Saturday, September 13, 2008

[Zed] We Try Some New Hay - Naturally

Hi. I’m Zed. You may have heard a bit about me. You also have doubtless read of the exploits of our somewhat troublesome donkey, Jethro. In many ways, he is like a child – he is pushy, insubordinate, capricious, unreliable, and we can’t help but love him.

One characteristic he shares with difficult 3-year-olds around the world is his pickiness. One might think that donkeys, originating as they do in the scrubby, brushy desert fringes of Africa, might be adapted to eating whatever became available, but our donkey is a picky eater, as Melinama found out recently (to her great dismay). Only after she bought 60 bales of hay (this is a lot of hay – 60 bales is about 5 times the size of Jethro) did she discover that he turned up his giant nose at the stuff, picking at it like a despondent toddler with a plate of lima beans. We certainly didn’t want to see him "suffer" like this, but what could we do? We had a shed full of the bad hay.

You'll understand, then, the excitement felt in the household when Jethro finally ate the last of the lima bean hay. Melinama, ever eager to put modern methods to work on old problems, looked to the internet for some more hay. On Craig's List she found a couple who had made an even bigger mistake than ours – while stocking up they had accidentally bought 640 bales that their horses WOULDN’T EVEN EAT!

Anyway, we tried Jethro out on a bale of their stuff, which even I (hardly an expert on livestock foodstuffs) could tell was radically different from the old lima bean stuff. It seemed fresher, pungent with a hint of spice. No, you won’t find it on a dish at the Four Seasons, you silly gourmands, but it was pretty classy stuff – especially compared to the bland yellowy stuff. And, agreeing with me for maybe the first time in his life, Jethro loved it too!

Wasting no time, we asked them to bring us a full shed-load of the premium blend, what I’d come to think of as the Starbucks shade-grown to the previous hay’s Folgers. Anyway, they pulled up the drive with a flatbed trailer of hay). Immediately, Jennye hopped out of the pickup truck and began barking shrill orders to her husband, who was trying to back the trailer up to the shed: "Turn, turn, now TURN STEEPER, slow, SLOW, you’re okay, you’re okay, CAN YOU EVEN HEAR ME?"

Fortunately this jarring display didn’t give us pause. We managed to get the hay unloaded into the shed without much difficulty, despite the darkness and the fact that our shed was barely large enough for 60 bales (this feat required arrangement for maximum efficiency, much like a game of Tetris). No one was hurt, and the only casualty was a broom I left in the back of the shed, now trapped behind 5-6 months' worth of hay.

After we finished, we got to talking. Jennye, naturally the controlling type, took charge of the conversation, mentioning her 25 years of Dressage (in case you’re not horse people, this is a riding event where you sit on a horse and have it mince around in a predetermined pattern – I know about this because of an ex-classmate who boasted incessantly about it, so don’t call me a horse person) and her new fascination for a "new way of interacting with a horse" that "changed her life" called "Natural Horsemanship." I was curious, and against my better judgment I pressed for details.

Knowing that we had a donkey, and not a particularly well-behaved one, she told us that by getting into the mindset of the creature (which Natural Horsemanship would help us do – naturally) we could get him to want to do whatever it is that we ask him to do. She mentioned, with the tone of a talented salesman, that she was giving an exhibition and an introduction to Natural Horsemanship at her place on Saturday and why wouldn’t we come on down and see what it was all about.

Over the next two days Melinama and I amused ourselves with the absurd (to us) image of Jethro actually behaving well, building more and more ridiculous images of donkey saintliness. . . . . .

TO BE CONTINUED: Find out – what is Natural Horsemanship all about? Will Jethro be transformed into the very image of good behavior? Just how crazy is Jennye? What kind of people show up for an event at her place? Stay tuned, fellas.

On to Part Two ...

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At 12:27 AM, Blogger Hannah said...

HI Zed! Welcome to Pratie Place! I'm staying tuned for part 2!

At 8:22 AM, Anonymous Craig said...

If it rains when the hay is getting baled it can get damp inside and become moldy. Haymakers don't mind selling it to unwary buyers. I have distinct memories of burning a whole ton of moldy hay.


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