Sunday, July 31, 2011

Small miracles

I'm sure you recall me discussing Opal, the impossible to catch mule.
If she is in a paddock, she will trot away from you and even if she is tied out on a ring for grazing, she will walk away to the end of her rope.

She will run like the dickens if she has an open meadow, and thinks you are coming for her...
She will hide in berry briers and play hard to get...

Once caught and saddled though, she is a awesome mule.
Although she did hate to have her face touched or her ears touched...was picky about who picked up her feet or saddled her.

With all of her 'holes' she is still a fabulous ride.
When it was evident that I could no longer ride Badger I started a campaign with Opal, the mule that could never change.

I kept her in a sandy pen, isolated from the other animals.
Each day I caught her and groomed her.
Each day I picked up her feet.
After about 6 weeks, she stopped running from me when I approached with the lead rope.

I also used a 'cheater'. I found that she liked 'horse cookies'.
I'd found a secret weapon.
I'd let her smell it in my hand and then I'd drop it and walk away. She'd eat it up and then follow to see if I had more.
I did not bring a treat each time, so she never knew when to expect one.
But at least she was now beginning to walk up to me when I came into the paddock.

The heat wave came.
We moved her to a larger shaded area with Badger as company.
The first day she was stand offish.
After a week, I could walk up to her and scratch her neck. This area was bigger, and she'd try to stand behind Badger.
So I began to catch her and groom her again, along with Badger of course.

That area became barren, and we had to turn them out in the Donkey Meadow.

I was sure that everything that had been accomplished would be 'out the window' now. Opal had a good 10 acres to roam and run in.

Last night at dusk I went out to check on Badger.
Opal was the last animal to come up. She was sly and circled me, curious. I tossed a green apple out for her to munch on.
She ate it and then followed the donkeys back out into the meadow.

This morning I came 'armed' with my secret weapon.

Opal was up with Badger, Eddie, and Sundance, near the water tank. They had made their own small 'herd' separate from the jennets.

I stood for a bit hands loose at my sides.
Opal came near.
I handed Badger a cookie.
Opal's ears flicked.
I tossed a cookie at her feet and then stepped back.

She ate it, then pushed Badger aside.
I reached out and rubbed her forehead.
I reached out and scratched her neck and withers. I ran my hand along her neck and rubbed her ears.

She stood quietly.
This in itself is a miracle of sorts.

I turned and walked away.
She followed me to the fence.

I hid a grin on my face.
I had hoped that I'd now found a secret to Opal's heart.
I felt something profound and deep...
and satisfying...
as a tears of joy and sorrow ran down my face.

I'd found Opal's heart.

Yet I was still losing the battle for Badger's life.

Irony or miracle?

2 comments: said...

Just wanted to say hello. Lost track of you over the years. Gail and I hope you and Rich are doing well. Larry Schwaiger

Val said...

We are doing well and enjoying our small part of SW WI.

It is a small world with the internet isn't it?