"Ma keeps telling us that it's a holiday and everyone is having barbecues and picnics and parties and stuff. She promised a holiday treat for us too, but you know what she did?" "She tried to feed us pink slime!! Ma is sooo mean." "Can you believe it? She tried to tell us that lots of other donkeys just looove this awful watermelon stuff and she thought we would like it. What was she thinking? Who would ever want to eat pink slime???" "Mom gave up on the horrible stuff right off, she even had to go eat some straw to get rid of the nasty taste, but I just couldn't believe that Ma would do something like this to me so I really tried to like the stuff, but - yuck, ick, blech." "I'd rather eat the plastic bag. I tried too, but mean Ma wouldn't let me."
"I'm telling you bloggy people, this is the only good place for pink slime."
"I know, I know, you might be appalled at the idea of making poor little donkeys eat pink slime, but it actually gets worse!! There aren't even enough exclamation points in the world to describe this next meanness." "Ma said we could come out on the lawn or go out into the big field and all we had to do was wear a special 'halter'. Sounds innocent enough right? But look what she did!"
"They won't come off!!!"
"Please, someone send in some troops - army? Navy? Marines? Send them all, they are the only ones who might be able to help us overcome this terrible travesty of freedom." "Worst Picnic EVER."
I think I have mentioned before that Ramsey likes to dig holes - turns out that many donkey do. It is a habit that I find mildly annoying and baffling. When I took Ramsey to the Pete Ramey hoof clinic last year, he had been very busy digging holes and had worn the front of his hoof back at an odd angle. Pete was convinced that I had trimmed it that way, but no, Ramsey did it all on his own, much to my dismay.
Since he generally uses his bad foot for most of his digging, I often wondered (and still do) if he digs because the foot feels odd or is painful. Then I watched this video of wild donkeys digging watering holes in the desert and all the animals who make use of them:
....and it occurred to me that the Ramsey's three main holes are each at the farthest points in the pasture away from the water trough.
I use a track system to limit the amount of grass they have access to and to try to make them move around and get more exercise. There is one hole at each of the farthest corners of the track.
I still wonder if Ramsey uses his bad foot for digging because of odd nerve impulses inside the hoof or maybe he is just right handed, but I think I figured out why he is digging holes in the first place. If you are thirsty in the desert, dig a hole. Or find a donkey.
The rotten stinker has outsmarted my attempts to make them exercise. Although, I do have to admire the work and tenacity it takes to dig holes in this "soil".
I guess that explains why his toe is worn down at a funny angle.
Remember last year when I had to treat my whole herd for Lyme Disease? One of the things that clued me in to them being sick was a very weird rash that Emma developed out of the blue last March. It was a very odd rash that I could find no reason for, especially as the weather was brutally cold and dry. Not exactly typical rash weather.
Not only was the rash odd by itself, it was also odd in it's virulence and resistance to treatment. Despite all efforts it progressed to a staph infection that had to be treated with antibiotics. The way it cleared up instantly with antibiotic treatment and the way that Emma went from being grumpy and not wanting to be touched back to her cuddly self with that treatment was one of the things that made me call the vet and insist on testing for Lyme. At the time, I think the vet was doing it in large part just to appease a paranoid owner, but, sure enough, they all had Lyme Disease.
Fast forward a year....everyone is doing well, knock-on-wood. It is Spring and shedding is in full swing. Emma has lost most of her outer coat and suddenly, her fluffy, soft undercoat is revealed along with this.....
Do you see it? The perfect, dark brown circle over her flank and belly?
That is where the rash was. Because of the way it presented at the time and the way she lost the hair when it occurred, you could never see how perfectly round it was. Last year, it seemed to show up and spread in a random pattern. My jaw nearly dropped when I watched her walk by last evening at just the right time and in just the right light to see exactly what that rash really was. I have never heard of animals presenting with the classic bulls-eye rash of Lyme Disease. Now, I am wondering if it is just one more thing we humans are too egocentric to see.
