Showing posts with label donkeys. Show all posts
Showing posts with label donkeys. Show all posts

Monday, August 2, 2010

Moshé's future companion

My donkey Moshé has been upset (disoriented ) by the recent disappearance of his old companion Mandrin.

It's a well-known fact that donkeys don't like to lead a solitary existence, so I immediately started looking around for an animal to keep him company. As of today, I'm happy to have found an ideal solution: a baby female donkey named Fanette who'll be available (that is, weaned) by the middle of October. This afternoon, Fanette's breeder, a young woman from Presles named Sylvie Rozand, introduced me to the beautiful little donkey.

In October, to get Fanette down to Gamone, Sylvie and I plan to walk down the slopes from Presles to Choranche. The road starts with a short but difficult section comprising a tunnel. Normally, donkeys refuse to enter tunnels, just as they refuse to cross streams. Sylvie has done this journey already. She tells me that Margot can be coaxed into entering this tunnel, while Nina and her daughter can be roped up behind and led along by Margot.

Fanette's father is a Provençal donkey owned by my Châtelus neighbor Jean-Marie Huillier (in fact, Sylvie's cousin), whose farm is located just across the Bourne from Gamone. By chance, I've been saying hello to this male donkey for ages, every time I drive across to Châtelus.

After leaving the donkeys, Sylvie invited me for a drink with her parents, in front of their old farmhouse in the village of Presles. My daughter Manya and I have known this couple for ages.

They're natives of Presles and traditional farmers, members of a race that has almost disappeared. Sylvie's companion happens to be a Welshman named William, whom I've not yet met. He's a professional shepherd, stationed for the moment in an Alpine context with a huge flock of sheep. In French, the operation that consists of a shepherd and his dogs leading their flock up to high-altitude pastures for the summer months is referred to as alpage. Then they all come down again to the valley as soon as the first snow appears.

This afternoon, I received an open invitation from William and Sylvie to drive up to spend a couple of days in their Alpine cabin, some three hours away from here by car. I hope I'll be able to accept this invitation, along with my dog Sophia. If so, a surprise awaits us. We'll be returning to Gamone with another companion, for Sophia: a pure-bred Border Collie pup.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Nice key ring, noble NGO

I've always liked this key ring, which was given to me by my daughter Emmanuelle soon after I moved into Gamone and invited the young donkey Moshé (born in a neighboring valley) to join me.

At that time, this key ring was associated with a French-based NGO [nongovernmental organization]: Veterinaries without borders.

Recently, a reference to agronomists has been inserted into the NGO's title. [Click the banner to visit their French-language website.] Their noble goal consists of using agronomic and veterinary know-how in the planetary combat against hunger.

The donkey is an excellent symbol for the quest for durable solutions… if only because the beast itself might be thought of as a kind of living "durable solution" that has come down to us intact from African prehistory. Admittedly, here at Gamone, my two donkeys happen to be living in an exceptional environment, where there's always something to eat… even in winter, when there's half a meter of snow on the slopes. For their ancestors in parched lands, life was surely much harsher.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Donkey dinner

When I found a few apples lying in the grass, preserved by the snow, I cut them up and put them on top of the donkeys' daily dose of oats.

I was a little surprised to find that the animals promptly pushed aside the apple fragments so that they could get stuck into the oats.

I had always imagined that the donkeys are immensely fond of apples. Well, they are, I'm sure... but it seems that they're fonder still of oats.

Five minutes later, when I returned to pick up the dishes, both the oats and the apples had disappeared. Maybe it's like children having a meal in such-and-such a celebrated junk-food restaurant. I would imagine that, spontaneously, a normal kid would tackle the hamburger and French fries first, and then move on to the sundae.

The donkeys were standing still at the same spot, above the empty dishes, digesting their dinner.

Judging from the respective positions of their ears, old gray-faced Mandrin is waiting for me to say something (or maybe he's intrigued by the buzz of my Nikon adjusting its focus), whereas young beige-faced Moshé is more interested in keeping an auditive "outlook" on what might be happening behind him: in particular, the presence of Sophia... who learned long ago that it's not wise for a dog to spend too much time behind the powerful rear legs of a donkey.