Saturday, December 24, 2011

How the Donkey Got Its Cross

When God first started creating he made the donkey as an experiment. But He got all the proportions wrong and made a funny voice for this creature, so He kept practicing until eventually He made what He considered His work of art – the human.
Now, the donkey had never seen any creature walk upright on two legs before and he thought it was very funny and laughed and brayed and laughed and brayed as only a donkey can do. God was offended that the humble donkey didn’t like His creation so he told the donkey that to put him in his place he would, from then on, have to work as a beast of burden for this human and do his bidding always.
The donkey was extremely sad to be treated in this way when he had meant no harm but suffered his fate for hundreds of years without complaint, even though he was often beaten and starved and very badly treated by this so-called ‘superior’ being. He learned to be afraid of humans and to hate them.

Then one night he felt pity for a desperately tired woman who was crossing the desert with her husband, vainly trying to reach shelter before she gave birth to her child. The donkey offered his help and carried the woman to Nazareth where shortly afterwards the baby Jesus was born. The donkey called in all the other animals to create heat and keep the shelter warm for the baby until the sun came up again the next day.
The little donkey liked this baby and followed Him around all through his childhood and later on in his life, never missing an opportunity to serve Him as He seemed to be a special kind of person, very kind and gentle and He never beat the donkey.
Then came that fateful time when the other people turned on Jesus and made him wear a crown of thorns so his skin was bleeding and sore, and to carry a great wooden cross far too heavy for his small frame. "Let me wear the crown of thorns for you", begged the donkey, "for I have thick fur around my head so the thorns will not scratch so deeply, and besides I am used to being beaten and hurt. I will not feel it.""Thank you’"said Jesus, "but it is bidden that I wear the crown of thorns for I am King of the Jews. But I will remember your kindness."
"Then let me carry that heavy cross for you", begged the donkey, "for it is too much for you and I am used to being overloaded and whipped when I cannot carry the burden that is put upon me. For love of you, let me carry it!"
Jesus stopped, and searched the little donkey’s face and saw in his eyes nothing but true unconditional love and compassion, and he was saddened for mankind. "Thank you dear donkey," He said, "but I do not have to explain to you as I would to others that everyone has his own cross to bear, and now this is mine and I must carry it to help mankind to understand himself. He will not know what he has done until it is too late. Only you, in your humility, can see that what you do to others you do to yourself and to God. God will remember your pure heart and reward you in time."

And so Jesus died on the cross and went to heaven where first of all he went to God, His father, and told Him of the love and tenderness shown to Him by the humble donkey when all the rest of God’s creatures laughed and enjoyed His suffering. "Then I shall reward the donkey", said God, and he called up the chief of all donkeys and said to him: "You have shown great kindness in the generous hearts of your species despite the abysmal treatment you have all suffered at the hand of my ‘superior’ creation, Man, so now I will reward you thus."
“You will keep your oversized ears as your trademark but they will serve you well to hear sounds from all sides and from such great distances that others will marvel at your ability. You will still keep your loud and harsh voice but instead of people laughing at you, you will now use it to laugh at them, to laugh at the world, because you may know that whatever befalls you and your species you are blessed by God and will take your place beside Him in heaven. And instead of wearing the crown of thorns, as you were willing to do for Jesus, you will be able to eat and survive on all the thorny, prickly, dry fodder that no other animal can eat so that even in places of great hardship you will still find nourishment. And as a special mark of respect I place my cross upon your back so the world may know you have been touched by the Hand of God and are wholly (holy) in His presence."

And so it is to this day that the donkey wears the cross on his back, shakes his long ears and brays to the world. And if ever you are tempted to laugh at the donkeys, just remember . . . . . they are God’s special creatures.

Best wishes to you and all those for whom you care,
from the herd at EvenSong Farm.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Caught in a Net

Almost two years ago, I fabricated a couple of these barn-wall feeders.  In the comments after that post you'll see info from Lisa at Laughing Orca Ranch and Paddock Paradise on her past research into slow feeding methods.  It was these sites and Sarah's posts at Food for Founder that inspired my first efforts at slow-feeding.  (Sarah, or dp--dangerous penguin--is also probably the person who started me on the road to blogging.)
It was nice because I could feed from inside the barn--in one case, straight from the haystack.
The girls all did pretty well with these feeders.
But they have a couple of drawbacks:

  • First, the girls have to twist their necks a bit to access the hay;
  • Also, their noses get sort of grubby looking from rubbing on the galvanized screen;
  • The mesh is a little big: 3" by 3"--optimal for slow feeding is 2" by 2" or less;
  • Last, the horses' polls get dripped on from the overhanging roof above the feeders.  (This last will be remedied, hopefully this next summer, when the last wing of the barn is  added.)
So when this box arrived from Arizona Sports Equipment a few weeks ago, it was time for the next generation of EvenSong slow feeders.
(PanKake wonders what's in the box...)
(...down to investigate.)
("The dog will never find me here!")
I purchased 16 feet of 60 inch wide hockey goal netting, thinking to do one big feeder for Kate and Maddie, and a smaller one for Misty.  Then I decided to allow Maddie a little relief from Kate's bossiness, so I cut the netting in three equal pieces.  The strands are actually woven together, making a very strong mesh, that I couldn't even hope to unravel when I tried.  I melted the ends where I cut, as well as reinforcing the heat seal at the two manufacturer's ends, just to be sure.
I had hoped to hang the netting from the factory edge, but it stretches better the other direction.  I wrapped the mesh over the second rail of a fence panel, and wove baling twine through to secure it; then I repeated the process with the other end on the next rail down--leaving an open gap between.  Then baling twine to close the sides, and secure them to the vertical stays of the panel.
Maddie says "I'm ready!"
Each "hay pillow" holds two generous flakes, and there is still a bit left at the next feeding (12 hours).  I just drop the hay in from the outside of the panel, between the two horizontal rails to which the netting is attached.
Both girls figured out how to get the hay out within a couple of days. (I left some loose hay on the ground for them at first.) Notice that, though there is another feeder less than 5 feet away, the girls choose to share.  At least Maddie has the option to leave if she wants.
These little wispy mouthfuls more closely mimic the rate of eating in grazing--resulting in a slower, more natural consumption.  The hay lasts longer, and less boredom ensues.
Not only does very little hay fall to the ground, it is very quickly Hoovered up, as it is much easier to get to than that in the feeder.  There is very little waste (though their are a couple of not so little waists that we'll be working on diminishing this winter).
I haven't put together the last one for Misty yet.  My debate is whether to put it in place of the current galvanized feeder, thereby avoiding the dirty nose and twisty neck issues, but still having the drips on her head.  Or I could put it on a panel of her paddock, requiring carrying hay outside to it, as I already have to do with the girls.  When the new wing is added to the barn (again, hopefully next summer), there will be three run-ins and three paddocks, so feeding over that wall will be really quick and easy with the nets build into the wall.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

