OK, where was I...
When we took off away from the house it was my intention to ride the cart home. I've been injured in a cart wreck. This cart is safer. It's about how easy it is to get off. The objective is to remain upright in the event.
2. My intention all along was to walk her out, and ride home. I had a dream of walking her all the way into Richmond, but I wasn't committed to it.
Gotta cross the tracks. So far we haven't conquered railroad tracks. We'll get there.
But the tracks on this route are edge of town
3. I don't know how far these places are. Walmart is 7 miles by main roads. The shelter's about 5 I think. Orscheln about 7. Missy & I aren't to main roads yet. The way we went yesterday would be significantly farther, but all gravel roads. People drive slower on gravel roads.
4. And I seriously got nothing better to do with my life than walk this donkey around the county. In fact, it may be the most meaningful thing I've ever done. Together with the land, I'm sure it is.
5. So, it's harness up, hitch up, and head off down the driveway walking. She had her lines on but they were hanging on the cart, not in my hands. I've got two stick-ups on the cart to hang stuff on, and to hang on to when I ride. They're pretty stout. Oak 2x2 & steel brackets.
6. It's almost necessary to have a place to hang lines & ropes on a work cart. Which this is.
7. This would all be safer if the cart was narrower. I pretty much got the dimensions of this cart out of watching this video, which I have watched dozens of times.
But these people are way more skilled than me.
8. Than I.
This cart is about a foot wider than her on each side, and rimmed with 2" steel angle iron. Abe ran away one time and nailed me right in the middle of my back with that corner.
Ouch. Didn't break anything, but - that's risky. I need to build a narrower one.
9. The work cart takes up a fair chunk of road, too, about as wide as the old 8N. Not quite, but close. I've got an SMV triangle for when we go on the road.
10. Anyway. We went down the drive, hit the road, turned north, headed out.
Little ways up there's an intersection, and one of the roads towards Richmond that we walk on, the road to the railroad tracks. That's a gee, but she's used to it so she kind of pulls to the right there.
11. But no, I gave her a touch on the rope and she straightened out.
Mostly when we walk, the lead rope is slack. I've got it looped with my middle two fingers, and it hangs down maybe a foot and back up to her chin ring on her halter.
If I move my hand over she can feel it.
12. That's how Abe has walked for a long time now, but it's fairly new for her. It's a major milestone.
People speak of zen experiences. I don't know zen, but walking down a country road with a donkey on a soft autumn day is hard to beat.
13. She knows this territory now, out for a ways, and doesn't have to spook at every new thing. She's pulled the cart down to and across the low water bridge once. The first time took some time - I can't guess how much, some - and some discussion, and a yummy was involved...
14. She broke her stride crossing onto the low water bridge, but just barely. It's steep down to the bridge and steep back up, then rolling high ground. Some old friends, some friendly strangers, pass the little farms. She just walks, and I do. She seems to enjoy it, and I do.
15. Old guy (probably younger than me) in a maroon pickup comes into view, slows. Donkeys and carts aren't a usual sight hereabouts. Whenever I see a car or truck and they slow (almost always) I wave them through.
Lots stop to chat.
She waits. Patiently for a while. Til bored.
16. So we rolled on. Driver's side wheel bumped my ankle but I didn't fully register it.
17. The road goes up there a goodly ways and makes a sharp turn towards town. There's a deep wash gully diagonal across there before / in the corner. There's at least a 10' culvert down there, and there's another 10' or close to it of fill on top of it to make the roadbed.
18. She doesn't spook much about drop-offs alongside the road. I expected her to move away from it a bit but she didn't. She walked close-ish along the edge, interested, looking.
There's a kind of little jiggety-jog curve there, and inside the final 90° curve...
19. Horses.
(Hear that spooky music?)
Two big, fine, high-headed, rippling muscled, elegant bay horses.
I don't know horse breeds, but these is fine looking critters. They live in a big yard / small pasture there. They're fancy.
20. Their fence line is right along the road there. They come... Stop... Focus ears... Sniff... <Big> sniff... Trot over.
Meanwhile, she's in heat, and she's making faces and urinating, and we're just having ourselves a party.
They trot up the fence line, heads & tails high...
21. The road is making about a ninety there and the horses' home is behind a long, 90° corner stretch of fence.
I'm not good with time, but it was a while before we crossed their property line.
Then another big rural-suburban extravagant "ranch" house... And another...
22. And then the people who live in the suburban farmette we're in front of *come outdoors* and we're not moving until *this* is resolved. I poke her. She takes 3 steps. Poke. 5 steps. Poke. 0 steps. About then they drive down their driveway, which is just behind us. Few feet.
23. The lady is on the passenger side, our side, and she rolls her window down. "Everything all right?"
"Yeah," I say, "she just decided she needed to inspect your property."
She laughs. "Oh. OK." And they drive off, back where we came from.
24. Well, we were *way* farther from home than we'd ever been before, and I looked at the cart, and the axle was poking out my way about a foot.
It's supposed to be even with the cart edge.
I look under the cart.
Eek.
Oh well, it's still all roughly together.
25. But I figure, the long end of the axle is on my side, so I can sit on it ok. So I do.
We're still facing away from home.
I take up the lines.
There's a thing you do when you're preparing to drive, where you take the slack out of the lines and connect with the animal.
26. She only time she had ever been driven before was the other day when we did hay. At the end of the project I drove her from behind the barn to in front of the barn. A few hundred feet, two 90° corners, 2 45's. That was it.
She wasn't at all sure it was appropriate.
27. Me sitting on the cart and moving exactly in synch with her. She wasn't at all sure. We did it, but she wasn't sure.
28. So I sat on the cart. You can sit sideways on a flat bed with your legs hanging off. On my cart, my feet are about a foot or less off the ground.
Having the wheel sticking out there was a minus, though.
(Old pic.)
29. So if things don't go well, I can get back to Earth reasonably easily.
So... I sat on the cart, took up the lines, and said "Walk up. Haw." And I pulled on the left line.
Well. This wasn't exactly how she had this envisioned, but she was willing to give it her best.
30. She made the U-turn within the bounds of the gravel road, and we faced back home, and I was still up there, so she gave it a bit of a run. Not blind panic, but pretty shook.
I hung on to the cart, and pulled the lines some, and gave her the "Eeeaasy girl," that I do.
31. And she slowed to a walk, but she was worried. Her back was humped up and her tail was slammed down so hard on her private parts you'd'a though she was going to squash them. But she kept walking.
Horses? What horses? Tail still clamped.
32. But you can see her tail in these vids, and it's all relaxed, and her back is level. This first vid isn't all that far at all from where we started, just around the corners and down the road a piece.
33. I say at the end of this first one about I'm turning it off because I'm not sure how she'll take this steep hill coming up - that's the low water bridge. And I already gave that one away. She did it like an old pro. And look at her tail. Relaxed.
34. The other clip is after we crossed the low water bridge, and were almost home. I was planning on driving her clear back to the barn, but as we got in front of the house I saw my gloves in the road. I'd dropped them and not known it.
So I asked her to stop. She did.
35. I got down off the cart and picked up my gloves, and decided to ground drive her back to the barn rather than remounting. So we did.
So... A major good day. I enjoyed it more than I can say.
G'night, all.

