This post should be called ‘The Right Tools – Part 2 a & b! First tool led me to the second. I have learned to search out other donkey owners through blogs. One of my favourites has become ‘The Dancing Donkey‘. She lives in New York and we share a lot of the same weather challenges! Check it out – she has some great tales to tell!
In reading her posts last month I noticed that she was experimenting with hay nets. She found that her donkeys left at least as much hay on the ground as they were getting into their stomachs. That sounded familiar … I also had started to worry about what the herd was eating ‘off the ground’ that wouldn’t be included if they just ate their hay from their feed bins. Our four have very different stomachs. Darby is easily affected by too rich feed or too much grain off the hay barn floor! Paco’s system reacts to changes in the hay bales we get and sometimes he too gets the ‘runs’ after eating all of the seed that hits the ground when I unwrap a new bale. Rosie seems to be able to eat anything – any time – anywhere. And I’m just learning what Bella Sky’s stomach will be like. So … time to test out a new ‘tool’…
We’re now into the second week of using the hay nets. I’ve experimented with different ways to ‘do them up’. For our herd it seems to work best if I leave the ‘top’ of the bag slightly open. That makes a ‘tunnel’ for the ‘bigs’ to get at the contents. I secure the feed bins to the fence both with clips and the tied top rope of the hay net. I secure the nets to the bins with four clips to hold them taut to the sides… I can move the bins into the barns easily and the hay will now last the night AND not become a layer of soiled bedding instead of food…
… and it is working great! Rosie – our champion bin EMPTIER – is not able to swish the bin contents out – and neither is anyone else. Up until this time she loved to move from bin to bin – eating the seeds off the bottom after having emptied everything else onto the ground.
Three of the nets have 3 inch holes and the one above has much bigger gaps. I was worried at first that they wouldn’t get the hang of how to get the hay ‘out’ – and that it might mean they wouldn’t be able to ‘share’ bins. All four like to eat with someone else. Me too!
No problems. Today our fourth (and fifth) nets arrived at the ‘Curiosity Shop’ (aka Parham General Store). So now all of our bins are secured and are able to hold hay for many hours of great grazing! No more – fill the bins – then one hour later they’re empty because the hay is now layered all over the paddock (along with ‘road apples’ and other nasty little additions!).
The great upside of it all means more time to play! And THAT is the best time to be hanging out with the herd. Darby gets running around – chasing my sled – chasing Paco – chasing Rosie – chasing Bella – who has a great bunny hop that somehow stops Darby cold in her tracks! 😉 I have lots of time to set up my ‘massage shop’ (me perched on a milk carton in the middle of the paddock). Each donkey seems to keep an eye on the ‘cue’ and takes their own turn letting me rub them down, scratch any itchy spots, hug them silly and snuggle their warm noses. We’ve been for a few ‘hill walks’. I had to make a new trail as ‘Bully Road’ is a downhill skating rink. It’s good – all good!