This week's challenge is signs of Fall or what September means. Here in upstate NY, it means that the light has changed to a slanting gold whenever the sun shines.
It means the Golden Rod is in full bloom.
Often the difference between life and death for honey bees trying to store enough food for winter....
and the bane of existence for allergy sufferers like me.
September means that I better remember to add this to the other assortment of oddities that I carry in my pockets.
September brings the Fall rains, cooler temperatures, the return of mud season....
and the first fire of the season.
September is fat cows...
and turning leaves.
It's desperately trying to get everything done that it was too hot and horrible to do this summer before it gets too cold and horrible to finish this winter.
It means being too tired to write blog posts after a September day.
Fall means turning over every leaf looking for the rest of summer....
and being glad that the rains have nearly finished filling the pond.
For the equines, September means getting furrier by the minute, cooler temps and no more flies.
For would-be photographers trying to show all the new fluff, it means I better get out there with a camera a lot earlier in the day. Otherwise, all anybody gets to see are vague, zombie-like shadows lurking in the background.
This video of donkeys watching donkeys has been making the rounds on Facebook....
It is an interesting reaction. I was curious to see how Ramsey and Emma would react so I tried it last weekend. I was using my iPod rather then a laptop and Ramsey's initial reaction was to try and climb in my lap. As I was juggling iPod, camera and a baby donkey, the video is a bit rough. Interesting though and for those who want to hear what Ramsey's voice is like.....
I only tried it once and I don't think I would do it again. Both Emma and Ramsey got quite agitated and were on high alert for the rest of the day. I can speculate that the original donkey bray playing on the laptop is an alarm bray or that Emma felt that her baby was being threatened, but I really don't know. I do know that Emma has at least four different brays that I have heard. She also has a number of other very soft noises that she makes that clearly have different meanings. To my human ears, they are hard to differentiate, but watching how Ramsey responds to them, it is obvious that they are different and distinct.
Emma does not bray very often, but she clearly is trying to communicate something when she does. One is an alarm or warning bray. I heard this bray when I saw a fox in the pasture once and again when a couple of stray dogs wandered through. Her second bray is aimed directly at me when she wants something specific from me. I heard this bray fairly often last winter any time I was 4 nanoseconds late for breakfast, if she got cold and wanted her blanket on or if she just wanted attention. I can't say that I always figured out exactly what she wanted me to do, but I know there was something specific she had in mind every time.
The third bray was one I heard in the first few days after she came here. It was the searching, seeking, lost sound of a young donkey suddenly separated from her family and the only home she had ever known. About a week after she came here and she started to settle in and be more relaxed, she stopped calling for her lost family. However, right at this time, I heard a single bray that I hope to never, ever hear again. It was a long, mournful, heartbreaking sound. It was the sound of goodbye.
This last bray was not only very distinct, it was a very distinct event. Some may argue that I am projecting my own thoughts onto her, but I don't believe that is true. That moment was a turning point in Emma's acceptance of her new home and new friends and her behavior prior to and after that moment prove it.
I don't pretend to understand a donkey's language. I can observe it and I think I get some of the more basic and obvious signals, but I have no doubt at all that there is much more that we just can't see or hear. I like to think that someday we will learn how to listen.
Blogger has lost its mind lately. They have changed the interface, which is fine. I don't like it, but I can adapt. Unfortunately, they did not work out the bugs before foisting this mess on frustrated bloggers like me. Things keep appearing and disappearing randomly, including my photos and the blog posts I am trying to write. God (or maybe Google) knows what you might or might not find posted here until the Powers-That-Be get their act together.
Tessa went to the trainers this morning and and along the way, we dropped Gabe off at Riding Buddy's place, she wanted to borrow him for a while. Suddenly, it's just me, Tanner and the donkeys. Tanner thinks this is a step in the right direction, he will be disappointed when he realizes it is only temporary.
I have to admit that there are some real advantages to having fewer creatures wanting their fair share of attention. Without the horses here to get upset I did something I have been wanting to do for a while: I took Emma and Ramsey for a walk in the woods. I led Emma and let Ramsey run loose with us. It was the first time he has ever been outside of the fence let alone out in the woods. He thought it was the absolute best, most wonderful game we could have dreamed up. A whole new world filled with wonders opened up before him.
Walking with donkeys is a lot of fun. They are so eager to explore and see new things, taking them out is much more like walking with dogs than being out with a horse. He and Emma both had a great time. (And no, I don't have any photos this time, I had my hands full with two young donkeys in the woods. Maybe next time.)
I take tanner out walking every day, but as he ages we have had to cut back quite a lot. He has always had some problems with his joints, and I monitor his activities carefully. I don't stop him from doing any of the things that he loves so much such as basketball and Frisbee, but I do limit the intensity and duration. After all, he is just as happy if I throw his Frisbee ten feet as he would be if I threw it eighty feet. We used to hike 5-6 miles a day, now we do 1-2 and we avoid steep hills all together. He has been getting joint supplements since he was 8 months old and had to have surgery on his shoulder. Recently, I have started giving him an Aspirin each morning. It all helps, but there is no denying that he is slowing down some. He will be ten years old next month, and the only flaw that dogs have is that they do not live long enough.
