October 24, 2004
Mud, Mud, Everywhere!
You may think that Utah is a very dry place where people never have to worry about things like mud. But as winter approaches we start getting more precipitation here.
This last week it rained off and on almost all week, and by the end of the week I was dieing to get out and go riding again! It seemed like the donkeys would no more than dry out enough to saddle up, and it would start raining again. Finally Friday evening I was able to find a long enough space between storms to get in a short ride with my gelding, Andy. It felt so good be get back in the saddle again!
We worked on a new riding pattern going around a square of pylons, and across diagonally between them. We also practiced turning on the forehand, and backing up more softly. We didn't have a lot of time to ride before it started getting dark, and the ground was a little wet in our riding area, so we just stuck to the basics.
At least my riding area isn't too muddy yet, because my donkeys don't have free access to it, but the area inside their paddock in front of their barn is becoming quite a mess! Every time it rains or snows, the water collects in front of the barn. Since the donkeys go in and out of the barn a lot during the day, that area turns to mud very quickly!
The weather man is predicting more rain this week, and I'm dreading the coming months of rain and snow and mud - mud - mud. So I've been trying to figure out what to do to eliminate some of the muddy mess this winter. What ideas to you have? Have any of you found a great solution to keeping your donkey barn areas mud free during the winter months? I'd love to hear your suggestions!
And now, I've been thinking it's about time for another photo from sunny, warm Bishop Mule Days. This is a beautiful 4-up hitch of mules all harnessed and ready to go. They are from Copper Windmill Ranch.
These folks had a really neat old-fashioned wagon at Mule Days last year. It was built like the wagons that the pioneers used, with spaces and compartments for all their necessities. I believe they won first place with their mule drawn vehicle entry in the Mule Days Parade in 2003.
October 14, 2004
Inch by Inch...
Donkey training can be a very good exercise in teaching you patience and also teaching you to not worry about how silly other people may think you are as long as you are achieving the results you are after!
Earlier this summer one of my neighbors asked me to graze my donkeys in his field for a while to eat his grass down shorter. So I kept three of my donkeys over there for a month or two. A few weeks ago I decided that it was time to bring them back home again.
Now, to get from this neighbor's pasture to my pasture, we have to walk down a gravel drive, along a concrete sidewalk, and cross several concrete and asphalt driveways.
Lily and Elsie didn't mind walking on asphalt or concrete at all. They just trotted right along beside me and didn't even blink an eye when crossing from gravel to concrete or asphalt. But Pansy, the third donkey, had other ideas! Although she doesn't mind asphalt too much, Pansy is especially wary of lighter colored concrete. Pansy thinks that stuff will eat you alive if you aren't very careful around it!
Somehow I had convinced Pansy to cross the concrete drives and sidewalk on the way over to the neighbor's pasture a few weeks earlier. But this particular evening Pansy decided that she didn't want to put her dainty toes on that scary stuff!
Now Pansy is a jenny that requires a special kind of training. She accentuates the donkey characteristics of needing to think things through before trying something new. As long as things are relaxed and she thinks it is her idea, she will stay interested in what you are trying to teach her and willingly consider doing what you ask of her.
But if you get in a hurry and start pressuring her, she just shuts down. No amount of prodding, pushing, or pulling will get her anywhere. She just locks up, and refuses to even consider what you are asking. It's almost like her mind shuts off, and you have to stop and get her interested again before you can make any more progress.
So confronting the concrete problem posed quite a challenge! Mind you, I did have a can full of yummy sweet smelling corn and barley mix. But to Pansy, that wasn't enticing enough to persuade her to just walk right across that concrete.
If Pansy had her own way, she would have just stayed on the safe gravel, and eaten weeds along the edge. If I pressured her to come with me, she would either try to back up or just freeze up where she was. So I had to be really patient and use some creativity to achieve my goal of getting Pansy back home that evening.
First I'd rattle the grain can near her nose and let her smell the fragrant smell of that yummy grain. Once I had her attention focused solely on that grain, I could move it back a little bit, and she would stand there and think about following it. After a minute or two she'd take a step forward and we'd repeat the process again and again.
I found that if I kept the grain can low to the ground and kept Pansy's attention on it with her head down, she was less likely to get nervous and try to turn around or back up. After a few false starts, I was finally able to get Pansy to start following me slowly down the sidewalk.
