Dec 30, 2014

Snow Donkeys

It has happened, this year is quickly coming to a close.  As you can see a very dirty, but content, Teamdonk plans to nap their way into a brand new year.  At zero point two degrees fahrenheit their thick unruly hair coats will absorb enough rays to keep them comfortable.  Mammoth Donkeys don’t seem to mind the cold as long as there is plenty of hay, loose salt, heated water and a three sided pasture shelter to escape the elements. Don’t forget their daily breakfast… oh my gosh …. Don’t Forget BREAKFAST!!!

Happy New Year from RMS Magical Merlin, first in line, OK Sir Galahad and at the end of the line RMS LippyLuver Luc. Jim and Kristi

Snow Donkeys

PS Click on the photos to increase their size for easier viewing.  In January plan to follow the new Teamdonk blog at


A Flurry of Upgrades!

You have probably seen Teamdonk’s new Modified Breeching.. if not go back to  to see the breeching transformation.  That was my first #1 fall project.

I am so excited about this next upgrade I can hardly stand the wait before hitching again!  Our newest edition reminds me of the famous Cape Cart.  This design of a two wheeled cart for pairs was a huge success across several continents.  Take a look at where the single trees are mounted on this Cape Cart.Cape-cart

Cape_cartPart of why this cart was such a superstar in its day was the unique method of adding a pole across the front of the horses that was a part of the harness.  **Please Note** this illustration is incorrect, I use it only as a general idea of how the cape harness looked.

The Pacific Gig is the most comfortable riding of the two wheeled poled vehicles that I use, unfortunately it was intolerable for the donkeys to pull due to their height and the incorrect line of draft when compounded with a collared harness.

To explore more on about this topic I highly recommend Barb Lee’s booklet entitled, “Understanding Harness Balanced Draft, Breast and Neck Collars”.  Every driver, new or experienced, should own a copy of this detailed book.  It is my harness driving bible.

This diagram is from Barb Lee’s book and demonstrates what I have been up against.


Turnout D Horse is hitched to a high (Horizontal) draft vehicle with a neck collar.  Acute angle between hame and trace will divert weight to lower third of collar, with little or no weight bearing above the traces.  Very little body mass above the load.  Traces are very high above center of draft.  This is an inappropriate combination.”

Before I had the single trees lowered I researched the internet and my collection of driving books and was astonished to find newer CDE four wheeled vehicles with collared harness and single trees located near the top of the pole.  Experience has taught me this was very inefficient and the line of draft was creating incorrect trace position on the collar which forces the top of the collar to rock forward. This made the teams want to back off and not push into their collars.  The other ways to fix this was to change the line of draft at the collar with an adjustable hame or go to a breast collar harness.

TD #2 and Pacific GigHere is a photo of Hank hitched to the Pacific Gig with Merlin before the single trees were lowered.  I printed this photo out and drew lines in where I felt the correct line of draft angle should be.  That helped to determine the needed changes.

Now back from the welder the single trees have been dropped 11 1/4 inches by moving the pole braces, and rehanging the single trees.  Here is how they look on the Pacific Gig looks now.


For larger viewing of the photos and diagrams  click on them to increase their size.

The shorter length breeching with the addition of the Yankee Breeching Straps that run across the top of the butt will really help Teamdonk to hold the cart back when cruising down our steep hills.   Dropping the single trees on the Gig should make that vehicle useable again, I really cannot wait to test all our new upgrades and let you know if it is a thumbs up!

It really does take a great deal of engineering to attach two animals to a two wheeled cart.  I don’t believe you can just take any two wheeled vehicle and attach a pole and make it work effectively out of an arena situation.  The donkeys and myself love our Teamdonk off-roading adventures and 2015 is looking to be a terrific driving year, anyone up for a ride?

Happy Thanksgiving to all our Teamdonk Friends!

Jim, Kristi, Luc, Galahad and Merlin

US National Weather Service

Dave Noble of the NOAA weather service in Missoula, Montana has just used a Teamdonk photo as background.  We are honored!


It has been lightly snowing since shortly after 2pm.  Grangeville has approximately 3/4 inch of snow and the streets are slick.  At the farm we probably only have about a half inch.  Not to much to report.

Harness is washed, oiled and hung … looks like winter is about to settle into North Central Idaho.

Getting ready for……

Teamdonk is busy…very very busy… They are in their getting beefed up for a bad winter mode.  Whatever this upcoming season throws at them they plan to be ready.  Snow, cold…yeah bring it on!

Teamdonk Nov 2014Click on the photo to show just how round they are getting… of course the rounder they get the more I get to drive it off them!!!  Guess who gets the last laugh in this story!

Today was their fall full moon worming, the farrier is coming next week and then it will be settle in and see what winter throws at us.  One thing about it… we will be ready!

The Modified Yankee Breeching is Done!

In the last post I was on the way to the harness makers to pick up the new shorter length breechings and the Yankee Breeching Straps.  I was able to get Luc and Galahad’s installed at that time.   I really did want to go for a drive but some very unusual winds kicked up that put Galahad into “freak out” mode, and he was much to dangerous to hook to a two wheeled cart.  I had to pull harness and get him back to the pasture before he did sometime to hurt me or himself.  I’ve never had a donkey act like this, he was definitely scared and upset.  As soon as the winds died down he was just fine so all ended well. It was a productive afternoon as I starting  the process of washing harness and carts to get ready for winter.

Today I was able to get Merlin’s new setup from my local harness maker,  I even was able to get it tried on and adjusted.  All three of the donkey boys new pieces fit perfectly, but  I won’t beabe to do the final adjustments until we are hitched and driving.  The quarter straps, the length of the modified yankee breeching may take a few outings to get everything into sync.   The breeching straps are shorter and that should make a huge difference on how everything else works.  I’m excited to test drive it.  Click on the photos to bring them up to full size..

Here is Merlin’s new equipment from the rear.

Modified Yankee Breeching The other two views are from the sides.  Modified Yankee BreechingModified Yankee Breeching


Oh No Where did All the Hay Go?

Sunday morning Oct 19, 2014 The boys were not happy with their lack of hay situation and they let me know all about it, very loudly I might add….DSC02036

Don’t tell Jim but I broke into the “good stuff” in the barn.  They liked it so well they were begging for more when I got home from work!  So they got it!  🙂




Going to the harness makers in the morning to get their modified Yankee Breeching straps and the new shorter breechings.  Hopefully we will get a chance to test it out before the rains return.

To bring the photos up to full size one click on the picture will do it!

Another Perfect October Day At The Office.

Bronson Cattle

Another day trip took us to Meadow Creek and the cattle.  Nik had to round up pairs on her quiet bike with the fat tires, no horses or mules used in this modern age.  It did not take her long to bring in the strays and get everyone back together.  Dad and I had a great time just hanging out talking cattle, calves, market weights and general ranch talk.

This is my 95 year old father, the stories he can tell of this lifestyle, I can never get enough!

Bamps Oct 2014 at the cattle

Nik hand feeding






Nik is hand feeding one of her favorites.


The girls coming in for salt

The girls coming in for salt


I had a great time seeing family and dear friends.  Jim kept the Teamdonk boys happy and very well fed.  They did great while I was out playing!

To bring the photos up to full size be sure to click on them.