Maria's studio is getting wired. Will Lindenhall is an electrical philosopher, considering wires, spaces, aesthetics, safety. He sketches out his plans and ideas and shares them with his co-worker Mark, who is on the left. Word is Maria will have power in her studio by the end of the week. We are movin in;
The story of Rocky and the donkeys is complex now, now what I had hoped for. I have to admit to not knowing what to expect, but we have a dilemma to sort out now. Rocky and the donkeys have been kept apart for most of each day, today we brought them together for a short time. They all grazed in their separate corners of the pasture, but I am seeing that the presence of the donkeys' has seriously disoriented Rocky and disturbed him, even when they are apart. At one point today, Simon rushed Rocky and tried to bite him and Rocky turned and kicked him. Simon backed off, went away, but I saw for much of the afternoon, Rocky seemed traumatized, uneasy, different. Rocky is not hurt or injured, but I can see that he is almost completely unmoored by the presence of these other animals in his pasture. It could have gone either way, but so far it doesn't seem comfortable or easier.
From what I gather, this sort of encounter, this biting and posturing and kicking, is common among equines, but the complicating factor is Rocky's age and blindness. He can't see what's coming and can not easily protect himself. It isn't a normal situation. Since they are all herd animals, it is natural for them to want to be together, but Simon seems extremely threatened. I am aware of my many options and choices (please, good people, I am not in need of advice. What happened with your horse is not necessarily relevant to my horse in this place and time. This is my problem and Maria's, let us share it and have it. Just follow if you will and wish us well if you are so inclined. A boundary. It is our problem to sort out and we will.)
Simon has been with Lulu and Fanny alone for several years. He is not about to share them with another male, that seems clear. Lulu and Fanny are inseparable, sisters, and it is not an option to separate them – create two pairs. Rocky is fragile, old and disabled, and he ought not be stressed. That would be cruel. I talked to the farrier Ken Norman and he and Todd Mason, our friend and fence-builder both said the same thing: here are the options, but Jon, it's your call. Maria's too. Every situation is different, there is no one answer for all. My decision when all is said and done and I will make it and own it. So will Maria. Both of these animals are very important to us, we have invested our hearts in them and seen both of them give rebirth to their lives, and we will be conscious of the welfare of both of them.
One idea is to build a separate fenced-in area for Rocky. That is not practical for us and for the management of the animals on our farm or for Rocky for many reasons, money being the least of them. I've been over the fencing options carefully, they are not good. One friend suggested sending Simon to another farm for a few months until things sort themselves out, but I don't see that doing much good either, just postponing the inevitable. And I don't want to send Simon away. We'd just start over again in a few months. Rocky cannot be sent to another farm, it would be dangerously traumatic for him.
But after watching for three days, I am uneasy, less clear. Rocky seems to me to be struggling a bit more each day, not settling in. I have a temporary solution in mind. The best option, I think, is to keep them in separate pastures during the day – the donkeys with the sheep, Rocky in his pasture. At night, we will move Rocky in his stall and let the donkeys in the main pasture, so Rocky can be nose-to-nose with the donkeys. They will not be able to reach one another, but they can smell one another, get familiar with each other. I am inclined to do that for a couple of weeks, and see if they can't evolve into a herd. If they can, great, if not, I will need another plan. That's where we are. This is the challenge of real animals in the real world. I accept it and whatever I decide, success or failure, I will share it honestly.
We got a fifth sheep – her name is "Ma" – last Sunday. She is not dog-broke and has not been sheared for a long time (shearer is coming this week) and she butted me, then tried to stomp her feet and intimidate Red. That did not work. He went into his werewolf crouch and backed her up along the fence until she turned and ran to the other sheep. Red has a stare that would melt steel. We'll see what she looks like without some of that wool.
Where is my wonderful dog, Red? We are beyond inseparable, Maria says she is beginning to get worried.
He is always where the sheep are. Sometimes, when we are outside, he disappears and I can always find him by the gate to the sheep pasture. Always.
I can always find my wonderful dog Red.
Got up early to check on things at the new farm. Simon was waiting for me, giving me his bray, the call to life. It seemed especially appropriate at this time. Another insanely crazy day. More later. Wood stove being installed next Monday. Scrambling to get ready to move from the new farm. Changing addresses. Calling banks and credit card companies.