Sunday, March 31, 2013

Sunday Stills - What Easter Means

More then anything else, Easter means Spring to me.  The ordinary miracle of life returning.

This year, it also means the extraordinary miracle of Ramsey's existence.  Looking out my window this morning to see him and Emma running together in the field made all the work, stress and worry of the last 5 months worth every moment.  There have been too many times in my life when no amount of praying, wishing, hard work or effort could bring about a miracle.  It makes this one all the sweeter.

Easter means the return of the sun, of light and warmth...

and with it, comes the mud, the muck and the tiny hints of growing things to come.

It means the shedding of the past year, making way for the next.

And it means time spent with loved ones and hope for what is yet to come.

For more Sunday Stills, visit

Happy Easter

Saturday, March 30, 2013

On Watch

I found more bear tracks this afternoon.  This time they were in my back yard and the donkey pasture just behind the barn.  Fortunately, none of my animals seem to be concerned.  I don't think a bear would mess with them, but I can't help but worry a bit for Ramsey and Emma, especially Ramsey.  I guess it's a good thing he is growing like a weed again lately.

At least we all have good security. 

"Don't worry mom, I've got this.  All's quiet on the front."

Thursday, March 28, 2013

A Bit Disconcerting

I found these during my walk in the woods this afternoon, they're maybe a day old...

Even somewhat fuzzy and partially melted, they are pretty good sized...

especially the claw marks.

Do you see them there, in the snow?

Since I came across these walking right down the middle of one of my main hiking and riding trails, five minutes from my house, it's just a wee bit disconcerting.  I had a very close encounter with a bear and her cubs once many years ago.  Once was enough.  Especially considering it's the very early days of a Spring that hasn't really happened yet, after a very long, cold winter.  I imagine this bear is pretty darned hungry.  I may just avoid this trail for a bit.

Apparently, this little morsel didn't provide the long awaited breakfast the bear was searching for.  It looks like the bear dug it up out of the snow and carried it for a while before wisely opting out of the food poisoning he would surly have gotten had he eaten it.  This fellow was more than a bit ripe.

In case you are wondering, no, I did not bring it home with me as Carson from the 7MSN would have.  The smell was a bit much.  Bones age well in the desert, not so much in the Northeast.  I was rather intrigued by the teeth on this poor fellow though.  From the looks of them, they may have contributed to his demise.

I imagine that the bear was probably headed for my neighbor's house.  I noticed, or rather Tanner noticed, that they are dumping food scraps out in the woods behind their house, which is not far from my trail.  I think I'll have to stop by and have a chat with them about that.  Their three small children, who like to play in the woods, might not want to run into a very hungry and grumpy bear either.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Wagging Tongues, Kinked Tails and Experiments

Well, I have learned one thing at least, Emma and Ramsey really are extra special donkeys.  Of course, we all knew that right?  From this exhaustive research, they appear to be the only donkeys with kinked tails (and it was kind of fun to think about people all over the world going out and groping their donkey's tails just to make sure).  However, from Mom L and Donkey Bum we have tail tales of kinked cats and dogs.  Once I thought about it, I have seen this in cats and dogs myself.   What that means and the relation between them all will probably have to remain one of Life's little mysteries.

I keep coming back to the tongue thing though.  Mom L also mentioned a study done on how cats drink and which way they curl their tongues.  I have seen similar studies in people.  The ability to curl one's tongue into a cylinder is genetic and each person either can or can't.  I wonder if horses and donkeys are the same.  I also wonder if Ramsey learned this when he came home from Cornell and desperately wanted to nurse only to find that Emma had almost no milk left.  He would get very frustrated by this and paw the ground, pace back and forth, try to nurse, paw some more and then he would go to the water bucket and try to drink the same way he would nurse....with his tongue sticking out.

So now I am wondering if the tongue out thing might be a learned behavior in youngsters whose mothers are not making enough milk.  That could actually be an interesting study as a means of measuring adequate milk production in mares and jennys.

As for holding water in their mouths after they drink (which nearly everyone mentioned and nearly all equines do to one extent or another) regardless of whether the tongue is in or out, I have always believed that this is because it takes some effort for an equine to work that last swallow to the back of the throat.  You can experience this for yourself by attempting to drink out of a bowl without picking it up and while holding your breath.  That last bit is especially important because equines can't breath through their mouths so they can't suck the water up.  Try getting all the water to the back of your throat while your head is tipped forward and holding your breath.

