October, Finally A Drive

Stepped outside my comfort zone with a back to basics drive and what fun it was!

Merlin and I started our afternoon playing dress up with some older blankets that were used in the past.  Interesting Luc’s actually fit him and Dev’s blanket was too large, that was a surprise.  Both are going to be way to warm for summer hauling so the lining may have to come out, but that is do-able.  It would be nice to put those blankets back into operation with some butt no-more-rub padding.

Merlin has a Pacific Cart driving date soon.  That means his harness needed the sliding backband added to it and all the other changes it takes going from team to single.  That took another good hour since I decided my singles harness will not fit him.  Once the harness was reassembled, I decided one might as well hitch up.  After about another hour of adjusting the harness to the cart and to the donkey we were set to go. 

It felt really different and I had forgotten how absolutely quite the Pacific Carriage Gig rides and how smooth. I didn’t get that floating shafts ride we all dream about but both Merlin and myself were comfortable. Merlin is a tad too tall I think for this vehicle to get the shafts completely level.  We took the well used wheat stubble field trail and until we hit a big ole’ rock that ride was quiet, smooth and fun with the big striding Merlin at the helm.

It was 55 degrees with an 8 mile per hour breeze that was pretty darn cool, our overnight temperature was only 21 degrees so fall has definitely arrived.  The air was full of smoke not only from all the wide fires Idaho has been plagued with the past month but also from the farmers burning stubble off their fields.  Air quality has been horrible. 

It has been so long since driving the Gig, the adjustable shafts were in the wrong hole.  The Gig really does fit Merlin better than this!

We had a 50 minute two mile drive and once Merlin got use to the feel of the cart he was perfect!  He’ll do fine on our company drive.  Had so much fun I hope to do it again tomorrow!

Posted in Driving Donkeys, Equine Driving, Mammoth Donkeys | 2 Comments

Donkey Groceries

The Standlee Orchard Grass pellets have been procured! This is a Southern Idaho hay company that is producing a variety of pellets and marketing them nationwide.  The Teamdonk boys will soon begin their new feeding program. Click on the photo to enlarge it!

The foundation of my Donkey vitamin/mineral feed has always been beet pulp with other supplements added to offset the nutritional deficiencies.  Two important discoveries were made last spring.  First I learned that Beet Pulp contains exceedingly high levels of Iron.  Around the same time an animal nutritionist informed me that extra Iron is extremely detrimental to hooves.  That information prompted me to start exploring replacement options which in turn led me to Standlee Hay Company, Inc of Eden, Idaho. 

Orchard Grass pellets are 8% Crude Protein, 1.8% Crude Fat with 35% Crude Fiber.  They can be moistened to accommodate the Dry Molasses and Magnesium Oxide combination which fights fat pockets and helps prevent neck crests from becoming too large.  Twice a week they will continue to received ground flax seed which is great for their hooves and hair coats. A small amount of Low Non-Structural Carbohydrate Complete LMF is the only other daily ingredient I plan to add to their supplement. 

Loose mineral salt with Selenium is available to them along with plenty of clean and winter time heated water.

Free choice home grown grass hay should keep them full and warm this winter and is a great colic preventer. I really feel this is all these four mature mammoth donkeys need to maintain a healthy lifestyle without the extra calories. 

September 2012 has not been the driving month I had planned.  Hopefully the end of next week will see us out and about a few more times.

Posted in Farm Related, Mammoth Donkeys | 5 Comments

Thrashing Bee Videos

Here are three short videos of the Palouse Empire Threshing Bee that is held each Labor Day at Colfax, Washington.

The first is the actual cutting the wheat.  The team pulling the horse-drawn combine is a six abreast of Percheron Mules owned by Jon Overmyer.


The next step in the harvest is the actual threshing of the wheat, here it is being transferred from the field wagons.


The people carrier actually takes folks out into the field for a close up view of the action.


Due to operator error the videos are much shorter than I had planned on or thought I was filming.  I guess there is always next year!