Driving home from work at 2:00 am often gives me a rather unique perspective on the world. If you are routinely up and about at this hour, there are things you will see that just don't happen in the light of day. It's a mixed blessing that I have about had enough of after 12 years, but no new jobs have presented themselves so here I still am, driving around dark country roads at unmentionable hours.
Last night (technically, this morning), proved to be much more interesting than normal.
I always take Connor over to FB's when I go to work and pick him up when I come home because I hate the idea of leaving him home all alone. He has great fun over there playing with Bess and I am comforted knowing that he is safe and happy. Dogs are not meant to be alone. It is a burden though as it means driving five miles in the wrong way then retracing those same miles to get to work. Repeat on the way home. It adds twenty miles a day to my already long commute.
As I head into our little village, I round a corner of a hill and the valley opens up in front of me with the town, such as it is, nestled in the bottom of the hollow. Last night I rounded that hill and, right off, could see a HUGE fire raging on the other side of the valley. The flames were leaping so high, it looked like the whole village was alight. There is a horse farm tucked right into the bottom of the valley, and my first horrified thought was that it might be that barn burning.
With no other options, I just kept going, expecting to see fire crews out working, but I met no one. The whole village was fast asleep, including the firehouse. I drove past the dark, sleepy firehouse and could still see a glow. As I continued on, that glow grew until I came abreast of a house, fifty feet from the road and so engulfed in flames it was already a complete loss. I stopped and starred in stunned awe for a moment while my exhausted mind raced to remember what I should do.
I laid on the horn trying to wake the neighbors in the house next door and then sped past up the hill to FB's and her phone. I do not have a cell phone because they do not work here. I keep one in the car because I was told that you can call 911 on it even though I have no account, but it would not work. FB's was another mile up the road, but the one place I knew for certain I could get to a phone.
I think I woke the 911 dispatcher as well. He didn't seem to be taking me all that seriously until he asked if there were people in the house. I told him that people do live there, but that there was no way that there could be any living thing inside that inferno. That woke him up a bit and he got the trucks rolling.
With nothing else to do, I collected Connor and headed towards home. Back towards the fire. All my honking must have had some effect, because the neighbor was out on the road along with the first set of gawkers. I stopped to tell him that I had called for help and ask if the house was occupied. I was extremely relieved to hear that the people living there had moved out just days before and the house was empty. Exhausted and having no desire to watch what I could already see was inevitable, I left them to it. I came home, gave the herd a brief hug and crawled into bed with another hug for my dog and a prayer of thanks.
Today, this is all that is left...
This used to be a two-story, log home, probably 2500 square feet. The foundation is all that is left and looks almost as if it has been scoured clean. There isn't even garbage left.
I have always had a fondness for log cabins and would have built one if I could have afforded it. After watching how those logs went up like matchsticks in the unbelievably hungry ferocity of this fire, I don't think I could ever live in one again. The flames were at least 50 feet higher than the tops of those trees.
It was a very odd and surreal moment, sitting in front of this house last night, watching the insane flames devour every log. I could feel the intense heat, hear the cackling roar and yet, at the same time, it was a beautiful, quiet May night. Over the roar of the fire, I could still hear the peeper frogs while the entire town slumbered in quiet peace. It was like being transported into some alternate universe.
I thought about this a lot today, trying to figure out just why it felt so odd. It is not the first house fire I have driven past in the night, they are all too common in these old, dry houses whose occupants can't afford updates, but it is the first fire I have come across all alone. I think it is because the rest of the world remained so detached. We are all used to seeing pictures of terrible fires and other disasters, but there are always fire trucks, police, officials,....no matter the disaster, someone is always trying to contain it. Or cause it.
This was a random inferno in the midst of quiet. If an inferno happens in the middle of a quiet field and no one is around to see it, does it really exist?
Yes, yes it does.
Which is why I will continue to drive my dog 20 miles out of the way each day to make sure that he is never left home alone to deal with an inferno. I can't live with even the idea of it.
