Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Hay Good Lookin

Whew...after managing to dwindle our hay supply down to our last 2 bales we finally got our winter supply.  100 bales are now nestled to the rafters in the feed stall.  With any luck my calculation of 100 bales will last us through the winter and no one will starve to death.  I do anticipate a very fat donkey by spring.  This hay is loaded with alfalfa.  Great for 7 pregnant does but a little rich for Dexter Donkey.  We bought this hay from the neighbor and he was nice enough to bring it over for us.  He brought it yesterday in the early afternoon when it seemed the sky was clearing up.  Knowing that rain was coming overnight we knew we had to get it put away that night.  The kids pushed the bales off the wagon and I loaded them 3 at a time on a dolly, passed them to Gary who piled them up.  It took us all evening but it's a good feeling knowing we have it there to get us through the winter.   Each wagon had 50 bales piled on!
This weekend we finally managed to finish a separate little area for Snowy, our baby Saanen.  It gives her a private little space where she can go and not get bullied and eat her hay.  The bigger goats tend to butt her out of the way at the hay feeder and they always drink the water in the small bucket that we set beside the larger tank for Snowy.  Now we can rest assured that she is getting her fair share.  I am also happy to report that she is growing like a weed.  The little piglet is drinking about 40oz. of milk a day.  We'll have to wean her in a few more weeks so she doesn't get to chubby.  One thing I didn't anticipate was that the younger little does would be able to fit through the little gate we made for Snowy to get through.   That's Blossom lounging around in the restricted area like she owns the place.  Snowy didn't seem to mind  so I decided to let her stay.  It's a sight for sure to see her squeeze her tubby tummy through the little hole.  Although from this picture Snowy seems just as 
tubby.  She seemed so happy I couldn't even consider asking her to leave.  As you can see she is grinning ear to pendulous ear and thanking me for her new space!


I am also thrilled to report that Dex's surgery incisions are healing nicely and he is a changed jack!  He is back to his friendly, playful ways and is no longer a danger to society.   If only people were so easy, right?  I managed to snap a few "last pictures of summer" photos in between downpours this week.  I love the one of Lilly standing behind her protector (Dex) while she contemplates moving closer.  I was lying in the grass and they were all dying of curiosity wondering what I could possibly be doing.  

Within a minute they all had their noses in my lens.  They were like a bunch of kindergartners screaming, "Take my picture next!" 
They're so stinkin cute though it's hard to get annoyed with them.  

Monday, September 13, 2010

Shooting in Northfield, several wounded...

Over the weekend we took a trip to Northfield and while we were there witnessed a bank robbery.  After the robbery the thieves rode up and down the street shooting at innocent bystanders.  Several people were wounded and one man lay dying in the street....

Ok, we were at the Defeat Of Jesse James reenactment.  It was a lot of fun.  The cowboys were firing real guns loaded with blanks so the sounds were very authentic.  The costumes were pretty fantastic too.  Well done, Northfield!

Notice the body under the riderless horse!  Very authentic!

When we got home we cleared one the pastures of some giant mushrooms that have been growing.  This is one of the craziest things I have ever seen.  You would think they weigh a ton but in reality are ridiculously light for their size.  
Believe it or not, Joshua is holding only part of the
mushroom.  His was so huge that every time
we tried to lift it up another chunk would
fall of it!
Madeline strikes a pose!
And today was the day for Dexter Donkey.  The vet came early this morning and I am delighted to announce that Dex is now a gelded donkey.  It was a brutal procedure.  This is your warning that if you have a weak stomach you shouldn't read the rest.  And you may want to skip the pictures too!  The first thing he did was give him an injection of a sedative that helped to make him sleepy.  It was kind of funny.  Poor Dex was trying so hard to stay on his feet.  It was like all four of his knees stopped working and when he tried to take a step it was like watching him try and walk with crutches.  Then the vet administered the general anesthesia.  Down he went with a thud.  I was instructed to kneel on his neck and hold a towel over his eyes.  Dr. King was swift with the knife and after about two minutes he nonchalantly tossed a bloody testicle over his shoulder and a few minutes later the second one followed.  Then he stood up and said, "There are few things in life that you can be sure of but the one thing I am sure of is that this is a gelded donkey!"  Then we just stood around and waited for Dex's hallucinogens to wear off.   Poor thing.  He was so wobbly and pathetic.  He just wanted me to hug him and reassure him that he was ok.  The next picture is of him being all dopey and cute.

The wound is not sutured.  It's left open so that it can drain and heal from the inside out.  Seems a little barbaric I know.  For the next few days it will continue to bleed.  You can see the blood on the inside of his leg.  The next picture are his testicles.  I know it may seem a little strange that I took pictures of them but how else could I share it with you if I didn't?  You know you were curious...
When I showed them to the kids after school Joshua just couldn't believe I had actually touched them!

