Critter Stories · Farmtastic Stories

Are You New Here?

Horse chore time around the farm is a daily event,  and most of the time it is an uneventful routine, as it should be.  However, like kiddos are often known to do, critters just want to test you.  It reminds me of just one more drink or one more story before bedtime. But with the four-legged variety, there is snorting, blowing, refusal to go into stalls, and running around like crazies.  (For all my friends with little ones, this may not be so different at all.)

Tonight was one of those times.  Our horses know the routine.  We head out to the barn.  Everyone goes in their stalls.  Food is distributed.  Love and neck rubs are given.  Stalls are scooped.  This is not a new event, but tonight you would have thought I was asking them to barrel race at the rodeo.

For starters, Sweet Suzy Q took off running, which only caused everyone to take off into the pasture as well.  Again like the kids, one can sure wind up the bunch.  Once we settled and determined that a lion wasn’t chasing anyone, we slowly worked our way back to stalls.  But still no luck.  Tactic number two – a bribe.  Off to grab the food and see if I could coax them into place.  The thing with a thousand-pound animal is that you just can’t drag them by the arm and stuff them back under the covers.

Success!  Food worked and Suzy and Ranger were tucked neatly in their stalls munching away.  Now for Smokey, my resident jumpy pants.  The little jaunt into the pasture (thank you Suzy) had him on edge.  Snorting and blowing he followed me into his stall. Ears perked at every noise.  Gates swinging, doors opening.  It was like he was new here.  He settled into the goofy pace of eating and going to the end of his stall to check on things and then back to the food.  Whatever works for the big fellow, the bottom line was that he was in.

And finally there is River.  You would think the horse had never seen a stall in his life.  And to make matters more amusing, the donkeys kept right on my tail as I tried to talk and coax River into his stall.  You see the donkeys are last to eat, and they know it.  So the longer River fiddled around the longer they had to wait.  Patience is not something donkeys are experts at (please hold your shock).

Here I am in the pasture, talking to a thousand-pound horse, coaxing him with food all while Sweetie Pie is glued to my backside.  If you were there, you would have heard me yell at the donkeys, “Listen Thing 1 and Thing 2, back off for a minute.  Will ya?”  Yes, you have to talk to the animals to make it through these obstacles.  Finally after sniffing, timid steps, and great leaps of courage, River made it into his stall.  A collective sigh of relief could be heard throughout the farm.  Funny how the sound of horses chomping hay can be music to your ears.

Farm chores are routine and often sort of relaxing as it’s a time to just unplug.  But on those crazy nights when it seems they’ve all lost their collective minds, I find myself looking horses straight in the eyes and asking, “Are you new here?”

River happily munching his dinner in his stall - but not after acting like a crazy beforehand.
River happily munching his dinner in his stall – but not after acting like a crazy beforehand.
Critter Stories · Farmtastic Stories

“Meow,” said the dog

Around here, we’ve got horses who think they are donkeys, donkeys who act like dogs, dogs who love cat toys, and cats that chase dogs.  It’s a regular madhouse, but it definitely keeps us amused.  We like to say that if you need some good Friday night entertainment, pull up a lawn chair and watch the critters around here, because sometimes they are just plain C-R-A-Z-Y.

For instance, let’s take a look at our dog, Dixie Doodlebug.  She is nuts, I mean obsessed-kind-of-crazy, for cat toys.  If it squeaks, is on a string, or heaven forbid has catnip, she is all over it.  When the cats try to play with the toys, she watches intently as if to say, “Whoa, what’s up?  Those are mine.” She can destroy a cat toy in two seconds flat, and searches closet nooks and crannies for a stowed away gem.  You can often catch Cowboy saying, “Doodlebug, you are not a cat!”

Which leads me to the cats.  Grizzly thinks there is simply no better dog to torment than the gentle and slightly neurotic Goober.  While dogs may chase cats in childhood storybooks, that’s not always the case around the farm.  Occasionally, Goober will find is inner dog and believe he is big and bad enough to chase a cat, and goodness knows he should as he is 70 pounds and counting.  Enter Grizzly.  Grizzly loves nothing more than to pop over the top of the sofa and grace Goober with a few swift smacks on the head, reducing Goober to a shaking pile of wimpy dog.  Which is hilarious, because when it comes to strangers, large animals, or anything he thinks may be a threat, he is all over it.  As long as it’s not a cat that is up close and personal.

