A cold crisp, morning - dry and crunchy underfoot and the day promises some sunshine.
Donkeys are furry and looking for some browsing. I will gather some hemlock branches (they love the twigs) and huckleberry for them later.
It's Deenah's turn for a walk (Siog was out yesterday and Dorica the day before.) These are fine days for walking, the air clear, the ground dry and the island roads quiet.
A friend lost one of her horses yesterday. She found the horse cast against the shelter wall, and with help, got her on her feet. The vet was called and made the trip over to the island twice that day. My friend spent most of the night in the barn, administering pain killers and warm water to the horse but the next morning, her condition was worse. The vet felt the situation was dire and euthanized the horse. What went wrong?
Impossible to say but these things are both sad and frightening. Our lives are fragile and things can change just like that. The news of this tragedy had me observing all the donkeys with heightened awareness. Colic can be a problem in the winter as they are eating a lot of very dry matter.
I noticed that they are drinking less with the cold temperatures, even though I have two heated buckets, so I put out some kelp meal, offered "free choice" to add some saltiness (as well as trace minerals) to their diet.
This may encourage them to drink more. Donkeys don't dehydrate quickly - even in the hot sun. They retain water in much the same way as camels do. But I want to keep all that dry hay and straw moving through their systems.
Have you ever seem a diagram of a donkey's intestines? It's absolutely amazing that even a kernel can make it through! Same with a horse - miles of complicated, curving gut. No wonder colic is such an issue!
Salt is very important and donkeys don't tend to use a mineral block with any great enthusiasm, although it is important to have one available. I also offer free choice coarse Himalayan salt but they don't care for it as much as the kelp meal and it "attracts" moisture, so is often sitting in a puddle in the feeder.
Soaking hay can add water to their diet but I find it quite a pain to do and anyway my water pipes to the barn are frozen! Another option is to feed either beet pulp and soy bean hulls or hay cubes that have been soaked in water. Deenah gets a dish of this every morning with her ulcer meds and supplements - the minis don't need the extra calories. But it's an option that I will consider as I observe the level in the water buckets.