Archive for May, 2009

Canola on the Camas Prairie

May 31, 2009

Canola on the Camas Prairie

GPS readings 5.88 miles went to Lee and Debbie Pease and around their driveway instead of down to the highway  which cuts into our six mile trip a little bit.  The maximum speed in a nice controlled trot was 7.7 mph and total driving time today was 2 hours and 45 minutes.

It was 77 degrees with a light breeze, perfect weather, as was our drive.   I took photos from the driver’s seat of the donkeys facing the canola and wheat fields with the mountains in the background.

The readjustment on the lines made a huge difference, there was 8 inches difference today will decrease that to 6 inches tomorrow and I can go down to 4 inches.  I also adjusted Galahad’s back strap, right side, up one notch it has always looked to long even though it is the same length as the other side.  The britchin is still tipping just a little bit so this should help.  Galahad also needs some hames adjustments.

I am going to try a shorter set of traces on Luc tomorrow.  The shorter set has the holes cut several inchs shorter and that should be just perfect for him.  I’ve had to keep driving him forward to keep the traces tight.  He was busy being a character today!  He picked up the yoke pole and packed it in his mouth.  I was not impressed!  He may find it coated with something really icky for tomorrow’s drive.

 Robert was with me and he did some driving today which was very nice.  Galahad was even better in today’s trot, docking and fanning.  During the month of May we logged 13 ½ hours of driving time in 8 drives. Had eight ground driving sessions so about 8 hours there.

neighborhood visit

First Drive Alone, Just me and the boys!

May 30, 2009

My first drive alone with the boys.  Our new obstacles for the day were crossing a bridge with gurgling water, a pasture of new Black Angus cattle Galahad had never seen before.  When we got back to our lane we found two half grown steers that had gotten out and were trimming around our mailbox.  The team’s big assignment for the day was to drive past the cattle, turn them and run them off the road and into the creek and under the fence where they have been getting out.  Ahhhh piece of cake!  We put the cows back in.  These are the same cows that got out yesterday and joined the boys in a birthday celebration for Luc.  Very sociable donkey lovin’ steers these two are.  It was 77* at the end of today’s drive Galahad’s harness stayed in place much better today and for the most part he drove better.  Sure is nice to see the britchin hanging straight across the ass for once.  I did retighten the breast and quarter straps when I got home, those were just too loose.

When Galahad would go crocked and hang his head to the outside I found that by geeing and hawing back and forth across the road made him want to line out and go straight! Big old’ grin here!  It’s less work Galahad to go in a straight line, don’t ya know!

We worked again on trotting.  I found that a little bit of an incline helped him to line out and pull while trotting.  Either that or we have trotted enough that finally I have convinced him that he needs to pull while trotting.  He did pull today in a trot for the first time and was relaxed enough to lope a few steps.  Okay tomorrow we start working on his speed control in a trot.  We already do that in a walk.  We work on “easy walk” and a “step-up walk” and if someone is lagging I call out his name and give the step-up command.  They do not like the whip so both obey.  Luc will test me sometimes so he gets “touched by his angel” every so often.

At our crossroads both coming and going we worked on fan maneuvers in both directions.

Then on the way home in the same spot we worked on docking.  That was kewell! 

 Had to use my ice pick to get the tiny rocks out of the hooves today, but it worked neat!  Does anyone ever use an ice pick anyway, for ice that is?

GPS readings:  5.15 miles, Max Spd 8.5 mph, driving time 2 hours. 

 Galahad has just hit his first 10 hours of driving mark, now on to the next ten.  Drove them past Cole’s and turned around in the hay field entrance next to the creek.

Worked on the lines today.  There was 12 inches difference between the continuous and the coupling lines decreased that to 8 inches.  My lines on the inside were really hanging low with no contact. Scarie, uh!

These are the steers that came to Luc’s Birthday party yesterday.

cow company making themselves to home

Sixth Drive Confident and Relaxed

May 29, 2009

Had another wonderful early morning drive. Clouds rolled in and I even got a little chilled, looks like we are in for some much needed rain.  This was the sixth drive for the new team.  I’m feeling especially good about these guys.

