Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Notes From the Farm

First a bit of blog-keeping.  I have heard from a number of people that they are having trouble commenting on the blog and I know I have had the same trouble on other blogs.  I did get a notice from Blogger that they are no longer supporting Open ID for comments. I'm not sure what that means except that the problems are coming from Google themselves and I have no way to fix them.  If anyone has any ideas, I'd be glad to hear them.

If anyone would like to reach me for any reason and can't get through on the comment section, my email address is:  aerissana at gmail dot com.


Ben is MUCH, MUCH happier today after his haircut.  It was very hot and humid here today so he is still warm, but not sweating.  It is supposed to cool off soon so I am going to hold off on shaving any more off of him for now. He has been rather grumpy the last couple of weeks, but getting rid of some extra hair has cheered him right up. 

It can be so hard to understand what our animals are trying to tell us even though they put huge effort into communicating with us.  I won't pretend to understand even a tenth of what the donkeys try to tell me, but I do know that a donkey who is grumpy or unhappy is a donkey with a problem.  Next year, I will know to get the clippers out at the first sign of grumpiness.  Ben and Ramsey had a long game of tug-o-war this afternoon despite the heat so I know he is happy.

I am glad I listened to Ben and gave him a haircut, even if it is a bit crooked.  A friend told me the other day that the difference between a bad haircut and a good one is two weeks.  Ben will probably look quite spiffy in two weeks.

I guess I need to put a set of big clippers on my Christmas list.


Albert is doing really well and has settled in nicely.  I have been working on handling his feet every day and I can now pick up all four without issue.  I did trim them a bit, but he still gets nervous if I have tools in my hand.  The thing with his feet was accidently trained into him by his previous farrier who just assumed donkeys are hard to deal with and always manhandled him into submitting. Al doesn't want to fight with me, but that is what he expects from farriers.  He is an obliging sort so if a fight is what you want, a fight is what you will get.  It is just one of the many reasons I learned to do my own hoof trimming.


Elva is down to just ONE puppy who has not gone off to his new home yet.  He will be leaving on Thursday for a very lovely small farm to help out a three year old Maremma female.  All of the puppies have gone to great homes on small farms, but Elva is already suffering puppy withdrawal.  By the end of the week, when little Sammy leaves, she may need hospitalization.  Does anyone know of a good Puppy Rehab Center?

Monday, May 28, 2018

Extreme Donkey Makeover

It is donkey shedding season and, with the sudden high temps, they can't seem to get rid of hair fast enough.  I take the shedding comb to everyone each day and I get half a dozen piles of hair every morning.

While Ben is also shedding in huge fistfuls and i have been working especially hard on him, he is terribly bothered by the heat because of the Cushing's disease. It causes problems with abnormal sweating, temperature regulation and shedding.  Even when it is only 70 degrees, he comes in with his chest wet with sweat and is he is very unhappy with the heat.  He was so miserable, I decided it was time for some extreme measures.

I borrowed Riding Buddy's big clippers and gave the Big Guy a somewhat drastic haircut.

I have never body clipped any of my animals before as I generally believe that they do a fine job of it themselves.  However, dealing with Cushing's is a whole different thing and I don't want Ben to be unhappy.  So, I tried my hand at body clipping....

I was a bit sorry to shave off his mane as I rather like donkeys' stand-up manes, but it is only hair.  It will grow back, which is also what I told him about my rather choppy margin.  I did a sort of blanket clip that leaves the hair along his back as I am not sure just how naked he wants to be.  If he is still too hot tomorrow, I can always shave off more.  Gluing it back on is not so easy.

Albert was also looking rather warm this morning and I was awful tempted since the clippers were right there in my hand.  However, I don't think Al has ever seen clippers before and trying to shave through all that fuzz is not the way to introduce them so he remains in his wooly coat.  For now.

Probably just as well as I have already swept up enough hair to make a whole new donkey.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

The Makings of a Bromance

Albert really has been making an effort to be friends and he has taken a liking to Ramsey.  Ramsey is, of course, a bit unsure about how to handle this.  He is, at least, willing to talk.

Not having grown up with any other boys to play with, Ramsey's social skills are a bit stunted, but Al has not let that stand in the way and he is trying very hard to be friends. 

Ben has decided that Al means no harm to his playmate so the Dragon has gone back to sleep. 

Ben is still undecided about being friends with Al, but I think he will get there.  Ben does not give his affection easily or quickly, but he is very steadfast once it is earned.

Meanwhile, Mr. Einstein is giving Ramsey lessons in art of bromance:  Donkey hugs + neck scritches = bromance squared.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Right at Home

Little Albert Einstein hasn't quite been here two weeks yet, but he has moved right in and joined the herd like he has always been here. 

Ramsey has gotten over his initial wariness and seems to have decided the-more-the-merrier, which is a far cry from the terrified, jealous, outrage when Ben showed up.

It probably helps that Al is a friendly, outgoing, gregarious sort who likes attention almost as much as Ramsey does. 

He generally ignores any type of snark aimed at him and blithely goes about his business, reducing snark to bemused watchfulness by cheerfully ignoring it. 

Albert Einstein always has had a lot to teach us.   

Albert has also proven to be quite the ladies man and he really pours on the charm for Miss Em. 

