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Tuesday, March 25, 2014


jack left, jenny right
I woke this morning, looked out the window and saw snow, snow stuck to branches and twigs, snow a couple inches deep on the ground. Sunday morning I woke a little after 7:30, looked at the clock, glanced out the window and saw a white haze over the landscape. I said my eyes are unreliable, it was the way the light was glancing off the ground. Later, riding to Justin's with Melvin to see the race, Melvin mentioned it snowed at his place at 7:30, groundcover, and then it was gone. When I woke an hour or so later, no trace of snow. My eyes still play tricks on me. I wonder sometimes if it might be the result of experience during which I learn repeatedly I really don't get what's going on, whatever it is. I've learned to live with limited perception such that I don't dare trust my assessments of what is going on inside my head any more than I dare trust my assessments of another individual, whoever it may be. Like Jack's color, I look at it as brown and it's gray, look at it as gray and it's brown. In my first years in the mountains, coming from a totally different culture that believed itself superior to all others, I'd get something in my mind about old man Tom Pruitt as a part of his character or nature, and next time I saw him, the conclusion I'd drawn was disabled within the first five  minutes, like something had told him I'd come to a certain conclusion about him, so make city boy jump, show him something totally different that deletes what he walked in the door thinking. I did that so many times in the years I knew Tom, pigeonholing him, compartmentalizing him in my mental index. Every time I drew a conclusion about him, he showed me, first thing, I'd misread him. It was uncanny. I finally caught on, stop trying to "figure out" somebody. Allow him the inner complexity I allow in myself, self-contradictions and all.
 jack's breakfast in the snow
Seeing the snow this morning caused a double-take. It has been relatively warm the last few days. I look at weather forecasts very seldom, don't care what is going to happen tomorrow, unless a major storm is headed this way, preferring to allow each day its own character, personality, without projecting expectations onto it. The media weather people are becoming more hysterical every year about the weather. A few weeks ago the temperature went down to zero. My friends from other places were concerned for my welfare at zero. Lord have mercy, I've been through 24 below (once). I've lived close to the weather the whole time in the mountains, and zero is tiresome to be outside in, but I don't go out in it except to feed donkeys and birds. Thirty, forty years ago, the weather people talked about it more or less objectively. Now, even on pubic radio, the weather report is told dramatically, like OMG it's gonna snow! I think of it as plain silly and pay it no mind anymore. I hear a dire forecast: rain for the next three days! Yeah, every once in awhile a damp sprinkling and overcast about all the time. It's told like it is three days and nights of driving monsoon ahead, get out your boats, you're gonna need em. My personal experience with the weather is that it's mostly benign. Snow is tiresome in the machine age, but I stay home when the snow is a foot deep and wait for it to melt. Living close to the world of nature as I do, I am happy to see the rain and happy to see the snow. They keep the world of green things growing. Cold winters keep fleas down in the summer. Precipitation keeps the ravages of drought from taking over. I've a feeling with the crust of our continent being fracked, the western half of the USA may be desert in a few generations. The Appalachian Mountains, source of water for the eastern half of the continent, are being systematically destroyed from one end to the other. What can I do? I look out the window at donkeys in the snow, marvel that I have heat and my world is in good shape for now.
calf 21

 A slight cause for alarm this morning. The calf was gone. I looked everywhere in the meadow for a white calf in snow landscape while taking hay to Jenny and Jack. Took enough for calf too. No calf. After putting down the hay, I followed some donkey hoof prints out into the meadow to see if I could find maybe some calf prints. None. The donkey tracks turned around at a certain point and walked back. I went on to look the length of the creek, hoping the calf had not fallen into the creek on its back before the snow started. No calf in the creek. Only one thing left: Jesse must have been here yesterday while I was having a nap and took the calf to its next world. I called Jesse and, sure enough, he had been here to pick up the calf. He said he might bring three more calves in a few days. I did not get any sense from the donkeys they missed the calf. They had a quiet manner about them that suggested to me they were feeling the loss. I know they do, because when calf 23 went out, the donkeys and the calf mourned a few days. It's a certain stillness they have this morning that suggests to me they wonder about it. I'm thinking about asking Jesse to put the calves in the half of the meadow across the creek where the donkeys don't go for not liking to cross the water. I thought it might give donkeys and calves a chance to see each other across the creek, maybe  become curious and eventually want to be acquainted. More than likely, my guess would be the donkeys would become territorial about their half of the meadow and keep the calves on the other side. There is no telling what kind of social dynamic will go on between them. One thing for sure, the calves will learn to stay away from Jenny, she kicks.
my friend jenny
I felt like it was a good time for 21 to move on to next home because the calf had become afraid of Jenny, stayed back from her all the time. At hay feeding time, calf would wait in the distance for me to feed Jenny and Jack, then I'd put down a pile of hay and call the calf. It would come to the hay dancing. I suspect Jenny has been tormenting the calf, so it is good for it to go into its next social setup, probably a small herd. The calf has so little experience with other cows, not even memory of another cow, except what memory is left of calf 23, I wonder how it will do. One thing about this calf in a herd, it will be comfortable with solitude, may even be the cow in the herd that stays off to itself. Every herd has one. In my herd, I'm that cow. The calf may even take up with the herd's donkey. Or be afraid of it. This picture above of Jenny is the Jenny I know, the Jenny I look at when I talk to her. This is Jenny's face. To my eyes, she has a beautiful face. I tell her every day she is a beautiful donkey. She has a very complex personality. She's aggressive and quick to let the others know who rules. I don't challenge her role as Alpha Donkey. I don't want the role. I'm told over and over, "They're gonna getcha, they'll kick ya." I don't say they will never kick me, because I don't know. But I have near complete confidence I'll never be kicked by either one of them, unless it's a mistake like the time Jack kicked the back of my hand, but merely a touch I barely felt. He corrected his error before he connected. Jenny's rear end was on the other side of me. Jenny is a feisty donkey. I like that in her. She is different almost every day. Ice cream man gives them carrots every morning, talks lovey-dovey to them, tells them every day they are loved, and ice cream man can be counted on not to hurt them or surprise them. I know that both Jenny and Jack have an affection for me. I see it in their eyes and their behavior. They treat me as good as I treat them. I'm gentle with them, they're gentle with me. I treat them like I care about them and they regard me the same. It's the old thing, you get what you give. They know the difference between caring and not caring.    
my friend jack


  1. I agree that Jenny has a beautiful face and the sweetest soulful every alpha woman I know. Thank you for respecting that in her. I suspect you are a good role model for Jack. I will miss calf 21.

    1. Thank you, Carol. I miss calf 21 awfully bad and didn't think I would. Another thing I didn't understand was how brilliant a donkey's mind is. Possibly 10,000 years of service to humanity has tuned them to humans genetically by now.