Guest Post: Donkey Mayhem

by Mandi Shuffield

All of you who are following the woes of Fiona the mini donk already know that she has been dealing with a list of ailments (one, I really wonder about as far as accuracy in diagnosis goes) for a couple of weeks now. I’m going to recap just a bit, and explain why I’m involved at all in this.

I worked on a horse farm with many horses all at once, from the time I was 14 until I was 28. Before that, I grew up in the saddle with my Pa. When you deal with that many horses at a time, someone is always injured. Sometimes it isn’t bad, other times, it can be severe. I’ve seen simple scrapes, bone breaks, one stallion who put a T post through his chest and had to have wound care for months, colic, mares struggling with birth, abscesses on all parts of the body, mild and severe hoof problems, etc. I sure haven’t seen it all, but I have seen a lot!

Here’s my horse, Ricci, who I nursed back from a long illness.

I learned how to make first aid items from scratch in the field to save a life and stop bleeding. I’m fairly confident in what I can do. I also know when I need more help, a second opinion, or I do not have the tools/gear/equipment to handle a situation. 

How I helped Fiona

I originally felt like Fiona’s foot was trimmed too short. With the gap that developed in the way that white line disease (hoof wall separation, seedy toe) does, I felt like she may have developed that.

There is no conclusive evidence as to what exactly causes white line disease. Theories go from poor diet, wet/humid climate, soft feet, trimming the toe too short, injury/abscesses, and the list goes on. What the veterinary world has seen is that there will be horses and donkeys that develop this disease that do not fall into one category, or it seems to come out of nowhere. It develops on healthy feet in dry climates as well, although it is not as common.

Fiona’s foot

It is characterized by the gap in the hoof wall that was shown in the picture, and the gray, crumbling of the soft tissue behind the outer wall. Fiona had that, but she also had a bulge under the foot that seemed like she couldn’t stand flat on it. The cold water treatment probably helped by relieving the inflammation. Horses and donkeys typically do not become lame from white line until it becomes severe and the cannon bone begins to shift down. 

Continue reading “Guest Post: Donkey Mayhem”
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When Your Horse Freaks Out

First, don’t worry. No one is hurt. However, on yesterday’s ride, a bit of freak-outage did occur with Apache.

Oddly enough, our ride Saturday was practically idyllic, as we traipsed all over the ranch, through beautiful tall grass (pre-baling) with Fiona in tow. Fiona always needs to be rounded up when it’s time to go through a gate, so our herding practice is fun (however, Apache sucks at it).

But yesterday was different. First, we decided not to bring Fiona, since she was still limping a bit. And second, the baling operation was going on pretty close to where we were riding. Some combination of these things did not please Apache, though he was doing what I asked him to, including squishing over a wet spot.

He kept turning around and looking urgently toward his pasture, ears up, all attentive. We finally figured out he was hearing Fiona braying in her loneliness. I guess he’s used to having her around now!

I’m a right brained introvert. I can’t help getting a little jumpy when giant machines attack me.

Then, when the tractors got close, everything he encountered suddenly became A Big Deal. Trees, cactus, the overhead power lines. He’d turn around, start randomly trotting, and basically act like he was on his last nerve. He used to act like that often, when I first started working with him four years ago, but he hasn’t done that recently.

Continue reading “When Your Horse Freaks Out”

Leading Horses to Water

Because I don’t take my phone on trail rides (just Sara’s old emergency flip phone) I have no photos. So, enjoy these paintbrushes and cattle while I brag about our horses.

Get us out of here!

But wait! I have sad calves to share! These little darlings got weaned and wormed today. Much mooing is happening now. Sniff.

What’s happening? Where’s Mom?

On to horses

Today we went on a much longer ride than usual, all the way to the far end of our property. To get there, we had many obstacles to face, and I’m happy to say both Apache and Spice were very brave. Continue reading “Leading Horses to Water”

Too Busy to Write!

I did so much over the weekend that I never got time to sit down, much less write about what I was doing!

Just for the beauty. Not a native tree!

A lot of my stuff was work-related, so I wrote about that over on the other blog. Much paint selecting, light fixture choosing, office rearranging and such. I’m actually quite surprised at how little my arms hurt after wrangling giant tables.

Fuzzy willow blossoms and a bit of the bluebonnet I was sniffing. They smell great.

Luckily, there was also some time to check out what’s blooming and flying overhead. I think the black willow flowers are really pretty, like fuzzy caterpillars.

Flying ducks

And all over town, as I was driving between projects, I enjoyed hearing the gurgling sounds of the black-bellied whistling ducks as they flew over.

I’ll try to get a closer photo.

I was not at all upset to need to take our helper, Kim, home, because I knew I’d get closer looks at the ducks. They really have day-glo beaks and feet! I love their visits, especially when I can spot them in trees.

Cedar waxwings backlit.

The cedar waxwings are still around, too, and their little chirps often surrounded me. Kim had to be very patient when I took a bunch of pictures. I had to!

And I’m friendly, too.

Saturday night we spent a bit of time with this fellow. He’d spent two weeks in the rye field across the road. He finally figured out there is a big gap in the fencing and took a stroll. After much discussion it was determined he didn’t belong to any neighbors and got taken to a sale barn where they’ll try to find his owner. You’d think someone would miss a Charolais bull this handsome.

See my sweaty back? I’m so tired.

