BERTRAM — Drama rose like the needle on the thermostat as sirens blared at high noon, signaling the best prognosticator this side of the Pedernales.
PHOTO 1: Bertram resident Paislee Hirneisen, 2, gives Pawnee the miniature donkey a kiss on the nose before the Donkey Day star predicts an early spring Feb. 2 in Bertram. Like Groundhog Day, Pawnee predicts the weather based on what feed he chooses to eat. Staff photo by Jared Fields
PHOTO 2: Mayor Dickie Allen and Pawnee’s handler, 5-year-old Ella Schooler of Bertram, stand with the miniature donkey after he eats oats, predicting an early spring for the City of Bertram on Feb. 2. Ella tried hard to get Pawnee to drink from the water bucket, which would have meant a ‘bounteous rainfall in the next few months.’ Staff photo by Jared Fields
It was Donkey Day on Feb. 2 in Bertram, and Pawnee the miniature donkey was hungry to predict the future of the city.
According to city officials, Bertram has no such mammal known as groundhogs, like the famous one in Pennsylvania that predicts the coming of spring or continuing winter.
Instead, according to Bertram’s Donkey Day proclamation: “the Chamber further decrees that a local, intelligent mammal of high regard be given the honor of forecasting spring.”
At 10 years old, Pawnee has been predicting the weather for nearly as long, and gets it right more often than not.
“He’s correct 75 percent of the time,” Mayor Dickie Allen said. “He’s one of the more intelligent animals in Bertram.”
Pawnee predicts the weather based on what he eats. Laid out before him were three buckets: one of oats for an early spring, one of sweet feed for an extended winter and one with water for “bounteous rainfall in the next few months.”
Pawnee’s handler, 5-year-old Ella Schooler, walked the smart, uh, donkey, in front of his three choices. Try as she might to nearly dunk his head in water, it was straight to the oats for Pawnee.
“He definitely chose the oats, which is a tribute to the Oatmeal Festival, and that means we’re gonna have an early spring,” said Ken Odiorne, the judge for Donkey Day.
Yes, Donkey Day has a judge.
“I knew a judge,” Odiorne, a 41-year Bertram resident, said with a laugh. “I think that’s the only reason (I was chosen).”
With sunny skies and a high in the mid-70s, the choice of oats wasn’t much of a surprise.
“Not this year. I had oats all the way,” Allen said. “We could have used a little bit of water. I sure wish he would have been thirsty.”
Now that the spring weather is here to stay, officially, locals can begin to plan for the warm weather.
“I think I’ll put out fertilizer and get ready for rain and the spring and let the grass grow,” Allen said.
With such pressure to accurately predict the coming months’ weather, Pawnee seems to handle the burden like a professional.
“I think, so far, he’s totally oblivious to it,” Odiorne said. “He just eats what he likes.
[tabs style=”default”] [tab title=”DONKEY DAY FORECAST”]
DONKEY DAY FORECAST
• If Pawnee eats from a bucket of oats, it means an early spring.
• If Pawnee picks the bucket filled with sweet feed, there will be an extended winter.
• If Pawnee drinks out of the bucket of water, there will be “bounteous rainfall in the next few months.”
[/tab] [tab title=”BERTRAM PROCLAMATION”]
BE IT PROCLAIMED:
Whereas, February 2nd is known as Groundhog Day, a day when a strange mammal emerges from its burrow and forecasts spring by looking for its shadow at high noon;
Whereas, the City of Bertram and its surrounds has no mammals known as groundhogs;
Whereas, the Bertram Chamber of Commerce decrees that a shadow cast in the north by an underground mammal is meaningless to our City, and the Chamber further decrees that a local, intelligent mammal of high regard be given the honor of forecasting spring;
Whereas, the mammal chosen for this honor is Pawnee, who is a member of the proud Oatmeal stable known as Frontier Legends;
Whereas, if Pawnee chooses to eat oats, we will have an early spring. If Pawnee chooses to eat the other grain offered then we will have an additional six weeks of winter.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Dickie Allen, Mayor of Bertram, do hereby proclaim February 2, 2013, to be Donkey Day in the City of Bertram, Texas. I further proclaim that our esteemed local Prognosticator, Pawnee, will accurately predict our future weather by choosing his food of choice. If Pawnee, in his great wisdom, chooses to drink water, then we will have bounteous rainfall in the next few months.