And the gods laughed …

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What is it they say about making plans? I swear spring has been sneaking into the breeze this week … A red-winged blackbird was singing in the yard this morning. The sound of dripping water is everywhere. The laneway has some gravel spots … not ice … gravel…

But no … we have a winter storm warning in effect for tomorrow through Friday. I’ve been totally ignoring it – or totally denying it – for days. I spent two afternoons digging the snow out from alongside the chickens’ winter run. Below is the cleared version. The snow and ice was up past the brown tarp line of the roof.

All winter I’ve been using the roof rake to scrape the snow and ice down off the tarp roof. I have a section of fence set up beside the run so the goats are not able to jump onto the roof. As that is exactly what goats would love to do! But that made it a real challenge to get at the snow I was dragging down. I’ve now cut a section of the fence so I can bend it down to stand inside and pitch shovelfuls into the tractor bucket.

I took five bucket loads away. Because spring was whispering in my ear I knew that I could attack the ice chunks with our ice axe and over two days the warmth would help me get down to ground level. Sooooo satisfying! Even IF this week brings another 20 cm of snow to move. Can’t build up as much as the entire winter’s load did … I hope! šŸ˜‰

While I hammered away at their wall the hens hung out in the sunshine.

When I did get in to visit with them Lily gave me such a look. Perhaps a little aggravated with all the noise Lily?

With Goldie gone the ‘big girls’ are picking on the Tweedles. I think he might have been running interference for them? Doesn’t seem to matter all that much as long as the newbies follow the rules. When they are out free ranging they still stick close to Sophie – despite her constant reminders that SHE is higher in their pecking order.

See my tractor wheels? The chains had a tendency to keep sliding half off … putting them back on was a great way to totally soak my mitts. I decided to give bungee cords a try. I’ve criss crossed them for tension on both sides of each tire. They’ve stayed put since then.

Not quite sure what Rosie’s intentions are here? Whenever Dottie or MayMay are up on the tractor seat Rosie cautiously positions herself as close as possible. I’m thinking she is hoping they’ll nibble at her ears (as she saw Darby had them do) or perhaps walk on her back?

It’s funny to try to figure out what they are thinking at times … She stood there for a long time. All of the time that MayMay sat on the seat.

The jennies are heading into their ‘grunge’ season. Their coats are starting to shed (yet another sign of spring) and everything is damp … perfect time for rolling around in the woodchips. I brush them out – they roll. Sometimes immediately after! And then they come back to convince me to do it all again.

I sent off hay samples to an Agricultural Lab in Guelph this morning. I’ve been swapping messages with the Canadian Donkey Sanctuary about my plans for the addition of the back field as pasture this summer. Their Education Outreach program is really supportive of donkey owners. Both Rosie and Bella have lost weight since we switched to straw as a big part of their diets. The straw is almost gone now and we’ve been replacing it with some dried meadow grass bales. With the help of a nutritionist in Guelph I hope to be able to be more scientific about knowing what our feed situation is as we go forward. Hopefully by combining my source of good green timothy bales with my other source of drier meadow grasses bales I’ll still be able to give the jennies what they need.

When it comes to the pasture out back I’m planning on using electric mesh fencing to create a track system that will have them move as they graze. There is a pasture planning system called ‘paddock paradise’ that I have read lots about. I’m enjoying thinking through what would be possible here. I’m a little nervous about putting Rosie and Bella in a situation that would be too rich for them … we do NOT want to push them into problems with laminitis. When donkeys eat food that is too rich it goes right to their hooves. Sort of like how people with diabetes have to be careful about their diets’ impact on their toes …

In the meantime … it IS still February. And March and April pack their own surprises. (Although I am STILL hoping for a green March!) We’re all set to ride out this week’s storm.

Over and out – from the Meadow!

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