The black thing hanging down is his penis shaft and you can see where his testicle used to be.  Tomorrow we'll hose off some of the blood and keep an eye out for excessive swelling.  As traumatic as it was for me he really doesn't seem very phased by it.  He seemed more upset by the fact that he had to spend the majority of the afternoon in the barn by himself.  Later, he had his bucket of grain and without skipping a beat started chasing and nipping the goats the minute he was turned out to the pasture. All is well with the world once agian. We'll see how tomorrow goes!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Donkey Drama

It's been a rough week for us here at the farm.  We've really been contemplating a new home for Dexter the donkey.  He has turned quite aggressive as of late.  One day earlier this week he kept pushing me and trying to bite me while I was out in the pasture until I finally decided to just leave before he got really carried away.  Just as I was about to unlock the gate I heard Gary screaming my name from across yard, "MICHELLE, MICHELLE!"  I had no idea what he was getting so worked up about until a split second later when two hooves came crashing to the gate on either side of me.  Then I could feel Dex standing over me and pushing down on top of my head and back.  I turned around and was able to push him off of me and get out of the pasture unscathed.  It left me pretty shaken up and I haven't been back in the pasture since.

Yesterday I was still too scared to go into the pasture with him so I put his halter on from the other side of the gate and attached a lead rope.  Then I tied it to the post before opening the gate and letting him out to feed him.  We have to feed him separately from the goats because the goats eat all of his grain.  I was trying everything I could to reestablish the trust we seemed to have lost.  He loves to be brushed but when I tried brushing him he just seemed to get more agitated.  He was just starting to become very animated and agitated and I was getting pretty nervous.  It seemed no matter where I tried to stand he kept pinning me up against the gate.  The thought crossed my mind that it was probably not a good idea to try these things when I was home by myself.  I had visions of me being trampled on and attacked and having Gary and the kids come home to find me lying there in the grass with Dex standing over me.  Maybe a little dramatic but you hear stories of things like this happening and they start popping into your head when your donkey is trying to stomp on you.  All you can hear is the sound of your heart thumping in your ears and your throat is so tight you can hardly breathe let alone yell for help.  Just then we heard a truck pulling up the driveway.  He stopped, distracted by the noise and turned his attention to the gigantic truck ambling up the drive and the I was able to untie him and get him back in the pasture without incident.  WHEW!  I walked over to the driver and he immediately started to apologize stating that he didn't know anything about donkeys but he hoped he hadn't spooked him.  I could've kissed him...but I didn't.  I explained what had just been happening and that he couldn't have come at a better time.

I called the vet and scheduled an appointment to have him castrated in the hopes that some of his aggressive behavior could be explained away by the presence of testosterone.  While I was speaking with her she gave me some good advice.  She told me that the surgery alone was not going to cure him of his bad behavior but that he would need some behavior modification as well.  She told me that I was attempting to handle him like a horse and that donkeys require very different handling techniques than horses.  She had a lot more to say but the gist of it was that my problems were a result of my incorrect handling.  Now what do I do?  I felt completely discouraged.  I really have no idea how to get him to do anything.  Determined to at least make an attempt I Googled donkey training and read everything posted about how to train these stubborn little creatures.  Then I attempted to put my newly acquired knowledge into practice.  I couldn't believe it but within 10 minutes I had him following me on a lead rope!  I got him to lead all across our property and thought I might take him for a walk down the road.  We ran into a few cars on the road and poor Dex got a little spooked so we decided to turn back.  The experience seemed to leave him a little cranky.  He reared up a few time and managed to kick me in the head, but other than that it was pretty uneventful.

So....Monday he gets the snip-snip and hopefully he chills out a bit.  If all goes well and he behaves like a gentleman we just might consider a spotted little Jenny as a pasture mate!  I'll let you know if I have any success! Stay tuned...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Back to School

Well, it's that time of year again.  The kids are getting up early and heading to school, the weather is cooler and the apples are abundant.
We drive our kids 25 miles to school so unfortunately no bus
 arrives at my door every morning.  But the first day went off without a hitch.   We had uniforms out, backpacks and lunches packed.  It's a tradition around here that mom takes your picture before heading out the door on that first day.  I can't believe how they've changed from year to year right under my nose.  Joshua, especially.  He's the younger of the two but has now become the taller.  Madeline is 17 months his senior and it drives her crazy that people commonly mistake them for twins!

In other farm news:

We made the trip to the Great Minnesota Get-together.  Gary and I went back a second time just to check out the dairy goat winners.  And boy did we find one.  Melissa Czech of Century Farms was the big winner. www.centuryfarmdairygoats.com  She has it invited me to come to her farm for a tour and to check out all of her beautiful breeding stock.  I'm really excited.  I'm hoping to reserve a buck kid for next spring.

And of course what would the beginning of fall be without some apples.  I've been canning and baking like mad.  I officially canned 9 quarts and 12 pints of applesauce.  Thanks to Mary and Jerry to always providing us with the tastiest organic apples around!  No one even minds the occasional worm!