After you have done that, think about the distance the water has to travel in a horse or donkey.  Just look at Gabe here, there are  probably 16-18 inches between his lips and his throat.  Which is why you really don't want to be standing next to him after he takes a drink.  If he gets distracted by the idea of company, he doesn't bother to stand around and work that water up and in.  He just very happily dribbles it all down the back of one's neck.

If nothing else, the idea of lots of people sitting at their kitchen tables trying to hold their breath and drink out of bowls without using their hands, is going to keep me smiling for a good long while.  And for Karen, who wants to know why donkeys bray, we'll have to get into that mystery another day.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Life's Little Mysteries

Here are a couple of little mysteries I hope my wonderful readers can help me with....

Mystery 1:  Have I mentioned that Emma's tail has a 90 degree bend at it's very very end?  I have no pictures of this, you will have to take my word.  When I first got her, I figured her tail must have gotten broken at some point and didn't think much more about it.  However, Ramsey's tail is just the same.  He was born that way (trust me, I checked!) and, I am sure now, Emma must have been born that way as well.  So here is the question:  Do all donkeys have a kink at the end of their tails or just my extra special donkeys?

Mysetery 2:  Here is a puzzle that has occupied my mind for many many years (yes, these are the kinds of little snags that my brain gets hung up on all the time and yes, it does get tiresome from time to time, but it is what it is.  I'm too old to fix it now).  When horses and donkeys drink (and remember that they are physically incapable of breathing through their mouths so think about the mechanics of just how they do manage to drink.  see, there's another little snag!)  some of them (like Emma) keep their tongues tucked tightly inside their mouths.  See, no tongue...

while others....

So here is what I wonder:  is this a genetic thing or a learned thing?  I'd really like to know what Ramsey and Emma's father does with his tongue.  Clearly, Ramsey did not learn this from Emma, but it is also a fairly new behavior.  He only started doing this a month or two ago.  Which kind of has me thinking that he learned it on his own somewhere along the way, but then again.....  It will likely remain one of those little mysteries that take up space inside my mind and that is OK.  Not every question needs an answer.

However, I am curious.  So, my fellow donkey and horse owners, a couple of questions for you:

1.  Tongue inside or outside?  Also, if you know, which did the parent(s) of your critter chose?

2.  Does your donkey's tail have a kink at the end?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Lion's Roar

Sunday Stills - The Color Green

This really was a challenge this week since finding anything green at the moment takes some imagination and effort.  I also darned near froze to death this afternoon trying to take these.  I ask you, does THIS look like Spring?

We had crazy, intermittent snow and sun all day.  Often at the same time and the wind, oh the wind...

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Anatomy of a Nap Part 3 - Gravity Wins

We've given this a lot of thought and we had a meeting about it in the barn...

...with not one single tiny hint of warmer weather anywhere to be found, we have all decided that the best thing to do is conserve our strength and let gravity have its way.

Pillow fights aside, not even Mom can resist anymore....  

...she tries hard and manages to hold out much longer than you might think possible...

...but in the end...

Good thing I went for strategic placement once again...

I am going to sleep, dream...

and wait...

...for the sun to come back.

In the end, gravity always wins.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Anatomy of a Nap Part 2 - The Rude Interuption

Let's see now, where was I....

hmmm, let me think, I'm just a bit fuzzy....oh yeah, fighting the pull of gravity.  Got'a watch that gravity, always trying to pull you down .

Oh phooey, what was I thinking, who wants to go fighting with gravity anyway...such a lot of always wins anyway...snore...

snoooore...oh, what a wonderful nap...

On second thought, maybe I'll just stay here hiding under the covers until Spring gets here for real, it's really not so bad....

To be continued...

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Anatomy of a Nap Part 1 - The Pull of Gravity

The best way to get through a very cold, windy, but sunny day is with a good, long nap.  The first part of such a nap is strategic positioning.

It's important to find a cushy spot out of the wind yet still in the sun.  Doorways work well, especially if there is a handy pillow nearby.

You want to angle yourself for maximum sun exposure while still allowing the unibrow to shade one's eyes.  (See, there really is a good reason for the unibrow!)

Proper alignment keeps everything comfy and has the added bonus of allowing the sun to disinfect the bottoms of one's feet.

Once fully settled in, there is plenty of time to slowly drift and let your mind wander.

This can be a good time to ponder some of the deeper mysteries of life.  Such as...why do cats sit and stare at walls?

Eventually, the pull of gravity gets to be overwhelming. 

You don't want to give in too easily though, go very slowly here.  You wouldn't want gravity to think it's always going to win after all...

To be continued...