Farm


Thanks to everyone who encouraged me to write about our journey from Albuquerque, New Mexico to Lexington, Virginia. Here you go.

On December 6th, after months of planning, we were ready to drive across country. We had gone to closing on our house the day before and the new owners were scheduled to move in at Noon.

map

Knowing that 1,700 miles would put significant stress on the donkeys, we made the decision to hire a professional hauler to move them from Albuquerque to Lexington. Celso Rubio of Sin City Hauling out of Las Vegas, NV  is an excellent hauler who took extremely good care of our herd.

Celso arrived in Albuquerque at 6 a.m. ready to load donkeys onto his rig. It was bitterly cold and snow covered the ground. He backed his trailer up to our corral and we were able to run the herd onto his trailer. (One of the things that we mistakenly allowed the movers to pack and take with them was all of our tack, so we had no choice but to run them in. I felt horrible.) Poor Gracie was the most visibly affected as she stood in the trailer shaking like a leaf. I wondered if she thought she was going through another roundup situation. As we said farewell to Celso, I hugged him and burst out sobbing as I said, “Please take care of my babies!” I knew he would (thanks to the recommendations from our friends Dorothea and Paula), but the thought of not seeing them and knowing that they’d be under stress for a couple of days was more than I could bear at the moment. Watching him drive off with our herd was surreal.

Herd on Celso's trailer

After saying good-bye to our old house and farm, we loaded the dogs and Meggie Moo into our vehicles and got on the road around 9 a.m. I was in my truck with my mom (who had flown from Maryland to help out and drive back with us) and four dogs, and was pulling a trailer with Don’s motorcycle. Don was in his truck with Whisky and was pulling our horse trailer, which was filled with bales of New Mexico hay and Meggie.

Driving out of Albuquerque and up into the East Mountains, I watched the temperature plummet. As we drove through Moriarty it was  minus 5°F – not counting wind chills – and I felt so bad for the Moo. We sat in accident traffic (a tractor trailer had careened off the road) for a couple of hours before crossing the border into Texas.

Pulling into a truck stop in Amarillo, we had to navigate a pothole that spanned the entire entrance.  Don’s truck and the horse trailer slammed into the hole with enough force to first unlatch the trailer then bounce it off the ball hitch.  Dragging the trailer by its safety chains, we got it to a flat spot and had to figure out a way to get it back on the truck.  The trailer jack – even extended all the way – was about two inches too short, so we ended up using the jack from Don’s truck to get the trailer up high enough.

We had planned to make the trip to Virginia in two nights/three days, but took a day longer due to unforeseen circumstances and the weather (we were in the middle of winter storms Cleon and Dion). Instead of making it to Little Rock the first night, we stopped in Oklahoma City.

December 7th was the worst day of our trip. We woke up to more frigid temperatures and continued ice and snow on the roads.

Waking up in Oklahoma

Because the roads were so treacherous, we were convinced that Oklahoma doesn’t own any snow plows. Thankfully the roads were virtually empty and we were able to plod along I-40 at about 20 miles per hour. I can’t tell you how many cars and trucks we saw that had spun off the highway and how many tractor trailers that had jackknifed or flipped. It was heartbreaking. I’ll never forget seeing a big RV that had smashed into a million pieces in the median and the family that was picking through the wreckage. They might as well have lived through a tornado from the looks of it.

The road was literally a sheet of ice:

Oklahoma

We stopped that night in Brinkley, Arkansas – about 70 miles east of Little Rock. I’ll be forever grateful to Motel 6 and their pet-friendly policy, because Meggie stayed in our rooms with us all three nights on our journey east. There was no way we were leaving her out in the trailer overnight – she needed to get warm and she needed to know she wasn’t alone. She did great in the rooms with us, even if it made things a bit circus-like. Here she is sleeping standing up in the room in Arkansas:

Brinkley Arkansas

December 8th. We woke up to more ice; freezing rain had fallen overnight.  I seriously questioned whether I could drive another day in those conditions. Because we knew Celso was planning to get the donkeys to Lexington that day and because we were expecting our furniture to be delivered on December 10th, we pushed on. As we got out of Arkansas and into Tennessee, snow and ice turned into rain and fog. It was so foggy in Memphis we couldn’t see the Mississippi River as we crossed it. After Don had a fishtail incident and I watched him and the horse trailer almost permanently lose control, we decided to stop in Knoxville, Tennessee that night. That was the night I caught Meggie eating toilet paper in the Motel 6 bathroom and I was so happy to think that we would finally be “home” tomorrow.

True to his word, Celso got the herd safely delivered to Virginia late the evening of December 8th. Because we knew that Celso would arrive with the donkeys before we did, we made arrangements for him to deliver them to the Virginia Horse Center, which is just down the road from us. They were so kind and accommodating and took such good care of the Boyz, Gracie and Harriet.

Herd arriving in VA

Herd arriving in VA2

We can’t recommend Celso – and his heart of gold – enough. He provided us with constant updates throughout the trip, which was a godsend.

Herd arriving in VA3

Herd in VA1

Herd in VA2

December 9th. After about five more hours of driving, we finally arrived in Lexington. One of the first things we had planned was to go and get the herd from the Horse Center and bring them home. Unfortunately, because it had rained so much the previous few days, Don’s truck and the horse trailer got stuck in the mud at the barn when we drove down to unload hay. We knew there was no way we could take the trailer with the weight of seven donkeys down the hill, so we had to come up with a new plan.

