PRATIE PLACE

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

See what Fruit Loops can accomplish!

Most of my donkey projects have a very long time line. Including this one...

Back in September the gentleman farmer offered me this free trailer for Jethro.

It took a month to find and then order and receive, by mail, the right tow bar for my old van, and then to get the correct size ball hitch.

Then I drove out to Greensboro to pick up the trailer and managed to get it home by going only forwards -- I figured I'd learn how to back up some other time.

The trailer is illegal, it doesn't have tags and its electrical harness isn't connected yet. But a more urgent problem was that Jethro would have nothing to do with it. I spent hours trying to lure him into it and then gave up for a while.

Wise donkey owners told me the best way to obliterate his phobia would be to dump his dinners in the trailer.

All his pastures were considerably downhill of any location I could tow the trailer to without getting stuck in the mud, so I started work on a new area to be enclosed by an electric fence.

That entailed trenching an electric line quite a long distance and wiring outlets at the far end. And then figuring out how to hook up the fence. That took until mid-April. I immediately put Jethro in his new area and he immediately ate all the grass down to within 1/32" of the ground.

Then I tried backing the trailer up to the fence. Going forward and backward a little bit at a time (there is a knack to this I mostly don't understand) after about twenty minutes I heard hissing and looked up to see smoke and steam pouring out from under the van's hood. Yikes! I turned off the van and left the whole mess.

Before rehearsal next morning, Bob reassured me I hadn't cracked the engine block. He backed the trailer up to the fence lickety-split. What a guy.

It turns out, just putting breakfast and dinner in the trailer didn't do the trick - Jethro went on a hunger strike.

I couldn't give up, though - this project has gained code-red priority because Hannah wants to go hiking this summer with Jethro carrying the gear, and if he won't get in the trailer, we'll have to hike in our own neighborhood, which won't be very exciting.

So after some reconsideration, I started using her cat Lydia's clicker-trainer and a bag of fruit loops (plus a lot of reassurance and random legitimate treats) to convince Jethro the trailer will not eat him.

(It's been pointed out that since the penultimate time Jethro was in a trailer he ended up gelded his caution is not completely irrational.)

So, half a year after the project began ...





AND AFTER THE GREAT ADVENTURE, A PAUSE FOR SELF-CONGRATULATION:


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