Posted in Farm Related, Multiple Hitches | 1 Comment

It’s In The Books!

Since I didn’t take any pictures today, I am going to repost a few of my favorites. This one I really like a lot. Click on the pictures to increase their size.

This is going to conclude the August 2012 Teamdonk Blog.  Luc and Galahad have driven a total of seven times in the last two weeks.  Including today they added 33.68 miles to their overall total plus an additional 14 hours/55 minutes.  It was cool with the overnight reading at 40 degrees and it stayed on the cooler side until almost noon.  It was extremely smoky, but not so bad that it hurt our drive.  This one turned into a combination of road and field driving and we had a great time.

Here is Luc watching Jim cut the last of the soft white wheat.

I was recently reading an article written about Doc Hammill, who is one of my favorite draft teamsters and clinicians.  Doc was quoted as saying, “Stopping well, standing well and staying put are the most important “gaits” for any driving horse.”  Isn’t that a wonderful statement and oh so true!  Both teams do a great job of standing, today Teamdonk #1 was perfect in that department.

The article was in Aug/Sept Rural Heritage with the mini donkey on the cover cultivating sweet corn…. so cute!  The feature focused on having a rhythmic way of handling the lines and how it benefits our driving animals… I am going to be working on that as I think I throw away my lines too much with Merlin and Hank, who don’t seem to need as much contact.  With Luc and Galahad I am much more conscious about line contact and going with their flow. 

At all times I am diligent about paying attention to what is happening around us, I need to see wildlife before the teams do.  These were a couple of things that were discussed in the article as well as non-verbal, non-physical communication, it was very well written with several other great driving topics. 

One more point of interest that Doc stated was; “My goal when driving is to be extremely consistent with the words I use and how I use them.  I am very conscious and disciplined; specifically I don’t want to confuse or desensitize my horses with meaningless verbal chatter.”  This is an excellent statement and one I am always thinking about.  Doc uses the horses name only when he wants forward movement.  I use the donkey’s name when I want to correct a behavior.  Luc! quit it… that’s a popular one.  Galahad, head up… also popular.  Hank… step up!  Now I also use the donkey’s name when it goes like this… Merlin, good boy!  Hank, good boy!  Here are my popular directions, Gee, Haw, my walk on cue has evolved into Okay Boys or a cluck and that is all that is needed.  I noticed on the video I use their names more but I have since quit doing that as much.  Now if I want a trot I still use still their names and the word trot with more animation in my voice or with or without their names I use hup hup!  It’s interesting what we all do that is a little different but it’s important to remember it’s the little things that are huge to our driving animals.

I will leave you with one more of Doc’s great quotes, “For driving, both the horses and the people must be better trained than for riding.”  I certainly agree!  Jennifer Morrissey of Gould, Colorado penned the article entitled “Where Driving Differs”.

One more August favorite!

Between work and harvest we missed most of the first part of the month to drive, so we made up for it these last two weeks.  We were close to 26 hours and 65 miles of driving in August!  Next drive will be September 5th.  To those in the US have a wonderful Labor Day Weekend, see ya all next month!


Posted in Driving Donkeys, Equine Driving, Mammoth Donkeys, Teamdonk #1 | 4 Comments

Chased Out by a Challenger

It was wonderful to be back in the cart again this morning even if I did have to wait a couple of hours for it to warm out of the 30’s.  It was so worth it!  By the time we pulled out it was 53 degrees but it did’t feel too bad, the sun was warm and that helped. 

Hill Climbing on the back side of the Hard Red Wheat Field next to Day Canyon, this one is a hard pull but the boys work together and do a great job getting to the top!

Through our fields and into the Hard Red Wheat field we went.  This was to be Luc and Galahad’s trip around the perimeter.  Just as we were about to go side hilling on the back side of the field Galahad kept telling me there was something I needed to check out and sure enough there was! 

This is what Galahad heard coming toward us. Click on the photos to increase their size.

