Posts Tagged ‘donkey’



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All winter long, Louis and the two horses have been dressed in cozy winter blankets. Last year, when they were outdoors full time, they often were double-blanketed. This winter, they have had comfortable stalls to rest in at night. As they have been able to escape from the worst of winter’s icy blast in their new accommodations, only one blanket has been necessary. Also, the winter was milder this year than last.

With the warmth of the sun increasing daily, I decided to take off their blankets, at least until colder weather blows back in. Louis, especially, seems to appreciate this. He has his own long, furry coat that protects him well.

The horses have shorter coats than Louis, but are nevertheless pretty furry. Here is Czarina, enjoying the sun.

Here is Mousie sunbathing in the morning sun.

When I tidy up the stalls in the greenhouse barn, Louis likes to keep me company. He’s a sociable fellow.

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The first day that the horses were in their new stalls was very upsetting for them. They find changes in routine a little frightening. Well, don’t we all? However, Mousie will appreciate coming in from the cold once she gets used to the new plan. Poor Mousie feels the cold like no other horse I’ve ever known. She also loves to take advantage of the secure feeling she has in her own stall to lie down at night. Horses, especially older horses, usually sleep standing up, but Mousie has always enjoyed being able to “rest her feet”. She only occasionally feels comfortable with lying down outside in her field, so I’m sure she will be happy with her stall.

Czarina, on the other hand, is a strong and tough individual with a determined attitude to match. Her motto could be “Don’t fence me in!” When I let everyone out in their field after their first night indoors, she was crazy happy to be back outside. Perhaps she thought I was going to keep her trapped inside forever.

Usually it is Mousie who takes the lead, but on this morning it was Czarina who showed the way, galloping and cavorting…

flinging up her heels with joy…

wheeling and romping, and then, once her sillies were bucked out, she had a good roll, scratching the itch of civilization off her back.

For the first couple of nights, I had to walk out into the field and lead the horses back to the new barn. However, once they realized that tomorrow they would be back outside, they seemed to make up their minds that a night inside was a good idea after all. On Saturday night, when “bedtime” arrived, I went to the barn door and there they were, waiting to come in for the night. First in line? Czarina!

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Under the Big Top

The horses have an enclosed shelter in their field where they can get out of the rain and bad weather. However, they seem to get restless on long, rainy days, and end up standing outside, sometimes getting very wet indeed. I noticed that Canadian Tire carries an open do-it-yourself sort of pavilion that I thought might be a solution. The horses would be able to stand outside, as it were, but still be under the protection of a roof without feeling enclosed. It seemed worth a try, so RailGuy was enlisted to set it up.

His activity soon attracted a curious onlooker.

Louis considered the operation from every angle…

and then offered his advice.

The two girls, Mousie and Czarina watched from a distance…

preferring to wait until the final structure was in place to pass judgment.

Then they casually moseyed on over to check it out.

Their verdict? They approve. They seem to agree it is a good spot to enjoy an meal outdoors, and can eat their hay while staying dry on rainy days.

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Louis loves Corn


Louis doesn’t mind apples. If you cut an apple into bite-sized pieces for him, he’ll graciously accept a slice or two.


You can’t tempt Louis with carrots. This offering received not even a nibble from Louis. He’s just not an orange-vegetable kind of a guy. I split the carrot in half and the two horses, Mousie and Czarina were happy to share it.


Louis knew there was something better on hand. He checked my bucket.


No apples for Louis, no carrots. Louis loves corn!


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Happy Days


The horses have enjoyed their new pasture tremendously. It’s amazing how much grass a couple of horses (and a donkey) can eat in a few weeks though, and the north pasture is already showing the effects of their grazing. On Tuesday, the fencing for a west pasture was completed, so now the horses have a fresh bounty of green to enjoy. Louis was the first into the new pasture, leading the way as usual. It wasn’t quite as exciting an experience, apparently, as the first new field, and he quickly settled down to grazing.


Soon Czarina and Mousie followed him and tested the new grass. After a sampling, they indulged in a bit of a romp to celebrate the new field.


Both pastures link to a central paddock so that the horses can be easily routed to one field or the other. The girls tested the link back to their little paddock and trotted around the paddock a couple of times, just to check that all was as it should be. Here’s Mousie, strutting her stuff.


