Showing posts with label donkey Moshé. Show all posts
Showing posts with label donkey Moshé. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Smartest dogs in the world

I forget how I obtained this information about the top ten smart dogs [access]. Maybe Fitzroy found this interesting article when he was browsing the web with my iPad, then he sent me the link.

Intelligence is one thing, of course. Knowing what to do with your superior intelligence is a quite different affair.

Fitzroy considers that intelligence is best devoted to the constant challenge of donkey control, regardless of whether or not the donkey in question wishes or needs to be controlled.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Snow fodder

Winter has hit us earlier than usual in France (the winter solstice only arrives on Tuesday), and we've had exceptionally big snowfalls. At Gamone, I'm reassured to have a good supply of hay for the two donkeys. They only need this fodder, of course, when the snow prevents them from getting at the grass.

I've adopted the convenient solution of storing the hay in dry conditions at a spot (50 meters up beyond the house) that's out-of-bounds for the donkeys. Twice a day, I put a small heap of hay onto a tarpaulin and drag this light load down the road to the donkeys' paddock.

In that way, we waste as little as possible of the precious fodder. Whenever I smell the wonderful aroma of this top-quality hay (which was mowed last spring up on the Vercors plateau near Vassieux), I'm reminded of my childhood days on the farm of my Walker uncles on the outskirts of South Grafton. They used to do their mowing using a pair of draft horses, and the hay was piled up in a single giant heap inside a wooden barn. For hens, the hay stack was a favorite spot for laying eggs. I don't think my uncles were in dire need of winter fodder for their herd of dairy cows, who could generally find enough grass to eat all year round. Maybe it was useful to have this stock of hay in the case of an exceptionally dry spell.

In France, we've inherited a marvelous old recipe from the ancient Gauls: filet mignon of pork roasted slowly on a bed of hay, which adds flavor to the meat. The pork is served up on its steamy wad of hay, accompanied by wild mushrooms, but the hay is not to be eaten.

Moshé and Fanette are now covered in thick fur, like a pair of baby mammoths. They stay out in the open, no matter what the weather's like. There's a shed in which they could be protected from falling snow, rain and sleet, but they never use it.

I intend to construct a small system for holding the hay up off the ground, with a roof. I ordered the four posts of Douglas pine a week or so ago, and they're waiting to be picked up at the sawmill (as soon as the snow disappears, and I can drive into town).

Talking about feeding the animals, I've run into an unexpected hitch. To feed the wild birds, I put sunflower seeds inside the bird house for the tits [mésanges], and I throw other assorted seeds on the ground for the finches [pinsons].

I've been amazed to discover that my dog Fitzroy, who consumes huge quantities of the finest dog foods (pasta and croquettes for pups), likes to round off his meals with bird seeds. He doesn't digest them, since the seeds reappear all over the surface of Fitzroy's turds, which look a little like Oriental pastries covered in sesame seeds.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Dog and donkey stuff

In my recent article entitled Construction of a kennel [display], I explained that I've started to build a kennel for Sophia's future companion Fitzroy, who'll be moving into Gamone next month. Here's another photo of my ongoing work:

That's in fact the base of the kennel. I've fixed a bit of roofing metal there so that the fragile pine wood won't be in direct contact with the damp earth, thereby reducing the risk of it rotting.

Yesterday, I shifted my operations up to Moshé's old shelter, on the slopes, a hundred meters south of the house.

This was one of my first constructions at Gamone, back in 1994, and it's starting to become rather ramshackle. However there are still a few solidly-placed poles, so I'll try to patch up this shelter, as far as possible, before the arrival of Moshé's future friend Fanette.

Moshé has always appreciated this shady spot during the warm season (and old Mandrin, too). In any case, Moshé and Fanette will be able to use the sheep shed, which is in good shape, down alongside the creek. While nosing around in the vicinity of the old shelter, I came upon a baby green whip snake (aggressive but harmless).