Now for the equines on the farm, both horses and donkeys.  Let’s just say they are all kinds of entertaining.  You can often find our horse, River, forsaking his horse buddies for some gal pal time with his two favorite donkeys,  Mama Rose and Sweetie Pie.  He’s twice their size and five times as fast, but he loves nothing more than grazing and kicking up his hooves with the donks.

And everybody’s favorite donkey, Sweetie Pie, is probably just as guilty of not knowing her true identity as any of the other farm critters.  Sweetie Pie follows you around the farm like a dog, and best of all has been known to chase a car or two down the driveway.  There is nothing funnier than driving down the road with a rear-view window full of donkey nose and ears.  But be careful, don’t step on the brakes or you’ll have a Sweetie Pie in the back seat, not that she’ll mind.  When folks come over and are getting things in and out of their cars, we often have to shoo Sweetie Pie away as she is primed to take a seat.

It’s never a dull moment around here, filled with phrases like “Sweetie Pie, you are not a dog,” and “River is running with the donkeys again,” and the ever popular, “Grizzly stop tormenting Goober!”  But  whether they know if they are dogs, cats, donkeys, or horses, I can guarantee that they all know that they are loved and that they rule roost.  It’s good to be a critter at the farm!

Miss Willie Kitty gives Dixie Doodlebug a bath - at the farm anything goes with the roles the critters play
Miss Willie Kitty gives Dixie Doodlebug a bath – at the farm anything goes with the roles the critters play
Critter Stories · Farmtastic Stories

My Donkey Found a Duck

Yep, you heard me correctly.  My donkey found a duck.  Sweetie Pie the donkey was hot on the trail of a little brown duck.  And this is how it all started …

It was a Wednesday morning, and I distinctly remember because I was busily gathering up the trash to drive it down the driveway for pick-up.  (Yes, driving the trash down the driveway is the norm – either in the tractor bucket or piled in the back of the little Jeep.  Either way – carrying it is not an option in the country.  Heck, we’re lucky we have trash service at all.)  And as usual, I was in a hurry, when I happened to notice that Sweetie Pie was dead focused on something in the pasture.

For those of you who have a donkey, you know that they are experts at spotting things, and when they are seriously paying attention to something, it’s usually worth checking out.  You can imagine my surprise when I rolled up to find Sweetie Pie nose to beak with a brown duck.  Keep in mind, our farm doesn’t have  pond or a lake, so a random duck in the middle of the pasture was quite a shock.  The good news – the duck was alive and alert but not making any attempts to make a break for it.

My save-the-animals instinct kicked in, and I dashed into the barn to grab a cat kennel to collect the duck (yes I said cat kennel – in my mind it was the right size).  My second germ-a-phobe instinct kicked in, and I decided to grab a pair of latex gloves, which happened to be blue, just in case the duck “had something.”

Back into the pasture I went cat kennel and gloves in hand, Sweetie Pie standing guard and thankfully not stomping or attacking.  As I went  to grab the duck, Mr. Duck found his inner duck self and wings and began flapping like mad and running as best he could through the pasture.  Clearly Mr. Duck was injured but not enough to make this is an easy catch.  So off I went running after the duck, blue-gloved hands waving, yelling behind me at Sweetie Pie to stay away.  Oh what a farmtastic site!

Well after much fussing, Mr. Duck made it safely into the cat kennel, where the dogs and cats all checked him out with faces that pleaded, “Please mom, let’s not keep another critter.”  So I loaded Mr. Duck up into the Jeep and drove him off to our local small animal vet, who was kind enough to take him in and nurse him back to health.  Mr. Duck was released into a local pond and has yet to be back in the pasture. Sweetie Pie continues to keep watch.

Donkeys - Sweetie Pie and Mama Rose
My donkey girls.