Monday, July 31, 2017

Projects - part 1

This weekend was the first reprieve we've had all summer from endless rain and stifling humidity.  With almost 70 inches of rain this year, we are well on track to break all the records.  Record drought last year, record rain this year.  What fun.

I took advantage of the decent weather to work on a project I've been arguing with myself about for months now.  This half of my shed holds about a third of my hay supply, but I've had a lot of problems with it....

Every year, the bottom row of hay gets very musty despite the fact that I put down a layer of plastic, then pallets, followed by another layer of plastic.  It also gets completely overrun with mice who burrow into the bales, leaving basket-ball-sized holes in the bales, chewing through all the twine and contaminating the hay with their droppings.  Given that mice are also the primary carriers of ticks, they are also infesting my good hay with horrid, plague ridden ticks.  It makes me CRAZY.

If you look close, you can see all the tunnels and holes in this bale, half of which was eaten by mice and all of it was riddled with their filth.
And yes, I do have a cat who hangs out in the shed all the time.  She likes to watch the mice play.

I've agonized and debated with myself about what to do with this space.  I talked myself out of burning it to the ground and starting over or burning it all down and moving.  I thought about gravel and rubber mats, but that does not address the moisture or the mouse problems.

The obvious solution is to build a floor, but that posed a lot of technical difficulties, which I won't bore you with.  Finally, I couldn't stand thinking about it anymore and I came up with a plan that I thought might work and ordered lumber.

The plan, like most plans, did not survive long.  There was this whole issue with load bearing and door width and tree roots (because I do NOT want to kill my tree) and I was standing there revisiting the torch idea when I remembered this huge steel pipe that someone gave me years ago.  The chickens were, once again, purely gratuitous.  They were sooo not helpful.

This 5" heavy steel pipe has been lying on the ground, behind the building, slowly sinking into oblivion and after staring at it for a ridiculous amount of time, I finally saw it and decided to see if I could make it work.  It is just barley the right length, but it does fit and an elephant could do a high wire act on this thing.  Load bearing over a 12' span should not be an issue anymore.

It took another ridiculous amount of time to figure out how to make this work without being able to attach anything to it and without having problems with frost heaving, but I think I've got now.  Everything is tied in together so the weight is distributed throughout the whole floor.

Of course, it's not actually done yet because I didn't have enough of the right lumber and it was Sunday and I have to wait to order more and blah, blah, blah, but I have finally made some real progress and I know where to go from here so the hardest part is over.

And...I finally found a use for that ginormous steel pipe that was slowly wasting away.

Next up....

Friday, July 28, 2017

Ambassadors at Work

The donkeys had some ambassadorial work this weekend.  These lovely young women are here from San Diego visiting family in the area. Ben did his part....

But not until Ambassador Ramsey had worked his magic...

He went to work immediately and had them wrapped around his little hooves in no time.

Emma did her part as well and there are now a few more donkey enthusiasts in the world.

So, California friends, are there any donkey sanctuarys near San Diego who could use a couple of new volunteers?  Emma and Ramsey give these two their seal of approval and would be happy to share.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Million Dollar Donkey

Ben and I went out for a little drive this weekend.  It was later in the evening than it should have been because I was fussing around with a new harness for him.  It's actually his old harness and it fits him very well, however, it is designed to be used in a team rather than with a single donkey.  It needs some configuring to make it work single.

I futzed around with it for a good 40 min. while Ben stood patiently, stoically resigned to putting up with my fumbling, even when I accidentally whacked him in the nose with a cart shaft.  I finally decided that I need a few more pieces to make it work and it was getting late, so I gave up and put the other harness on so we could go for a drive.

Down the road and around the corner from me is a seasonal road that leads down a steep hill to some state land.  Just as we were approaching this little road, I began to hear the rumble of many loud ATV's coming up the hill.  They aren't supposed to be on the roads, but that never stops them and there a several big groups of these things that go flying past my house all too frequently.  They're sort of like this thing only with wire cages, no mufflers, beer coolers strapped to the back and a lot of crazy people with no helmets.

The road is narrow and there was no place for Ben and I to go so we just had to stop and wait for the hoard to descend upon us.  I was a bit concerned, but I told Ben that it was all harmless and not to worry.  Sweet soul that he is, he believed me and stood quiet and unconcerned.

On Sunday, Ben took some visitors for a little drive as well, doing his part to create more donkey enthusiasts.  The smiles say it all...

The big guy earned his Million Dollar Donkey status this weekend.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Proper Motivation

Do you need a little encouragement to get out and exercise? Perhaps you struggle with finding the right motivation?

Well, Ben is here to generously share with you what works for him.....

Summer Days

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

All Together Now

There is a new configuration around the dinner bale these days...

It's taken a while, but I would say that Ben's integration is complete.

Those ears generally need a whole separate space of their own, but they make it work.

The hay is all the same and someone could got to the other net, but you know what they say....

....The family that eats together stays together.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

A Prince Here, a Prince There...

