Sunday, September 30, 2012

Halters and Feet

Fancy and Dan
The girls were in a spirited mood today. I guess all that rain has them frisky! We got over three inches in Brazos County, so El Rancho might have gotten more. This is the heaviest rain we've had for a while, so we went out to see how things look. As we drove onto the land, we noticed the lack of donkey prints!!! Hmmmm. So, we set off to track them.

When we passed pipeline road, I saw something move just outside my vision range, so I turned that way and went to the water trough in that clearing. No hoofprints! The ground was soft, so there should be prints! Finally, when I was almost back to PR 4041, we found a track and followed them back to the truck! hahaha on us. Funny donkeys.

After messing around with us, they all took a good roll in the sand. ....

Dan took his new tool trailer up to the cattle guards and installed the four foot walk gate. I kept the donkeys occupied while he was working. We actually did get some work in. First, I pulled out a lead rope and showed it to the donks and the let me drag it all over their bodies, including faces and ears. Good to go! We wandered around a bit, then I brought out a red halter. Fancy, being an attention hog, wanted to eat it, but didn't complain or move away when I put it on her. All three wore the halter for a few minutes without complaint. I need to find some proper donkey halters as the small horse halter is not proportioned correctly-- too big in the nosepiece area. I had tried a yearling size and it was too small to go around their throats. All three seemed okay with this turn of events. I was also able to lift a front foot on each donkey, at my request, without having them tied or haltered.
 I figured we'd had enough lessons for the day, so we took a walkabout, sampling all manner of plants, both living and dead. Then, something spooked Fancy and they began running and kicking. They ran through the brush, through the woods, down the creek, through the picnic area, and repeat. My thundering herd of donks are quite speedy! I was quite entertained watching them kick up their heels and kick each other while at a full gallop.

That Fancy. She's definitely a camera hog, too.  She's just a rambunctious teenager, but she's starting to grow on me. She looks like a big teddy bear with those silver-rimmed eyes, but she's always testing to see if I will let her nip me (I won't).  I caught myself calling her Brownie more than once today, so she might become a Fancy Brownie.

Next Saturday is vaccination time, so hopefully the work in gaining their trust will be rewarded!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Jennets Settling In

Today, I spent time at el rancho, mostly socializing with the jennets. I'm beginning to learn about their personalities and each is her own donkey. Molly, the momma, is very sweet and seems to run the herd. She has more red in her coat that does Fiona. Fiona is mostly donkey grey and white and is wider through the hip than Molly. She seems to be the most cautious of the three. Then there's Fancy, the big brown teenager. She varies between bold and skittish and is the only one which has attempted to nibble on my clothes or arms.

Started off the day a few minutes behind the Dans. Got to the gate and no donkey in sight. After parking, I heard the Dans talking by the pond area where they were contemplating various ways of 'refencing' that wet area (which can dry up). This is the last part of perimeter fence that is undone. It's currently fenced with barbed wire. The girls were cornered up and not too happy about it and they came out to the picnic area when they got a chance. They started off a little shy and I just worked on, not making any large movements or staring at them. They finally sauntered up to see what I was doing and were rewarded with a little snack.

They had eaten the small amount of corn I left and had been chewing on the salt block. We filled up their smaller trough with water from the water tote. Later on, I went shopping and bought a 100 gallon trough when I picked up other supplies. We placed it in another part of the property and filled it up too. I estimate they have enough water for at least ten days, not that I won't get out there, but it's a good feeling to know they are safe.
Jelly Mitt Groomer
The girls have been wandering around, grazing donkey style and really enjoying the immense variety of grasses, weeds, and shrubs. At one point, I approached Fiona and began brushing her with a Jelly Mitt. Talk about heaven! She stood stock still while I rubbed her from poll to tail, even hand brushing her legs, chest and flank. Fancy ran up and I brushed her too. Suddenly, I was very popular as all three waited in turn for some brushing. Donkey fur was flying! They especially liked to have their cheeks rubbed. Molly seemed to go into a trance, so I took the opportunity to pick up a front foot. She wasn't too sure about it, but didn't jerk it away too hard. The sole looked fine, but she could definitely use a trim. This is my big project-- getting the ready to stand for foot cleaning and then ultimately for the farrier.
Molly and Fiona

Monday, September 10, 2012

Our Fourth Trailer!