I think it is time that these young, energetic donkeys start taking up some of the slack. I am hoping that this will just be the start of our Donkey Trekking adventures.
A while ago, someone asked me how Tessa is doing (I'm sorry, I forget who. Was it you Virginia???). I never answered because I really didn't know what to say. It's been 15 months since Tessa got hurt last summer. She has had more then a year to rest and recover and at the moment, I can't see anything wrong with her when she runs around out in the field. That doesn't really mean much as she never showed typical signs of lameness. However, assessing lameness in a gaited horse can be very tricky and since her worst injuries were to her spine and pelvis rather than a lower leg, it is doubly difficult. Her lameness mostly showed itself when under saddle.
I tried riding her a couple of months ago and the results were rather inconclusive. She was clearly uncomfortable, but I could not tell if the problem was still physical or if it is mental at this point. She became very nervous as soon as she saw the saddle and started exhibiting pain and fear signs before I even got the saddle on her. The fear of pain was enough to make her show signs of pain. I quit almost immediately and decided I needed a different plan.
The plan I came up with is to take her over to the trainer who worked with her last year and with Gabe this Spring. Tessa associates his farm with working, but not with pain. Nothing bad ever happened to her there. The trainer is going to try to reintroduce her to the idea of work very slowly.
Tessa is terribly out of shape from her long lay-off and she is quite overweight as well. The trainer will begin by ponying her off of one of his horses for a while in order to get her back in shape and reintroduce the idea of work in a non-threatening and gradual way. After she has had some time to get back in shape, both mentally and physically, we will try to get on her again. If she is still lame at that point we will quit and she will come back home.
It is my great hope that she will be OK and she can resume her thwarted career as a riding horse. However, I am not getting my hopes up too high. The type of spinal injuries she suffered don't heal well, especially in gaited horses. If nothing else though, this plan should tell me for certain one way or another whether she will ever be ride-able again. At least I'll know.
Emma and Ramsey enjoyed chewing on the tree bark from the firewood so much that I decided to save it for them. Bark is part of their natural diet after all and none of it is toxic so I can't see how it could be bad for them. They spend at least an hour every day rummaging through it, playing with it and chewing on it. They even carry pieces around and hide them similar to the way tanner does. Donkeys are so very fascinating.
Tree bark: a low calorie, high fiber snack that also provides hours of fun entertainment. Who knew? Maybe I should try it.
"Ahhh, look Ramsey, wasn't it nice of Mom to save all this yummy tree bark for us? Eat up, fiber is good for you."
"And don't forget to play with your food."
"i THINK i'M GONNA SAVE THIS PIECE, IT'S SUCH A PERFECT SHAPE FOR BITING."
They are kind of messy eaters, but what the hell, it will help keep the mud at bay.
This morning, BowStreetFlowers asked me if Ramsey has ever brayed. Well, I was sitting on my deck a few minutes after reading that, imbibing my daily allotment of caffeine when I heard a crazy sound. The sound of a 2 month old baby donkey screaming MOMMY, MOMMY, MOMMMMMY, WHERE ARE YOU!??? MOMMMY, THE SKY IS FALLING!!!
The horses came flying out of the barn, Tanner started barking and running in circles, birds flew out of the trees and I leaped up, racing to see what terrible fate was befalling my precious donkey baby.
You know, it really is amazing, the variation and quantity of disasters my brain is capable of conjuring up in the 2.8 seconds it took for me to reach the other end of the deck. Whereupon I find....Ramsey running to Emma, crying all the way. He had fallen asleep in the grass and waking, couldn't see Emma grazing just two hundred feet away.
So, BowStreetFlowers, in answer to your question, I guess Ramsey has brayed. I kinda hope he holds off on trying it again anytime soon. The poor birds might fall right out of the sky next time.
...how a simple job that should take no more than 30 minutes can end up using nearly two hours? Here, let me show you:
I decided to strip out the barn Sunday afternoon, a job that only entails raking up all the old hay that has accumulated, transport it out to bare spots in the field, spreading it and sweeping the barn floor. I thought I could sneak this job in while everybody was out grazing, but no such luck. There is no escaping donkey notice and barley five minutes into the job, I had help. Lots of help...
Insert brief intermission while I move the tools. Again.
Tanner sure isn't going to be happy about donkey cooties on his Frisbee.
That's just the "help" I caught on video. You don't even want to know what they did to the broom.
OK, this was supposed to be the Sunday Stills topic, but I goofed up the timing. It's one of the perils of working nights. Ah well, it's still Sunday by my reckoning.
Ramsey expressing his opinion of black flies...
I gave the horses a bath....they were grimy from accumulated dust and fly spray. Tessa held out as long as she could, but finally had to give in to the universal response amongst horses to having had a bath...
And that's all I have for this week. Poor Gabe didn't get to participate much in this challenge seeing as how I decapitated him so neatly. Emma and Tanner saw which way the wind was blowing and made themselves scarce. They have a lot in common, dignity being just one example.