Straw burrowing

The indoors manger – used mainly in winter

I am very curious to know why do donkeys burrow their heads deep down in straw when eating? I delivered this morning’s feed to the indoor stable manger because I thought it was about to rain. In fact the heavy dark clouds dispersed half an hour later. Once again I observed the donkeys very quickly getting covered in straw because they burrow their heads down deep into the straw.

This is not merely a question of idle curiosity. When grooming the donkeys it takes a considerable effort to brush out all the fine particles of straw that have become lodged deep down in their soft furry heads! That must be extremely irritating for their skin because I know how sharp straw is when it gets lodged in my boots sometimes. So I am quite diligent at doing regular head-brushing to get the straw out. It is very time-consuming. Also, this year’s late arrival of the warm weather means that their thick winter coats and soft furry “bonnets” have been slow coming off, so there is more fur for straw to get stuck into.

It is the three brown donkeys who do mostly do this; grey donkey Matilde doesn’t do this quite so much, and when she does burrow down, her head being much bigger does not get fully immersed in straw.

I know that occasionally readers of this blog who also keep equines have come up with some excellent advice or comments, during the past ten years, on the everyday mysteries of these animals! Any thoughts? I’m just about to spend an hour and a half grooming four donkeys and at least a half hour of that time will be spent brushing and pulling straw out of their heads!

Failed State UK: an update

York railway station lift out of action

Our special UK Failed State Correspondent Steve (see yesterday’s blog post) is on the spot at York railway station where he sends this startling new evidence that the United Kingdom is quickly going down in the ranking of world failed states. The York station lift is completely out of action: in the city which is home to the national railway museum. You would struggle to find such an example of national decline in, for example, Fiji.

“The Will of the People”

Undoubtedly, it was “the will of the people” to have a non-functioning lift at York railway station.  When anything goes wrong, or looking at the overall situation of an entire country going over a cliff, it is increasingly maintained by the UK ruling Brexit mafia that this is “the will of the people”.  I’m not very good with figures, so this might be inviting trouble, but I decided to look at the figures behind the phrase “the will of the people”.  Here they are.

In the July 2016 referendum 17,000,000 people voted for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union. Time after time, that figure is trumpeted by Leavers as “the greatest democratic exercise ever” (along with their usual playground taunt to Remainers: “You lost, get over it!”)

Leave voting (blue) and Remain voting (orange) areas in 2016

As a retired teacher of Geography, I’m still quite interested when I hear population figures being used by pundits to make a point. I like to look up the figures myself and check them. As of July 2019 the population of the UK is now very near to the round figure of 70,000,000. (Worldometer figure is up to date and reliable.) So the incoming hard-right mafia in Whitehall is offering to satisfy what they call ‘the will of the people‘ (i.e. the will of seventeen million people voting for Brexit in a referendum three years ago), which every economic forecast says will damage the life chances of seventy million people in 2019?

Once again, it is good to look at the figures as they speak for themselves. On 23 June 2016, the recorded result was that the UK voted to leave the European Union by 51.89% for Leave to 48.11% for Remain, a margin of 3.78%. This corresponded to 17,410,742 votes to leave and 16,141,241 to remain, a margin of 1,269,501 votes. (I’m being lazy here, using the Wikipedia figures, which would not be good enough in an essay from any of my former students! And the graphic below is lifted from there as well.)

The total number of valid votes cast for Leave and Remain was 33,551,983 out of a potential voting population of 46,500,001. So the registered voter turn out was 72.21%. Again a percentage often quoted as the highest voter turn out. In 2016 the total UK population was 65,788,574. So those who particpated in the referendum – whichever way they voted – was very roughly 50% of the total population.

The small margin of the 2016 Leave win contrasts enormously with the referendum held on 5 June 1975, when the electorate of forty million represented 71.3% of the population (then 56,225,000). Remarkably, the winning side was seventeen million strong – just like the winning side in 2016. But the significant difference was that they were 67.23% of the population, as they chose to join the European project in the 1975 referendum. and the eight million on the contrary side (i.e. not wanting to join the EU) represented 32.77%. That was why there was no dispute over the result: it was a decisive win. Compare the 51.89% Leave with the 48.11% Remain of 2016, and you can see why the argument has not stopped for three years. It will not stop for several decades into the future unless there is a confirmatory referendum now! A People’s Vote.

4 thoughts on “Straw burrowing

  1. All the remaining bits of seed are heavier and, when you shake out the hay or straw, descend. So, in the interests of getting to the best bits first, any self respecting donkey has to shove their head right down to the bottom. If they are really serious they will shove their head right down then do an impressive head toss which will throw out all the offending lightweight hay or straw onto the floor for later sorting. Or stamping on. Or pooing on.
    I guess Matilde has shorter hair and so it just doesn’t stick so much! (Like Sascha)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you! That’s really fascinating and it hadn’t occured to me at all. It also answers the question of why Morris is always throwing food out of the manger (often throwing it over Rubí and Aitana, who end up with straw bonnets! That’s really helpful: I knew there would be an answer. Hope all is OK with you: I’ll check out your blog tomorrow and have a look at your news.

    Actually, Sascha looks so much like Matilde it is quite uncanny! I’ll leave my readers to judge!


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