Sunday, February 27, 2011

Book Review - Jane's Transformation, The Magical Pony School

My friend Billie Hinton, human to Rafer Johnson and Redford Donkey is a prolific and accomplished writer/author. She has done me the great honour of asking me to review her lastest novel and I feel confident in saying I am the first donkey in history upon whom this honour has been bestowed.

The novel, Jane's Transformation - The Magical Pony School, is directed at the nine-twelve year age range of human offspring but having said that, it has an appeal that will be felt by any reader. As the tale unfolds we become acquainted with the four main characters, all of whom have come to the school for various personal reasons. Jane, the central character of the four, who is trying to deal with the loss of her father, soon discovers she has the ability to channel (or shapeshift) her form into that of a pony - and that's when the tale really becomes a hoof biter.

Billie has the knowledge of all things horse that allow the book to be more than just another thinly disguised coming-of-age tale. She also draws on her skill with using natural healing agents as well as her uncanny talent of making settings come alive. The winter solstice is pivotal to the tale and I'm told that she plans other books to take place in the other three seasons. Personally, I can't wait.

I must also add that Billie's own equines, Salina, and of course the donkey lads, make an appearance but you'll have to read for yourself to see what role they play.

The book is available at but I suggest you go to and click on the cover of the book for more information. I am told it is a "virtual" book for now but will soon be coming out in a tangible paper variety. I plan on keeping mine with my trophy collection and will resist the urge to use it as a light snack.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Nasty Surprise

We are in the dim and drear dying days of February, which, like Lord Byron, is "nasty, brutish and short". The sun is finally shaking off some of it's torpor and at least now trying to make an occasional appearance. Molly and I must amuse ourselves as best we can - in her case, her need to launder me remains firmly entrenched.

This week we rediscovered the rather delightful sunning spot in the front paddock that is protected by a large wall of cedar. It has been inaccessible for months owing to drifts of snow and sheets of ice. Last week's thaw demolished most of that. Equally delightful is the collection of nicely dried wood rails that make up the paddock fence. We settled in for the afternoon, Molly gnawing on the top rail, self on the bottom. It's astonishing (and most satisfying) just how much wood can be shredded in a short time.

Of course we were noticed by the resident commander of this police state in which we are forced to dwell. She bustled over, tsk tsking all the while. Having examined the damage - I mean our handiwork - she bustled off to the barn. "Good", said Molly, "old bats gone". And she continued using her alarmingly strong and rodent-like Haflinger dentition on the rail thinning project. I wasn't convinced and sure enough, back came Herself, carrying a large black container with some sort of spraying device. The contents were labelled "McNasty". I didn't like the sound of it at all.

She went to work coating the rails with the spray: I sidled over to observe more closely. One whiff of the noxious fumes, let alone the liquid itself, sent me reeling sideways. Herself suddenly spun around and said "Sssssss, sssssss, shhhhhh, shaaaaa", very loudly in my face. I stared at her in utter disbelief. Her face was turning a rich shade of magenta. "SHEAFFER GET OFF MY FOOT", she bellowed. I glanced down. What I had taken to be a lump of ice under my left front hoof was in fact her right foot. A perfectly innocent and honest mistake, in my view. I stepped aside politely but she took the low road, as usual, and was rather short-tempered and peevish for the next while. She limped off to the house, mumbling questionable remarks about those of us with, and I quote, "feet like tiny tent pegs".

So, although our woodworking was cut short, the day was not without it's amusement - and a quite satisfactory and speedy karmic intervention. One takes one's satisfaction where one can find it.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Jack In Charge

Jack is putting in long hours as sanctuary overlord (by his own choice, of course) and is working hard in the field of operations and at his headquarters (the Donkey Bubble). He wields a firm but fair hoof over all species, human, donkey and other.

Sheila sent us some photos, one of which shows Jack washing the resident goat. The goat seems slightly unsure about the prodedure but Jack is adhament. I wonder where he got the idea of washing another species...? He likes the sheep as well but finds their coats impossible to launder properly. As for the pigs - he does not care for those at all and does an abrupt about turn when they waddle into his sphere of operations. He marches off at high speed, looking neither to the left nor right, until he is well clear of any porcine influence. He considers them unspeakable and unwashable.

Jack has also stepped up his supervisory role in the feed room. He glues himself to Sheila while she prepares seventeen different breakfasts and dinners, sticking so close that she can barely move her arms. He inspects and samples all foodstuffs, both before and after cooking. When everyone has breakfasted and gone on their way, he patrols the aisles and checks each stall and food bowl. Then he goes to the various gates in the barn to ensure he knows the whereabouts of every resident. He is a very busy old donkey. He takes his breaks from his self-imposed career with Simon and O'Sullivan, where they stand and munch hay in the sun. They think he is as mad as a hatter.

