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Thursday, February 6, 2014


jack and jenny sunbathing
Out the window I see Jack and Jenny standing in tandem, Jenny in front, soaking up what sunlight there is in 27 degrees F for their midday siesta. This is siesta time. Today they choose to stand. They found a good place out of the breeze. It's a little cold to stretch out on the ground. They're acclimatized, but they feel it. Jack's dinger is hanging down in motion. He's been hot for Jenny the last week, since the new moon. She continues to keep him back, though her vehemence has receded a great deal. I don't believe she's gone into heat yet. Yesterday I heard Jenny complete a full bray the first time. It was a little bit awkward, but she's getting it. I stepped outside and Jack started braying, then Jenny brayed with a higher pitch than Jacks. His bray is like a tenor to her alto sax. I took her a carrot and congratulated her on figuring it out. I've seen her study Jack when he brays and heard a lot of her efforts. She got the intake of breath Hee, more a whistle than a word. Exhaling the Haw she could not get. She'd watch Jack and watch him, trying to figure it out. She's got it. Jack has been hanging close to Jenny and she doesn't evade him like she used to. They've been living together so long, I get the feeling Jenny is liking Jack, likes his attention. And Jack has been more respectful of her over time. She pops him in the chest with her back feet and he stays out of range these days. Before, he kept after her until his whole body ached from all the kicking. They've had their fights enough to know each other intimately. Over the last week I've seen affection in Jenny's eyes when she looks at me. I'm wondering if Jack's renewed interest might have been brought on by Jenny perhaps starting to go into heat. Her behavior has changed slightly. She doesn't mind him standing behind her now.
jack having breakfast in the snow
About three days ago I saw Jack kiss Jenny. It was an obvious kiss too, not something that just happened that looked like a kiss. They were standing facing each other in their quiet time of day, just standing there. Jenny's head was leaning downward about like 4 o'clock. Jack's head was down about like 5 o'clock. Jack raised his head and gently touched his upper lip to Jenny's upper lip. Head back down he fluttered his lips like horses do and slowly walked on his way. Jenny liked it. She did not recoil. I see them together fairly often now facing each other. Yesterday morning when I went out to feed them, they were facing each other moving their heads around and Jack let out a fluttering snort that sent a cloud of breath vapor into the cold air. They're both lying down now. Jenny appears to like his attention now. She's had to train him to stop taking her for a whore with a knowing she's not about to be raped. She's the biggest, the Alpha. Jack understands by now. I wondered if it might have been the new moon that brought on his horny behavior. Yesterday he was so worked up when he came to me for his carrot I wondered about the advisability of stepping through the gate. I laughed at myself. Jack is my friend. He's not going to attack me. His movements were somewhat aggressive, but I didn't feel defensive. Jenny went for a swatch of hay from my left and Jack grabbed one on my right. Jenny was being aggressive too, like: I want it NOW. No problem. I made it a point not to move my fingers out of the way for both of them, to see what they'd do, confident they would not bite my fingers. Neither one did. They were close, but I've learned by now they know where their teeth are in relation to my fingers. I give Jenny a chunk of carrot and she takes it every time without touching my fingers. This morning I held a chunk of the big end of the carrot in the palm of my hand and let her chew it. I never felt her teeth.
jenny jenny
Giving her carrots this morning, she was being frisky. She was snorting at Jack to stay back, turning this way and that with her hind end following him ready to kick. Her ears were back. I leaned down and talked into her nostrils like I do every day and she made a lunge at me with her teeth like she was going to bite my nose. I don't believe she would have if I hadn't jerked back. I took it for a donkey joke to make me jump. I see her and Jack make a fake lunge at each other from time to time, just to see the other one jump. I've seen Jenny make a fake lunge at the calf just to make it jump. I like Jenny's freedom with me to make me jump. I felt like she was being playful. Jack did the same. I leaned down close to talk into his nostrils and he made a dive for my nose like he was laughing. It was like they'd agreed to see if they could make the ice cream man jump today. I hesitated before going through the gate, and even felt a slight ill ease when both of them went for the hay I was holding with such aggression from both sides at once. Their issue at the moment was with each other, not with me. Both were feeling frisky. Jenny had kicked Jack a couple of good ones just before. I walked out into the meadow with Jenny close behind, here ears back telling Jack and the calf that Alpha donkey is first, stay back. Jenny's behavior lately has been telling me that she is becoming comfortable with Jack. I think she used her Alpha status at first defensively. By now it is established that she can kick Jack's ass. Placement in hierarchy is long established. Jenny's Alpha status by now is understood, like "you" in the sentence, Get me a beer. Jack gets the beer for Jenny, not the other way around. I've heard that female donkeys are very interesting characters. Jenny is evidence.
donkey jen

Jack and I had established trust and friendship before Jenny's arrival. It has taken awhile to get there with Jenny due to Jack, her most immediate concern, being so demanding of her, keeping her defensive all the time. Then she laid her ears back defensively. Now she lays them back in aggression. Jenny rules. She's had Jack under control long enough by now that she and I have a relationship as close as I have with Jack. Jenny has the poise of an editor of a fashion magazine, and her man is a dock worker. It took her a little while to get used to it. He's her Marlon Brando in his Italian lover tshirt. She is his Jane Russell on a nude beach. I told my friend Carole on the phone this morning that I am grateful to God for the chance to know donkeys before I leave the earth. In the course of evolving friendship with Jack, during the time we were still nervous about each other, though relaxing into trust, one day he came galloping at me full gallop, a straight line, eyes set on me with intent. My first thought was he's not going to hit me, so I didn't move. He went from all-out gallop to complete stop with his front feet a couple inches from my toes and his nose a few inches from my chest. He looked at me as if to say, I thought you were going to jump. I laughed and then he laughed. Next day, he did the same, ran at me full gallop, and this time he turned to my right quick as a polo pony, inches from me without touching. I was impressed. This time he laughed like crazy. Never did it again. Those two moments broke our fear of each other. Jenny has not yet pulled such a trick on me. I took making a dive for my nose as a similar trick, Jenny version. Let's make the ice cream man jump. Something to laugh about all day. Outside the window, Jack is licking the mineral block and Jenny is rubbing both sides of her neck in the fork of the dogwood tree.


  1. TJ - I love your stories about Jack and Jenny and I can hear them laughing :)

  2. Are female donkeys normally larger than the males..and are they normally the alpha donkey....It must give you such a feeling of love to have them around...