As soon as we fenced around the corner at PR 4041 and 4057, I began shopping for a small trailer to use moving goats and donkeys. we already have three flatbed trailers with low sides, but they are no bueno for moving animals. I began my search thinking it wouldn't be too hard to find something at a reasonable price.  I looked at some trailers that probably couldn't get down the driveway, to fancy ones that cost more than my first house. What an assortment! I looked at stock trailers, horse trailers and specialty goat trailers. Single axle, double axle, wood floor, rubber floor, living quarters! Finally, I found what I was looking for and it was just down the road near Frenstat.

The octogenarian owner said the trailer had been sitting in the barn for many years and was seldom used.  After seeing it, I realized she wasn't exaggerating. The paint was barely scratched and everything was still solid. This 1981 Neckover bumperpull is fourteen feet long, and has a combination slide/swing read gate and an interior gate as well.  Built in Troup, Texas, the trailer sports the original stickers and I also got the original proof of sale document. The tail lights will have to be replaced as the connectors and such are outmoded, and I'll probably get rubber floor mats. The only area not in great condition are the hubcaps.  Mrs. Josephine, the seller,  told D3 that a wire brush would "take that rust right off!"  Well, having been in the Marine Corps for nearly five years and afloat, D3 knows a thing or two about getting the rust off and he is not interested!

After parking the trailer at the ranch, Dan and I strung and tied the upper and lower barbed wire along 4041 while Dad had to work during the Aggie football game. On Sunday, we all climbed into the silver truck and headed out to Snook, where we stayed all day, working on the Leggio fenceline. The guys cut down two trees to finish clearing the path along the fence. Boy! That really opened up the view and showed us the work ahead of us. We removed most of the old fence and all of the barbed wire from the corner to the bottom of a swampy area which is currently 'mostly' dry.  About 100 feet.  Built three Hs, drove t-posts and strung up goat wire. We also found a nest of red wasps who took a distinct dislike to Dad. 

Still waiting for the surveyors to mark off the land next door. Drove down to see if they'd been there and see that LB had someone grade and scalp PR 4057. Alas, no new survey flags, but it won't be long. Then we will begin a new adventure of removing a decrepit trailer house, reconditioning a water well, and staking off places for our new barndominiums.  

Monday, September 3, 2012

News from the Ranch

Well, I see I've been remiss is transmitting news of the ranch in the past two months. During July and August, the Severn clan sweated a lot, building fence, fixing broken fencing equipment, building fence, stretching wire, tying wire, digging post holes, and did I say building fence?

Today, the Dans completed the perimeter fencing of El Rancho, about eight-tenths of a mile. The next step is repairing/replacing the fence we share with Frank Leggio. Right now, the fence is certainly good enough for donkeys or cattle. In fact, I have my eye on a pair of jennys (one white, one light gray) who are about six years old. Hopefully I'll get out to see them on Saturday and see if they will fit in.

So, anyway, in all these weekends of fencing, we've really done a lot of planning and I've got a preliminary livestock rotation plan. Goats, followed by steers, followed by rest. So, we are planning this and looked over the fence and thought, gee!, we could buy more land! So we got a contract on another 14 acres, adjacent to El Rancho, and soon to become part of El Rancho.

Working along the fencelines has also allowed us to get a closer look at the native vegetation. D3 and I saw a plant with big leaves and lots of purple globular fruit. We both figured that anything that looked good was probably poisonous. On Sunday, I snapped a few pictures and looked it up by color and was pleased to find that we have lots and lots of Americana Beautyberry, Callicarpa americana. Deer and other foragers love the berries, the leaves are thought to ward off mosquitos, and they look pretty good, too! I even found recipes for making Beautyberry jelly.

I also noticed that while we still have some small yellow flowers (mostly bitterweed and sleepy daisy), lots of the other flowers are in the purple range, like wild petunia and bindweed. So, I guess if summer is yellow, then fall is purple!


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