Since August is their breeding season, this fellow was probably just a week or so old. His gray body was as thick as a pencil, about 25 cm long, and his head was crowned by a bright yellow and black mosaic. He didn't seem to like being disturbed, and snapped viciously at a stick when I tried to coax him outside the cement block, for a better photo. I could imagine the poor little bugger grumbling to itself: "Jeez, I've only been on Earth for a few days, and already there's a big rough guy poking a bloody stick in my face." So, I left him alone. Meanwhile, here's an image of Moshé (far too fat), near his derelict shelter, acting like a silly rock 'n' roll donkey:

A panel forming the rear wall of the shelter had become detached, so I dragged it out into the open, sliced up the boards, stacked them on my Honda petrol-powered "wheelbarrow" (with rubber treads) and brought them back down to the house.

These planks were rapidly integrated into my kennel construction. Although the roof is not yet fixed solidly in place, the kennel is starting to look like a genuine abode for a dog.

Stuffed between the inner walls and the external planks, there's a layer of thermal insulation material.

Once again, Sophia did a rapid site test, and indicated her approval.

Incidentally, please admire Sophia's new line, since I've started giving her exactly the right daily ration of food, with never a surplus gram.

DOG WORSHIP: Talking about dogs, a funny thing happened to me on my way to the blog this morning. I dropped in, as I often do, on the Pharyngula blog [display], which provided me with an unexpected opportunity of listening to a charming but most unusual Christian song of joy. Not exactly a hymn. More like a nursery rhyme for brainwashed kids in a hospital run by a born-again sect. While forcing myself to listen assiduously to this stuff, right through to the end, I was beset by weird urges, of a kind that had never before overcome me. I'm most embarrassed and ashamed to describe my uncouth compulsions. I wanted desperately to raise a leg and piss all over the singer. Worse, I imagined that I was circling the guitarist, while sniffing the ground all around him, with my arse at the level of his instrument. In an ugly nightmare, I was arching my backside, and I finally dropped a few massive smelly turds into the hole in his guitar, which somewhat dampened his ode of joy. Since I'm not normally scatological, I don't know what came over me. In any case, listen to this delightful song, and see if it produces weird reactions in you too.

Did you succeed in surviving to the end of the song?

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Donkeys in the snow

With a thick blanket of snow covering the slopes for the last two days, my donkeys Moshé (right, with a beige head) and Mandrin (left, with a gray head) were no doubt starting to get a bit hungry. But they're perfectly capable of scraping away the snow with their hoofs and then burrowing in with their snouts to find good green grass.

They nevertheless appreciate a bit of hay. Here, they're standing with their hind legs on a sloped embankment, which distorts the shape of their bodies. Seen from behind, they're both about twice as fat as any self-respecting donkey should be... so, I'm not really worried about the possibility of their being undernourished because of the snow.

They're Provençal donkeys, which were used by shepherds during the seasonal migration of their sheep to summer pastures up on the slopes. Judging from their hairy mammoth look, I reckon that the ancestors of these delightful beasts knew a thing or two about wintry conditions.

In this photo, you can make out the dark cross on Moshé's back. When I purchased my six-months-old friend in 1994, the farmer who had bred him told me that my donkey was marked with this cross because he belonged to the same race as the animal that had carried Jesus into the Holy City on Palm Sunday. It's the donkey equivalent—you might say—of the stigmata. So, to respect the noble religious ancestry of my baby beast, I named him Moshé (Hebrew for Moses). Since then, I've discovered that all Provençal donkeys have a dark cross on their back. They form a vast ecclesiastic order, like the White Monks. But I don't know whether all these blessed donkeys have remained pious believers.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Donkeys and dog dishes

Shortly before the death of my billy-goat Gavroche (from causes that still remain a mystery), I had bought him a big bag of goat food. A fortnight ago, I decided to see whether the donkeys might appreciate this factory food in the same way that my dear departed Gavroche did. Well, they certainly do.

Often, when it's fine weather and the donkeys glimpse me walking around outside, they stand waiting for me on the edge of the lawn, just beyond the electrified ribbon (in which I often turn off the current for weeks on end, because the presence of the white ribbon is sufficiently dissuasive). And, if they don't soon see me moving to the place where the food is stored, and coming back out with their silver dog dishes piled high with green pellets, they start to bellow... in a way that only donkeys can bellow. But it's not as if they're starving, because the slopes of Gamone are starting to get covered in luscious grass.