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More from @homemadeguitars

17 Oct
I tweeted this clip yesterday. It represented a high point in my life so I thought I'd tell a little more.
2. North of our place on gravel there is what is called a "low water bridge." That means the bridge deck runs from low bank to low bank, about 8" above typical water level.
Creeks have more than one bank. They begin in the nearest upland.
3. Each range of creek flow erodes a certain height and width above creek bottom. The long low water flows make the creek as most people see it. The creek Americans build their houses beside, which is why they get flooded.
Read 14 tweets
17 Oct
Language lesson part 1: ass
Language lesson part 2: arse
Language lesson part 3: asshole
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16 Oct
Here's how my day has been.
A little later.
We had to turn back early because I noticed my cart was ailing. All machines break down.
Read 4 tweets
15 Oct
A friend sent me this tweet and inspired me to get back to work on an essay pulling my plans and suggestions together into a coherent presentation. I've been working on it and am making some progress.
The Hillary tweet above was referring to this "prize."
But as I looked closer, Hillary was wrong. You can't "send your ideas..."
It appears that "new" ideas can only be found by established experts. I presume this means the new ideas will be very similar to the ones which are currently not working.
Read 6 tweets
14 Oct
Yesterday was the first day Missy ever drove on lines (reins).
Once they become skilled on lines, you can wrap the lines around your shoulder and neck, and steer them by twisting your torso. This frees up your hands to operate an implement. This is me long long ago. You can see the lines.
It behooves you to have taught the animals you're their friend before you wrap the lines around your neck. If things go wrong they can go very wrong.
Read 4 tweets
13 Oct
I used to ride behind Abe as much as I could.
Although it seems weird to me, I've only been at this serious donkey thing for about two years. I've had Abe since he was born, 19 years ago, but he was just your basic semi-ignored pasture pet.
It's the worst thing you can do to one Image
2. That picture is a year, and about forty pounds, ago. There was 40 pounds more of me. Think if you got up every morning and you picked up a forty pound bag of dog food, and you carried it around with you all day.
It's exactly the same.
I decided I needed to walk.
3. That's the only conscious change I made.
I am a repairman. I look at a situation and I automatically think, "How can I fix that?" Which leads directly to the question, "What's it supposed to do? Exactly? How does it work?
Read 17 tweets

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