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Monday, December 16, 2013


jenny's ears back
I utilize a lot of time looking out the window at the donkeys and calves grazing in the meadow on hay I spread over the ground for them earlier. I love to look at especially the donkeys, see their movements, and like this moment, seeing Jenny's face while she's chewing hay. I know her as my friend and like looking at her face. Seeing her face I see my friend Jen and think about her personality, how I don't want to control her but to understand her, learn from her instead of attempt to teach her. The only thing I want to teach her is that I love her as my friend, I like feeding her, I like watching her walk. I carry an armload of hay out into the meadow and Jenny walks beside me with her ears back, telling everybody behind her, Jack and the calves, that she is Alpha Donkey and claims the human for her friend and the hay for herself. She's the biggest and keeps the others aware that she can and will kick their ass. Ass-kicking Jenny. She shows a pride Jack does not share. I don't attempt to teach her about sharing. She's a donkey. Her ways are set in ways I don't understand, programed donkey behavior. I know nothing about donkeys but what Jenny and Jack have taught me and go on teaching me. I told them at the beginning I want them to be my teachers, teach me donkey mind. First thing I saw was the humility and that a donkey is drawn to humans with the same innate attraction a dog has. It's a different expression. She has an attitude Jack doesn't have. She keeps her head high and ears straight up. I'm getting impressions that she also sees her role as the herd's protector.
jenny soaking up some rays
I suspect strongly that the original wild donkey probably has no more disposition toward humans than a wildebeest or giraffe. They have been used as a beast of burden for so many thousands of years, more than likely pre-Egyptian pyramids by some thousands of years. Even if only from Bible times, donkeys have been with humans in close relationships since the time dogs didn't have "owners" and ate garbage people threw out for them. In the slums of India, today, dog packs terrorize the people living in slums who are on foot all the time. Donkeys are the original pickup. They are used, largely as far as I know, to carry things for humans. It takes a very tame animal to carry things for humans. I heard a statistic that in a year, more people around the world are killed by donkeys than in plane crashes. They're not completely tame. They are powerful. Like dogs, if donkeys were not disposed to humans, they'd be the same as a wolf and a zebra, untrainable, and a beast that could overwhelm almost any unarmed human. I wouldn't have a gun any smaller than a 45 if subject to a donkey attack by one that means it. The donkeys of the world have been worked by humans, for so many thousands of years, their by now genetic disposition toward humans has donkeys closer linked to humans than dogs or horses. I like not using my donkeys as beasts of burden. I like giving them a break. They have a big meadow with fence all the way around to keep everything out; humans, cars, dogs. Sometimes deer cross the fence to graze and they are no threat, so they're welcome. From our human perspective, the fence keeps the donkeys in. For the donkeys, it keeps the humans out, except for the one that lives in the barn nearby, brings them hay, carrots, sweet grain and talks to them like they have some sense.
jack scratching on a maple
The big round bale of hay sits in the meadow ignored. I've tried putting hay down around it, they won't touch it. Yesterday I tore away the soggy wet surface hay that was soggy several inches down. I threw it around on the ground hoping sun will dry it and maybe make it edible. I'd torn away enough of the damp and soggy outer layer exposing some that is dry. Yesterday I left my barn and went to visit friends all day. Came home around eleven, big, almost full moon in the sky, I saw the two white calves were at the hay bale. My feeling was the donkeys would rather be hungry. This morning I carried hay out to spread it around the big bale again. I carried my pocket knife, stuck it into the hay and pulled on it to cut the hay loose from itself. Went all the way across it making cuts about four inches long and maybe three inches deep. That allowed me to pull away quite big chunks of the outer layer to spread on the ground to dry, and exposed the dry hay inside. A couple hours after I'd put down some hay, about half the usual, instead of going after the dry hay in the bale, a calf and both donkeys were lined up at the fence staring at me through the window. They brought to mind my cat Tapo, who would get my attention to open the door by staring at me through the window until I noticed. Caterpillar plucked one wire of the screen with one claw. TarBaby meowed. Tapo stared through the window. Each went with what worked for them. Tapo understood the power of the stare. I could see the intensity in her eyes, consciously sending a telepathic code. It worked for her, every time.
jenny nibbling hay
A wave of love just now flowed over me, an air dragon of the heart, remembering the four cats I have loved and the three dogs that were my soul mates. I think of that song Mr Bo Jangles by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, that Bob Dylan recorded too. His dog up and died. After twenty years he still grieves. Oh how well I know the feeling. I feel like changing that Oh to Woe. It's a sorrowful thing to lose a friend close as a soul mate after a dozen or so years together. Woefully sorrowful. A lot of people I know won't have another after losing one, the sorrow is so powerful. I feel like the grieving is an ongoing expression of my love  When the time of grieving passes, that's when my friend is really gone. Then I miss the grieving. I feel like they have given me so much joy over so many years that a few months of sorrow is hardly even a tax. I've learned the healing power of grief to where I'm not afraid of it anymore. I don't like it, but I embrace it, because I know it's my friend. I recall a moment in Jean Cocteau's film, Beauty and the Beast, the Beast says to Beauty while professing his love, "I am a beast. The only way a beast can show his love is to die of grief." And they do. My prayer is that Caterpillar predecease me because I believe I can handle the grief of losing her better than she can handle losing me. I feel a hesitation about becoming friends with the calves. They will be taken away in a few months to market. That one is not my call. As long as I'm living, the donkeys stay here. Every day I am grateful for the experience of donkey.
jack having some hay

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