Saturday, June 30, 2012

bald-faced hornets and heat waves

Popping in briefly to share what I think is a fascinating example of how the larger ecosystem of November Hill works.

After a mild winter, in spite of using fly predators and fly strips and doing all the things one is supposed to do to reduce flies around the barn, we were still seeing what I consider a lot of them.

We used Summer Whinnies for Salina and Keil Bay as needed, liberal amounts of my summer of 2012 fly spray concoction, fly masks, and even with all this, I still felt there were just Too Many Flies.

Suddenly we noticed a new face around the barn.

These bald-faced hornets were around the barn doors, inside the barn itself, and although they didn't feel aggressive to me, we researched them to find out what we were dealing with.

As it turns out they are considered quite docile in terms of hornet personality, and I found several mentions online of these hornets hunting flies. So when I went back out, I started observing. Indeed, they were in the barn hunting flies. We decided to let them stay and see what happened.

A week later, in spite of rain and heat which usually make the number of flies explode, my sticky fly strips are nearly empty. The Summer Whinnies are in the tack room, clean and ready but not needed. The horses are happy and not fussing.

And the bald-faced hornets have moved on. I saw two yesterday.

We hoped to find their nest, but thus far haven't found it. These nests are pretty stunning to me, and I'd love to see one:

Now that the hornets are gone we're dealing with the heat wave that seems to be affecting much of the United States this weekend. Yesterday it was 101.8 in our barn aisle, and needless to say, we're doing a lot of cold hosing, feeding extra salt in the feed tubs, and keeping a close eye on all of us as we move on with routine during this extreme heat.

It is day two of a five-day wave, and we're moving slowly, taking our time with chores, keeping cold drinks in the barn, and of course doing no riding. 90 degrees F will seem like a cool spell after this!

Hope all are faring well as we move into July!

Monday, June 25, 2012

make a nesting now

The wonderful Alexander Shaia is here spending time with a few of us sandplay therapists this week and last night he read this poem. 

Alexander has a wonderful book out that talks about what he calls the Quadratos journey. You can read more about that HERE.

Coleman's Bed

Make a nesting now, a place to which
the birds can come, think of Kevin's
prayerful palm holding the blackbird's egg
and be the one, looking out from this place
who warms interior forms into light.
Feel the way the cliff at your back
gives shelter to your outward view
and then bring in from those horizons
all discordant elements that seek a home.

Be taught now, among the trees and rocks,
how the discarded is woven into shelter,
learn the way things hidden and unspoken
slowly proclaim their voice in the world.
Find that far inward symmetry
to all outward appearances, apprentice
yourself to yourself, begin to welcome back
all you sent away, be a new annunciation,
make yourself a door through which
to be hospitable, even to the stranger in you.

See with every turning day,
how each season makes a child
of you again, wants you to become
a seeker after rainfall and birdsong,
watch now, how it weathers you
to a testing in the tried and true,
admonishes you with each falling leaf,
to be courageous, to be something
that has come through, to be the last thing
you want to see before you leave the world.

Above all, be alone with it all,
a hiving off, a corner of silence
amidst the noise, refuse to talk,
even to yourself, and stay in this place
until the current of the story
is strong enough to float you out.

Ghost then, to where others
in this place have come before,
under the hazel, by the ruined chapel,
below the cave where Coleman slept,
become the source that makes
the river flow, and then the sea
beyond. Live in this place
as you were meant to and then,
surprised by your abilities,
become the ancestor of it all,
the quiet, robust and blessed Saint
that your future happiness
will always remember.

David Whyte from River Flow: New & Selected Poems 1984-2007
©2006 Many Rivers Press

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Jason Owens re: the roping donkeys: "I'm gonna use 'em."

This just about sums it up.

Jason Owens of Dos Gringos Productions, who "owns" the donkeys that were to be used for roping in the Van Horn event this weekend, made a lot of promises to people who called to express their concern about the welfare of these animals.

Once he got in front of a TV camera he changed his tune.

I don't know Mr. Owens and have not spoken with him myself. However, I believe that this famous quote by Mahatma Gandhi holds true:
The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the ways its animals are treated.