My final weekend fun was getting the poor horses all sweaty. We went all over the ranch and did brave things. Fiona kept dawdling, so Sara and Spice kept herding her. Once we just waited in the cool shade of a wooded area. When Fiona finally made it, we looked down to see the grass higher than her belly. She looked like she was a toy in an Easter basket. Wish I’d had my phone!

More later. I guess it’s good to be busy!

Ranch Life. Not for Wimps

Yesterday I went to feed the horses but they would not come down to where we usually feed. They whinnied from the end of the narrow passage to their water trough.

We aren’t coming any closer, thanks.

I gathered their feed tubs and turned around to go get food. There I saw a very sad sight. A poor cow had died giving birth. Poor beautiful mama. I won’t share photos.

No wonder the horses would not come up. Even food didn’t convince them, so I took them their food.

Thanks for Indy, Human Mom.

Then I heard it’s harvest day for the sheep. Well, that’s their job and all, but sigh.

You really toughen up and remember life is hard when you live in the country.

But here are happy cows and green grass.

Weekend Ranch Excitement

It’s been a fun weekend here at the Hermits’ Rest. I managed to go horseback riding twice, which is rare, and Apache and I had lots of fun.

Sara is setting up our cone obstacle course.

Sara set up cones, so we got to ride in patterns. He did way better on Day 2, like he figured it out. I also prevented him from eating thistles unless it was my idea.

Today we went into the pasture where a lot of cattle were. Spice did a great job herding them, and Apache managed not to panic when a big mama came toward him. Baby steps.

The new veggie garden at the cabin. Tyler hopes it will be chicken free.

Meanwhile, Fiona was “helping” Tyler work on his new vegetable garden. And hee-hawing. He has patiently built a fence and covered it, to keep the chickens out. That’s nice of him.

Let me out of this car.

Even more exciting was the fact that the sheep’s owner had come to pick them up to shear them. She got the male in her SUV but the ewe would NOT be caught. She thinks she’s a cow, dang it. In the end, they let Sheep Man back out. That’s one for them!

Ooh! Carrots and celery! Thanks!

As for the chickens, they were excited this weekend by food fun. I got them some dried mealworms, which they love. They’re sort of creepy, though, because they look sort of alive when you pour them. Plus, they got even more excited when I bought them veggie leftovers from the dinner I was cooking.

One of these eggs is not like the other!

The it was my turn to get excited! The chocolate brown eggs have started! It’s amazing how tiny pullet eggs are. I want to save the shell!

Homemade chicken and dumplings. Comfort food rules.

Now to eat my chicken and dumplings. Dumplings are secretly flour tortillas cut up. Chicken is not from my hens!

Ranch Gets Clean with Donkey Help

Yesterday was the final day of the great chicken coop cleanup effort. Before that, though, I had to clean my dang horse, who has started to shed his thick winter coat. Fiona the mini-donkey did not want to be left out, either.

This may not be the right brand, but this is the sort of thing we used on the horses.

It was too cold for me to ride, but I wanted to hang out with Sara and brush Apache out. Of course, Fiona had to come along. Sara had bought these new miracle tools, which look suspiciously like something you’d clean your barbecue grill off with. I tried it out on the very dirty Apache, and wow, did a LOT of long white hairs come off. He seemed to like the way the cleaning tool felt, too. Neither Spice nor Fiona were shedding like Apache was. Must be the Arabian in him.

I’m embarrassed that my tail looks so perfect, so I”m hiding it. Snort.

While I was at it, I also trimmed his tail, since it was reaching the ground again and getting all dirty. I hope he appreciated it.

May I please come in?

I kept having to go back into the tack room to get things. I heard a noise, and there was my little “helper” wanting to come on in and check out the food dishes full of beet pulp that were soaking.

Fine, then, I’ll just go over and check out this hay, since these feed bowls are obviously empty.

When I told her to move, she happily went over to help get rid of that last bale of hay that was hanging around from when the horses were in the corral. Such a little darling.

Also had hen helpers

That’s Fluffy Butt in front, with Candi in back.

Later in the afternoon, I came back to finish cleaning out the chicken coop. I was very proud of myself for emptying out all 24 nest boxes and replacing the old mulch with new pine shavings, which are what the new chickens are used to, anyway. The job was made both harder and more fun by the new hens, who were very interested in “helping” me.

The golf balls are pretend eggs, Ralph says they work, so I put one in each next box.

In fact, after I finished, I was picking up more glass off the ground, and Fluffy Butt, the new Barred Rock hen, came up repeatedly, so I fed her some chicken scratch right out of my hand. She was very delicate!

A better view of fluffy pine shavings. Ah. Comfort.

About that time, Mandi and Randy showed up to help me with the floor and parts of the coop I could not reach. A real cleaning ensued, with the feed trough cleaned out, the top of the chick raising area cleaned, and ugh, a dead chicken that got wedged behind the cage removed (one final owl casualty, I guess, though it had been a while).

Mandi also swept all the droppings and stuff off the floor, which now will be some fine mulch, once it composts a bit more. It may be an old coop, but it’s a clean one now.

This picture is from before the floor got cleaned. Imagine it all smooth and with no poop.

Once Randy discovered the pieces of glass in the pen, he started picking it up, and by the time we were ready to go, we had another large amount of glass! I sure appreciated the help.

Now I’m just hoping that the new hens and the old hens get along. They definitely hang out in separate groups. But we already have a couple of eggs from the new gals. Hooray!