Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Battling the Forces of Evil

On the agenda this week has been to go from this....

and this...

and THIS, which is horrible, evil, toxic Spreading Dogsbane, spreading everywhere as it's name implies, and simultaneously being choked by the equally/more(?) evil, horrible, toxic Morning Glory.  God help me I don't know which to root for in this battle.  It's too much to hope that they will kill each other off.  It's more likely that the Forces of Evil will join up and form some sort of symbiotic truce and take over the whole farm.  If I ever disappear without a trace, look for me in amongst the Dogsbane.  And don't be fooled by those pretty flowers!

The Forces of Evil inevitably include legions of annoying, nasty varmints as well...

I finally got the Old Red Dragon running again and have been trying to take advantage of the blue sky to do battle with the Forces of Evil...

Dragons like blue sky after all.

All of the above is why I don't mow hay on these fields.  Thirty years ago, they were beautiful hay meadows, but years of neglect left them an ocean of weeds by the time I bought the land.  In this instance, grazing my horses on it has actually encouraged some of the weeds, as the horses eat the grass and not the weeds (thank God!), which encourages the nasty things.  I am hoping that keeping my critters off the fields and in the Pasture Paradise track combined with mowing will help bring the Forces of Evil under control and restore the fields.  I've made it about half way, but heavy rain is once again predicted for tomorrow.  I really do wish it would go off somewhere it is needed as the Old Red Dragon and I have a long ways to go.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Catch Up

We're finally getting a little bit of nice weather with just the occasional torrential downpour and livable temperatures so I am trying to get caught up on things.  I haven't had time to even download the latest photos off of my camera so instead, enjoy a little clip from back in the early days of DonkeyDom.  This was Nov. 2011 and I didn't even know that Ramsey was a possibility yet (you know, that is kind of a variant of Schrodinger's Cat paradox theory.  Just think of all those poor cats that could have been spared if he'd only been thinking about pregnant donkeys instead:)......never mind, I'm tired and the mind wanders).  Looking at this video in retrospect, Emma's belly does look a bit round for a yearling donkey....

Enjoy and I'll be back in day or two.  When is starts raining again.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Birthday Girl

This week's Sunday Still's challenge was to take any photo and do something with it in Photoshop or similar software.  Since it was Emma's third birthday today she had to be the subject.  I decided to make her a birthday card.

This was the original photo, which I liked OK, but was disappointed in as the lighting just isn't right.

I fumbled around with the effects in Picassa and came up with these, I'm not sure which I like better.

It is hard to believe that Emma is just now turning three, she often seems ageless to me.  A visual contradiction with her greying coat and her young eyes.  It goes beyond that though to who she is.  Perhaps it is a donkey thing, perhaps because she is already a mother, probably a bit of both, but she is both old as the hills and young as a butterfly.  I love her dearly.

Happy Birthday my sweet Emma-Girl.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Briar Patch

The berries have been really late this year from all the excess rain.  The bushes are loaded, but many of the green berries just fall off before they ever ripen.  I wasn't sure we would find any at all, but this afternoon we finally found a raspberry bush that looked promising.  My helper went in to check it out and report back.

He is an expert on such matters and a true connoisseur.  He looked high...

and low....

found the best path into the tangled briars...

sampled the wares and gave them the tongue-up sign.  Time to start picking.

Cruel, Cruel World

"What in the world has happened to the horse?!?  Ma better not think about doing that to ME!"

"Watch out kid, I don't think it's safe to get near her."

"I wonder if the End Days are really here this time?  I've never seen such an evil, terrible thing."

"Maybe it's the ZombiApocalypse we keep hearing about.  Don't let her get too close, what if it's contagious?"

"Run for your life Ramsey, it's the Pod-Pony!!!!!  Don't let her get near you with that thing!  Run, run, RUN!"

Tessa: "Hey wait for me guys, what are we running away from anyway?"

"We're running from YOU!  I don't know what that thing is, but it can't be good."