And I think we can tweak that to also say:

The character of a man can be judged by the way he treats his animals.

Using a herd of donkeys who have according to Mr. Owens already been starved and abused to earn money by prodding them with electricity, scaring them into running, and letting team ropers stretch them out flat on the ground, over and over again, is cruelty, plain and simple.

There's another old saying that might apply in this case.

When we know better, we do better.

Mr. Owens, I believe at this point you probably do know better. Why not do the right thing and release these donkeys to Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue so they can live the rest of their lives without doing anything but being what they are: peaceful, loving, sensitive animals?

If you choose not to release them, perhaps you might commit to change not only their lives but your own.  Give them that peaceful, well-cared-for life yourself. Let the money you spend on them be what you will find is a very modest payment for the pure love and joy they give when treated with respect and dignity. 

And if not, if you choose to keep on, in your own words, "using 'em," just remember this:

There are many, many people watching and working to make what you do illegal if it's not already so. There are cameras and video cameras and people who don't mind using them to document terrible things. 

HERE IS THE LINK TO THE INTERVIEW broadcast by the NBC affiliate in Midland, Texas on last night's evening news.
At the 1:23 mark, Jason Owens says, "We haven't done anything wrong and I'm not gonna surrender these donkeys. 
I'm gonna use 'em. I'll sell them if these guys wanna buy 'em." 


Texas Penal Code re: livestock:

§ 42.09. Cruelty to Livestock Animals

(a) A person commits an offense if the person intentionally or knowingly:
(1) tortures a livestock animal;
(2) fails unreasonably to provide necessary food, water, or care for a livestock animal in the person's custody;
(3) abandons unreasonably a livestock animal in the person's custody;
(4) transports or confines a livestock animal in a cruel and unusual manner;
(5) administers poison to a livestock animal, other than cattle, horses, sheep, swine, or goats, belonging to another without legal authority or the owner's effective consent;
(6) causes one livestock animal to fight with another livestock animal or with an animal as defined by Section 42.092;
(7) uses a live livestock animal as a lure in dog race training or in dog coursing on a racetrack;
(8) trips a horse; or
(9) seriously overworks a livestock animal.
(b) In this section:
(1) “Abandon” includes abandoning a livestock animal in the person's custody without making reasonable arrangements for assumption of custody by another person.
(2) “Cruel manner” includes a manner that causes or permits unjustified or unwarranted pain or suffering.
(3) “Custody” includes responsibility for the health, safety, and welfare of a livestock animal subject to the person's care and control, regardless of ownership of the livestock animal.
(4) “Depredation” has the meaning assigned by Section 71.001, Parks and Wildlife Code.
(5) “Livestock animal” means:
(A) cattle, sheep, swine, goats, ratites, or poultry commonly raised for human consumption;
(B) a horse, pony, mule, donkey, or hinny;
(C) native or nonnative hoofstock raised under agriculture practices; or
(D) native or nonnative fowl commonly raised under agricultural practices.
(6) “Necessary food, water, or care” includes food, water, or care provided to the extent required to maintain the livestock animal in a state of good health.
(7) “Torture” includes any act that causes unjustifiable pain or suffering.
(8) “Trip” means to use an object to cause a horse to fall or lose its balance.
(c) An offense under Subsection (a)(2), (3), (4), or (9) is a Class A misdemeanor, except that the offense is a state jail felony if the person has previously been convicted two times under this section, two times under Section 42.092, or one time under this section and one time under Section 42.092. An offense under Subsection (a)(1), (5), (6), (7), or (8) is a state jail felony, except that the offense is a felony of the third degree if the person has previously been convicted two times under this section, two times under Section 42.092, or one time under this section and one time under Section 42.092.
(d) It is a defense to prosecution under Subsection (a)(8) that the actor tripped the horse for the purpose of identifying the ownership of the horse or giving veterinary care to the horse.
(e) It is a defense to prosecution for an offense under this section that the actor was engaged in bona fide experimentation for scientific research.
(f) It is an exception to the application of this section that the conduct engaged in by the actor is a generally accepted and otherwise lawful:
(1) form of conduct occurring solely for the purpose of or in support of:
(A) fishing, hunting, or trapping; or
(B) wildlife management, wildlife or depredation control, or shooting preserve practices as regulated by state and federal law; or
(2) animal husbandry or agriculture practice involving livestock animals.
(g) This section does not create a civil cause of action for damages or enforcement of this section.

