OK – Kathy and Tony – thanks for the Florida Snowball! Seems your mild air hitched a ride and carted along an extra heaping of fluffy white stuff for special delivery here in Parham! 😉 I AM glad to see the end of this last ‘Polar Plunge’. Now normally – I’m a “HURRAY – SNOW!” kind of person. However, I am publicly admitting here for the very first time that my snowy enthusiasm is slipping …
First, there is Rosie. She loves to be outside checking out whatever we’re up to. (And today that was quite a lot.) SHE does not share my snow friendly disposition. Second, after plowing the paddock there are still giant snow piles and new falling snow building up. I didn’t even get to trying to clear out the laneway. Funny how our priorities have shifted – paddock first! 😉
But mostly – it isn’t meshing very well with our current ‘Darby Dilemma’. I was up a long time last night going through umpteen scenarios to try to calm things down a little in the paddock. I think that Darby is either entering her first heat cycle (or the dregs of the ‘teenage donkey stage’ that might precede that) OR she is the kind of rambunctious that I’ve lived through with dogs before they settle down sometime after they’re two years old. (Hmmm… humans share that trait to a certain extent as well … right?) Either way – she is relentless is her pursuit of targets to chase, nip and ‘move along’. When I’m out there I will occasionally see her begin to trounce on Rosie or Bella Sky. However, a wide eyed glance my way tells her that she’s raised my ire. Where I really see the ‘action’ is when I’m spying on her using our donkey cam from the comfort of the kitchen table. That’s why she’s earned the name ‘Cue Ball‘. When she shoots into one of the barns – the rest of the herd get knocked out! Then she likes to chase each of them for a little run around the paddock. It doesn’t matter which one. She’ll just as easily chase Paco as one of the minis.
So … the coordinated plan of attack this morning led to a flurry of nails, hammers, drills and wood scrounged from the basement … to perfect the wind worthiness of the Condo. I wanted to see if I could set things up to have two donkeys on each side of the paddock separated by two closed gates. Maybe that would calm things a bit. But first – I needed to feel that either barn – the Condo or the Bully Barn were cozy quarters. We narrowed the entry of the Condo which created a larger ‘lee’ space inside. I always felt bad when I would see Rosie and Bella tromping along through the snow to the Condo because Darby had nosed them out of the Bully Barn. Now even a snow storm’s southerly winds don’t create havoc in the Condo. It’s a warm, cozy space.
While we worked away I closed the gates to that part of the paddock and kept Darby with us. At first she was just fine basking in our attention and sticking her nose into everything we were doing. But then … as the blizzard cleared for a bit … out came Paco, Rosie and Bella Sky from the Bully Barn. That was when Darby realized she was on the wrong side of the fence. The others nosed their hellos at the fence line and then left to snooze in the Bully Barn. Well, did we get to see a Darby temper tantrum then! She was not the least bit aggressive with us. She did however clearly establish that she was miffed. She bucked and jumped around the Condo paddock, rolling her eyes at me every chance she got. She whined and whinnied and continually came for comforting pats and strokes. When the other three heard her ‘distress’ they came out and also started to whine and pace at the gate.
Okay … ‘Plan B’ – I figured I would bring Paco on in with Darby and let Rosie and Bella Sky have a chance to some peace and quiet. Not quite. Within minutes Rosie started to fuss and worry and whinny because now she was not with the other two ~ or … working with me. (By now the Condo doorway was safely renovated and I was working on bringing the power to a water bucket that would stay near the Condo door.)
‘Plan C’ was to have the minis (Rosie and Bella Sky) in the Condo paddock and let the ‘bigs’ (Paco and Darby) have the Bully Paddock. With a few deft moves I’d managed the switch and the ‘minis’ settled into the Condo barn with me as chief masseuse. Ahhh… this looked like it would work out. Everyone could munch and snooze in peace … or … not! As soon as I left the Condo paddock to check in with the ‘bigs’ Rosie and Bella Sky started to sing at the top of their lungs! That then set BOTH Paco and Darby off as well – all four – letting me know loudly and clearly – that they didn’t like this closed gate business one bit. And the kicker was that it was Darby and Rosie at the fence line smooching at each other that were the loudest.
So – ‘Plan D’ looked an awful lot like what we woke up to (except that now the Condo quarters seem cozier to me) and all four of my ‘sweethearts’ were all able to be where ever Paco was. And that – my friends – was the gist of it all. THAT is what brings peace to the paddock. Everyone’s favourite is Paco. This afternoon he’s spent some time with Darby, then some time alone with Rosie and then good quality time with Bella Sky. And they all keep switching it up – one barn or the other – one, two, three or four at a time.
I’m enjoying all this activity. There sure are not any ‘boring days’ around here! I’m learning TONS. I do worry that I anthropomorphize my herd family too much … However, it does seem that when I’m worried about how to look after donkeys the best answers come when I ask THEM.