He continues to astonish and astound, and sometimes even alarm. He has no intention of slowing down and regards retirement as something suitable for the elderly, which he is convinced he is not. Long live the King, I say, and long may he rule.

Buddy sent along this link for Jack to peruse. Jack has completed his perusal and has announced that he plans to beat this record by several decades. I don't doubt it.

I have included some images of Molly and Sally, who have declared themselves BFFs, whatever that is. As long as Molly is washing Sally, she isn't washing me. Somewhere in the Carolinas donkeys are crafting this year's dust baths and lounging in the warm sun. Sigh.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Buddy, Buddy, What Have You Done??

As if being constantly laundered by the mad Haflinger Washing Machine weren't bad enough, yesterday an envelope with Molly's name on it arrived in our mailbox. This is not good.

It proved to be a valentine from her beau, Buddy in Nevada, and it has completely gone to her hard-as-granite pony head. She is opinionated and bossy to start with but now that she has received valentines from Buddy two years in a row, she is beyond insufferable.

The front of the card says "For Someone SPECIAL". Inside the verse reads "Today is a day for celebrating the people who make our hearts happy like you! Happy Valentine's Day." It is signed "Love, Buddy."

Buddy, I want you to know that this has resulted in Molly bellowing at me "You have to stand still while I'm washing you because I'm SPESHUL!" Or "Give me that carrot - I'm SPESHUL..." or "Let me roll on your lunch hay - I'm SPESHUL..." I think you get the picture. This has not been good for an ego that is already bursting at the seams.

Last year she began to forget about THE CARD by the time early spring grass distracted her. Given our unusually harsh winter, with no hint of spring in sight, my only goal is to survive the terrible onslaught of being Haflingered. It's not easy living with a pony who is worshipped by a long-distance boyfriend.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Parasailing Donkey Update And Donkey-nomics

You may remember the tale of the poor, frightened jenny who was sent aloft by idiots in Russia last year. It seems she had some peace in her final months, especially once they figured out she needed donkey company to be truly happy. She may be gone but we will not forget her - or the cretins who perpetrated the cruel and unpunished "prank". From the St Petersburg Times

To balance this news, I have a story told to me by Sheila, which perfectly illustrates the inate sensible and intelligent nature of donkeys. It seems that in Switzerland there are (or were) donkeys who worked on the farms high up in the Alps. On Saturday, market day, they were loaded with all sorts of produce, cheeses etc. and sent on their own, down to the market square. They went to the same spot every week and shoppers would choose items to buy, putting the money in a container carried by the donkey.

When all was sold, the donkeys made their way back home, delivering the money to their humans, who trusted them to do the same highly competent job every week. Now this, to my mind, is an eminently sensible arrangement. Humans who treat their donkeys as trusted equals and family members and donkeys who play a pivotal role in running the farm finances. How civilized and how unusual.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Power To The (Old) Donkeys!

Well, Jack has undergone dental treatment at the sanctuary and as he predicted, he gave as good as he got. It took four humans, three rounds of stupefactants and a pitched battle but he is three teeth lighter and tartar-free. I'm relieved I wasn't there to witness the event.

As he has gained strength and condition over the last three years his vendetta against all "vitinries" has likewise gained strength, so when the sanctuary vet showed up it took him only a short time to realize that all her flatteries and kind words hid the heart of a dental demon. He fought her, he fought the assistants, he fought the anaesthetic and he came to early and in a state of outraged fury. His murmer-y heart survived the battle and he has vowed to fight on in his war against the medical profession.

Jack has taken his role as sanctuary overseer very seriously and has gathered the sheep, goat and pigs under his umbrella of animal husbandry. He manages Sheila and the volunteers most carefully and nothing they do goes unseen by Jack. When he feels the need for attention he simply plants himself in front of a convenient human and exacts the correct toll. Though sometimes exasperated, they always ante up.

And here in the wasteland of winter? Life is tedious at best, what with the snow storms, sharp winds and permanent state of dampness caused by Molly's non-stop bathing of my person. Someone remarked that I look like a cat who has been forced into doll clothes by an evil little girl - resigned and hopeless. The days are slowly growing longer but winter isn't done with us yet. By the time spring arrives I will be nearly denuded of all my winter coat and Molly will have an enormous fur ball in her stomach.