Louis watched with interest, but he wasn’t leaving the new field.


Soon the girls rejoined Louis in the new field and everyone settled down to enjoy the long grass together.


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Out to Pasture


After being penned in their paddock all winter, the horses and donkey were at last able to sample the luscious green grass that has been shooting up all spring. A new pasture was finally fenced and waiting for them. First into the new field was Louis the donkey. I led him through the gate and he quickly set to taste-testing the wonderful field greens. Upon seeing their little companion disappearing through the new gate, the horses quickly followed. First Mousie…


and then with great excitement, Czarina.


The trio made a circuit of the fence to check out their new limits and then set to grazing. But Louis just couldn’t contain his joy!


He took off at a gallop, and soon the big girls couldn’t resist joining in. Look at that little guy motor!


After a good gallop, everyone got back to what’s important.


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Saunders Country Critters and Garden Center is located southeast of Kemptville. The garden center offers a nice assortment of annuals, perennials and hanging baskets for sale. In the entrance to the garden center are a couple of cages featuring a pair of squirrel monkeys and a three-toed sloth, so you can enjoy walking through the greenhouses, lovely in the spring, and visit the animals as well.


I’m not certain if this is the male or the female squirrel monkey (Saimiri sciureus). The male is named Mr. Stitches, because he came to Saunders after he was attacked by younger males in the troop he was living with. Squirrel monkeys are native to the tropical areas of South America, where they live in trees and are diurnal, active during the day. They enjoy a diet of fruit and insects. Squirrel monkeys have the largest brain, proportionally to their body mass, of any of the primates.


We visited the zoo after we were done at the garden center. The zoo has a variety of domestic animals such as these donkeys.

crested duck

For many years, when we attended the Royal Agricultural Fair, we were sure to visit the “ducks in hats”. This sign explains how crested ducks get their ‘hats’. It reads, in part: “The crest is formed from a mass of fatty tissue that emerges through a gap in the cranium. From this, feathers grow.”


This charming llama, seeing that the grass was clearly greener on the other side of the fence, was almost as much outside the fence as inside. Down the way, a hairy armadillo (Chaetophractus sp.) was bustling about his pen, but stopped to take a look at us. We probably looked a bit blurry, as these South American animals have poor vision. Look at those diggers! No wonder they are noted burrowers.


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Louis the Donkey


Louie’s arrival came as a surprise… to me, anyway. He was acquired by Ponygirl in her last year of high school. She picked him up from a farm with the help of a girlfriend who had the use of a van. They took the back seats out, and loaded the donkey, where he stood looking forward between the passenger and driver’s seats. On the way home, they went through a Tim’s drive-through and, with their coffee, received a carrot for the donkey! That was eight years ago, and Louis has been a much-loved part of the family ever since.

He came with the name Munchkin. I hate that word. First of all, much of The Wizard of Oz creeps me out, including the munchkins. Secondly, my ex-step-mother-in-law used to call my kids munchkins when they were young. I hated that. Others were less dismayed by his name, so it was left to me to please myself. I settled on a character from my childhood as the source of his new name: Quick Draw McGraw’s deputy sidekick, Baba Looey. You have to be “a certain age” to remember Quick Draw, since he debuted in 1959. Thanks to the magic of Youtube, though, you can still watch Quick Draw. In that cartoon, Quick Draw does actually refer to his buddy as Louis.


Donkeys are related to horses, of course, but they have very different personalities. Donkeys are mostly easy-going, curious critters who take life as it comes. They are often used as “watchdogs” to guard horses or cattle because they are bold and don’t take kindly to intruders. While horses may run from a dog or coyote, a donkey will challenge the canine and chase it out of the field. Louie grows a thick, shaggy winter coat that protects him well. It takes a long time to shed in the spring, and it is mid-summer before he has acquired his more svelte, short-coated persona. One of the most amazing things about Louie and his donkey kin is something you can’t see. It’s his voice. When Louie brays, the uninitiated could be forgiven for concluding that the animal is choking to death as he opens his mouth and loud, stuttering gasps burst forth. Sweetly sings the donkey!

Louie with Fiddlegirl, Summer 2008.

Louie with Fiddlegirl, Summer 2008.

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