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Thursday, October 17, 2013

NEW DONKEY IN THE MEADOW


jenny

 


Here is the new donkey. Brought her yesterday from Traphill, just below the mountain. Air Bellows Gap Road used to run all the way down to Traphill Road. The Parkway came through and it's now National Park land the other side of the Parkway all the way down the side of the mountain to Traphill. We took hwy 21 and Oklahoma Road from Roaring Gap post office to Stone Mountain state park and to Traphill road with a white horse trailer on the back of Jesse's mud-splattered gold 4-door Chevy pickup. He'd got mired down in mud in a tobacco field earlier in the day. Justin called the people I was buying Jenny from when we turned onto Traphill road and she guided us by cell phone to the turn that leads to their driveway. Good country people, good-natured country people. They had a big pen of beautiful goats, all of them pets, at least twenty, and a small pen with two baby goats. They had a gigantic lawn, a couple of acres. He took care of the mowing. She took care of the goats, with his help. Their pen was cleaner than a professional goat-raising pen. Her goats were her pets. She loved them every one, kept them clean and their pen clean, knew them individually. She said one of the goats was the donkey's friend, they were together all the time. The donkey's name was Daisy. I hated to separate friends so casually, felt a longing to bring the goat along, too. However, I'd need woven-wire fence all the way around the 2-acre meadow. It aint gonna happen.
 
jenny
 
 
She told me she brushed the donkey, told me she fed her horse grain by hand. Two of her granddaughters were visiting. I saw her let one of the girls feed the donkey from her open hand. Donkey picked it up with her lips. I saw the new donkey was as tame as Jack. Glad to see it. She said they bought the donkey with a bunch of goats, didn't really want a donkey and decided to sell it. Justin and Jesse had a time muscling the donkey into the horse trailer. Donkey did not want to take the step up. She did the stubborn donkey routine with all four feet rooted into the ground. It made her so mad she reared up, giving them the chance to push her forward so her front feet came down inside the trailer. They lifted her back legs into the trailer. It wasn't as easy as it sounds. I had my camera in pocket and never thought one time to make some pictures of donkey with goats, the ordeal coaxing her into the trailer, the people. Not one picture. I gave myself a mental donkey kick in the hind end when I realized I'd missed a chance for some documentary images. Donkey hated going into the trailer, but rode very well through all the winding curves coming up the mountain. Likely her attention was focused on maintaining balance. Jesse has driven horses and cattle so much he's good with the trailer. All the way home, I was aware of how donkey might be riding, impressed by Jesse's handling of truck and trailer in all the tight curves and the highway. I've driven the roads enough to appreciate a driver who can handle truck and trailer so well.  
 
jenny
 
 
We stopped at the upper gate to put Jenny in the field to meet Jack and the calf. She did not want to step off the end of the trailer backwards. I was impressed again watching Justin and Jesse work the donkey backwards out of the trailer. Both have extensive experience with horses, loading them into trailers and unloading them. Both know horse nature very well. I stayed out of the way. They knew what they were doing and I did not. I've had no experience with horses. Horses intimidate me. I'm unable to convince myself a horse believes it has to obey me. It could kill me inside half a minute. I would need a .45 against such a beast. But I'm not going to do that, so I stay away from horses. It's not really fear as much as apprehension, a milder form of fear. I felt this way the first week getting to know Jack. I knew this donkey allowed me near it by his own will. It could knock me down and kill me with its front feet if it took a notion. A donkey is not controlled by rule of law. I heard a statistic on NPR some time ago that more people around the world are killed by donkeys in a year than die in plane crashes. I gather from it that donkeys will take much abuse, but they have a limit. I can hear the donkey, "You don't even know what all I've done for you," and took the last whip lash. "That's it, you damn human. I could have done this at any time. You have abused the right my humility gave you to whip me." It tells me the wild is not completely gone from donkey nature. I like that. The African Wild Ass.   

