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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

CALF RAISED BY DONKEYS

21

The temperature has risen to 40, melting the ice. The white ice on everything was beautiful to look at, but it is even better to see it go. I put the donkey's hay close to the fence this morning because it felt less desolate for them under trees than out in the open ice and cold. Fog is coming back, the trees rain melted ice. The calf in the meadow with the donkeys has been on my mind and has been on my heart. It is coming into its personality. I'm more able to see consciousness there, something to interact with. I've prayed for it and see now that it has come into what I've been looking to for it. I've not known what to do for it. Its fate appears to be a solitary existence in cow form, a herd animal. Its story is the sad tale of cows, meat. 21 was taken from mama way too early, even to indifference way too early. My friends who buy and sell cattle asked about leaving two or three calves in the meadow. Sure. Glad to have something in the meadow. The calf was set loose in the meadow when the grass was green. Weeks old. It learned about grazing. It slept in a small stand of ironweed close to the fence. Coyotes would taunt it in the night, all around it, yipping their ear-piercing puppy yelps. Immediately on hearing them, I run out the door and holler, GIT, full bass roar like the giant got out of the box. It's the only thing I've found to work. I tried banging pot lids, pots, anything that clanged. The coyotes paid it no mind. One loud Git and they are gone. Concern for the calf haunted my heart and I did not know what to do. It's not my business. It's on its way to cheap meat. It was born on the production line. It was afraid of me and ran to the other end of the meadow. I believed it was short-term temporary, and left it be somebody else's concern.
 
jack September 2013
 
I had been hearing about donkeys keeping coyotes away, and seeing out on the county roads one or more donkeys in a meadow with a herd of cows. A Jack came up for sale from somebody I knew at very reasonable cost, a rebel yaell price, hail yeah. Donkey turns up in the meadow one day. I didn't know what to do. It was a beast. Much bigger than me. I was aware of a statistic I'd heard on NPR some years ago that less people are killed in plane crashes around the world per year than are killed by donkeys. I thought: Donkeys? I continued to think, Donkeys? I'd think about them being African herd animals originally. They're not too different from zebras that are famous for being untamable. Sheena of the Jungle rode a white horse with black lines painted on it Fifties jungle movie obvious. The donkeys have a naturally humble nature. It lends them to being used by humans to carry things, as tamable as a dog. A significant difference I've observed. Dogs forgive. Donkeys are like cats. They get you back, if not right now, first chance. Before I learned anything about donkeys, I'd only been told to stay out from behind them. I went up to the gate that was close to where I park and looked at the donkey. It came walking to me eventually. We gradually, tentatively, became acquainted, both of us cautious. Once acquainted through the gate, I bought carrots at the grocery store. Lord have mercy, how tasteless they are. The donkeys love the crunch and more than likely the taste. Suddenly I'm realizing these carrots are bred for high sugar content. Might be more to it than I imagined when I call myself the ice cream man. The human in the barn delivers morning sugar rushes. Crunchy sugar cubes. Or maybe I'm exaggerating. The donkeys like the carrots and that makes me happy.
 
jack and 21
 
A creek divides the greater meadow into two meadows of equal sizes. Donkey won't cross the creek. Calf was on the other side of the creek. Donkey stayed in the meadow he was released into. The calf crossed the creek a time or two. They were acquainted, but uninterested in each other. The calf evidently found the donkey unpredictable and stayed on its own side of the creek. The calf seemed to have no awareness. It was aware that Jack was not a welcoming presence. They stayed in their own yin-yang meadows with Spring Lizard Creek running between them. I don't recall the time in months, but another calf was brought in, number 23. I don't know if I can find a picture of 23. An update with restart, and all my pictures are gone. I believe they are still in the computer, but the likelihood of me finding them is similar to the chance of finding the Malaysian plane in the Indian Ocean, the post-modern needle in a haystack. I'll not worry over it, will keep on a-keepin on. The two calves were conceptually far apart like from pre-beginning pre-school for 21 to maybe first grade for 23. The new calf was somewhat socialized, had known other calves. The calf in the meadow had been living solitary since knee-high, no learning from mama or other calves, a baby left to the coyotes in the night. Jack did not chase away the coyotes. They surrounded him a few times. A moment from the movie, Runaway Train, a young, vulnerable woman, a railroad employee, screams at Jon Voight's character, "You're a Beast!" He answered, "Worse. Man." The coyotes, like everything else, know the two-leggeds are lethal. The new calf, 23, became a teacher for 21, who started coming to. Then 23 had an accident, was taken away to die after a few days.
 
21 and jenny
 
I was puzzled about what to do. Two herd animals in solitary confinement either side of the creek. Stepped into the meadow with Jack and got to know him gradually. I chose to name him Jack because it is the most common name for a male donkey. A Jack means a male donkey. I like that it has associations with a friend of my parents when I was a kid, Jack of Jack and DeLouris, who drove a brand new pink and gray 55 Ford convertible. I thought Jack was great. I loved DeLouris like crazy. I did not name Jack the donkey after this Jack. I just like the association. Keeps someone in memory who was important in childhood. I decided to put out a search for a girlfriend for Jack, another Bethlehem Cross donkey. Jack was lonesome. Found Jenny, brought her here in a horse trailer. Jack took off after Jenny in complete unconsciousness. She kicked him all over his body, neck and head so he could not bray for a few days, only able to squeak. They were so rambunctious that the ice cream man stayed out of the meadow over a month. By the time hard winter came, the calves had shared the shed with the donkeys. All three mourned the loss of 23. Jenny became a friend and teacher to the calf, brought it a little farther along in awareness. The calf has grown to the same size as Jack. The three have their hierarchy worked out. Everybody is happy now that Jenny is here. Jack loves her single-mindedly. Jenny seems happy to be with Jack for her mate. The calf stays near the donkeys now, though out of kicking range. The calf has seen me touch Jack and Jenny. It has watched them at carrot time. It is three at the gate now. Jenny turns on the calf, doesn't want to be its friend anymore during feeding time. The calf has something of a herd now.

21
 
 
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