Wednesday, August 27, 2008


After any deluge, the terrain in front of the barns is more like a tureen. It is the norm to have a clog or shoe or even a boot sucked right off your foot.

This can make driving up to the feed room to unload even more fun than usual. There are three concrete squares leading up to the feed room (so one back tire can stay out of the mud), but in the soft ground they shift wildly. It is not possible to stabilize them in the mud, I just hope they don't turn up on end & crush anyone (me, any animal, whomever).

I promised to share the missionaries&cannibals-style routine before & here it is:

I drive to the feed store & pay a lot of money for ~300lbs of feed. You would think this would be the hardest part, but it isn't.

I drive home & park in front of the closed emu yard gate.

I close the gate at the top of the driveway (which was open from when I left to go get feed).

I walk to the pasture, cutting through the backyard, opening & closing each gate as I go.

I feed the horses & goats as usual, but with some extras:
I lure Bert & Coco into one stall together (they always do this, but if I am lucky, Ashley goes in with them).
I shut Becca in her stall.
I feed Tiki in the open end stall.
I lure Black&Tan & Cinnamon-Girl, somewhere, anywhere, but usually Cinnamon-Girl goes into the feed room itself & refuses to come out. She knows whats coming.

I cut back through the back yard, opening & closing blah, blah, blah.

I open the emu gate to the front yard.

I wait for the emus to decide to leave (there are ways to lure them out, but they are their own headache. Sometimes I do it & sometimes I just wait).

I drive into the emu yard & close the gate behind me. Now the emus are in the front yard, shut out of their yard.

I open the emu gate to the pasture, drive through & close this same emu gate behind the truck.

I back the truck up to the feed room & this is where the mud comes in. If the ground is muddy, I back up carefully. I have been stuck out here before. The giant stepping stones often shift under the weight of the truck & sometimes there is the littlest bit of shimmy, but so far I have not backed into this particular barn.

I get out of the truck & open the feed room.

Remember the two goats in there? Well they come out. & jump into the bed of the truck. Or knock me down while I am carrying the feed bags. Or stick their heads into the barrel so the feed pours over them. They do all of this in rotation until all the feed is unloaded.

In the meantime Tiki has certainly finished eating. While not nearly so bad (or bold) as the goats or even the other horses, she is curious. & excitable. Remember the mud? Horses that run on mud behave much like the driver who does not know how to hydroplane. Also, 1200lbs can get quite a bit of momentum if she should say, kick her back legs up in the air & go sliding on just the front two.

Now, the variables: if it has rained, the doors may not latch shut. I can throw all my body weight against them, but if they are not fully latched, Bert will have worked his & Coco's (& Ashley's, if she went in with them) door open & is now accompanying the goats (now joined by Ashley). Coco's bullying Tiki, who is now pacing wildly at the edge of all this, making it hard to drive the goats away, as they have more sense then to try & run by an angry Paso who thinks they got her share (sidebar: I love the way Pasos are described as "lively". For anyone who is confused about the term, it means "psycho").

OKay, lets say the unloading is complete, all the feed is in the barrels, & the barrels are sealed (another challenge when Cinnamon-Girl jams her head in to scarf down as much as she can).

Now I need to get the truck back out. Everyone gets fed again. That's right, I reward them for their bad behavior. First Coco & Bert & hopefully Ashley go back in. Another handful of food puts Tiki in the open end stall. For the sake of peace, I give Becca another scoop, but she is usually the only one still where she ought to be. Then I broadcast some so Cinnamon-Girl & Black&Tan are kept busy while I open the pasture gate drive into the emu pen & close the pasture gate.

Then I pull out of the emu pen & go back (through the backyard, to the pasture) & let everyone out. Then I go collapse; the emus will put themselves back whenever & I will close that gate when I notice.

So next time someone asks "what are you doing today" & I say "I have to get feed this morning" do not assume that means I am free for lunch. Chances are pretty good I will need to go back to bed.

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