After two days of raw, dreary drizzle and fog, the sheep and donkeys were elated when I turned them out into the pasture this morning. The donkeys frolicked, bucked, tossed their heads and kicked up their heels in delight. I don't think they're use to having quite so much space for frisking and cavorting.
The sixteen ewes who are their barn mates at the moment, were equally enthusiastic to have free run of the pasture. From the fence line they intently watched the donkey antics in the adjacent field.
We are making strides with the donkey-sheep dynamic. Since the two groups have been barn mates, they've been together much of the time, learning each others habits, smells and sounds.
We had visitors, Dick and Gale this morning, Kathryn and Hunter yesterday. So interesting to see both groups competing for attention. When I stand in the donkey pen at the rail that divides it from the sheep pen, my right hand is commanded to scratch sheep noses while donkey necks beg for scritches from my left hand.
It's a good sign. They're beginning to relax and let their guard down in closer proximity to each other. I spoke with Ann Firestone from Save Your Ass Long Ear Rescue on Friday and she concurred that the best approach to integration is a patient approach. With the donkeys being so mellow and easy going - and not much larger than the sheep, I'm optimistic that they will both accept and find acceptance within our flock.
And even if they don't, I must say, Mike and I are so smitten with this trio, they are here to stay. With all our acreage, fence and barn space, a good solution will unfold in time.
On another note, I learned a distressing bit of news this morning. The trucker who has supplied bedding straw to my farm for many years apparently retired last summer. I suppose it may have been in the local paper, but we had no direct notice. Early winter is typically the time of year when we are in contact. I had thought it strange when I phoned to arrange delivery last week and found the number not in service.
Each year we ususally purchase half a semi-trailer load of golden oat straw (that's about 250 bales, 15,000 pounds of straw) in December. The straw is gloriously clean and doesn't lodge in the sheep's wool. This is rather late in the season to discover I'm without a source. I'm reeling a bit from this news.
Andy and Dick are putting out inquiries for me. I'd be willing to purchase an entire semi load, if I can find a trucker with a good source. It would be two years' worth - but I could probably sell some of it locally, since clean straw can be hard to find.
Anyone suggestions? Please send them my way. Thanks!