Please, donkeys, don't get up on my account. I'm just here to clean up after you, feed you, and take care of all your needs, so don't bother getting up just for me. Relax, would ya?
The donkeys stand to attention when they see me coming with an armful of ragweed. They love ragweed, and ragweed grows like weeds around here.
The goats love it too. Peaches eats the stalks and all!
There's a well kept secret about donkeys. I say it's a secret because no one ever mentioned it until I got a donkey, but once Rufus came into my life, the secret was out of the bag. Even the donkey book talks about the secret, and has diagrams!
Recently, as I was puttering about the barn, like I do, I glanced at Rufus and heard... ding-dong! If you saw Rufus when he is relaxed, and looks like he's grown a fifth leg, you might hear it too. Rufus has a big ding-dong, which normally is tucked out of sight. The secret about donkeys is, according to the book, the ding-dong should get regular cleaning. Especially for castrated males, like Rufus. The books says that the owner (me!) is supposed to wash it with warm soapy water, and remove a hard "bean" that accumulates near the tip. I'm not joking! After I read this, I had a few potentially awkward conversations with other donkey and horse owners, and this is true! They don't talk about it, for obvious reasons, but they assure me that it's just part of the job. What?!
Well, Rufus has been with me for almost a year now, and other than some exploratory groping and blushing, just to see if he would even allow it if he needed it, I've been ignoring the secret, hoping it would go away. I wasn't sure, but this time when I heard the ding-dong, I thought it looked a little... odd... and dirty. Oh dear.
Rufus got tethered, I got a bucket of warm soapy water and a wash cloth, and I attempted to be a good donkey owner. He really didn't mind that much, although I'm not sure I was a thorough as the book would like. Maybe with practice I'll perfect this new skill. It's definitely one for the resume!
Since he was all tied up and in maintenance mode, I took the opportunity to brush some of his shedding hair. I used the grooming rake type brush that I use on the dogs, and for the first time he didn't protest. I watch the donkeys groom each other, and they use their teeth quite hard, and seem to like it. I think the other brushes I've tried to use on Rufus were too soft, but this tool digs deep and scratches, in a good way. Piles of hair came off.
The donkeys got a new mineral block too. One block lasted almost a year. I never see the donkeys licking it, but the block gets wet with donkey slobber, and shrinks over time. When I offered them a lick of the new block, they tried to bite it with their teeth.
The donkeys got a package in the mail this week. It's a bag of fly predators! These tiny bugs, which look like gnats, come in their cocoons, mixed with saw dust.
In this photo, you can see the cocoons are dark brown, but the predator bugs are those tiny black spots. Some of them hatched in the bag. The instructions said to sprinkle them around areas that have damp vegetation, wet old hay, or manure, which is where flies lay their eggs. These predator bugs kill the baby flies before they become adults. It cost twenty dollars for a package. I sprinkled them around the barns, hay piles, and compost heaps. The donkeys seem to always have a few flies on their legs, which makes them stomp their feet to knock them off. I'm hoping these predators will keep the fly numbers low. We'll see.