A Passing Grade, Five Fs, and a PhD, and We're Ready for Winter

Well, we got the edge of the big Alaskan storm through here Friday night a couple of weeks ago (when I first started this post--now I've got to update it so I can actually get it published!).
The wind started howling something awful about 8 pm, and I worried that I hadn't even gotten you a picture of my new barn-end curtain yet!
Last winter's cheapo tarps about beat themselves to death in the first big storm, and had lost most of their grommets by the end of the winter.
Would my new "wind screen" (70% shade cloth) from Farm Tek survive the night?
It passed the test!
Not only does it let a certain amount of the wind travel through it, thereby preventing the pressure of the full force of the wind, but it's nice that it also allows some light and visibility! (I still have a couple of tweaks to do with it before next year, but it looks like its good to go for now.)
You can see how impatient RT gets for his Senior Mush by his well-worn path along the fence.
I had a honey-do list of five "F" projects to try to get done over that long Veteran's Day weekend.  Then I'd be ready for winter.  Actually, none of them were absolutely necessary, but they would pretty much finish off my list for the year.  (Of course, there's the tack room insulation waiting, and a list already brewing for next year!)
The first F:  Feeders
Last year's feeders have been okay, but the girls have to twist their necks a bit to access the hay.  They also don't like it when precipitation drips off the roof line above onto the back of their heads.
I fabricated these two feeders from hockey net material from Arizona Sports Equipment and they came out so well that I think they deserve a post of their own at a later date (don't, however, hold your breath).

An ancillary project finished that weekend: the water tank experiment.
 See the layer of foil/bubble insulation between the two tanks?  See the ripples on top of the water?  There's a "Clean Flow Tank Filter" (essentially a pond filter) with a small (500 watt, a third the size of my other tank heaters) heater in this tank.  I'll let you know how it works out.
The next F:  Feet!
Everyone's due for a trim.  With my back, I can usually do two feet at a time.  My goal is one horse a day, but I will often settle for one horse a weekend.
I got these four feet trimmed Friday. 
 The old gray mare ain't what she used to be, but Misty looks like she's ready for the weather--fat and fuzzy!  She's pushing 25!
And started on RT's fronts Saturday morning, and finished that evening. 
 The old guy looks pretty good for almost 32!  I like to keep up on his feet pretty regularly, as he has one slightly clubbed fore foot (the right, exaggerated here by the sticky snow balls in his hooves.
The girls coming in--they figured they needed some extra breakfast...
 Maddie got done on Sunday, and Kate the next weekend, so I"m probably good until Christmas break, when I'll give everybody a quick touch-up that may get me through to spring (or at least late winter).
Another F:  Flowers
 These flowers from Pat now needed to be "dead-headed"--I'll scatter the seeds in various beds for next spring.
The flower heads laid in composted manure along the back yard/paddock fence.
 One more F:  Fencing
The driveway Fence is all done.
Along with leveling these two piles--Fill dirt from Hanks and Fine gravel where I didn't need to build up the driveway any.
I'll get a load or two of big gravel in the spring to go over the fill dirt, and then a healthy layer of the finer gravel to smooth it all out.
I just need to add some garden mesh to a couple of my arena gates, and Sandy will have the bigger yard I've been promising her all summer.
The Final F:  Fixtures
These ugly brass Fixtures have needed changing out since we moved here 9 1/2 years ago!
The cover on this one finally gave up against the Ellensburg wind a month or so ago, and now they really need to be replaced!
 The fixture issue, however, has not yet been addressed.
Partly because I made a last minute trip to northern California over Thanksgiving weekend to visit my Mom's new assisted living apartment.  With the hubby, who didn't get to go down last summer (though Mom was in such bad shape at the time, she may not have remembered him).  And the dog... And my daughter...And the grandkids!
This is the woodsy view from Mom's apartment!
And partly because the fixtures will require a decent-weather day:  I'll have to work gloveless to do the wiring, so a warm-ish, windless day will be a must.  Might not happen 'til spring...

The PhD:  My "new" post hole digger
I've had this auger for most of two years now, borrowed from Terry and Anita.  It became "mine" as part of the deal for Beth.
Done for the season.
But I'm not quite ready to put the sn*w plow on yet!
 Another random chore:
 I never got around to washing blankets, but the E-burg Saddle Co. is having a special right now: 3 for the price of 2.  So RT's two will go in next week, plus one back-up for the girls, just in case.
And some random winter pictures.
The spoiled baby blue Buick that we adopted from my Mom in California,
 when she gave up driving this last summer.
Not! Happy!
 Speaking of spoiled, Hubby Al feeds our fat birdies year round.
Final image: