RMS Magical Merlin gets a new zip code~

October 26, 2009

Mid-morning of October 25th in Helena, Montana, owner/trainer/breeder Janelle of Rocky Mountain Songbirds, harnessed Merlin.  We had each driven half way to meet in the middle for a day of fun  and it worked out great.  First Janelle drove Merlin pulling a tire, and then I took the lines for awhile before turning them over to Jim and grabbing the camera.

Grnd driving 10 25 Helena MT

We hitched him to the training cart with Janelle driving  around the pasture including a trot.  He was calm, quiet and stood very well.  He didn’t really want to trot out for very long but that was okay.  He was relaxed so off we went to the Bureau of Reclamation Lands for a test drive.  The drive was on gravel roads along ditches and down a hill into a circle turn around that we took several loops on.  Merlin took his time coming back to the pasture which has not been his normal, during training he really liked to come home.

 First drive Janelle n Kristi 10 25 09

Then I took  Jim on the same drive with about the same results.  Something moved off to our side on the way back and Merlin squared off to it, may have just been the breeze moving the tall grass but it certainly didn’t spook him.  He came back to the ranch at a nice calm walk which suited us just fine.

 The next morning we double blanketed him for the trip home in the open stock type trailer.  At each stop I adjusted his blankets to make sure they were doing their job to protect him from butt rubbing and to keep him dry.  He really liked me in the trailer with him dishing out treats.  He loaded the best of any new donkey we have ever brought home.  At one gas stop in Missoula Jim yelled out, “Talk to me Merlin,” and he did…. One big deep man-sized bray….a real head turner!

 Before we unloaded after our 8 hour trip home over two major mountain passes thru snow, rain and wind I moved the other boys into the center pasture.  That way he would have some time to get a drink and something to eat before meeting the troops.  I was also able to get a good measurement on him.  RMS Magical Merlin is the tallest at 58 ¾ inches and the youngest at just 3 ½ years old and he isn’t going to take any crap off any of the other three.  After getting things sorted out we have a Teamdonk peaceful foursome. 

 Merlin’s training totals 16.5 hours and 19 miles of driving including this one …give or take! Janelle kept excellent records for us and turned over a nicely trained donkey boy!  Check out Merlin’s twin brother, Mike and all the donkeys for sale at http://www.midrivers.com/~rmsdonkeys/  If ya talk nice she’ll even train one for ya or ask about her teams…she’s got some good ones, large and small, for sale!

Riding Hank

October 18, 2009

Fortunately the mower on the tractor broke giving Jim a chance to ride his new donkey.  Sure worked for me!  Hank was not a willing participant to begin with but wise ole’ Jim went into the house and came out with a great smelling apple…all of a sudden we had Hank’s undivided attention and he was a donk on a mission.  We went for a walk and when the apple was all gone I climbed on and Jim lead Hand out into the field and eventually back to the house.  Saddled up Luc and off we rode back to the field.

Hank's first ride 10 18 09

Hank was just great for a while but then he decided he was done.  We had left the halter on and had taken the lead rope for just this purpose.  Luc ended up ponying Hank until we could get his feet unstuck.  We rode to a pasture with running and whinnying horses.  Luc was excited that they were so happy to see him. 

 Hank's first ride #2 10 18 09

We had a great ride home with Hank in the lead and really moving out.  We rode the wheat field into the hay field and then back into the wheat field and finally home.  It was a great first ride on Hank and the first time Jim and I had been able to go donkey riding together in a very long time!

 Hank's first ride #3 10 18 09

Hank’s First Ground Driving Session

October 17, 2009

Hank has completed his first ground driving session.  First I harnessed him in Galahad’s buggy harness and decided that was too small.  I pulled one of the big boy’s harnesses down from the ceiling and all it needs  is just sized down in order to fit. 

It was tough deciding which collar size Hank needed but after much debate I chose the size 18.  Here is Handsome Hank Bishop getting his first harness adjustments.

 Hank in Harness 10 17 09

Robert was here to insure all went well which it actually did.  We took Hank out for his first session alone and went up and down the road and had some traffic which was great.

Hank n Luc first grnd drive 10 17 09

Then we teamed him with Luc and ground drove them as a team.  It took a bit for Hank to coordinate with Luc but once he did, they were perfect together.  It was a great fall afternoon and Hank could not have been any better.

Hank Rolls

October 13, 2009

Luc showed Hank his favorite roll spot and here’s what happened…

Hank rolls #1 10 12 09

Hank rolls #2

Hank rolls #3

hank rolls #4

hank rolls #5

hank rolls #6

Hank rolls All Done #7

Ahhhhhh feels so good…..

Hank’s Arrival Photos

October 11, 2009

It was a NO drama first meeting.  Galahad and Luc were more excited than Hank was for a first greeting.  Hank was more intent on trying out the local cuisine.  Eventually he did make his way down for a quick, “hi guys” before going back to eat.  Maybe it was just to quiet down Galahad who kept braying at him!  Here is their first over the pipe and cable fence meeting.

Hank meets Teamdonk 10 11 09

It was a very friendly first meeting.  So friendly in fact that after an hour and a half and everyone seemed fine with each other that Jim went down and give the teamdonk boys a good talkin’ to about being nice to his new donkey boy…..

Jim talkin to the boys before meeting Hank

Galahad was a little more interested in greeting Hank than Luc….

Galahad meets Hank 10 11 09

Finally it was Luc in the lead taking Hank out to show him all their favorite spots.

Luc shows Hank all the good spots

That was the end of that, it was a peaceful introduction and all is well at the new Teamdonk!

Playing with Handsome Hank Bishop

October 10, 2009

It was a beautiful cold October weekend.  The colors this time of the year are super spectacular, what a great time to be out and about.  Saturday we made our way to Sagle, Idaho with time for a fun shopping spree at Cabela’s Sporting Goods.  It was also the opening of the general hunting season so we figured it would be a great time to make this stop and it was!

We arrived in Sagle mid afternoon and it was don on the winter duds, grab the treats and head to out and play with Hank.  Lots of photos were taken, you know looking for that perfect registration picture.  Now that is a whole ‘nutter story.

Hank also received his first official measurement with a stick equipped with a level.  He is a true 58 inches, which we think is just perfect.  He stands square both front and rear, but a halter boy he will never be.  Hank comes to us with an unknown breeding background.  He was ridden at Bill Garrett’s place as a two year old and Hank’s back shows his early riding experience.

Hank was also loaded in and out of the trailer a couple of times paving the way for his journey to Kingma’s Farm.  He proved just how smart he is after his first loading session where he tried to tell us he wasn’t going to get in.  After that it was a piece of cake to load the big boy.


Susan also showed us his clicker smarts.  This boy can target with the best of them!  She has even ground driven him.  How nice to receive a donkey who already knows some of the basics and rides to boot! 

Todays photos are compliments of Susan’s camera!


Hank and those who loved him in Northern Idaho.


One of many bonding moments, Hank and Jim.

Gettin’ Ready for Hank

October 7, 2009

Why are you moving our water tank out here? Galahad wanted to know.  I’ve never seen it set up in this pasture before.  On a good day it takes about 20 minutes to fill their water tank.

Jim knew he had time to go to the machine shed and back while the tank was filling.  The boys were standing guard watching and drinking the fresh water as he walked away. 

It was about 15 minutes later when he came back to shut the water off and he could see the boys were still at the tank.  Only something was not one hundred percent right.  As he came around the corner of the house he could see Luc’s head bobbing up and down with the running water hose hanging out of his mouth.  Galahad was standing back far enough he was no longer getting wet but his face had not escaped Luc’s original antics.  Don’t know who got the wettest… the bather or the bathee.  Oh whell Luc said…. It was sure fun while it lasted!

Luc in all his fall splendor…

Luc Aug 2009

Handsome Hank Bishop

October 5, 2009

Please can I have him…pleasssssseeeeee……. He’s tall 57 to 58 inches, I would guess.  He’s a dark grey roan and ever so darn handsome!  He’s drafty, he’s old enough to ride and he’s been used for riding and did I mention handsome???   

OK let’s see…. other valid points to be mentioned here…. he would give you something to train to drive next spring and he’d give you a three abreast with Luc and Galahad…. and pleasssseeeeeee can we try to buy him….. I really really LUV him… he’s got a kind eye and he’d make a great team mate for the other one you bought last spring that is coming to the farm this month…. PLEASSSSSEEEEEEEE…….   

This was Jim all the way home from the Sandpoint Draft Show… it was a six hour drive and it only took about the first hour to wear me down, but I decided it would be fun to let him beg for a few hours.  You see secretly I was seeing Hank and Merlin, the three year old we purchased last spring from RMS donkeys, as my wheelers teamed with Luc and Galahad as my leaders in a donkey driving four up.  Did I mention he is really really handsome?  He would become our fabled King Arthur in the Kingma Camelot Carousel.

 Later I made the phone call and placed an offer on a donkey that really was not for sale.  After thinking it over his very gracious owner also thought that Hank would be purrrfect for us and agreed to let him join the Teamdonk boys.  Here’s a photo of the donkey that Tennessee Mule Artist, Bonnie Shields, dubbed as…. Handsome Hank Bishop.  He was purchased three years ago at 2006 Bishop Mule Days from Mr. Bill Garrett.  See he’s famous all ready! 

His original name at the time of that sale was….Popeye and he was 4 ½ years old.  Bill listed him as 55 ½ inches tall, he has put on several inches since then.   If anyone has any information on this animal I would appreciate hearing from you.  I will be registering him and as of right now he has an unknown background.

Here’s HHB known as Hank….

Handsome Hank Bishop

First Feeding

September 25, 2009

This was big, yes a really big deal to the donkey boys.  Luc is in celebration mode.  After being deprived for many months it’s finally Round Bale Day! Both boys had been napping in the pasture shelter and didn’t realize the tractor was for them until it was safely in the pasture with the gate closed.

Luc was the first one out and headed to the bale with sheer determination.

Luc 9 24 09

This is his “I’m getting there first” look.

Galahad finally made an appearance out of the pasture shelter, where he had been sound asleep, and was wondering what all the excitement was about.

disturbed nap time 9 24 09

Oh Boy, it’s round bale day… forget the nap, this is big important stuff!

Galahad 9 24 09

Off he goes to celebrate with Lucers….

First Hay 9 24 09

Just doesn’t get better than this! Ahhhhhhh Round Bale Heaven!

Played Hooky went Drivin’!

September 24, 2009

Played hooky from work today and went driving this morning.  It felt hot and dry before I even started at 8:30.  Drove 2 hrs and 15 minutes a little over 6 ¼ miles out thru the fields again.  This time we got caught!  The farmer whose raises crops in the field we were using was putting seed in the  ground next to where we were playing.  The boys each left some fertilizer as a thank you for him.

Then we got the phone call…. Can you come to the machine shed, pick me up and drive me out to the field to get my pickup?  So we booked it back to the farm trotting out at 8.4 miles per hour to get Jim delivered to his vehicle out in the back hay field.  Luc was not a happy little camper when he had to turn around and head back to the field and away from home but Galahad was game.  Super great drive ending with a purpose.

The boys were fed their first round bale of the season, Luc sez oh boy hay and lots of it!