A Challenger pulling a plow was heading in our direction.  We turned uphill into the taller stubble to avoid a face to face confrontation.  He was putting a couple of rows of fire line around all the fields on that side of Jessup Road and we just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. 

As we were going past a scab patch of boulders and tall grass I could see a baby fawn’s long ears that mom had told to stay put.  Baby did just what she was told and didn’t move even though we were close to her.  Had she as much as twitched an ear the boys would have seen the movement but she was completely still as we passed.  That was an amazing moment of Mother Nature at her finest.

Into our own wheat field we went.  Across the road in the Barley field was this doe and twin baby fawns.  They also had ears pricked towards us sticking out of the crop but did not move as we drove a couple hundred feet below them. They are going to have to move as that crop is being harvested today.  We encountered three horses next to the easement road that had to be passed close by.  Everyone behaved themselves and it was a non issue.

Resting at the back side of the pond I snapped this picture of the island, the nesting box and the beehives in the distance.  The water level is dropping as you can see by the dark soil on the bank.

Home by way of our oat hay field is how we ended the drive.  It was 66 degrees at 11 am when we returned.  We were out exactly two hours and went a little under five miles.  The Hard Red Wheat field has been a driving blast this year and I think we will all miss it.  With a fire line comes fire and I sure don’t want to be caught in a field burn so for now we’ll move on to other fun places to drive.

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Pictures Pictures and More Pictures

This post is all about photos. Click to make them larger and enjoy!

Kristi and Teamdonk #2 on their 46th Hitch

So what is with the back seat photographer? Actually it is a view we have yet to bring you!

Ahh here is another one from the back seated photographer…:)

These mammoth donkey boys are definitely “Outstanding in their field”

Merlin and Hank are engaged in one of their favorite sports… Watching Deer as they fly thru the wheat fields… scoring is on which one can jump the highest and longest!

If you enlarge the picture you can see the doe is between Hank’s ears and the fawn is in the center between them!  Another great shot from our back seated photographer!

Now that should catch you up on Teamdonk #2 photo album!

Posted in Driving Donkeys, Equine Driving, Mammoth Donkeys, Teamdonk #2 | 4 Comments

Day Canyon Homestead

Hank is on the outside and Merlin is closest to the camera

Hank and Merlin have done all the drives they will do for the month of August 2012 with a total of  eleven hours and 30.5 miles in six drives.  Not bad for August which is harvest month around here plus my work schedule which was on the heavy side also.  This one is in the books, as they say. 

We had visitors early this morning and it took a while for the boys to settle down.  Obviously I could not see what it was, could have been elk as excited as the donkeys were. That was perfectly fine with me as the temperature was only in the low forties and it was mighty chilly.  While they settled down it warmed up enough to get ready for a Teamdonk #2 drive.

We did have a fun outing, Merlin and Hank were the first to travel the perimeter of the Hard Red Wheat field instead of just following the truck tracks in and out of the field.  I now know that from our place, around that field and back is exactly 3.73 miles and it is a terrific hour and a half drive.  Along the back side of the field we followed the fence line that puts us in full view of Day Canyon.  There are lots of rolling hills back in there and it was a great workout for the boys.  It’s always fun to go side hilling especially when the shorter donkey is on the uphill side.  We spooked seven deer.  That is as many as I saw anyway but no elk so who knows what it was this morning that riled them up!

Click on the photos to enlarge them

This is looking down on the old homestead was located in the canyon.  What remains are the popular trees and a developed spring.  I try to imagine what it would have been like living in that canyon.  You would be out of the wind for sure, you would be very hidden from the rest of the world and the view would never change much. 

As I was unharnessing the boys there was a tractor and a baler in the field we had just been in bailing the windrows we had just traveled next to.  I can see the large square bales of wheat straw from our place that he left behind.   Thursday is Luc and Galahad’s turn around that field.  Looks like we made it home just in time today!

Posted in Driving Donkeys, Equine Driving, Mammoth Donkeys, Teamdonk #2 | Leave a comment