Normally, I'm wary of taking food that was intended for one animal and feeding it to another, but I don't think there's any problem in this case, since sheep, goats, horses and donkeys must surely eat the same basic stuff. I made a huge blunder of this kind, many years ago, when I fed caged rabbits with green pellets intended for horses. All four rabbits were dead the following day. If I understand correctly, the horse pellets contain small quantities of minerals that are great for horses, but apparently mortal for rabbits. When I told this story to an employee of an agricultural supplies store, he said: "Ah, Sir, our life in the agricultural business would indeed be so much easier if we could sell some kind of standard food to be eaten by all farmyard animals." As they say in French, that situation will surely come about, one of these days in the not too far-distant future... when hens have developed teeth. Meanwhile, I can vouch for the fact that donkeys are eating goat food from dog dishes.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Helping my mate

A few days ago, my billy goat Gavroche got into a terrible brawl with my donkey Moshé. I had to rush down the wet slopes, wearing thongs and a track suit, to separate them before any harm was done.

When I reached the scene of the fight, Gavroche was still screeching, because Moshé seemed to be standing on him. I was quite worried, because I had the impression that Gavroche had trouble getting back up on to his little legs. I followed him around on the slopes for half an hour, and I was relieved to see that he was recovering his spirits slowly but surely. Finally, I tied a rope around him and led him back up to the house, where Moshé would not be able to restart the fight.

I felt terribly sorry that a quiet and independent little fellow like Gavroche could be the innocent target of a powerful giant such as Moshé. While meditating upon the injustice of life on our planet, and no doubt everywhere else in the Cosmos where something like DNA might be found, I rapidly cut up a bowl of red apples for Gavroche. This dish (my goat's favorite food... provided that the bits are cut up small enough to enter his tiny mouth) worked wonders on Gavroche.

Munching apples, Gavroche forgot all about his recent brawl and his trivial injuries, and I too abandoned my pessimistic philosophizing about what the Spaniard Miguel de Unamuno once called the Sentimiento Trágico de la Vida... the title of his major work, The Tragic Sense of Life in English, which marked me greatly when I was a student.

But don't misunderstand me. It's not because a bowl of apples can resuscitate a wounded Gavroche that I look upon our earthly condition as a joyful picnic or a musical comedy with a happy ending. On the contrary. The older I get, the more I sense the dominant presence of cruelty, pain and injustice in the world. But I'm comforted nowadays by the marvelous idea, often expressed by Richard Dawkins, that the world at large is never intentionally cruel, so to say... speaking as if the universe had "intentions". The Cosmos simply doesn't give a damn!

PS News from Spain about the dog Pif. Bob told me, a few days ago, that his daughter Alison and her dog are getting along fine in their new life on a ranch near Malaga. But Alison would like to see her dog put on more weight, and she tries to make him eat a maximum. That news doesn't disturb me greatly, because I've always considered Pif as a naturally lean and lanky dog. He'll probably shoot up suddenly like a massive beanstalk, when Alison is least expecting it. And she'll then have to feed him on prime steak. Bravo, dear dog! I know my Pif...

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Three males, two females

I like this peaceful pastel photo, taken yesterday, of the three Gamone males: Gavroche, Moshé and Mandrin.

The following photo of two females in the snow, Gamone and her mother Sophia, reached me mysteriously this morning by email:

It was accompanied by a complicated graphic explanation informing me that "a friend" had taken this photo on a portable phone and sent it to me. When I examined the phone number of the sender, I found with astonishment that it was... me! True enough, almost two years ago, after acquiring my Nokia portable, I took a photo of the dogs and tried to send it to one of my websites. The procedure was so awkward and uncertain that I was never tempted to take another photo on the portable phone. As I've often said, I'm an addicted computer user, oriented Apple, but I've never been on the same wavelength as portable phones. [In other words, I'm a perfect future customer for the Apple iPhone, as soon as it reaches France.] In any case, for unknown reasons, the photo of the dogs took nearly two years to reach me. No problem. As everybody knows, dogs are timeless. Fortunately, like God, they're eternal.

Talking of eternal dogs, look at this fabulous photo, sent to me yesterday by Christine, of her lovely Gamone lounging in a fireplace:

What warm and peaceful harmony: an ideal image of a hot dog!

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Smell of violence

When you see the new dog basket without Sophia inside, it looks enormous. But in fact, it's just right.

