Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Overly optimistic but under qualified

I must blog because my niece called me a slacker.

Last night James and I went to a local farmer's meeting.  A few of the men there came from generations of farmers.  It was in their blood.  It seemed they knew most aspects of farming from the good ol' days and today.  I wondered what they thought of the rest of us gardeners and folks who raised a few pigs, chickens and goats.  They were kind to us though.  I won't go into what the meeting was about but I will say our county extension office is really putting forth an effort to help local growers here.

I did not grow up with farming in my blood like these men.  My parents gardened and we always had dogs, a cat or some other small animal but it was far from a farming experience.  I tell you this so any farmer reading this will forgive me for my actions I'm going to tell you about next.  Remember, I'm making it all up as I go along.  I have no other experiences to draw from.

I've been putting a saddle on Earl, my 12 year old mammoth donkey for a few weeks.  He's never been ridden so I was getting him used to the idea of something on his back.  He seemed very comfortable with it cinched snuggly and walking around and followed my instructions. I thought it might be time to give sitting on him a shot.   I thought James should be there with me in case I got hurt.  He held Earl on the lead while I climbed on some steps I use to get on donkeys easier.  He stood very still as I touched his back and put some pressure on the saddle, testing him.  I was nervous.  I kept saying, "ok, Earl, here I go.  I'm getting on you now", thinking that would prepare him for what was to happen next.  Just as I was swinging my leg over him he got scared and began walking away.  I ended up sitting on his behind, which was rather comfy but not where I wanted to be.  He ran about 5 steps then stopped.  Ran 5 more steps then stopped.  I don't know how many times he did this but I hugged the saddle in front of me and waited to see what was going to happen next.  I didn't want to climb onto the saddle in case it scared him more with my shift of weight.  Finally I slid off him and told him what a good boy he was and gave him a treat.  I'm thinking I should try again soon so he gets used to it.  What are you farmers thinking.  Nevermind, don't tell me.

I thought today would be a good day to take the goats across the road to the big field to graze.  I hate that our property is divided in two by a road but that's the way it is so I need to figure out a way to deal with it.  I put lots of treats in my pockets and let the goats out of their barn.  I led them to the gates that I had opened so I didn't have to fumble with them while I had the goats' momentum.  We got to the road and there were no cars coming so I ran across calling them all using my excited voice and bribing them with treats.  This almost always works with goats, but not when trying to get them to cross a road into unknown territory.  About 5 of them came across.  A few stopped in the road and some stayed in the yard looking panicky.  They took turns running back and forth, changing their minds as to who might like to give it a try.  One of them freaked out and ran back home and they all followed.  My buck slipped and fell in the road but made it back safely.  I put them back in their barn and familiar yard and they seemed very happy about that.  I was covered in sweat.  James was watching all of this from an upstairs window.  Too bad he didn't have a video camera.  I'm not sure I'll try this again until after kids are born.  I may have to drive them over there in our station wagon.

I couldn't give up.  It was such a beautiful day and in spite of my failure with the goats I was feeling optimistic.  I put Chy and Wilson's halters on.  These are my two standard donkeys who stay with my goats.  I thought they might also like to be in the field and meet my mammoth donkeys through the fence.  Once again I had gates all opened and ready for animals to pass through.  Chy and Wilson took much longer to coax to the gate but they did pretty well.  At least they didn't run back and forth, back and forth across the road.  They didn't cross the road at all.  They stood looking at the 4 boards that make a little bridge to the road and wouldn't put one foot on it.  The cars going by didn't scare them one little bit but they were not going to cross.  I think we stood there for 20 to 30 minutes.  Finally I thought they had enough so I closed the gates and took their halters off and let them roam the yard.  I'm thinking if I do this often they'll eventually get the courage to cross.  What do you think?   Nevermind, I'll figure it out.  Or I won't. 

Tomorrow it's supposed to rain so I won't be attempting any great feats that I have no experience with. 


  1. O.K. You tried it. Good laughs. You'll get there-probably soon.

  2. You are too funny, you Slacker you.

  3. I know what you mean about the "farmer" thing. It is in the old timer's blood.

    Had to laugh about the goat moving adventure. I'm glad they all went back home and not up the road. I've had mine scatter like that and the round-up isn't always fun until they hear feed buckets rattle.

    I'm sure you'll convince the donkeys to meet their cousins across the road.