"Life was so good an hour ago.  Now, not only am I being starved to death, smothered and tortured,  my donkeys won't talk to me.  I'm being shunned.  How did this happen???  It's such a terrible, cruel world."

The grazing muzzle wasn't exactly a big hit (they never are).  I knew Tessa wouldn't be thrilled and she wasn't, but she is a smart girl and already getting it figured out.  I was a bit surprised by Emma's reaction.  She thought Tessa had been transformed into a donkey-eating monster.  Ramsey couldn't quite figure out what the big deal was and that is the difference between buying a neglected donkey who has not been handled and raising one from birth.  Emma takes some convincing.  Ramsey accepts.

Tessa wore the muzzle for about an hour today until everybody finally started getting used to the idea.  We'll do a bit more tomorrow and the next day, and....Hopefully, the world will get better again.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

For Sale

The "new" saddle I bought for Tessa a few weeks ago isn't working out for us.  It's a nice saddle in great, like new, condition, but it's not the right saddle for us.  I need to re-sell it before I can try something else and thought I'd give first dibs to any of my blog friends out there that may be interested.  It is a Tennessean endurance saddle made by National Bridle Shop with a 15 inch seat.  I am asking $600 for it and I will ship it to somewhere in the continental US for that price.  If anyone is interested, contact me at aerissana at

"Does this thing make my butt look big?"

Crime Doesn't Always Pay

A certain dirty rotten little thief, juvenile delinquent, lovable baby donkey, got hold of a grapefruit that I had in the tack room, intended as an afternoon snack.  He and Emma used it to play basketball for a while....

until the temptation became to great and they just had to take a bite.

They worked at it cautiously for a few minutes...

really thought hard about it...

and finally decided to try for a bigger bite....and got grapefruit juice squirted in the mouth. 

Whereupon I had to quit taking pictures because I suddenly had two donkeys practically in my lap, rubbing their noses all over me, desperately trying to get rid of the awful stuff and pleading with me to "FIX IT Ma!".  I don't usually let them use me as a napkin, but I was laughing too hard tell them no.

I may have to rub grapefruit juice all over the outside of the cookie jar.  It just might keep the lovable baby donkey juvenile delinquent out of it.

Monday, July 22, 2013

The 'D' Word

"Hey guys, c'mon. We're supposed to be going for a walk, getting some exercise.  And we need to discuss something."

"Yeah, sure Ma, in a bit.  We've decided to help you out and work on the weed-eating.  You're really slacking here ya know."

"Um yeah, that's kind of what we need to discuss.  I appreciate the help and all, but we have to talk about the definition of the 'D' word instead."

"Go for it Ma, you know we're always ready to talk about Dinner....

 We'll just work on these Delightfully Delicious Delectables while you talk."

'"I'm afraid the 'D' word I had in mind isn't any of those and is more of the nasty four letter sort.  It definitely does not include devouring Delightfully Delicious Delectables."

"Well Ma, the wild carrot only blooms for a little while and it's our Duty to Deal with it, so why don't we just save the discussion about that nasty little four letter 'D' word for some other time.  We've got a job to do here and we Donkeys know just how to get it Done."

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Out of Whack

It's too stinkin' hot.  Just thought I'd throw that out there as a random non-sequitur in case any of you hadn't noticed.

The chiropractic vet was here this afternoon to check Tessa out.  She has been having some issues and I was having a hard time pinpointing exactly what the problems are.  She is so gaited that it is nearly impossible to tell exactly what is going on with her.  I was pretty sure that I was seeing several different problems, none of them so bad as to make her really lame, but enough to make her feel "off" when I try to ride her.  The saddle fit trouble I am still having just made it all worse.  My diagnosis went something like this:

There's something wonky going on in her shoulders, the vertebrae there are crooked and cock-eyed, her back is sore, her hip is wacky and her right stifle is just all messed up.

The vet's diagnosis was more along the lines of....the cervical blah blah is out, the illeo-sacral joint is blah blah blah, the patellar ligament could be blah blah blah and the right stifle is just all messed up.