I'm constantly amazed by the way in which Sophia uses her sense of smell as a source of information about places and events in the outside world. When I take her with me in the car, Sophia lies on the floor in front of the passenger seat. She rarely props herself up high enough to see out through the car windows, and yet she knows constantly the key zones in which we're located. If I drive towards the edge of the Bourne River at Pont-en-Royans, Sophia starts to bark with excitement, because she looks forward to scavenging for bits of food dropped by picknickers. On the other hand, if I park in front of the veterinarian's place, Sophia refuses to get out of the automobile, apparently because she detects the smell of some kind of canine anguish.

At Gamone, the donkeys and the billy goat are usually about a hundred meters up the hill behind the house, and they're often partly hidden by shrubs. So, Sophia and I don't normally have a clear view of them. In spite of this, Sophia knows instantly whenever a mild squabble has erupted between the two donkeys (in the form of a biting match), or when one of the donkeys is fed up with the goat trying vainly to get up its backside, and lets loose with a hefty kick (which Gavroche always succeeds in sidestepping). As soon as Sophia detects any violence of this kind, she starts to bark furiously and looks at me with an expression of alarm, as if she expected me to intervene, to calm down the animals. I can only conclude that she must be capable of detecting what I would call a "smell of violence" that is emitted on such occasions by the donkeys or the goat. Or maybe there's some other explanation...

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Stray animal at Gamone

This morning I was surprised to find my donkey Moshé rolling around in the dust with a stray animal:

Many of the local farmers are too lazy to build fences, and this is not the first time I've found stray livestock at Gamone. If nobody claims this fellow, I'll be happy to hang on to him, because he seems to get on well with Sophia, the two donkeys and the billy-goat.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Dwarf tossing

I seem to recall that this kind of game used to be practiced, long ago, in Aussie pubs or clubs... but I might be confusing Australia with Patagonia or Dilbert's Elbonia. This degrading sport still goes on here at Gamone, as this fuzzy photo reveals:

When Moshé uses his powerful jaws and teeth to grab the skin on the spine of the midget goat Gavroche (also known as Sex Machine) and twirl him around in the air like a frisbee (while the second donkey, Mandrin, admires the show), the most amazing thing is that the stubborn buck comes back for more, as if he liked that rough donkey treatment. Maybe, once upon a time, when our human ancestors were young, that kind of gripping and tossing was love play. Still is?

Saturday, December 16, 2006


This morning, Eric did some shooting around Choranche. He climbed up to the crest of the hill behind my house, where the panoramic view to the east is superb. My donkey Moshé galloped up, to see what Eric was doing, and they were quickly joined by my billy-goat Gavroche. Eric told me he got some fine shots of the animals and the landscape. Then he shot a short sequence, in front of the house, of me talking about Gamone. After that, Eric went off on his own in his automobile to shoot images further up the road, beyond the village of Choranche, in the Gorges of the Bourne. Half an hour later, when he returned to the house, Eric informed me that he had just escaped a calamity by a hair’s breadth. When parking his automobile on the edge of the mountainous road, he hadn’t put the brake on firmly enough. All of a sudden, he saw his automobile sliding slowly backwards. Eric tried vainly to halt the vehicle with his bare hands, but it carried on until it bumped into the stone wall on the edge of the road, causing minimal damage to the rear bumper and taillights. Back at my place, Eric patched up the damaged plastic with cardboard and adhesive tape, while reflecting upon what might have happened if there had been a break in the stone wall at the spot where the automobile was sliding backwards.

On the theme of mountain roads, I told Eric about a recent discussion with my son. Seeing me halt on a steep and narrow road because of an approaching vehicle, François said that, if he were at the wheel in this kind of situation, he would normally accelerate, instead of halting, because he considered that two vehicles could best move around each other “in the fluidity of their respective movement”. (This translation into English might not represent faithfully what my son was trying to say.) I remember being shocked by the point of view of François, who seemed to be appealing to some kind of magic beyond the realities of elementary arithmetic, as if the concept of fluidity could, somehow or other, reduce the widths of the two vehicles... almost like the famous Einsteinian diminution of length due to high velocity. Once again, it was a domain in which the distance between my son and me was a question of wavelengths.