Acts 1973, 63rd Leg., p. 883, ch. 399, § 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1974. Amended by Acts 1975, 64th Leg., p. 917, ch. 342, § 12, eff. Sept. 1, 1975; Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 549, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1985; Acts 1991, 72nd Leg., ch. 78, § 1, eff. Aug. 26, 1991. Renumbered from V.T.C.A., Penal Code § 42.11 and amended by Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 900, § 1.01, eff. Sept. 1, 1994. Amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 318, § 15, eff. Sept. 1, 1995; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1283, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1997; Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 54, § 3, eff. Sept. 1, 2001; Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 450, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 2001; Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1275, § 2(116), eff. Sept. 1, 2003; Acts 2007, 80th Leg., ch. 886, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 2007.

I believe this position paper from the Texas Attorney General's Office provides a clear path to making the case that donkey roping is in the same category as horse tripping:


Letter Opinion No. 94-095
December 21, 1994

Re: Whether the activity known as "horse tripping" is prohibited by section 42.09 of the Penal Code (ID# 29575)
Honorable John Whitmire
Criminal Justice Committee
Texas State Senate
P.O. Box 12068
Austin, Texas 78711

You have requested our opinion as to whether the activity known as "horse tripping" is prohibited by section 42.09 of the Penal Code. You have submitted with your request an article from the July, 1994, issue of Horse Illustrated magazine, which describes the practice, as "an event in which a usually young, usually Arabian, underweight horse bound for slaughter is whipped and shouted into a run, so that it can then be tripped with a lariat by a man, a Charro, either on horseback or on the ground . . ."
The article continues: "The goal is to make the horse fall. The horse's rear legs may be pulled out from under it while at a dead run, or its front legs are roped, causing it to tumble forward. The horses' lives end in misery and the injuries they sustain -- both physical and emotional -- have horrified the handful of veterinarians who have been called in to treat the few horses who have been rescued from this fate."
At the time the article was written, the state of California was considering a bill which would specifically criminalize this activity. On September 19, 1994, the governor signed the bill into law. [FN 1]

[FN 1] That bill, enacting section 597g of the California Penal Code, provides: "(a) Poling a horse is a method of training horses to jump which consists of (1) forcing, persuading, or enticing a horse to jump in such manner that one or more of its legs will come into contact with an obstruction consisting of any king of wire, or a pole, stick, rope or other object with brads, nails, tacks or other sharp points imbedded therein or attached thereto or (2) raising, throwing or moving a pole, stick, wire, rope or other object, against one or more of the legs of a horse while it is jumping an obstruction so that the horse, in either case, is induced to raise such leg or legs higher in order to clear the obstruction. Tripping a horse is an act that consists of the use of any wire, pole, stick, rope, or other object or apparatus whatsoever to cause a horse to fall or lose its balance. The poling or tripping of any horse is unlawful and any person violating the provisions of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor.
"(b) It is a misdemeanor for any person to intentionally trip or fell an equine by the legs by any means whatsoever for the purposes of entertainment or sport.
(c) This section does not apply to the lawful laying down of a horse for medical or identification purposes, nor shall the section be construed as condemning or limiting any cultural or historical activities, except those prohibited herein."

