Friday, May 28, 2021

A Quick Check-In from Our Tiny Farm in Etowah, NC


one mini-donkey leaning over the neck of another

I can't believe that almost six months have flown by since I wrote a post on the Our Tiny Farm blog. You would think with all the COVID restrictions that kept me at home that I would have had plenty of time to write fun posts here. The reality is, working my NC State University job from home can be all consuming! And I am so fried by the time that I am done, that the last thing I want to do is get back on the computer. So here is just a quick update from the farm, focused mostly on donkeys. The picture above is of our dear small standard donkey, Meadow protectively leaning over the neck of sweet mini-donkey, Chester. We continue to board several other donkeys and dote on all of them on the farm.

I promised myself and the donkeys that we were going to make a special effort to control flies this year. It breaks my heart to see how the donkeys are tortured by biting flies and midges. So, I hang six strips of fly paper in the barn every month, put out fly predators monthly, put fly masks (with ears) on the donkeys every day, clean up manure in the paddock and barn daily and cart it to the other side of the farm, put fly spray or fly cream on their legs every other day, run the fans in the barn, and this year, I put out two of these Captivator fly traps. As you can see, they do catch a lot of flies! I will let you know how well this time consuming strategy works!
mini donkey with hanging bucket on ground
Our donkeys are always up to something new and different. Here is Chester, in his fly mask, proudly standing over the loose salt bucket that he successfully removed from where it was mounted on the wall of the barn. It doesn't matter how large the screws and washers are that we mount it with, eventually he will get it off. So, this time it stays off and can just be another toy for the donkeys.
four mini-donkesy standing in front of an open feed room door
Donkeys are very smart and easily bored. So we humans have to be very careful to make sure everything is well secured and donkey-proof. And when we get careless, this is what happens! I went out to the barn one afternoon and found the feed room door wide open and a full bale of hay scattered all over the room. Fortunately, this happened during the day when the two biggest trouble makers, Wilma and Meadow, had their grazing muzzles on. Thus, they were not able to get any of the feed cans open (even though they are held shut with bungee cords, I still think, given enough time, Wilma would get into them if she isn't muzzled) or devour enough hay to make themselves sick. 
donkey with grazing muzzle and fly mask on
Many people driving and riding their bikes by the farm stop and look at the donkeys, especially when they are in their summer garb of fly masks and grazing muzzles. Actually, only Wilma and Meadow wear the grazing muzzles. The muzzles slow down their eating so the two donkeys can stay on the pasture longer with their friends, Chester and Clara. Some donkeys are prone to putting on weight very quickly which can be very dangerous for them; thus the grazing muzzles.
applying wire mesh to the barn walls to prevent donkey damage
Did you know that donkeys are part beaver? Not really, but they do love to chew on wood! In their natural environment, they have lots of shrubby stuff to chew on, but on Our Tiny Farm the donkeys get grass and hay. I do try to throw branches (from safe to eat trees) and bamboo into their paddock from time to time, but chewing on the barn is still a favorite activity. We had the barn wrapped in chicken wire for many years, but it was starting to show its age. So this spring we repaired the damaged boards and wrapped the barn in galvanized wire fencing. That should keep the barn standing for awhile longer!
jars of honey
And after harvesting a bumper crop of honey that we are selling at Obermiller's Strawberry Farm in Horseshoe, NC (official address is Hendersonville), Glen has decided to end his beekeeping career. So, until I come up with another enterprising idea, our farming efforts revolve around the donkeys.
sunset over the farm
And that's the quick update from Our Tiny Farm!

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