When Ben first came here, he never slept in the barn.  The others all do and I could see that Ben thought they were crazy for it.  He would sleep just outside the barn on the hard packed gravel, on the snow, the mud....he was not fussy.  He was a big, tough, man and only wimps slept in barns.

Then, in January, he got sick with the latest tick borne plague and he spent a lot of time lying down and even spent some time lying in the barn.

A couple of months after that, I was putting fresh bedding down and, like most equines, he decided it looked like it would be fun to roll in.  Down he went and he did an excellent job of spreading the bedding around.  Finally, he was lying still and I could just about see the little thought bubble form over his head,

"Ohhhh, so THIS is what bedding is for."

Much to Emma and Ramsey's dismay, he has taken to sleeping in the middle of the barn where the bedding is deepest.  No more snow or gravel for Mr. Benjamin, no sireee.  He has seen the light and decided that he too would like to be a Prince.  Big, tough, men get the best spot in the barn and soft, cozy beds aren't just for little brown donkeys anymore.

One can kind of understand why Ramsey thinks of Ben as an interloper.  Monarchs have never been known for sharing. 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The Prince and the Pea

Some horses and donkeys are prone to getting bed sores - nasty little sores on their hocks, knees, elbows, etc. that can lead to nasty joint infections.  Most equines can lay down on all sorts of terrain and never get a sore.  Maybe 1 in 500 do.  It's a genetic thing.

If you happen to have a critter who gets bed sores, there is only one way to prevent them or get rid of them: you have to pad the bony parts.  If the animal only gets sores on the hocks, which is most common, you can use special padded wraps or you can provide deep bedding.  One way or another, the only solution to bed sores is a lot of padding.

If you have a creature like Prince Ramsey, who gets bed sores on his hocks, knees, elbows, stifles, hips AND above his eyes, the only option is lots and lots of deep bedding.

Ramsey got his first bed sores on his knees about an hour after he was born and we have battled them ever since.  I had hoped that he would eventually toughen up and grow out of them, but no such luck.  His Majesty is why there is always bedding my barn.

The best bedding for bed sores is a deep layer of hay and/or straw.  There is only one problem with this for my herd, who are all on perpetual diets - they have taken to eating all the bedding.  So, I have been experimenting with other options.

I have tried pelleted bedding that I soak first.  The pellets break down into sawdust when soaked in water....

That is three bags of pellets and several buckets of water.  The chicken is purely gratuitous, she was not helpful to this endeavor.

The pellets work well while they are fresh, but they dry out quickly and become extremely dusty.  They still work OK if they are very, very deep, but tend to keep breaking down into finer and finer particles and if they get thin, they actually make the sores worse.  They act like sandpaper unless you can keep them 4-6 inches deep.  In an open barn like mine, that is very difficult.  I tried putting some old hay in there as well and you can see how well that worked...

I have just started adding shavings on top of the pellets and that is working better for now.  The combination packs in better than either alone, but I can see where they too will be very dusty and need frequent refills.  I'd rather not have to use any bedding in the barn because of all the dust, but I can't have Prince Ramsey being a bloody mess.

I am still looking for something that works as well as a nice bed of straw, that is not dusty, won't cause bankruptcy and won't get eaten.  It is a work in progress.  We wouldn't want the Prince to be feeling all those peas after all. 

Monday, July 10, 2017

Growing Up is Overrated

"Ahhh....This being an adult thing is so exhausting."

"Always having to be on guard and responsible all the's so overrated.  Why didn't anyone ever tell me how much work it is?"

"I think I'm gonna just skip it for a while." 

Saturday, July 1, 2017

A Legal Adult

"Hi Bloggy peoples!  It's ME, Ramsey, the BIRTHDAY boy!"

"It seems like its been forever since I got to write a blog post.  Seeing as how it's my BIRTHDAY, Ma finally let me at the computer again.  You'd think she wouldn't be so stingy with it considering what a lousy job she's been doing lately, but at least I am here now."

"I know you all probably have big celebrations planned to celebrate my BIRTHDAY and I wouldn't want you to miss me during all your fireworks and parties."

"Ma keeps trying to tell me that everyone is celebrating Independence Day or Canada Day or whatever, but I know that can't be true.  She is just being mean because she doesn't like fireworks and she never gets any for HER birthday.  They are just fine by me though, I'm not like that wimpy Border Collie!  Bring em on I say!  

"This is an exciting BIRTHDAY too because I am FIVE years old.  Can you believe that?"

"Ma says turning 5 is like turning 21 and I am a legal adult now.  I'm not sure how turning 5 is the same as 21, but that's human logic for ya.  It has something to do with the drinking age, which makes NO sense at all.  I haven't been allowed to drink in ages...sigh...I still miss it....

"Since I am a legal adult now, I think that the big grey donkey should admit that I am the boss, but he doesn't seem to notice yet.  Maybe all the fireworks will show him the error of his ways." 

"Anyway, I hope you all have a good time celebrating my BIRTHDAY and, if you must, have fun celebrating that other holiday as well.  

Happy Birthday Ramsey!