Nice to know my diagnosis was spot on anyway:)  The scary thing is that I used to know exactly what all of the blah blah blahs were.  I still know what they look like, but I seem to be losing the language of it.  The mind is a terrible thing to lose.

Anyway, he put as many of the joints back where they belong as possible.  He could inject the stifle, which would make it better for 6-8 months.  It's an option I am not real thrilled with and would rather hold off on as long as possible.  The best thing for it, long term, would be for Tessa to lose 100 pounds (couldn't we all) and get more consistent work/exercise to improve the muscles and ligaments.  Um yeah, I'll have to try to fit that in with the job, lame donkeys, torrential rains, blizzards, heat stroke, sun poisoning, hay making, equipment failures, etc, etc, etc.  

Come to think of it, I've been overweight and had stifle problems all my life too.  I guess we will just have to keep muddling through, fat and lame as we are.  We make a fine pair.

And since it is so STINKIN' HOT and I am trying not to whine too much, how about some random Ramsey pictures that I never got around to posting on one of our very rare nice winter days.

Made It - Barely

Well, we made it.  Mostly.  I think we used up all of our good hay karma last month though.  This round of hay making was just a wee bit more stressful (and if you detect a note of heavy sarcasm there, it's the heat, my brain is still boiling).  In the end, the hay is good and it's in the barn.  That's what counts.

Everything was looking great right up until we started baling.  The baler made 63 beautiful bales of hay and then, kaboom, it broke.  We were sort of lucky because the guy who knows the most about fixing balers (which are incredibly complex and finicky machines) was there.  He was there because Riding Buddy had had to call him over to work on their baler the day before when it broke.  We did get that hay in as well. Eventually.  After working on our baler all afternoon with no progress, we finally went and got RB's baler.  It limped along with troubles of it's own and at 5:30 we were still looking at an entire field of hay ready and waiting to be baled.

We finally called the neighboring dairy farm to see if they would come and round bale it all for us.  Round bales are hard for someone like me, with just a few animals, to handle, but I would have found a way.  We didn't think they would be able to help out this time though, as they too, are trying to get hay made.

I am not quite sure how it all worked out, but they showed up with their square baler instead and baled all of it, finishing at about 9:30.  Ordinarily it is not good to bale after the sun goes down.  The air changes and the dry hay starts to pull moisture out of the air, which is not good.  However, it was soooooo hot that the air stayed dry, our work crew was still there, hanging tough, but couldn't come back the next day.  When the sun went down, the farmer asked me if I wanted him to stop, he thought the hay was still OK, but we were really cutting it close.  I asked if he could bale it the next day and he told me they had 30 acres of their own to bale and another 40 acres to round bale.  I told him to keep going as long the hay was dry enough to bale.  With the threat of rain coming, no help and an iffy baler, it wasn't worth the risk.  He baled it all.

We looked things over this afternoon.  The fate of the baler is grim and uncertain.  We are hoping it can be fixed, but don't know yet.  We are still hoping to make some second and third cutting, but they are always easier because it is a small amount.  The majority of the hay is done and it looks good.  Baling it late doesn't seem to have hurt anything this time and there is enough of it.  Everybody gets to eat this winter.  And we all need a week to recover.

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Things You Need To Know

The things you need to have or know for hay making, in no particular order:

