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April 30, 2006

Building Bridges

Do you remember when you were a little kid, how much fun it was to go to the playground? Just think what kind of fun your longears "kids" could have with their own playground!

I like to have a playground set up for my donkeys. It is a great place to introduce them to many different obstacles that they might encounter on the trail, at the show, or even just down the street. This week I added a new toy to my donkey playground.

I have been thinking about how I need to practice bridge crossing with my donkeys. Last year my gelding, Andy, didn't want to cross the bridge in the trail class at Bishop Mule Days. So I told myself I would work on that with him so that he is used to them by the time we go to Mule Days this year. The only problem was that I didn't have a bridge obstacle here at home for him to practice. I decided it was time to build one!

It really is quite easy. I'll share with you how I did it so that you can build your own donkey bridge. You will need two 8-foot 4x4s. I bought mine at Home Depot. They were marked as "Outdoor wood posts" and were only $12.97 each. You will also need enough 2x4 or 2x6 boards (I used 2x6 for mine) for the planks on the top of your bridge. And you'll need about 2 lbs of 4" exterior screws.


Cut your 2x4 or 2x6 plank boards into 36" lengths. Then cut your two 4x4 posts into shorter lengths - we had four 34" pieces and two 28" pieces. By cutting the 4x4s in shorter pieces, you can make your bridge into three sections that you can line up end to end. This way you can easily store them in a smaller space, and can move them from place to place easier (the bridge would be quite heavy if it were one piece instead of three!).


Drill holes in the plank boards and the 4x4 skid boards for your screws, then screw the planks down to the skids using 2 or 3 screws on each plank end to attach them securely to the skids. When I attached my bridge planks to the skids, I left about 3/8" space between each plank so there would be an obvious small crack between them. The cracks are not big enough to let anything get caught in them, but they are very obvious to the eye. I did that so that my donkeys could get used to walking across the "black" crack stripes on bridges. After all, when you are riding out on the trail you will most likely encounter bridges with cracks between the planks - not bridges without cracks!


There you have it! Now your bridge is complete! It is sturdy enough to handle plenty of use, and can still be easily moved from place to place. Just be sure to store your bridge pieces where the wind and weather won't rot them away, and friendly donkey teeth won't carve neat patterns in them.

And last, but not least, here is my bridge inspection team (Lily & Andy) reviewing its construction!


Kristie Jorgensen

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Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at 02:47 PM | Comments (0)

April 26, 2006

Treat of the Week - Juicy Orange Appetizers

With Spring in the air, here is one of my donkeys' favorite treats... And one of my favorite, too!

Select a nice fresh orange. Wash it and slice it in round circles. If you want to get fancy, you can garnish it with fresh green mint leaves.


Fresh oranges are one of my donkeys' favorite treats! If you are in a hurry you can just slice them in quarters, and the donkeys will enjoy them just the same. I give my donkeys up to one orange a day for the standard size, and sometimes two for the big mammoths.

I have also heard that some people have had success significantly reducing or eliminating problems of their donkeys chewing the wood off their barns and fences by adding a quarter if an orange per day to their donkeys' feed.

I didn't personally see a big difference in my particular donkeys last summer, but it is something worth keeping in mind to try if you have a longeared "beaver". From what I've heard, for some donkeys it can be pretty effective.

Either way, I'm sure if your donkeys are like mine, they'll love oranges! Last summer I bought a big box of navel oranges, and gave the donkeys a few slices every morning when I went out to check on them. They started looking forward to they morning orange slices, and would give me such pitiful neglected looks if I forgot to bring their orange slices one morning! They can be such characters sometimes!

Kristie Jorgensen

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Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at 10:01 AM | Comments (0)

April 16, 2006

Bishop Mule Days

Bishop Mule Days is right around the corner! We've only got 5 weeks left until Bishop Mule Days and things are starting to get busy around our farm!

We're cleaning and clipping donkeys. Making last minute equipment purchases, and getting everything ready for the big trip! But today I thought I'd take a little break to look back through some of my favorite photos from Bishop Mule Days last summer and find some inspiration to get through the last few hectic weeks. Here are some of the favorites I found:

The obstacle classes are always fun to watch! Mules and donkeys are so adept at navigating through obstacles once they know how. Here is a picture of one of the mules completing the wagon wheel in the Gamblers Choice Trail class.


Another of my favorite things to see is the big teams of draft mules. It's amazing what those expert drivers can do with their teams, and the amount of power that they control in those lines!


And Mule Days wouldn't be complete without the pack teams! There's just nothing else like watching their pack scramble and other exciting events.


I know this year will be another fun and exciting year at Bishop, and we hope to see you there!

Kristie Jorgensen

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Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at 06:05 PM | Comments (1)