Can you imagine driving down a street and seeing a person on the sidewalk bent down close to the ground, slowly backing down the street, with a big red mammoth donkey with her nose to the ground slowly following along? That must have been quite a sight! I felt like the donkey version of a snake charmer - "charming" my donkey down the street!
First I'd rattle the grain can by her nose, and she'd turn and stretch her head out toward it. Then I'd scoot back an inch or two, and coax her with encouraging words to take a little baby step forward. With her nose down to the ground following that can of grain, Pansy would slowly move across a driveway - step by step. Then we'd work our way down the next strip of sidewalk. If I wasn't careful, she'd start to lose focus on that can, and get nervous and raise her head up to look around. Then I'd have to quickly get her attention back on the grain before she had a chance to head back, and we'd start inching down the street again. "Here Pansy... Come on big girl... You can do it!"
I couldn't put any pressure on her halter otherwise she'd forget the whole idea and head back to the safety of the gravel drive. But as long as I kept her head down focused on that grain, she'd slowly keep coming. That took a lot of patience!
But before too long I had her across all the driveways and sidewalks, and she was happy to walk down our dirt drive to where her buddies were waiting. Yippee!
I still laugh every time I think of how ridiculous we must have looked crawling down the sidewalk an inch at a time!
Do you have any humorous stories about your donkeys or mules? I'd love to hear them!
October 09, 2004
How Much Hay Do I Need?
As winter approaches, many of us are looking ahead and planning how much feed we'll need for the coming months. But how do you know how much hay you will need for your donkeys?
Here are a few formulas that you might find helpful in answering the question “How much feed do each of my donkeys need?”
The standard formula that I use for calculating my donkeys’ hay consumption is:
Donkey’s weight X 1.5% = The weight of hay per day.
Then I multiply that by the number of days I plan to feed hay, and that gives me the amount (weight) of hay that I will need to buy.
So if my donkey weighs 600 lbs., my formula looks like this:
600 lbs. X 1.5% = 9 lbs. of hay per day.
Then if I plan to feed hay for 90 days:
9 lbs. X 90 days = 810 lbs. total of hay.
I can then divide that by the number of pounds the bales each weigh. That will tell me how many bales I need to have.
810 lbs. / 75 lbs. per bale = 10.8 bales
But how do I figure out the amount of hay my donkey should eat, if I don’t know how much my donkey weighs? I started searching, and found a really good article written by Marsha Jo Hannah on the Florida Wild Horse and Burro Association website. It explains several ways to estimate your donkey’s weight.
The amount of hay your donkey actually consumes will vary somewhat from animal to animal depending on several factors, such as how much work your donkey is doing, whether it is a pregnant or nursing mother or not, and what kind of hay you are feeding.
But with these formulas, you should be able to pretty accurately estimate how much hay you should have on hand for the coming winter months, and you also know how to estimate your donkey's weight!
Note: These are the formulas I use for donkeys. Mules may need more that 1.5% of their body weight in hay everyday. And I believe I read somewhere that horses usually need about 2% of their body weight in hay each day.
Do you have any helpful tips or tricks that you think other longears owners might find useful? We'd love to post them in our Guest Contributor's column! Just email them to me at email@example.com and I will post them for you.
October 05, 2004
"Are you sure I can stand on only three feet?"
I had a funny experience a few weeks ago with one of my big mammoth saddle jennets. I thought you'd enjoy hearing about my adventure!
Lily is a very laid back girl. Nothing much fazes her. She prefers to take life at a nice relaxed pace. She is also the only donkey I have that will just follow me into buildings without questioning my wisdom for asking such a feat.
But even though Lily is very calm and relaxed about life, she does have a mind of her own that sometimes shows up in the oddest places! She has a strange sense of humor that can show up most unexpectedly if you are not looking for it. But that's a story for another day!
So I always have to be on my toes when I'm asking Lily to work, and I have to be ready to correct her if she decides to play a trick on me. That sometimes takes some quick thinking to outsmart her!
On one particular evening a few weeks ago, I decided that I wanted to do a short riding lesson with Lily. I got her from her field and brought her to the barn. Then I brushed her down and put her saddle and bridle on. She stood nicely while I was getting her all ready. I think she was enjoying having all the attention to herself while all the other donkeys were jealously watching from the other side of the gate!
I led Lily out to where I was going to ride. Then I tightened her cinch the rest of the way. After Lily's cinch was tight, I wanted to pick up each of her front feet and stretch them out to make sure the skin was lying smooth under her cinch.
