Wednesday, June 26, 2019

The Beginning of Something

I love this series of photos.

When Qilin was first born, Emma fervently wanted to see him.  She maybe even wanted to keep him for herself.  She even showed a bit of swelling in her udder to prove it.  After the first week or, the oxytocin high wore off a bit and she came to her senses.  However, there is another grey donkey who has also been intensely, but quietly, curios.

He finally got a chance to make a very thorough investigation.

From the tip of the ear to the tip of the tail.  Qilin seems to have passed inspection.

I will be very curious myself to see how this relationship develops as Ben remains extremely, but quietly and gently, interested in Qilin and Qilin is starting to interact more and more with the donkeys.  I couldn't ask for a better mentor than Ben. 

This could be the beginning of something....

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Fun to be One

Baby Ian is no longer a baby - he just turned ONE.  I was told I had to stop posting pictures of "that darned mule" and get some appropriate B-day pictures up.  Who am I to argue with Border Collie rules?



Happy Birthday Ian (aka: The Blackfly!)

Monday, June 17, 2019

Lessons Learned

Things Qilin has learned:
  • The deeper the hay, the softer the bed
  • Deep hay or tall grass is the best place to pee 
  • Poop outside because that's what mom does (nice to have housebroken horses:)
  • Mud is icky and gets all over pretty white legs so it is best avoided
  • Don't kick either mom
  • Don't put your front feet on the human's shoulders
  • Don't try to twiddle with the milk bar when you are just bored and not actually hungry
  • If you do try to twiddle with the milk bar, the tail will get you....
  • Going for walks is fun
  • Ropey things are OK
  • Being in the lead is OK
  • Weird things like these are not edible yet humans are still oddly fascinated with them
  • Ear rubs are good, but only while lying down.  Way too much to do otherwise
  • Donkeys are interesting, but a little scary
  • If you stand still for a few seconds, you might get a backrub (not sure it's worth it, standing still is soooooo hard)

Monday, June 10, 2019


I've been on vacation maternity leave for the past couple of weeks, but it is back to the salt mines for me today­čśó

I will try to keep up with the blog better than I have been recently, but it probably won't be every day.  My new "not-phone" works great with instagram so I finally understand its appeal.  The blog takes hours where that takes seconds, it also loads to my FaceBook account, which you can find under my name: Kris Maxwell (although the pics always go through marked "private" and I have to change them to "public".  Does anyone know how to change that?  I haven't found the magic button for that).  There will probably be lots of pictures over there if you need a Qilin or donkey fix.  You can follow the link on the side of the blog or look for me on Instagram at: thedancingdonkey

Socializing comes in a lot of forms these days so even if the blog gets a bit sparse because my job is making my brain hurt too much to post, we'll all still be around somewhere.

Qilin is, of course, the star pupil at "puppy Class". 

Friday, June 7, 2019

New Configurations

First....I knew I forgot to answer a burning question in my last post:  Has he made any sounds, i.e. neighing, braying? So curious.

YES, he has.  Twice now he has nickered at me, only it's not quite like a horse nicker and not a donkey wuffle.  It sounds kind of like a deep chuckle crossed with a duck quacking:)  Very cute and unexpected.  Like everything else mules do, the sounds they make are usually a unique combination of a neigh/bray.  If I get lucky enough to have the video open at just the right moment to catch such sounds, I will be sure to post it.  I suspect this guy might turn out to be a talker, he certainly has strong opinions already:)

I made two new doors in the back of the barn in order to give everyone more room and more options.  One leads out to the back of the "sunroom" area where the donkeys have been hanging out.  I have been thinking about putting a door here for a while as I usually park my little manure spreader right where Ben's back feet are...

With that bit of wall turned into a door, I can load the spreader right where it parks...or give the donkeys a fun thruway:)

The other door goes straight out the back wall of the barn and allows me to make seperate entrances for the donkeys and for Tess and Qilin.  I put hinges on the the portion of wall I cut out and, viola, wall becomes door.

A board across the bottom of the barrier inside the barn and closing the gate lets everyone share the space, but I can still keep them in separate pastures.  This configuration, along with the portable fence I use allows for numerous pasture/shelter options with very minimal changes to the barn.

Qilin was a bit sceptical. 

"Uh Mom....there's donkeys in our house."

Qilin may have doubts, but Ben highly approves.  He was missing his favorite corner.

