A couple of weeks ago, while I was at the office, Keith sent me this email:
Ambrose, up to something or just unlucky -
I went out there this morning to keep the critters plump (and quiet), and to my amazement, Ambrose had a jagged piece of rusted metal around one of his front hoofs and ankle, like a bracelet - and of course he wouldn't let me hold his lower leg up to get it off .... And once he realized my (to him) unseemly interest in his leg, he wouldn't let me come close to it again, nor would he let me corner him, so I could lean him up against a wall and try a leg-lift in that position .... finally I decided to distract him with hay, and carefully holding the red-handled tin-snips at my side, I stroked his neck and upper-leg and slowly worked my hand down to the hoof, which was encircled by this unidentified "bracelet" ... then, every so often I'd reach over and cut down vertically through the piece, which was fairly thin from rust and age, until I had cut it all the way through, but he wouldn't let me bend it open to remove it and kept walking well away from the hay pile to watch me .... eventually I got it off; we'll have to tag-team him this weekend to get an exacting look at the ankle/hoof, but it looks uninjured. I left it in the kitchen on the island counter-top. I would have really not wanted to go to work without getting that thing off him but all's well that ends well - I do wonder, though: what will these donkeys get into next?
This is the "anklet" in question. It's about 3 inches high - and we haven't a clue as to its origins or how in the world he managed to get his hoof stuck in it. We don't think he was wearing it for long because we brush and/or "fuss" over the donkeys every day - sometimes many times a day! It's a good match for the variegated browns of our boy's lower limbs, so it's possible that he was wearing it the night before Keith found it - but I just didn't notice it in the low light.
We checked Ambrose's leg when I came home from work that night. There was a slight cut on the front, just above the hoof. It didn't need much tending, but we're still relieved that a tetanus shot is part of the donkeys' annual vaccination program.
Here is Ambrose, without a care in the world:
As for Keith's wondering about what the donkeys would get into next, we didn't have long to wait. Just a few nights later, when I went out to give them their evening hay, I was surprised to discover that they were not already waiting at the barn door. Donkeys are very punctual when it comes to their tummies. I whistled for them, and - oh dear - the braying response came from the back of our property that we affectionately refer to as the "back forty" even though it is really just a couple of acres at most. We don't let the donks into the back forty because several sections of fence are in need of repair. Keith fixed most of the problem areas, but one section is wide open - there is absolutely nothing there to keep the donkeys from simply stepping out onto our neighbor's land. The same neighbor, incidentally, where Molly and Amrose had their post-Halloween adventure. There is also a cluster of groundhog holes back there, but we won't even think about that right now!
There was almost no moon. Taking a lesson from that earlier adventure, when I went inside for the flashlight in preparation for checking the gate to the back forty, I took a moment to stuff my pockets with bits of carrots.
When I got to the gate, sure enough, it was wide open. Keith and I are of two minds about the gate being open. He, being the easy-going type, says the wind blew it open. I, on the other hand, consider the iron bar and chain that hold the gate closed. Then I consider that, if left open and on its own, gravity would cause the gate to swing out towards the downhill side of the fence. But when I found the gate that night, it was open inward, held in place by the earth of the uphill side of the fence. It was a windy evening, but I still can't figure how the wind could remove the iron bar and chain. Or prop the gate open. To me, it doesn't make sense, unless someone helped things along.... There it was: open.
I walked through, flashlight in hand, carrots in pocket, and headed towards the section of fence with the gap. All the time, I was calling and whistling for the donkeys. Remembering the other "escape," I decided to stay in one area and let the donkeys find me. It worked! In less than five minutes, the sound of galloping hooves announced their approach. What a thrilling sound! They didn't stop until they were practically on top of me - then they just about skidded to a halt. Oh, they were excited to see me, eager for carrots, and downright high on adventure. Fortunately, it didn't take much effort - or even many carrots - to convince them to follow me back to the barn.
Oh, I could go on and on, but not tonight. Tonight, allow me to direct your attention to this delightful article by Jon Katz on Slate.com: Nice Ass! - Why I Own Donkeys. Jon Katz is the author of The Dogs of Bedlam Farm: An Adventure with Sixteen Sheep, Three Dogs, Two Donkeys, and Me, which is currently on my sidebar list of recommended farmette reading. Props to my new bud Sidney K. and his five mini donks (five!) for sending me the link. Thanks, Sidney!