I am so pleased as Galahad is getting more and more relaxed and gaining more self confidence with each outing.  He stays in step and pulls right along with Lucers.  Oh today is Luc’s 8th birthday, he thought he should have the day off with just treats to eat! 🙂

Galahad is starting to learn how to fan, we did 1/4 of a fan today, and our first docking today, he will back a few steps and together they back straight, they will stop and take nice long breaks and when they start moving again are right together in step. 

 We drove 4.66 miles today in 2 hours with 30 minutes of stopping time visiting with the locals and getting their pictures taken by Vicki Cole.  Today was the last day I have Erin as a full time helper.  Tomorrow Debbie Patten wants to go with me.  If not I feel that I am ready to go by myself.  The guys are easy to hitch and unhitch and we’ve encountered just about all the obstacles… heavy loud farm equipment, people walking, walkers with dogs, dogs barking, horses running ya know all that fun stuff!  Nothing seems to bother him and of course Luc doesn’t care, he’s Mr. Laid Back.   Galahad is having trouble with the trot so we are just doing a few steps at a time.  He does come right back to me.

Luc's birthday drive

More Harness Problems

May 28, 2009

Darn it, I am still having problems with Galahad’s harness.  Added more length to the inside back and quarter straps plus we also shortened the hip straps one notch.  Hopefully this will keep the spider centered on his hip so he can go straight.  He is still turning his head to the outside and the line adjustment seems to be good. 

Walked all the way to Joe Bond’s and back home.  Jerry Scholten was out walking with his dogs, Wayne Cole was out for a walk and when we were almost home our neighbor Debbie pulled over to visit with her barking dog  that never did shut up.  So it was a big dog day for the donkey boys. 

We had no problems with the horses.  In fact there were no problems at all.  We walked almost the entire trip.  When we did stop we enjoyed about 5 minutes of not moving.  We excuted some tight turns on the corners and they did wonderful!  GPS Readings; Trip Odometer 4.02 miles, Max speed (all walking except one small bolt 5.4 mph, moving average 3.1 mph, total time  1.46 hrs.

Second Prairie Drive

May 27, 2009


This was our second drive across the prairie.  Galahad did much better on the right side.  His back straps were too short and had to be lengthen three holes.  He also had a belly strap that was too short and it was pulling his britchin over to one side, and we added a hole to the neck strap to tighten it.  He was pretty miserable with his harness so far out of alignment.  Erin, who went with me, did not have to get out of the cart at all even past the running horses. When we arrived back at home and Erin and I made the adjustments.  Hopefully it will take less than 1 hour to harness tomorrow. GPS readings 3.45 miles, 6.6 max speed, moving average 3.2 mph and our drive time was 1 hr 30 minutes.  Will need to work on straightening Galahad’s frame tomorrow.   At the end of drive it was 65 degrees.

First Prairie Drive

May 26, 2009

After a four day layoff Robert was on hand for our first drive on the prairie.  Galahad was hanging to the outside of his traces so will switch sides tomorrow to see if that helps him.  He was a little worried about going past running horses pastured not far from us, but was fine with the traffic. He had his first short trotting session.  It was pretty ugly, but he’ll improve. 

GPS readings:  Drove 3 miles to the turn around just past the horse pasture, maximum speed was 10.4 mph (our first trot) Moving average 3 mph  We did a lot of stopping and he was fine.  Luc needs a head strap on as he wants to put his head down all the time.

Driving the WhiteBird highways and byways

May 21, 2009

Driving Good 5 21 09

After yesterday I felt confident with a huge sense of accomplishment.  I was anxious to hitch again.  Today with Robert’s help I planned to drive down the highway, past the horses and mules, the dogs, the houses and the traffic.  This was a pretty ambitious drive especially for a second hitch but there was a reason behind it.

 It was coming up on Memorial Day weekend and we had plans to be gone for several days.  I needed to bring the boys home and with the temperatures heating up in WhiteBird I was not sure if I would bring them back.  My trusty friend Robert was there if I got myself into trouble.

 We hitched and drove around on the flat until all seemed to be okay.  We hit the highway and did very well until we came to the horses and mules that had been moved along side the main road with a portable electric fence put next to the asphalt.  We visited with the owner while the boys got a good look at the wild bunch who wanted to run next to us.  My boys were good and we proceeded down the public road.  The mules and horses had moved away from the road on our return trip and all went well.  We even had some traffic which was what I wanted.

