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Sunday, February 9, 2014


jenny chews a carrot

Today is day off. I have gone someplace every day this week past. I don't sleep well when I have schedules; worry about not waking up in time makes it hard to get to sleep sometimes. Actually, a few times, maybe two I can recall, mind running everywhere keeping itself awake from fear of falling asleep and not waking up in time. Those nights I get up after awhile and write or read until I can't stay awake another minute, then crash and wake up on time too tired to get up. It doesn't happen much, so it's ok. It's just an odd thing. If I'm leaving to go someplace for a short period of time, I wait til the morning to leave for packing; if I pack the night before, I can't sleep. I don't care about investigating and curing this psychological quirk. It's harmless. It's easy to sidestep. I so seldom have a problem with sleeping, though when I do, I just get up and do something until it wears me out. Took two naps today, one early, one late. Took hay and carrots to the donkeys twice. Jack came braying to me this morning when I approached the fence. He has joy in his eyes when he brays. A donkey bray sounds like a celebration of joy. Every morning when I go to the fence he walks quickly with his neck and head sticking straight forward like a Marini horse sculpture, mouth wrenched into position to wail on his tenor sax. Finished, he takes the chunk of carrot from my fingers with his lips. Jenny took her carrot chunks with her lips today, too. Yesterday, both took the carrot with their teeth with aggression in their eyes, not threat, but the I-want-it-now look. Whatever it was that had them worked up yesterday had subsided by this morning. Both were back to their gentle selves and using lips instead of teeth. Their upper lip can be used as a finger to pick things up with. They pick up the pieces of sweet grain I put on the ground for them. After it's all gone, they scour their ground picking up the stray pieces they find with the fingers they can make with their lips. They use the upper lip to twist a tuft of grass to more efficiently cut it loose with a bite. 
jenny eats her morning hay
Jenny was her gentle self this morning. I leaned down speaking into her nostrils and she raised her nose to touch my nose. Yesterday the gesture was with bared teeth making a dive for my nose. Today she touched my nose with her nose. A donkey's nose is soft like a horse's nose. The nose is sensitive as a fingertip. Jenny likes to run her nose lightly over my whiskers to feel them so lightly I hardly feel her. They have taught me to check their mood first thing. It's not from fear of them, but to seek where they are coming from at the beginning. Some days Jack and Jenny can stand side by side chewing carrots in comfort. Other days I need two donkey lengths between them at carrot time. The change I'm noting in this time is that it is less and less that I need to be aware of giving them the carrot with a distance between them. Today there was less than one donkey length between them. When Jenny is having jealousy attacks, she'll kick Jack and the calf when they enter her range. She kicks less and less. She used to kick Jack every time he came within range. Putting down the hay for them, I keep a distance between each mound of hay, primarily to give Jenny peace of mind. If Jack or the calf were about to enter her zone, she'd snort and blow her warning. Her zone is the circle with a radius the length of her body pivoting on front feet. She swings her rear end around instantly, quick as a cat. Yesterday while Jenny was chewing her hay, I went to walk by her and she swung her ass end around at me. I didn't jump. She wasn't going to kick. It was her way of telling me to stay out of her zone. She's hungry, she's eating and wants me to leave her alone. I don't mind her swinging her rear end around on me. It's an automatic defensive move. I don't want to force my mind on her. I respect her space. I've asked her to teach me donkey. She's teaching: Get back, now.
jack chews his morning hay
Yesterday, both Jennie and Jack were spirited. Today, they still had the spirit they had yesterday, but gentler, no aggressive impulses. I like both. I like it when Jack wants too close to me and Jenny heads him off, both of them frisky on either side of me, around me, inches away, doing their kick dance, Jenny's ears back, hind end hopping up and down. I get a charge out of seeing it up close, their hips and sides right next to me, their feet dancing around my feet, heavy, big, feisty animals, African herd animals. This is why I want them to know the ice cream man is no threat to them in any way. If I carried a stick and hit them, they'd be bumping into me and stepping on my feet when they're frisky with each other. Because the ice cream man respects their space, they respect my space. They are fully aware of their bodies in relation to what is around them. Jack threatened Jenny that he was going to get a bite of her hay yesterday, and she swung her ass end around at me almost heedlessly. I stopped her momentum placing my hand on her rump to say it's going too far, the ice cream man feels threatened. She calmed right down. Anymore, I don't move out of her way or brace myself to be kicked when she swings around on me. She's not going to kick me. If I were to swat her with a stick one time, I wouldn't feel as safe as I do now. She might let her self accidentally (on purpose) step on my foot or knock me down with a kick. They are very physical beings. Their bodies are their minds. If I want to get physical with them, I lose. I like to keep our relationship on the mental plane where we're about even and  communicate well by predictable habit and signals, some telepathy too. I feel as safe now with Jenny as with Jack. It tells me trust is established between us.
jack says howdy
On the road yesterday I saw a brown, long-haired donkey in a field with some black cattle. It looked like a South American donkey, a burro. By long hair, I mean a little longer than Jenny's. This donkey was a much darker brown than Jenny. Jenny is the brown of hot chocolate. This donkey was the brown of a football. Even furry looking ears. I've been studying Jack and Jenny from a distance, finding characteristics of each that I can note at a distance where they look the same. Jenny's brow is narrower than Jacks. Her face is narrow like a horse's. Jack's face is thick above the eyes and tapers down to his nose. Jenny's back legs don't have as much dog-leg in them as Jack's. His back legs have a pronounced angle in that bend. The angle in Jenny's dog-leg is about half way between Jack's and straight. Jack's back knees touch much of the time when he is standing still. Jenny's do not. She has the back legs of a mammoth donkey. Jenny's ears are either straight up or back. Jack's ears flop around every which way, individually; they're often back when Jenny is acting out her jealousies about her privileges as Alpha. Jack never challenges Jenny's status. This morning Jack took his carrot first. They were out in the meadow past the dogwood tree and Jack saw me first. He took off galloping and braying at once. Jenny took off behind him. He approached the fence in full bray. Jenny was still a ways behind him, so he got his carrot first. That one wasn't a problem, because he was first as a result of being the only one there. Jenny did not seem put out that Jack already had his carrot when she arrived. Their gentleness today in contrast to yesterday's aggression reminded me how different they are in their relationship with each other from one day to the next. I started giving them carrot before taking the hay into the meadow to preoccupy them. Since doing it awhile, I'm finding it makes a good time to read their mood for the day. Every day is emotionally unique for them.       
jenny having hay


  1. TJ - I love the description of Jenny saying hello and touching her nose to your whiskers! Yeah for gentle days :)

  2. I love the gentleness that you show to these animals. It is sad but such gentleness toward animals or people is rare.