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Donkeys Separate

Listen to “Donkeys Separate.” Prose.

The miniature donkeys, Chippo and Ziggy arrived as yearlings to the farm in 2012.  They were sold as a bonded pair.  Bonded in equines means fast buddies, a team that stays together while grazing, a team that grooms each other, plays together, and feels distress when separated. Normally a pair bond lasts a lifetime.

In January 2020 we discovered a sarcoid skin tumor on Ziggy’s sheath.  The tumor grew from an insect sized bite to baseball-like very quickly. We decided to treat aggressively, and we had a vet give Ziggy four chemotherapy injection treatments under anesthesia over a period of five months. During the second treatment in March, the tumor was surgically removed. Right after the surgery we noticed a change of behavior in Chippo.  He started pinning his ears and squealing at Ziggy. We had to separate them to keep Ziggy safe and to allow him time to recover from surgery.  The surgery wound healed quickly, but the relationship between Ziggy and Chippo did not return to the easy going and close friendship they once had.

We noticed an underlying irritation between the donkeys all the time, and often this tension would break out into a full-on fight. Chippo always gained the upper hand, because he is the more powerful donkey—though Ziggy had been the lead donkey before his illness.

By October problems had escalated, and Chippo was actively trying to hurt Ziggy by biting him in the neck. This resulted in open neck wounds, and it became apparent the donkeys needed to be permanently separated.

We believe the relationship between the donkeys changed because of Ziggy’s illness, and possibly because of the chemicals that were added to Ziggy’s system during chemotherapy.  Ziggy was weakened and Chippo sensed this.  Illness and weakness make prey animals more vulnerable to predation, and sometimes weaker animals are left or pushed out of the herd.  Although we don’t see any return of the cancer, and prognosis is good, it is possible Ziggy is still ill. We may never know the exact cause for this pair bond to be broken.

Several days ago, Chippo returned to the farm where he and Ziggy were born, and now Ziggy is our sole donkey. Chippo has other donkeys near him, horses, and goats—plus a home he likely remembers.  The old saying goes–donkeys never forget, and we have found this to be true in our experiences with these donkeys over the past eight years.

 Ziggy has a new friend who has come to the farm to live with him.  His name is Moses, and I will tell you more about him soon.

Chippo returns to the farm where he and Ziggy were born nine years ago.

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The Residents

This poem is best when you listen…
Cracking for kindlin’
and sometimes 
the hatchet sticks.
 
Fancy pigeons struttin’, growlin’ and cooin’.
Watch the hatchet don’t slip.
 
Water drips chatter into whiskey tubs
and overflows through tubing 
hydrate the oaks.
 
Donkeys crunch acorns and
crush others beneath their weighted hooves.
 
A Jay mimics a hawk’s scream 
and blows the songbirds away.
 
Leaps to ground and dabs at the woodstove ash
fired wood- bones – wisps of ghost smoke rise.
 
Meanwhile,
piles of dirty hay ferments
and
the vegetable garden waits.
 
Split the wood,
take a walk
donkey, dog, and she 
threads the meadow
swishes Great Basin Rye 
before this dark rain comes.
 
Overhead crossing the bleakness
a resident raven croaks. 
While the world outside the farm 
tilts just a bit more
toward      
half a bubble    
off              plum.

On the eve of the United States Capitol being stormed by protestors trying to disrupt the government’s certifying of the presidential election results.  January 6th, 2021.

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New Year’s Eve 2020

With the dawning of a New Year, I am always drawn back to Thomas Hardy’s (1840-1928) poem “The Darkling Thrush.” Written in December of 1900 this atmospheric work heralds a new century – a new year. 

Deep winter and a frosty suspension of time and movement isolates everyone behind their heavy doors. Like at our farm and in this poem each year on December 31st– all landscapes are touched by clinging hoarfrost and quiet musing.   A New Year, in Hardy’s poem, is announced by the frail singing thrush.  Its joyful song cuts through the gloomy air and banishes specters from the previous year. 

December 31steach year also marks the day when we do the Christmas Bird Count at the farm. And, to my absolute delight—I saw a new species this morning – a Varied Thrush. A solitary black and orange thrush emitting its buzzy police whistle. “Wake up, Wake Up.” Must be Thomas Hardy’s bird come to visit!

The Darkling Thrush
BY THOMAS HARDY
I leant upon a coppice gate
      When Frost was spectre-grey,
And Winter's dregs made desolate
      The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
      Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
      Had sought their household fires.
 
The land's sharp features seemed to be
      The Century's corpse outleant,
His crypt the cloudy canopy,
      The wind his death-lament.
The ancient pulse of germ and birth
      Was shrunken hard and dry,
And every spirit upon earth
      Seemed fervourless as I.
 