Section 42.09 of the [Texas] Penal Code proscribes injury to "an animal . . . belonging to another," but excepts from this prohibition the injuring of "cattle, horses, sheep, swing [and] goats." Penal Code s 42.09(a)(5). Another portion of the statute, however, provides that "[a] person commits an offense if he intentionally or knowingly: (1) tortures or seriously overworks an animal." Id. s 42.09(a)(1). "Animal" is broadly defined to mean "a domesticated living creature and wild living creature previously captured." Id. s 42.09(c). Thus, the question you pose is whether the practice of "horse tripping," as described, would constitute "torture."
In Attorney General Opinion H-56 (1973), this office considered whether particular conduct violated article 1374, V.T.C.S. That statute, the source law for article 42.09 of the Penal Code, provided that "[w]hoever . . . tortures, torments . . . or needlessly mutilates or kills any animal . . . shall be fined not exceeding two hundred dollars."
The practice at issue in Attorney General Opinion H-56 was "a pigeon shoot, in which the birds are released as targets, after first having their tail feathers plucked out to effect an erratic mode of flight." The opinion declared that "[i]n common parlance 'torture' and 'torment' have virtually the same meaning, i.e., to cause intense suffering." Attorney General Opinion H-56 at 2. Although the opinion correctly stated that "[w]hether or not people participating in a particular pigeon shoot violate the law ultimately will be a question for jury determination," it did hold that the statute was "sufficiently specific and . . . constitutional insofar as it outlaws the torturing, tormenting, and needlessly mutilating of animals." Id. at 3. Furthermore, the opinion concluded that the conduct described by the requestor "would be sufficient . . . to uphold a conviction of violation of Article 1374 . . ." Id.
In our opinion, the activity about which you inquire -- "horse tripping" -- as depicted in the article from Horse Illustrated, is sufficiently cruel and sadistic that a jury could reasonably conclude that it constitutes "torture." Since "torture" is no longer defined in Texas law, we believe that a jury would be obliged to construe the term in accordance with its commonly understood meaning.
The verb "torture" means "[t]o inflict severe pain or suffering upon; to torment; to distress or afflict grievously." OXFORD ENGLISH DICTIONARY (2d ed. 1989), v. 18, at 278. In a case whose facts are similar to those you present here, a Maryland court considered whether the intentional burning of a dog was unlawful under state law. The court declared "that the burning of a dog to the extent that he had to be destroyed constitutes torture, torment and cruelty," and that no "person of ordinary intelligence" could conclude otherwise. In re William G., 447 A.2d 493, 496 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. 1982). Although, as the author of Attorney General Opinion H-56 indicates, whether a defendant's act constitutes "torture" must ultimately be resolved by a jury, we believe that a jury finding that a defendant had intentionally engaged in the conduct you have described "would be held sufficient to uphold a conviction of violation of" section 42.09(a)(1) of the Penal Code.
A finding that a person has intentionally engaged in the activity known as "horse tripping" is sufficient to support a conviction for "torturing an animal" under section 42.09(a)(1) of the Penal Code.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

look what the donkeys did - when good ripples out and back again

The following is copied and pasted from the comments in my previous blog post, and all I can say is wow - this is such a beautiful example of how good things ripple out and back again when animals and the people who love them are involved. I am so grateful for such caring young people AND their wonderful teacher. Thank you to all of you for what you've done for the donkeys and for sharing this here. It has made my day!!

This is what I have written, my class truly believe our message and our wishes will come true. We hope others will also help. Truly children have the innocence and understanding of what an animal would have. They can heal wounds and pain and bring brighter futures for us all.

Here is message,

Dear Jason,

I am a Primary School teacher living in London. One of my children randomly spoke out talking about his worry of donkey roping. I had never heard of this and so decided it was interesting to see what the whole class would think.

We were so hurt by what was happening and it was very difficult for my children to comprehend. They could not understand why someone would do this to an innocent animal just for fun. Their understanding and their opinions is what 'normal' people would feel and think. These children are our future and if we allow abuse such as donkey roping to take place, what will they learn? I am not saying that donkey roping is going to ruin all the children but they are certainly not learning anything of value.

I do my best to teach my children how to take care of the Earth and ourselves and the community. Surely, this is what everything is about? We as humans, who are capable of taking care of everything and deciding how the world works should also take care of the animals around us.