Now, Lily is usually very good about letting people work with her hooves, and I don't recall her ever trying to kick when I was working on her hooves. But Lily has had a really bad habit of leaning heavy on the foot I am trying to work on. That can create quite a challenge with a girl as big as her!
On this particular evening, I asked Lily to lift one of her front feet for me. Once she had let me pick it up, she started leaning really heavy on that leg - so heavy in fact that her opposite hind foot started to come up off the ground!
I decided I couldn't hold up that much weight forever, but I wasn't going to let her get away with that trick so easily! So I kept her hoof up, while letting her knee drop down to the ground. And over she went! All the way down onto her side. I wasn't going to let her rest there all day, so as soon as she was down on the ground, I thumped her on the rump and told her to get right back up, which she did.
Then we tried it again. I asked her to lift her foot, and once it was up she started leaning really hard on it again. But this time I didn't allow her the comfort of going down onto her knee first. I just held her foot up until she leaned so far over that she just toppled over - "Plop" - right on top of the saddle stirrup! Once again I immediately told her to get right back up again.
It only took her twice to decide that wasn't such a great idea! The third time when I asked her for her foot, she willingly gave it to me and stood up all by herself. Every time I've worked on her hooves since then, she has been careful to not lean on me. I guess she must have decided that it wasn't very comfortable to fall down that hard, especially with a saddle on! And maybe that wasn't such a great way to avoiding hoof work!
Isn't it fun to see our longeared buddies' intelligent minds working through these problems in their training lessons!
October 01, 2004
To all of you who have sent me such wonderful stories, calendar events, and great suggestions the past few weeks! I love reading them myself, as well as being able to post them for everyone else to enjoy. Keep them coming!
You may have noticed that I've made a number of adjustments to the Longears Mall listing management pages recently.
First, I noticed that there were a number of users that were having trouble figuring out which categories to place classified ads in, and their classified ads would end up in the Store website directory section instead of the Classifieds section. You will notice that I have added a little description, about how to find the correct category, to the top of the page where you select a category when placing an ad.
The top section of categories under the "Stores" header are all Store categories where you can list your website in our directory of longears businesses.
Down below the Stores section, you will see a "Classifieds" header. The categories listed under that header are all classified ad categories. This is where you should place your classified ads for individual items for sale.
Now that October has begun, I have turned on the new subscription payment section for Store listings. Starting October 1, for a subscription fee of $50.00 per customer per year you may post as many Store listings as you wish. This small amount will go to help support the cost of the software, website and time to maintain this site.
Classified Ads will still be free for everyone, as well as non-profit listings in the Organizations and Rescues Store categories. If you are only placing a classified or non-profit rescue or organization listing, you do not need to pay for a subscription.
All Store listings that are currently on our website will remain active for a short while longer to allow you time to renew your subscription for the next 12 months. If you have Store listings, you will want to log into your account and renew your subscription now so that your Store listings will not "go off the air" soon!
To renew your subscription, first click on the "My Account" menu selection under "Stores and Classifieds".
A login screen will open where you can log in to your account. If you can't remember your username and password, you can click on the "forgotten password" link at the bottom of the login screen and follow the directions to have your username and password emailed to you. Or you can just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will be happy to look it up for you.
Once you have logged in you will see a screen like this:
The first link in the list, "Create New Store or Classified", takes you through the steps of placing a new Store Listing or Classified Ad.
The second link, "View Active Stores and Classifieds", opens a page that displays a list of all your currently active Store Listings and Classifieds, and allows you to edit and update them.
The third link is "User Account Information". This is where you can go to view your current user information, and change your login password, if you desire.
The fourth link, "Subscription Status", is where you want to go to view the current status of your Store Listing subscription, and renew your subscription for the next 12 months.
If you have any question about your account or how to use this part of the website, please email me at email@example.com and I will be happy to answer your questions!
We have had a great response to all the wonderful new mule and donkey resources on the Longears Mall the past few months. Since the beginning of July we have logged an average of almost 2000 unique visitors each month, with over 14,000 total visits to LongearsMall.com in the last three months. Thanks for your participation in making this a great site for all Donkey and Mule enthusiasts!
Now that I have the website set up so that you can place and maintain your own listings and classifieds, I'm looking forward to continuing to add additional features and enhancements. If you have ideas of things you'd like to see on our LongearsMall.com website, please email me. I'd love to hear your ideas, and work together with you to make this an even greater Longears website and community!
Have a great weekend!