He also approves of having multiple escape routes when strangers come by.  A true introvert from the tips of his little ears to bottoms of his dainty hooves.

Tess doesn't care as long as she can keep her fan.  Good moms do share the fan though.  Such sacrifice:)

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Qilin Q & A

Qilin's tail is two colors...will it stay that way?  What will it look like later?

If you look closely, you can see that Tessa's tail is also two colored (that isn't dirt, it really is two colors:), but she has less brown and the white hair is super thick. 

Qilin's tail will stay bicolor and I think the brown will be a bit more noticeable as it goes higher up the tailbone.  He will probably have a bit less tail hair than Tess so the brown will likely show up more. We'll have to wait and see for sure though:)

I will be interested to see if he actually grows a mane.  Most mules don't, but Tess has an overabundance of long, thick locks, so he might.  Time will tell.


Are they all together now?

I would like to say yes, but there are some issues there.  Can you tell one of the BIG problems?....

Hint, hint....think GREEN.

All. That. GRASS.  If I turn the donkeys out on that grass, even with grazing muzzles, I won't be able to roll them back to the barn after they explode into blimps.  That grass is the perfect food for a lactating mare and a growing baby, but a death sentence to bunch of already fat donkeys.

Second issue is that Albert would like to chase the baby and Ramsey would like play with him, which also means chashing, which gets Tess all worried.  Ben is gentle, but intensely curious.  Emma really, REALLY wants to see the baby and would be the best companion at this point, but she especially does not need more grass.  She is also the epicenter of the donkey herd.  She and Ramsey have never been apart and Albert is deeply in love with Emma and pitches a fit if I take her away.

Tessa does NOT want anyone messing with her kid.  She is very happy to have the donkeys around and like to stay close to them, but she gets worried when Qilin runs around too fast and too far away from her.  As for Qilin, he runs around like...hmmm...well, like a 2 week old mule baby stuffed full of milk, exuberance and ATTITUDE.  You'd never guess right?

So, for now, in the interest of keeping the peace and the remnant of my sanity, I am letting one donkey at a time come in to get acquainted under supervised conditions.

I am making some additional barn alterations so they can all spend more time together while still remaining on their respective sides of the grass-divide.  As Qilin gets a bit bigger and Tess gets more relaxed, I will increase together time.  For now, I am erring on the side of safe and happy.

The barn alterations have had the added benefit of desensitizing Qilin to extremely loud construction noise and chaos.  Every time he encounters something possibly scary, he runs to mom and asks her what to do.  Her general response and one of the reasons she is such an exceptional mare....

This is what they did while I took a sawzall to two of the walls right behind them.

This is also Tessa's response to ATV's, gunshots, weedeaters, lawn mowers, tractor trailers, bicycles, motorcycles, falling trees, balloons, baby turkeys exploding out of the brush and hitting her in the face....etc, etc, etc.  Even annoying paparazzi...


How is Tessa doing?

She is doing great.  She is a fantastic mom and my only concern is the possibility of mastitis because she seems to think she is related to a holstein cow.  She has more milk and a bigger udder than I have ever seen on a mare.  She could easily feed two foals at this point and she often streams extra milk when Qilin has had his fill and she still has more. 

The vet suggested that I cut her "grain ration" until her milk production adjusts itself.  That just made me laugh because Tess doesn't (and never has) get any grain.  She gets a custom vitamin mixed with a bit of soaked alfalfa cubes to balance the hay/grass I have and that is it.  I am just keeping an eye on her and, so far, all is well.  If she loses a little weight while lactating, that is all for the good.


What about the dogs? 

Riding Buddy has been visiting several times with her Maremma, Rinatta.  Tess knows Rinatta well and was unfazed.  Qilin was curios, but also unfazed.  The entire Border Collie Brigade spent the day with me a few days ago, which is a whole different type of energy.  They may be a nuclear level of intensity, but they are all very good around livestock of any kind.  They were respectful and well behaved, but spent the whole day hanging out near the barn with me, busily doing what Border Collies do.  Qilin is now dog proofed as well construction savvy. 

I was expecting a nice baby out of this pairing, but I have to say, Qilin is even more than I was hoping for.  I do love raising babies - of the equine or canine persuasion anyway.  Those human clue and happy to remain so:) 

Sane, sound, beautiful mule/donkey/horse/dog babies who grow up happy in themselves and a joy to those around them....those are the best.  Qilin and I are off to a good start.