I am sure that as a human being, with a heart and a soul, you will help and support us to stop this cruel 'sport'. My class all say a big hello and are begging you to stop this from taking place, they thank you! Please can you help the donkeys to a safe place to stay and eat and to heal. My children will be having a silence of 10 minutes for the donkeys that are abused, hurt, lost, hungry or sadly dead. These minutes, we will be thinking of your good work and hoping you do your best to take care of the donkeys.

Kind regards,

 Rafer Johnson and Redford (a few months back when it was still cold and they had fluffy winter coats!) say thank you!

Van Horn donkey roping canceled - now we need to get donkeys into a GOOD home

The town of Van Horn, Texas has confirmed that they have canceled the donkey roping event that was scheduled for this weekend (June 23-24), due to public outcry and the number of complaints registered with the town regarding the cruelty and trauma these donkeys experience as a result of this "sport."

However, please do not stop the train just yet. Until these donkeys are in safe and loving hands, this job is not complete.

There are at least two rescue operations willing to take the donkeys, if my understanding is correct. They cannot go in and take the donkeys - at this point, and unless/until charges are filed by the authorities, Jason Owens must release the donkeys into rescue.

PLEASE continue to call and email to make sure these donkeys are out of this man's care.

Further, I would suggest we all let him know that we will be watching his company for future abuse of animals.

Contact info:

Jason Owen of Dos Gringo Productions 432-940-9051

Oscar Carillo, Sheriff of Culbertson County, Texas, 432-283-2060

No one should make money off the torture of defenseless animals. Keep this candle burning and make two phone calls. 

Civility and respect go further than anger and hate so please model the kind of behavior we would like to see shown to the donkeys themselves!!

Monday, June 18, 2012

LongNow project and donkey torture: the dissonance is deafening

Please GO HERE and read about this amazing project being installed near Van Horn, Texas. I have written to LongNow and Stewart Brand asking them to join the chorus calling for the 40 donkeys to be released to the rescue who is waiting to take them. Join me!

Jeff Bezos of Amazon is also involved in the Long Now project. Writing him shortly.

please read and act for the donkeys TODAY!!

GO HERE for all the info you need.

There are 40 donkeys waiting to be used for donkey roping this weekend. There is a rescue standing ready to take ALL of them and release them from this torture.

Call the owner and proprietor, Jason Owens, who earns a living putting donkeys in arenas to be roped fore and aft and stretched out like a rubber band. Over and over again.

Tell him why donkeys do not deserve this kind of abuse.

Call the Texas Attorney General's office too and tell them to look into it. Just because something is a tradition doesn't make it right. Supposedly humans have the ability to grow and change and enlighten ourselves - why not start now, with THIS!!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Please help stop donkey roping!

Linda Carson at 7MSN has posted two blog posts giving information about an upcoming donkey roping debacle in Van Horn, Texas. This is an extremely cruel sport in which donkeys are prodded with electricity to frighten them into running, then roped fore and aft by two different riders who stretch them out between the two horses.

Needless to say, the psychological and physical injuries that result are hideous.

GO HERE for the update and then go back to the post right before if you need more info. If enough people protest this horrible sport they will stop it. Shame is a powerful motivator. And maybe enough folks will stop and THINK about what it means to the donkeys.

No, this will not save all the donkeys in the entire world from this cruel fate. But for the donkeys lined up to be roped in this particular 'fiesta' it will mean the world.

This is what happy donkeys look like:

Sunday, June 10, 2012

the magic of three

Three planets in the sky, earlier this year. I had planned a brief blog post as proof of barn magic.

This morning, husband away, I went out early and found Salina, who only yesterday looked so good I marveled at her swinging walk, flat out in the barn aisle, head and neck and withers right up to the barn aisle wall.

Two amazing, incredible teens and I managed to get her turned and calmed and one very special donkey boy, when I put down the ropes and said "maybe this is it," brought me a lead line and laid it at my feet and looked up at me saying without words but so very clearly "no, it is not! get her up!"

She got up. Vet came and proclaimed it Not That Time. Tweaked meds. Cleaned re-opened hip point wound. By the time the vet truck rolled out the Grand Old Mare was banging and whinnying for her breakfast.

We are grateful for every day. And I am thankful for barn magic.