I adjusted the breast straps as tight as I could get them and that really helped to get the pole on the cart higher.  Even the seat was fairly level.  I would still like to get the pole higher if anyone has any ideas??

side view 5 21

I had a good hour of driving the team before I turned the lines over to Robert so he could drive the them on the flat.  They are ready to come home and enjoy a few days off.  WhiteBird turned out to be my lifesaver, what a wonderful experience it was!  Next drive will be on home turf.

Teamdonk Hitched to the cart

May 20, 2009

Galahad's first drive 5 20 09

First thing we had to do was to change the chain traces to the leather slotted ones before harnessing.  It took 45 minutes of ground driving to get Galahad settled down enough to hitch.  We ground drove them on the main highway that way he would have a feel for asphalt, running horses and mules, barking dogs and passing vehicles. 

We returned to the trailer and attached the cart.  This was the first time the cart had been hitched to a team.  I was so nervous but it went incredibly smooth.  Of course driving them close to the trailer was a great advantage.  We were able to go back and make several adjustments like loosening the quarter straps so the britchin could work better. 

 I am still having problems with the lines and need to get that figured out soon.

 The other thing I noticed is that the pole hangs too low in front which makes the cart go downhill.  I need to raise that pole up.  If anyone has any suggestions I would love to hear from you! I will shorten the breast straps first to see if that will help.   Maybe putting smaller tires on would help.

 Another problem we had and have not had this happen before is the inside draft line on Galahad became caught under the neck yoke.  Sure glad Robert was on hand to free it up.

 line hung up on pole

We had a good 30 minute drive on the flat… it has finally happened….

Galahad is hitched!


Hitched to a drag

May 19, 2009

It was the first drag for the boys today and they took it all in stride.  Robert and Don were on hand to help.  We had a wonderful beginning and didn’t waste any time getting hitched to the evener and then a short time later added the tire.  It was extremely noisy with the evener going over and catching the big rocks and dragging them.  At times it was so loud I could not  be heard.  Maybe the guys liked that!  It certainly did not affect the donkey boys at all.

I did have to readjust the lines. I discovered that the boys were working more off voice cues than line cues, the inside lines were not working correctly.  Finally got the outside lines where they were making contact with the bit which eased up on the inside ones.  It’s so nice to have them ground driving so I can see what  needs changed to make everything go smoother when we do hitch. 

Tire dragging May 19th

What GREAT boys they were today.  Robert took Luc and Galahad for a spin around the pen, giving the boys a chance to experience a new handler, it was his first team driving experience.  Lots of firsts for everyone today.   

The Drag

Teamdonk Drives Again

May 18, 2009

Don helped out for the first time and he was wonderful!!!  As a kid he hayed with a team on Joseph Plains and I think he enjoyed working with harness again.  I felt bad that it took so long to get started.  I left home at 6 am and was all set up with the pylons in place, the gate open, the donkey boys fed and brushed … I was ready that way just not harnessed by the time he got there at 7:30. 

I had not hitched the boys up as a team since last fall.  Harnesses had been torn apart over the winter and needed to be put back together.  Some parts were at WhiteBird and some were at the farm.  Galahad had not had his brand new harness put together as a team setup so there were holes to punch and lots of adjustments that needed to be made.  I had to bring some of his and Lucer’s harness home to be readjusted here. 

Finally got everything on, nicely adjusted and then came the lines…Kristi’s personal bug-a-boo.  I had forgotten to look at my diagram or even take it with me so I did a guess and by golly.  After trying to drive them with the lines on ALL wrong, we went back to the trailer and I guessed again… this time I finally figured them out!  It is so simple and I was trying to make it way too hard.  By George I think I’ve finally got it!! 

Once going with the lines right… I drove them to the pen with Don helping with Galahad.  After about ten minutes in the pen I had Don stand at one end of the pen and I drove the guys by myself towards him.  At the end of thirty minutes Galahad was keeping up with Luc, going thru the cones and turning tight circles.  At 9 am we quit and I drove them back to the trailer all by myself without Don’s help.  It was 78* by then.  They got a good 45 minute drive in. 

 I have to get a rope set up tomorrow morning to keep their butts together but that won’t be hard.  Other than that it should progress into them dragging the tire.   I hope!!!! 

Teamdonk going thru the cones