We went to visit the herd at the Horse Center and vowed to get them home the next day. After a trip to Tractor Supply to buy new halters and lead ropes, we planned to bring the herd home in two trips rather than one. We put Bernard, Patrick, Buck and Harriet in the first load because we knew we could park the trailer up at the top of the hill and lead them down to the barn. Sure enough, we did… with no trouble at all. We then went back for Ellsworth, Nigel and Gracie. Without a doubt, Ellsworth would have walked down the hill with the others in the first load, but Nigel and Gracie needed him for moral support. When Ellsworth got right on the trailer at the Horse Center, we hoped that Nigel would follow. Nope. Nigel refused to get on the trailer, no matter how hard we tried to persuade him it was okay. We ended up letting him go and letting Gracie out to see what she would do. Gracie jumped right into the trailer and Nigel followed right behind. Whoo-hoo! When we got them home, because there wasn’t as much weight on the trailer, we were able to back them down to the barn and release them right into the pasture.

Home at last

What an adventure! ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.

~Aristotle

artsy1

As you know, it’s been cold here these last few weeks. The Boyz have all been fine, but to help keep weight on Gracie and Harriet, we’ve supplemented their hay with equine senior mash a couple of times a day.

Gracie gets two cups and Harriet gets three. It’s easy enough to tell whose bowl is whose by how much is in it, but Don decided to get artsy for the girls.

artsy2

Pretty bowls for pretty girls. Sunflowers for Grace (Don prefers calling her by her original name) and hearts for Harriet.

artsy3

Don also thought he’d try his hand at ice sculpting:

artsy4

We’re ready for spring.

♥ ♥ ♥

I suppose it’s finally time to spill the beans. In just a few short weeks, Don and I, the dogs, the donkeys and Meggie Moo are moving to Virginia.

Charlottesville

It certainly wasn’t an easy decision. New Mexico is the Land of Enchantment! There is so much we will miss about this ruggedly beautiful state and the original Morning Bray Farm. We’ll have a heckuva lot of people to miss, too.

We’re moving east to be closer to our parents, other family and old friends. We’ve chosen the Charlottesville area as where we’d like to establish the next Morning Bray Farm.

In the interim while we get the lay of the land, we’ve found the perfect farm to rent in Lexington, Virginia.

Lexington

The dogs will have a picket-fenced yard and the donkeys will have almost eight acres of gently rolling pasture with a brand new barn. As she does here, Meggie Moo will run the place.

Lexington2

We’re both excited and terrified, and we’re looking forward to our next adventure in the Old Dominion State.

Rainbow sunrise

Rainbow sunrise2

Rainbow sunrise3

2013

 

 

I haven’t done Saturday Parts or Saturday Stuff in a long time, so I figure now’s as good a time as any to share pictures that I don’t know what to do with or don’t fit in a post of their own.

The ducklings. Back when innocence ruled and they all sought each other out for comfort. I think this photo was probably taken sometime in June of last year:


This jack used to live on the other side of the alfalfa pasture behind Morning Bray Farm:

Sadly, he was alone and brayed a lot, especially after Gracie came to live with us. We called him the “donkey in the distance” or DITD (Diddy). Later, because we believe that all donkeys deserve dignified names, we named him Eugene and called him E. Diddy. We walked to visit with him and give him scritches every weekend. He’s gone now; we don’t know what happened to him.

And last for this week, a nest in our barn. I’ve never seen a “sideways nest” and am wondering what kind of bird this might belong to. Sparrows, maybe?

While Don’s sister Debbie was here for a visit last weekend, we decided to take a walk around the neighborhood. We saw llamas:

And sheep:

And cows:

And horses, and goats, and chickens…

We were footloose and fancy-free until we showed up at our second herd of llamas. This llama was very unhappy with our arrival and made sure to tell us by growling and showing us his teeth. I had never seen this behavior before:
 

I’m sure it had everything to do with this:

We got really worried when we saw this though:

Our friend Danni at Critter Farm once warned us what happens when a llama pins its ears back. It’s not meant to be pretty.

Since we weren’t sure after the fact that we interpreted the llama drama correctly, I consulted with Danni. Here’s what she wrote back:

Ok, here’s what I can tell you about this photo.  One llama has ears upright and forward facing…a sign of being interested, curious, and not at all on the defensive.  The second llama with the ears flat is concerned about something, but isn’t yet ready to spit.  Generally, there are two phases to spitting and there are definite warning signs:  1) the ears go back and 2) the head goes up.  Most llamas really do try to threaten or warn their adversaries that they are about to make a serious move prior to spitting.  I don’t think this guy was quite yet ready to spew.  For one thing, it’s quite a commitment. It is smelly, nasty stuff that comes out of their mouths.  Once they spit, they generally have to stand around for a while, jaws hanging open, trying to air their mouths out.  🙂

Daddy llama was simply doing a very good job of protecting his baby:

While at the same time being very courteous by withholding his spit:

Thanks for keeping your head down, Baby Daddy. 

And thanks for educating us, Danni. ♥

Baby Kassie 2 – Squirrels 0

« Previous PageNext Page »