Monday, May 26, 2008

Wrastling with donkeys.

Myfarmer is off to go see the big mouse down in FL, so the Boy and I are doing the farm. This is, by far, the easiest round of farm chores ever. There's grass, so we don't have to haul hay. She has a spring on her farm and lots of water here and there that they are penned around, so we don't have to haul that either. Boy collects the eggs and washes them whilst I take grain to the chickens and geese and do a walk about to see that everyone is hanging loose.

We're waiting on two sheep to lamb. They got into the game at the last possible moment. Everyday I walk out there and stare at them and feel really stupid. My goal is to notice when they lamb, catch the lambs so I can sex them, and check on the mom. The honest to goodness truth is that every time I go down there I have to figure out who the pregger sheep are all over again. You'd think tt would be really obvious- they're the two fat ones, but I swear some of the nursing moms are pretty portly too. I always end up staring at each sheep in turn "Ok, that one is a boy, that one already has lambs" etc etc until I get it figured out.

The donkeys and the horse have a history of taking advantage of my good nature and conniving me into feeding them more than they need to eat. Last winter I was worried we were going to run out of hay before Myfarmer got back, because they were going through 8/9 bales a day. Myfarmer said that was ridiculous, and I should cut them back to three or four bales. When she came home there was hay on the ground around the hay-holding-thingy, which the critters usually eat up when she was on duty. She expressed dismay, and the horse started picking up the hay and putting it back in the rack, as if she was shamed of how they'd played me.

Of course, I was again worried they were going through the grass sort of fast, so I decided I'd just set up more fence and then I wouldn't have to worry. I'm like a farming Jewish mother "Eat! EAT!". So in the process of laying out new fence, I lay a section on the ground for a second, forgetting what the purpose of a fence was. The donkeys did not forget, and promptly traipsed through to the fresh grass. They completely ignored me yelling "NO NO YOU FUCKING BITCHES! GET!" Maybell the horse heard me beg, "Please, Maybell, Stay in there. No! NO!" but she was all like "What? Huh?" as she walked past. I can not figure out how to tell that horse "No".

So. I figured, if I keep one donkey here, the other won't go too far. The donkeys don't care about the horse, but the horse cares about being near the donkeys, so if I've got them She won't go far either. It was a sound plan, and in the end it worked, but in order to put it into play I had to grab a donkey.

Donkeys are smarter than sheep. If the sheep are out and you show up they go the other way. Sometimes it's tricky, but you use this fact to herd them to where ever you want them. When they reach the edge of the pen they say "Rats! Foiled again! A pen!" but because of the herd's inertia they go in anyways. Donkeys are clever. When they see you move they say "Why is she going that way? OH! Because she wants to get in my escape path, cut me off, and put me back in the pen. Bet I can take her." and then they run. With stealth and speed I did manage to catch the younger of the two. I put her in a head lock and yelled for Boy to hurry. She expressed her frustration by stepping on me. She really wanted to kick me, but she'd have to get loose to do that. Thinking things through she decided to try and bite me. When that proved useless she decided she'd just drag me along wherever she intended to go. Of course, I weigh enough to be annoying, so when she got annoyed enough she'd try again to shake me off and bite me.

Eventually Boy brought the grain and things went according to plan. In the meantime? I spent a lot of time wondering just what donkeys were for, and how they'd taste*.

Oh! I forgot to mention, we took a neighbor kid with us on this adventure. He's never gotten to hang out on a farm, so it was a true adventure for him. He said several cute things, such as "I wonder if the wind is alive..." and "The geese hissed at me. I guess they learned that from hanging around with the cats." When he gathered the eggs I told Boy to make sure there were no hidden eggs- the hens are trying to go broody. When we explained they were trying to get the eggs to hatch, he asked if that meant these very eggs would hatch if you kept them warm.


He kept one egg in his hand the whole time. I gave him a dozen eggs, including two turkey eggs, to take home and eat. They came from the batch that included some eggs that had chicks in them, because he seemed to think that was neat. Not that you want to eat those, but because he could see what goes on. Instead of eating them, when he got home he put them in a muffin tin and put a lamp on them. Honestly, I have no idea what will happen. The ones that had gotten started and then got put in the fridge are already dead, I'm pretty sure. But the ones that hadn't started yet might still be viable. If he doesn't get bored turning them. I don't know. I do know the turkey eggs are duds. The Tom likes to hump anything with feathers, including the chicken hens, but he just can't get the hang of how humping works. He's very serious, but when you watch him his tail is miles away from the girl's tail. Miles and miles.

I do hope that someday we end up with the space to some farming of our own. Not enough for other people, just enough for us to have meats and eggs and veggies, and maybe milk.

I've been spending a lot of time day dreaming of how much farming we can legally do in our little city yard. Plants are easy. I've been wondering about rabbits. Myfarmer says they're the most efficient meat to grow. Can we use them for lawn mowers? Am I strong enough to break a rabbit's neck?

Simon is reading over my shoulder, and says no.

Simon also accuses me of mommy blogging. While ignoring the children. I counter this is not a mommy blog.

going to feed the children,

* I do not have the visceral response to the thought of eating horse/donkey meat that most of you have. When I was little I asked what hamburger was made out of, and somehow I got it into my head that the answer was cows and horses. It wasn't until I was almost in high school that I learned otherwise. The upshot is that the thought totally does not gross me out at all, and I find it slightly amusing how gross other people think it is.


Alwen said...

My husband, when we go overseas, is always after me to go to Belgium so he can try horse.

Me, I'm amused that the USDA Nutrient database
includes horse under "game meat".

J. Thorp said...

Love this post. I will warn you, however -- talk of killing horses will get you in all sorts of blogger trouble. Just ask my friend Jinglebob. Folks don't have a sense of humor about that. Funny thing is, many of them don't have any horse sense, either. Kind of a knee-jerk thing, I guess.

Don't know how they feel about donkeys, though ... not the same romance attached ...

ephelba said...

I saw a little of Jinglebob's hullabaloo, but I don't know enough about what it's about. I gather a law got changed, but I didn't know what the old state of affairs was and couldn't follow the talk. All I know is sometimes animals should die. And there's farming and there's farming. Sometimes people treat animals like they can't suffer, and that isn't right, but sometimes people get confused and think animals are people, and that isn't right either. I think the truth is somewhere in between.
As usual.