  • Light colored, loose fitting and tough clothing.  
  • In regards to clothing, there is no such thing as too old or too decrepit.  There is also no such thing as fashion.
  • A plan
  • An ability to revise, alter or  completely abandon said plan at a moments notice.
  • A sense of humor.  This is especially important for anyone possessing a Y chromosome.  I'm not picking on you guys, but this is by far the one thing most often lacking, especially when the plan falls apart.
  • The plan always falls apart.
  • No matter how hard you try, you can't control everything.
  • Things will go wrong.
  • Equipment will break.
  • The weather dictates and rules everything.
  • It is not helpful to swear or scream at the help.
  • It is sometimes helpful to swear at equipment, just don't get them confused and be sure to see above re. sense of humor and adaptability. 
  • A decent pair of leather gloves.
  • An acceptance of the fact that if you are the unfortunate possessor of cleavage, you will come home with a great deal of hay in that cleavage.
  • Never tuck your shirt in.  If you do, any hay not captured by said cleavage and accompanying undergarments will be funneled directly into one's underwear.
  • A hat and ample sunscreen.
  • The sunscreen will insure that even more hay will stick to your body.
  • You will be blowing hay dust out of your nose for the foreseeable future.
  • Drink as much water as you can.  It still won't be enough.
  • Dunking one's head in the water trough is perfectly acceptable.  The cows won't mind.
  • You can agonize, scrutinize, revise, debate, argue and change your mind about when to cut the hay as much as you want, but once it is cut, there is no going back.  You are committed.

The hay is all cut.

We thought we would be baling some of it today, but it just wasn't ready so it is going in tomorrow.   Tuesday is going to be the really big hay day.  Just in case anyone out there is contemplating starting their own farm and would like to gain some experience in this most crucial aspect of farm life or if anyone would like to experience the joy of hay making, feel free to stop by (just as long as you are ready to work:).  Here is what's on offer:
  • Hard labor in the full sun of the hottest weather of the year.
  • Itchy hay in unmentionable places.
  • Good company.
  • Bug bites.
  • The satisfaction and reward that comes with having hay in the barn.
  • Sunburn and/or heat prostration.
  • Good food when the work is done.
  • Dehydration.
  • A bra full of hay (if applicable).
  • The intense, almost transcendent bliss of going home to a cool shower at the end of a very long, hard, hot, anxious, hopefully rewarding day.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Sunday Stills - Bugs

Looks like we'll be baling a little bit of hay either Sunday or Monday and a whole bunch of hay on Tuesday - weather and machinery permitting.   I do sometimes wonder, when the weather forecasters mess up as bad as they did this weekend, why there aren't mobs of angry farmers with pitchforks howling at their doors.  I guess it's because the farmers are all too busy trying to salvage what they can. 

Ah well, on to bugs... there is actually an interesting little bug crawling up my computer screen as I type this, do you think if I hit the screen capture key he'll show up on your screen?  Yeah, me neither, but I bet you're all thinking about him now and that's almost the same thing right?:)

I found this giant moth out in the woods a few weeks ago. 

Sadly, it was already dead, but look at the size of it.

And some honey bees from earlier in the season.

Check out this swarm.  I was quite excited about this, got out one of my hive boxes and shook them all down into it thinking I'd have a nice new colony.  Darned bees waited till my back was turned for a moment and they all took off for parts unknown. 

It's probably just as well, I haven't been able to keep a hive alive for more than a year ever since the farm down the road started growing corn.  The pesticides coating all of the seed is killing our bees.  The beekeepers know it, most farms know it, the more sensible governments know it and have banned the stuff in most of the world.  The stuff is very profitable though, so no one knows what's killing the honeybees.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Let the Stress Begin

I've heard from a number of people that the pictures in my last post about trailer loading didn't come through.  I think I know what the problem is and how to fix it, but I haven't the time (or the patience more likely) to deal with it at the moment so I just took it down for now.  There are a number of other technical troubles that need to be sorted out first. 

My car is making funny noises, trembling, shaking, shimmying and in general feeling as though it is going to fall apart.  It is getting dropped off at the repair shop tomorrow, hopefully before the wheels fall off. 

After what feels like 40 days and 40 nights of nonstop rain, heat and humidity (our county has had 12-16 inches of rain in the last 4 weeks), the weather has made a change and, if it holds, we are going to be making hay not only for my critters, but at Riding Buddy's place as well.  Of course, we are already having some mechanical troubles and the weather forecast just changed from sunny and hot to a 40% chance of showers tomorrow.  Let the hay stress begin.

"Stress, what stress?  The hay is in the net, we eat the hay, more hay gets put in the net, we eat the is good."