THE OFFICIAL BLOG
I am particularly grateful that we had it ready in time for foaling. That was the plan, but there was this virus and a lot of crazy shut-downs and delays and it seemed like we were going to have to make-do for another season. But miracle of miracles - it was ready for Guadalupe and her baby. They have a safe, dry, and well-lit stall which allows the rest of the herd to check in and interact any time of day. (In the meantime, Fatima is waiting for her turn in the adjacent stall.)
Not only do we have a good grooming station but we have room to set up stations for all of them at once. Finally, proper daily grooming and training is not only possible, but rather pleasant - especially with plenty of light and all of the necessary supplies within arm's reach.
My initial request for a 20' x 30' building with the long side completely open was met with some... uhm... confusion... skepticism... maybe looks of 'Okay, lady. That makes no sense, but you're paying.' But I had donkeys in mind! I needed a structure that would be large enough to not only house stalls as needed, but also to serve as a run-in for the rest of the donkeys. And it was really important to me that this be more of a run-in than a barn - as donkeys don't care much for being enclosed. That's also why I was happy to accept the standard 10' walls for our 30 inch donkeys -- lots of air-flow and a high-ceiling that helps the space feel wide-open while still being protected. The raised clay and gravel pad is high enough to keep the ground as dry as needed for donkey hooves and the building itself is situated so as to face away from prevailing winds and sun all day long.
We still intend to rearrange and add more stalls for the future - though the current configuration is perfect for this summer. We also plan to add a lot more hardware for hanging and storing supplies on those high walls. Also in the works is a solar lighting kit for late night check-ups. That's going to be super cool.
We will probably be adding some seating for humans that is unlikely to be chewed by donkeys and plenty of decor to make the place homey. But for now - it just feels nice to finally have what we need to keep our little donkeys happy.
When we acquired our first donkey, we thought we would keep her in a barn stall overnight and then set her out to roam and graze our property during the day. She was such a tiny thing and so cute and would be a joy to halter every morning for the routine. Except. The first problem was that she was as wild as any ass in the desert and wouldn't let me anywhere near her to halter. The second problem was that this tiny little donkey managed to kick down the stall gate within the first 48 hours of her time here.
Such problems continued with our plans as we acquired more donkeys. For quite a while they were housed in a large fenced area behind our main barn with access to the barn itself for shelter. But our jack, Loreto, is prone to boredom and bored toddler type destruction. The boy wrecked our barn. Then he turned his attention to our chickens and goats.
We spent several weeks over a previous summer building a low barbed wire fence around the immediate perimeter of the cleared area around our house and barn so as to give the donkeys more room to range and play -- and curb frustration and boredom. It worked. They were no longer bored. They were completely entertained by eating all of our trees and shrubs and accessible outbuildings. Oh.. and grass. Every. blade. of. grass.
So then came the Okay. New Plan. part of this story: we bit the bullet and hired a good company out of Tulsa to build us a pole-barn type building. It was a slightly strange request as I was looking for a run-in or loafing shed - but wanted it to be large enough to take care of future needs including weather-safe stalls if necessary. The result was a 20 x 30 foot steel building totally enclosed on three sides and totally open on one long side -- an over-sized loafing shed.
We also enclosed a little less than one half acre of a nice wooded area with cattle panel for them to play in when they aren't out with us. There are tweaks to be made to the fence as we put it up as quickly as possible to get them moved in. We also have a few frustrations to work out on the building itself as the pad takes on all of the drainage from our driveway and is staying pretty wet -- too wet for donkeys -- during all of this rain. Some more grade work and ditch-digging will take care of that.
We are using the corral panels that we had already purchased to make barn stalls inside the shed. We are short one gate panel before we can put together two stalls which will do for the time being as we are expecting two foals this summer. Ultimately, we would need four more gate panels and $360 more dollars. And, honestly, after all of this construction that's not currently in the budget.
I think maybe our barn-building guys thought I was a little touched in the head to be having all of this built for these tiny little donkeys. And I may actually be a little touched in the head, but I think it will all work out just right when it is done. I mean, the donkeys are here to stay and they are well worth it.
And once the tack hooks, solar lights, and decorations are all in place - we will be able to move on to all of the other little projects we have neglected for years - such as planting trees without having to build fences around them. Maybe someday we will even buy a park bench ... and then we will sit on it... and relax and enjoy all of the work we have done. Maybe. I can dream anyway.