packs down our road. I can't say why but I find them highly irritating. Maybe it's the infernal buzzing the machines make or maybe it's garish clothing that appears to have been painted onto their persons - I honestly don't know. I simply don't understand anything that travels at such a high speed with such a sense of haste. I stick my head through the fence and glare at them sternly, occasionally giving voice to my disapproval. That usually consolidates the pack and causes it to veer into the middle of the road.

That leads me to another important topic. The woman and I are reading a book called "Wisdom of Donkeys" by Andy Merrifield. It's about the Andy human walking through an area of France, accompanied by a tremendously dignified donkey called Gribouille. Of course, they travel at sensible donkey speed. No rusing about with the wind whistling through their ears, no wearing of shiny, skin-tight garments but lots of time to examine the miniscule details that make up everyday life.

I have asked my good friend Billie who writes the blog to share her thoughts on this book and she has graciously assented. I can't wait to hear her views! Thank you Billie.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Rural Ramblings

First of all, thank you to everyone who has inquired about "the eye" - Molly's right eye, to be precise. It is improving but very slowly. The vet came again and this time gave her a stupifying agent via needle so he could peel back the lid and have a closer look. I can assure you it was quite a spectacle (unintended pun) but I observed for scientific purposes. She has no burr residue but the ulcer is a slow healer and still causing her considerable pain. She is not surprisingly a cheap and easy drunk, front legs sprawled across the aisle and back legs crossed like a podgy ballet dancer. And of course she snored the whole while...

Jack and I had a successful Easter walk, so successful that Jack balked at going back in the paddock. He sets a blistering pace on the farm lane and I am hard pressed to keep up. Greenery is popping up all over and we sampled freely, adding a few dried twigs from years past. Jack did a few head tosses to the side just to keep the woman on her toes and he even threw in some elaborate low kicks with his back legs just to show the shrubbery he's still boss around here.

The hay crop should be seeded into our fields this week so I have a busy schedule ahead of me. The equipment used is quite different from the potato planting devices so I will study those and add them to my "life list" of things mechanical. Like those clever Victorians, I do love a good bit of complicated, and noisy, engineering.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Strange Rites of Spring

Jack and I are exhausted. There is so much spring cleaning going on requiring close supervision that by evening we fall into our beds (after a warm dinner, of course) and sleep the sleep of the hard working. Our unprecedented early spring has the humans running about like mad things, trying to tidy up before the greenery and insects take over.

Yesterday they appeared in our paddock with the hand-held tree mangling device. I have seen this device in operation from a distance and welcomed the opportunity to see it at work close up. I must confess that up close it is even more magnificent than anticipated. The humans were clearing what they call scrub trees from the fence line so I was able to stick my head through the fence for a clearer view. The beast springs to life, shrieking and growling in a deafening manner and shooting wood chips in all directions. I drew closer. As I was studying the thing in detail, I was seized by the neck and dragged away.

Herself babbled on about eye damage, hearing loss and general destruction of my person. What nonsense. I shook the wood chips from my head and stalked off. This mangling device is as impressive as the big red combine and it's only as big as a cat. I have not given up and will use every subterfuge to increase my knowledge on this front.

When they weren't mangling trees they were frantically coaxing the misplaced gravel back onto the drive. This process stirs up all sorts of dried leaves, and as the wind was blowing in our direction, we varied new grass shoots with crunchy tidbits. We also supervised them as they crept along the ditch, filling one of the dreaded shavings bags with winter refuse. I asked for permission to view the contents and was refused.

We are having a visitor for Easter dinner tomorrow and we have been promised the first donkey walk of the year. Jack says he feels "fit as a fiddle and near ta bustin with inergy" so it may be a more animated stroll than they anticipate.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

This and That

Good news! The first meeting regarding my party/fundraiser has taken place and plans are afoot. This year it is open to the public and I feel sure I will be called upon to address the masses. It has been decided that Jack will stay home, though many have asked to meet him. We feel it would be too long and stressful a day for someone who is such a homebody. Doc has volunteered to help but we feel that could be a tad too exciting. Molly is simply not invited. The food would not be safe.

Poor Molly has hurt her eye - the vet came and says she has an ulcerated cornea - probably from a burr fragment. Her eye is very sore and weepy and she has to wear the bubble mask. She is of a stoical nature and her good humour so far remains intact, in spite of the pain. Her appetite is robust. The vet also had a long talk with Herself regarding Jack's dental care and it has been decided to forego putting him through a dental exam this year. We all heaved a sigh of relief and Jack did a sort of hornpipe around the barn. The vet also pronounced him in fine physical condition for an elderly donkey gentleman and that's put an extra spring in his prance.

We are to have such warm temperatures this weekend that a Humidex reading will be added to the forecast. To think we could be in the middle of a blizzard. The weather gods are asleep at the switch and I for one am not planning to wake them. My ears are warm for the first time in months.