Some years ago, I was driving down the road with a guy I'd met not long before. He was telling me about his pet hamster - a miniature hamster to be precise, which rather boggled my mind at the time because really, a miniature hamster. Like a regular hamster was too big to deal with??
Despite its size, the hamster provided company and a bit of life to the dreariest, most lifeless apartment I had ever seen. It was a tiny place, no more than 10X12 and, while is is certainly possible to make such a small, one room apartment cozy and cheerful, this wasn't. It was an almost obsessively neat, white box with light beige carpet and the only hint of color or personalty came from the one plant and few knickknacks on the windowsill. And the tiny hamster.
(Who knew there even was such a thing as a miniature hamster? That still makes me shake my head.)
The guy was telling me that he knew his place wasn't much but the hamster was at least another living presence who shared the space and was good company. Even a miniature hamster can have a big presence.
I totally understood this as I had had a pet mouse in my room when I was a child for many of the same reasons. I still miss that little mouse sometimes.
A few minutes after this conversation, we drove past a pasture filled with several very tiny miniature horses and the guy says to me, "I just don't get the point of mini horses. What does anybody do with them."
I gave him a rather dubious, sideways look and said, "I don't know. What does anybody ever do with a miniature hamster?"
Last week, I was in a doctors office and the doc asked if I have any animals so, of course, the donkeys came up. The doc gave me that same dubious, sideways look and asked, "why donkeys? Do you ride them? Drive them?"
I am far too big to ride my donkeys so, no. I have driving ambitions (pun intended), but for all the excellent and utterly stupid reasons that so many of us fail to do the things we love, I have not been driving. You know, all those pesky, foolish excuses like: too much work, too little time, stress, too little energy, etc.,
In reality though, it doesn't matter if I never manage to get the donkeys driving. It doesn't matter if they never do anything other than be who they are because the do have a job with a meaningful purpose and this is it.....
Tessa does dearly love "her"donkeys and is much happier living with them than she ever was in a herd of other horses. However much she loves them and wants to be one though, there are certain things that simply elude her - like, donkey-dietary preferences.
"Oh look Tessa, Ma brought in the wood cart and there is all this scrumptious bark and wood mold in here. Yum.!"
"Are you donkeys sure this is really edible?"
"Oh yeah horse, this is good stuff." "You know, sometimes I think I just won't ever really understand donkeys."
We are all glad they're here though and we celebrated World Donkey Day today with some scrumptious donkey treats, even though the honorary donkey couldn't quite figure out the appeal.
"Well Bloggy peoples, Ma has gone and done it again! Every single year she does this to us, it is soooo unfair. This year, she didn't even wait for the grass to get green before she took it all away from us. Can you believe it?! We've been telling her every day how mad we are about this, but does she listen?"
"Then, as if that wasn't bad enough, Ma locked us out of the WOODS too!! She keeps telling us we are going to kill all the trees."
"Seriously people, if we were actually hurting the trees don't you think they would run away or scream or something? But noooo, they just stand there, all still and quiet, no matter what we do. So I ask you, how can we possibly be hurting them? It's just not fair!" "Ma keeps going on on and on about how it's for our own good and she has to watch what we eat. As if we would EVER eat anything that we aren't supposed to."
"On top of all that, we haven't even been on the BLOG much lately. It's been all sheep and lambs and those dumb cows. And snakes even. SNAKES! Are we not THE Dancing Donkeys? What would she be without us? Seriously, Ma has really gone round the bend this year." "We really gave her an earful this morning though. As if all of this abuse weren't enough, she was LATE with our breakfast. Really, that was just too much. There is no excuse for such mean, unfair treatment and we let her (and everyone else in the county) know about it." "She finally tried to appease us with this little bit of grass (which was very good), but far too little. Can't you see how stingy this is and how terribly malnourished and deprived we are?"
"We hate to do it, but we are thinking about starting a petition. Will you support us poor abused donkeys?"