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Friday, April 29, 2016

"Will you remember me...Donkey?"

I think it’s been over a year since I last visited Donkey in his new home. I went and saw him last weekend and I’m wondering if he remembers me.
He was excited to see me, of course, but he is excited to see everyone who takes the time to walk back to the barnyard for a visit. He has learned that they almost always have carrots in their pockets. The Triple B Ranch is running some kind of petting zoo over there. They get all kinds of adoring visitors packing treats.
I brought Donkey an apple, in the hope that he would remember me. His sense of smell is not faltering in his old age. He recognized that scent instantly and started craning his neck over the fence in an attempt to reach my pockets. When I held out half the apple for him he carefully took it between his teeth and I told him what a nice gentle boy he was. Then I fed the other half of the apple to the little burro Jack. Suddenly Donkey’s ears went back and his evil side came out. He tried to bite the little beast but Jack was too quick for him. I guess Donkey hasn’t really found manners and chivalry in his new home after all.
Donkey is king of the castle in his new barnyard. There is a cow in there with him, a calf, Jack the burro, and a couple of sheep, including Gracie, his best friend from our farm. So Donk is really the biggest animal on that side of the farm. I’m glad he isn’t in with the big, beautiful  horses. That would just make him feel inadequate. I think he is very happy in his new home, and his farmers sure take good care of him. He even got his hooves trimmed – a feat we never attempted.
When he lived with us, Donkey used to sand off his extra hoof length on the rocky pasture. In his current setting there are no rocks so his hooves grow long and curl up at the ends. When I heard they got him trimmed I thought that must have been a very brave farrier indeed. Actually, I was told, it was a brave farrier, a squeeze stockade, and a vet with three doses of tranquilizer. Haha! But after that pedicure he was stepping high and pretty. I hope he appreciated the efforts they went to, to make him comfortable.
Gracie is still her adorable, fluffy, vacuous self. Never have I seen a sheep stand so still to be petted and scratched, like a dog. She is so trusting and loving and I’m so happy we were able to find her such a fantastic home where she is safe and well cared for. Gracie isn’t pregnant this year but most of the others aren’t either, so it’s obviously the ram slacking off on the job and not her fault. Or maybe there is something lacking in the soil or water this season that isn’t making for fertile conditions.
Back on the Fisher farm, we have had eight calves born over the past two months. I think we still have two or three to go. It’s always the ones who don’t look pregnant at all who surprise us by just multiplying overnight all on their own.
We gave up trying to get the labouring cows into the barn before they give birth. We aren’t very good at determining who should go into confinement. Once they are in they make quite a mess of the place. They hate being locked up, and it’s so warm out now we aren’t really worried about the calves freezing to death. So that’s a good thing.
We have a good set of calves this year. The Farmer catches them and gives them a dose of selenium and vitamins just to ensure all their reflexes are in order. Then we spy to ensure they are nursing properly. So far, so good. They don’t want my bottles of powdered milk and their mothers are looking after them. Julie hides her calf on us every day and it’s a game of hide and seek to find him, but he is perfectly healthy. She is just being creative in protecting him.


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