At once a voice arose among
      The bleak twigs overhead
In a full-hearted evensong
      Of joy illimited;
An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,
      In blast-beruffled plume,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
      Upon the growing gloom.
 
So little cause for carolings
      Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
      Afar or nigh around,
That I could think there trembled through
      His happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
      And I was unaware.
 
 
 
 
Varied Thrush
Photo by Nicole Beaulac Varied Thrush
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The Long Road 2020

The long road of 2020…
Expectancy hangs in the air…

A cradle of wounds and awakenings…
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Donkey Square Dance

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To hear “Donkey Square Dance” click above.
“Heaven... I'm in heaven,
And my heart beats so that I can hardly speak.
And I seem to find the happiness I seek,
When we're out together dancing cheek to cheek.”
Irving Berlin (sung)


 
Two donkeys chase the field
abreast --the long ears fly.
Spark ignites the farm dog who
 --follows donkeys’ stride.
 
Flames of bark lick
fleeing hooves.
Cowboy bounds, 
bounds-removes,
daisy chain, do si do
 --- beat, beat…
dance is sweet.
 
Donkeys spin the barrel hard
thunder roll 
across the plain--
The dog turns last
pounds ahead
awesome speed he gains.
 
Two, three, four runs by
seared with lightning lines.
Sing their trail -- happy dog
long feathered fur shines
pushed flat for the speed ahead, then ruffles through the
turn, but soon the dog finds end of breath--
 
sits-ragged, panting, yearns... 
 
Slowing to a happy pitch 
trot in single file
heads high donkeys--
upper lips 
smoochin’ --victory smile.
 
 
 
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Dragonfly

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Almost 3 minutes- might be best to try listening and reading this time…
In early summer’s water  
she has swum 
the cool clean pond  
where the dragon dwells. 
 
In mid-summer 
barn swallows dive and snap the water
sipping through
as the ghostly dragon 
engulfs its prey
below.
 
In early autumn 
an aging goddess floats. 
The pond ferments.
She sits cross-legged atop a board—
roasted, wrinkled 
listless...
 
An orange dragonfly
splayed out
catches her attention.
Its feeble fluttering, 
ringlet ripples 
the effort 
spirals back millions of years.
 
The futility of trying to play savior
Noah’s wife.
So many tumbling from her Ark have drowned
   failures--
of pigeon, robin, the raven, kingfisher, mouse, red squirrel, even the soft-rumped packrat… 
 
Never-the-less 
she scoops up the dragon
its orange body-stick measured by gossamer paneled wings
yes! huge alien eyes
still
to dry and glow…
 
Dragon as a cat 
it grooms 
wind-milling forelegs over its head--around. 
Propeller legs spinning 
the single engine plane 
readying for flight.
 
Minutes ooze and buzz and glide
Now, she’ll see what happens--
Her palm shadow passes atop the dragonfly and
four wings pump to flight.
Her heart leaps and across the pond
helicoptering to the sedges.
 
She didn’t expect it
this little life 
lengthened.
Was this best?
No,
it’s the way it made her feel—
that
was best.
 
*************************************************
An after thought…
Having performed a wholesome act
       it is good to repeat it.
  Enjoy the pleasure of its memory.
The fruit of goodness is contentment.
 
Italic selection taken from the Buddhist Dhammapada -translated by Ajahn Munindo.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Thanksgiving Day 2020

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
30 seconds – a listen – click above.
Thanksgiving Day 2020
 
A walk through the woods
with each falling leaf
a song      flying bird
and grub searches too
 
quick darts a gray squirrel
branch to slender branch
bends with the weight of passings ...
 
 
A nation                                reflects. 

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Bridge to Skookum Wood

Slideshow: New bridge across Kickin’ Mule Creek to Skookum Wood. Now it will be possible to reach the cabin in any kind of weather.

Special Thanks to Tim, Art, and Don who helped make this project possible.

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Pandemic Project

May – November 2020 –Bruce’s Timber Frame Virus Hut.

Timber framing and “post-and-beam” construction are traditional methods of building with heavy timbers, creating structures using squared-off and carefully fitted and joined timbers with joints secured by large wooden pegs. It is commonplace in wooden buildings through the 19th century. (Wikipedia)

Slideshow for Cabin Project–

Special Thanks to Tom, Braden, Brant, Avery, Todd, Art, Tim, and others who helped Bruce work on this project.

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Professor Skookum

Sher and Skookum Thorne River, Prince of Wales Island, Alaska.

Glacier’s Gunsight Pass– also known as Professor Skookum

2007 – 2020 13 years

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