It looks as if spring is here – the weather has warmed up, and there are buds and little leaves on the trees and bushes in my patio, promising a lovely flowery time to come.And I should have said all this last week – because, as I sit here now, the little leaves and buds are but a memory, having been devastated by donkeys Miss Katie and Miss Sarah, both of whom were surprised by Danny on the patio, dining at leisure. Not only did they totally devour all the buds on my roses, but they also managed to destroy all other new growth by the simple method of seizing the poor little plants by the hair and dumping all the soil out of their pots. Then, if it proved delectable and edible, it was devoured – if not, it was disdainfully flung on the ground and trampled by busy little donkey hooves.
The worst part of this equine raid was that I had, about two weeks before, bought a cilantro plant, and told Nancy in the kitchen about it, promising her fresh cilantro for all those delectable Mexican dishes that Ed and she make. Nancy was of the opinion that I was wasting my time – “I did that the first year I was here” she said, “and the darn rabbits ate every one of the vegetables I planted.” “Fine”, I said, “I’ll put the pot on the patio table so the rabbits can’t reach it”. I did just that and the cilantro thrived – it grew big and bushy and I was planning to take it to Grapevine and put it, out of rabbit reach, on the stone table by the barbecue. Alas, I waited too long – the cilantro was devoured so totally that it looks as if no plant had ever graced that pot! So now the patio gate has to be kept shut, which is a great nuisance to both dog Tuffy, who views it as a busy entrance for her comings and goings, and also to me, seeing as I am always trying to barge through that gate with arms full of stuff, and no free hand to open the latch. Just lucky for them that it was Danny and not I who caught the two of them in there, or we might be having donkey steaks for dinner!Of course, you might well ask why it is that the donkeys have the run of the yard in the first place – and not only donkeys, but my two equine partners, Comanche and Tequila as well, and my two pet cows, Clementine and Twiggy. The answer is that I hate to see them penned up in their corrals all day, and foolishly expect that they will be happy to stay on the pasture and eat the fresh green grass. And mostly they do, until the magic time of around 3 pm, when they return to the barnyard in force, to stomp around the feed shed, bray, moo or whinny for Danny to hurry up with the dinner, and, when it’s not forthcoming, cruise around my house, lean over the wall – and now, actually invade the patio!
And not only the patio. The other day, Danny was telling me, he was bent over, digging deep into the old chest freezer which does service as the feed bin, filing up the buckets. The feed was very low, so he was leaning way over, with his head down deep in the freezer, around the level of his knees, when Katie, impatiently waiting outside, decided that he was taking too long. She climbed up the steps, opened the door by flipping it with her lips, and then, having stuck her head well inside, let out such a bray that poor Danny, startled out of his wits, almost fell into the feed bin. He said the noise in that small space was so horrendous, so totally all encompassing, and for the moment so unidentifiable that several scenarios, none of them good, flashed through his head before he recognized the noise for what it was.And just in case you think animals don’t reason, let me tell you about my cow, Clementine. She not only reasons, she plans ahead, and almost manages to outsmart us. When the six of them are turned out to graze in the South Cochise Pasture, we have to close the gate at the north end of it, because, if it’s left open, it doesn’t take Clem very long at all to hot foot it to Grapevine and station herself at the hay stack – and it’s all but impossible to move 1500 lbs. of solid cow when she doesn’t want to move. All we puny humans have by way of weapons in these wars with large animals is their fear of us – take away that fear and respect, as in the case of a pet cow, and you’re all but helpless. Once Clem is stuck into some kind of a dinner, no amount of yelling, jumping up and down, screaming and prodding will dislodge her – so it is important that we keep that middle gate closed so she can’t make it to the smorgasbord at Grapevine. And she knows this very well. Quite often we find her loitering near that gate, waiting for someone to leave it open, and she has even taken to hiding behind nearby bushes, hoping that we’ll not see her. One glorious day she hid behind a yucca stalk, peering out from around it in the vain hope that its skinny two inch diameter would hide her massive bulk. And she doesn’t limit herself to the Grapevine hay stack, either. A couple of years ago Danny was feeding at the house, loading the Polaris with hay. As it’s a drag to have to move the Polaris, get out and close the barn gate, then get in again and drive off, he decided to leave the gate open until his next trip. At the last minute he thought of Clementine. He looked around, but she was nowhere to be seen. He turned back to the Polaris – but a slight movement out of the corner of his eye made him look back, just in time to see a black nose and two beady eyes withdrawing behind the horse trailer, where she had hidden herself from view. And you think cows are stupid?!
Another time, another cow, this one called Linda, many years ago, when Gerry and I first moved to Grapevine. At that time there was a small shed south of what is now the Adobe Cabin, where we kept a large garbage can full of dog food. At some time or other Linda learned about the contents of this bin, and her one aim in life became to work her way through some open gate into the yard, where she would then hastily hot foot it to the shed and get stuck in that dog food. As she was, like Clementine, of a goodly bulk, she fit into the door to that shed like a cork in a bottle, and, once she was in, there was no way of dislodging her until she had sucked up the last of a 50 lb bag of dog food. Hence a frantic war cry of “Linda’s inside!” made every able bodied person within 300 ft. sprint for that shed door and stand there, brandishing a pitchfork, until Linda could be driven away again. So don’t give me this stuff about “dumb animals”! But for the grace of God and a bit of intelligence, they would be in the house and we would be in the shed – just read that excellent book by George Orwell called “Animal Farm”!
And all this talk of cows made me almost forget to tell you about our upcoming Singles Week! We have decided to introduce a week of fun activity for people who have yet to be restricted by spouses, children and mortgages – and hence, the Singles Week, to be held July 18th through 25th, with lots of great activities. Enjoy a fun filled week from the first “Meet and Greet” around the full service bar, to the finale of a Treasure Hunt on horseback, and that last (for this time, anyway!) fun event of the Horse Games! Call Bonnie at 520 826 3185 or check it out here under “Specials”.