jenny

jenny

At first, I thought I'd go on calling her Daisy. I have a rule of thumb that I don't like to change an animal's name when it is transferred to me. No real reason. It's about the same as not liking to turn the jukebox off mid song. Justin was calling her Jenny, so I brought up my liking to keep Daisy. He said she's Jenny to him and he'll always call her Jenny. I could call her whatever I want. I'd been aiming to name her Jenny until told her name was Daisy. If Jenny is so automatic to Justin, whose donkey she will be for many years after I'm gone, Jenny it is. Last night in the bed, Little Richard's song, JENNY JENNY, came to mind and I had a rock n roll show in my mind's eye. Richard banging on the piano screaming Jenny Jenny Jenny, won't you come along with me, Jenny Jenny, Oh Jenny Jenny. Spinnin spinnin spinnin, spinnin like a spinnin top, spinnin spinnin, Oh spinnin spinnin. Crazy little partner, y'oughta see her reel and rock.  Jenny Jenny, Aaa-aa-aah. One of my favorite Little Richard songs. Now I've got my own Jenny. She is a little bit bigger than Jack and her hair is longer than his. Her tail looks like it's about a foot longer than Jack's. She is a Bethlehem Cross donkey, like Jack, same colors, same orange and black ears, similar patterns around their eyes. Jenny has been handled with affection. We let Jenny into the field across the creek from the field Jack stays in. He won't cross the creek. They walked back and forth, either side of the creek, squealing to each other.

jenny

Justin and Jesse muscled Jack into the creek. They said once he had his feet in the water he was fine. He came out of the creek and went straight to Jenny and tried to mount her. She let him have it in the chest with both back hooves. He tried again and she scooted out from under him. He went after her with his chin on her rump. She ran and he ran behind her like they were attached, terrific synchronized running. About every four or five gallops she let him have it in the chest with a loud slap. It didn't slow Jack at all. He caught on to run a little to the side and raise his chin when she kicked, but she still connected with him. They ran around and around in the meadow, his chin on her rump and her kicking him. We laughed like we were at a Rodney Carrington show. It was too dark to use the camera. I wanted video of them running, but it was way too dark. We could barely see. We had to stop watching when it turned so dark we could only see two shadows in the night, running, running. We could hear her hooves slap Jack's chest. We knew he was taking a beating. A donkey's kick with two hind feet can send a big man through the air. Jack ran like the kicking made him feel like he's a man. She was getting his respect, however, telling him she wasn't no tramp.
 
jenny and jack
 
They said she was three years old, about time for her to be going into heat. Maybe the presence of testosterone in the meadow could set her biological clock in motion. Whatever. This morning I took a couple of carrots with me into the meadow. The donkeys were grazing in the distance, three or four donkey lengths apart. I called to Jack and he came walking, happy to see me, though not enough to gambol in his usual show of delight. I gave him the carrot and he chewed. He was indeed glad to see me, but he wasn't feeling right. I could see it in his walking. Jenny came walking up for a carrot and Jack darted away. He stayed about a donkey length from her, outside kicking range if she were to whirl around and kick him in the face. Next time Jack came near her, she made a pretend lunge at him and Jack bolted, ready to run. I was seeing by morning Jenny is in charge. They came to some kind of understanding in the night. Jack's chest surely must be so sore he doesn't want kicked there again any time soon. It is no telling how much kicking he received in the night. Today, he is cowed by a donkey of superior might. His relentless assaults evidently didn't work out like he hoped.  Jack started to bray as he approached me, but it seemed like it was too agonizing for him to attempt it. She kicked his neck too. He will be several days recovering from last night's ass kicking.
 
jenny
 
 
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2 comments:

  1. Priceless story, gorgeous pictures. You sure know how to tell a story ... the Red Smith of the pasture! Hey, wait? That didn't come off right. Just leave it at "you're good!"

    ReplyDelete
  2. Love this post TJ -
    Good story to tell...

    ReplyDelete