I had been a bit worried about introducing another donkey.  It took so long for Ben and Ramsey to become friends and my little herd had just finally settled in and gotten relaxed, happy and playful.  I was concerned that it might take another 18 months for Al to settle in, especially as he was gelded late.  Testosterone poisoning can be very problematic.  However, Al has made himself right at home and it feels almost like he has been here all along.  He seems extremely happy and relaxed here and he is greatly enjoying having a donkey herd to be part of. 

And, when he isn't worming his way into the heart of the herd, he is hanging out, dozing happily, in his new favorite spot.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Dancing Dogs

Connor got to meet Lulu, the Afghan Hound puppy, for the first time.  She is six months old now, look how big she is!

There was a little bit of checking things out...

....and then the fun began.

All the photos are a bit blurred because cameras just can't handle these speeds.

Connor managed to stay one step ahead of Miss Lulu....for now.

...She still has a lot of growing to do. 

Monday, May 14, 2018

A Little Moment of Panic

I woke up this morning at 6 am and looked out the window to see 4 donkeys happily wandering around so I turned around and went back to bed.  At 7am, my dog woke me up barking at something in a funny way so I got up again and only found three donkeys happily wandering around.  Hoping that number 4 was just hiding behind the shed, I threw on clothes and went to check.  I am definitely not a morning person, but even I can count to three in the am with sufficient application of panic. 

I headed out for search and rescue, worried that I had managed to lose the new donkey in less than 12 hours.  However, much to my relief, I found Al out in the back field, running the fence line trying to figure out how to get back in.  I called him to me and, much to his relief, he followed me back to the herd. 

Everyone is still trying to figure things out, but Al is not one to get left out of things.  He manages to quietly squirm his way into everything.  This is the closest he and Ramsey have gotten so far.  It took months before he would talk to Ben.

Al had just arrived at the hay net and Ramsey was more intrigued than alarmed.  My little chocolate donkey has learned a lot from Ben about how to get along with new donkeys and he is much less alarmed and offended than he was when poor Ben got here.  Speaking of Ben though, see him back there?  He has just noticed that the new guy is awfully close to HIS herd.

Here comes the dragon.

The dragon deciding whether or not to breathe fire....

Thinking maybe he can live and let live...

...but then Ramsey's head comes up and he thinks about backing up and The Dragon steps in to guard his buddy.

All in all it is good progress for just 24 hours despite the momentary panic.  I learned that I can trust Al to stay with the herd even if he somehow gets himself in a bad spot.  Ramsey is taking this new addition much better and I am glad that he has learned how to be part of a real herd, it is good for him on many levels.  Al can handle himself without getting upset or causing trouble and my Dragon will keep the herd safe and in line.  Not bad for a day's work.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Little Albert Einstein

My friend Dave and I went and picked up Little Albert Einstein this afternoon.  I wasn't sure how much of a fight we would have getting him on the trailer.  To be honest, I was expecting a bit of a battle.  I have been working on Al's feet since last Fall - sort of, because he does NOT like having his feet picked up and he is most definitely capable of battle.  I've managed to get a few trims done, but mostly I have been working on gaining his trust and convincing him to work with me.  That paid off in a big way today.  He was afraid of the trailer and not happy about it at all, but I talked to him and asked nicely and he jumped on.  Al is a very brave, intelligent donkey and even though he was shaking like a leaf, he took the leap - very brave, tough little guy. 

He was met with the full court press.

I had set up this nice little condo for him, thinking he could stay there for the night.  He HATED it.  He started pacing incessnatly any time I walked away from him and I could see him think about jumping out the windows.

I gave them an hour or so to try to settle in and say hello over the fence....

...but is was clear that it was not going to work so I took Al out and showed him around a bit and then he headed right into the back of the barn.  I quickly set things up so he could stay there for the night and he was fine as long as I stayed with him.  I finally left them all to it and went in the house for an hour. 

When I came back out, Al had resumed his pacing and had himself quite worked up and sweated through.  I have seen this kind of pacing in stallions who are kept in small pens all by themselves.  It becomes a habit that can be hard to break.  Al was gelded late and I think he has spent a little too much time on a small space at some point in his murky, neglected past.  Since he seemed to be very respectful of the fence and confinement was making everyone crazy, I gave up trying to impose my ideas of how introductions should go and let them do it the donkey way.

There was a fair bit of wild galloping around....

...and then they settled down to discuss things.  Emma was intrigued and willing to talk, Ben was too - for a while.  Ramsey was intrigued but very wary and nervous, which is a huge improvement over terrified and appalled like he was when I brought Ben home.

Ben was fine with Al until he got close to Ramsey and Ramsey took off in fright.  It is only recently that Ben and Ramsey have become good buddies, but as soon as Ramsey seemed upset, out came the Dragon and Ben put himself between Al and Ramsey to protect his friend.
 (I keep telling those boys that they need to put their toys away, but they never listen.  Boys!)

After a certain amount of excitement and exploring, things settled down into the long, slow process of donkey negotiations.

I am hopeful that Al will make friends much faster than the 18 months it took Ben and Ramsey, but donkeys make up their minds when they feel like it and that is all there is to it.

All is dark and quiet now though and, while my crew my be unsure, Al himself is very sure he wants to stick close to the herd.  I think he will integrate faster than Ben did, because Little Albert is not one to be put off easily.

They will all come to terms in their own time...

...but I think they will make a nice little herd.