jack curls his upper lip
This morning I went early with carrots while the donkeys were grazing out in the meadow. I took the camera today, thought I'd get some new pictures of them. I opened the gate and walked into the meadow without them paying me much mind. Taking pictures of them, I don't even think about composition much anymore. I just snap and get what I can. This one happened while I was holding the camera and talking to Jack. His lip curled up. I didn't have time to do anything but click the button pointing the camera more or less in the right direction. Had no idea if I even got him in the picture. He curls his lip like this when I talk to him. Some visitors today, we were standing this side of the gate giving them carrots. I was telling them something about Jack, talking about him, and he curled his lip like he does when I talk to him. It's like an involuntary spasm takes him over. It's the same with a bray. It's like once it starts, the bray has a life of its own. He just opens the passage through his neck from lungs to throat. Sometimes, if he cuts the bray off before it's over, he will be awhile sounding like he's whimpering almost to tears, like a child choking back tears. It's not a painful thing for him. The association is entirely my own. For him it's just braying. He brays when he's excited. He seems to be braying less since he's taken on the Alpha role. I clicked picture after picture. Several of noses up close or top of head up close. They move unexpectedly between the time my mind says push the button and finger pushes. I'll think I'm getting a good full face portrait and suddenly I get a close-up of a nostril. I laugh at myself that I'm able to tell whose nostril it is when I'm looking at the pictures in the computer. Jack was especially spirited with me this morning and Jenny quiet, allowing Jack the attention he was getting. I don't give him a good petting very often since Jenny's jealousy came into the meadow. Since she passed Alpha to Jack, she isn't jealous anymore, nor is she aggressive. She was standing back, watching me rub Jack's neck, his back, and Jack likes me to rub his rump and down his back legs. He likes his legs rubbed. Jenny has never liked her back touched. While rubbing Jack's back, I felt Jenny nudge me in the back with her nose, "Pet me."
I gave her a good rubbing on the underside of her neck, where she rubs herself on the dogwood trunks, and rubbed her neck and top of her head. She let me know she wanted me to rub her back like I rubbed Jack's back. She's never wanted me touching her back before. Her legs are off limits. I'm thinking I'll give Jack's legs a good rubbing with Jenny watching and see if she asks me to rub her legs. If she does, and I suspect she will, at least before end of summer, that will be a major breakthrough with Jenny. I think we're about bonded by now. Jenny is showing that she loves me. She is quiet now, not even playfully aggressive. She's practically glowing with love energy since she fell in love with Jack a few weeks ago. She fell in love with me too. She fell in love with the people who come to visit her. The gate is where I give them carrots and talk to them aware that they understand what I'm saying. She has made herself a daybed just inside the gate, her happy place where the love energy is flowing in a circle between us and carrot munching. It's her happy place. That's the best I can make of why she chose that spot. It's her resting place every day now during siesta time. She lies there with her head up most of the time looking like a Greek marble of a horse's head. She will sprawl out on the ground like she's dead. Horses tend not to stretch out like that, though I've heard donkeys do. Perhaps she is at ease with Jack keeping watch and can allow herself a moment of unguarded relaxation. In the mornings after carrots Jenny wants me to stay with her and talk some more and rub her cheeks. She has learned my hands have never hurt her or Jack. She sees me drape my arms around Jack's neck just in front of the shoulder, not controlling him, just being close. I don't ever take hold of either one to control. Except a few times when Jenny swung her rear end around on me and I put my hand on her rump to push her aside and distract her attention. Mainly to distract. It only happens when Jack is on the other side of me and swings his rump around, then Jenny swings her rump around and they're on either side of me, bumping into me close. I know neither one will kick me, but I also know they get excited when they start kicking and I don't want to be in the middle of an outta control donkey boxing match.
I like this picture of Jenny, it shows her stillness. This is the face of Jenny in her humility. She's come out of six months of aggressive Alpha behavior that stressed her. She's relaxed considerably with Jack taking care of Alpha duties, and she's overwhelmed by love vibration all the time now. I see her love face in this picture. It's her all's-right-with-the-world face. She's a happy donkey. And Jack is a happy donkey because Jenny is. Jack takes to Alpha like it's natural as grazing. He's not aggressive. Jack and I bonded before Jenny arrived. It's been awhile bonding with Jenny given her grief and dealing with an obsessive rapist every day. Everywhere I see her in the meadow now she looks like she is in peace at home. The word docile comes to mind, but it doesn't quite fit Jenny. I know she's not a docile donkey. She retains her self. She is her own woman. I admire that in her. And I'm glad Jack has a woman with a strong personality, a woman he can only dominate with her permission. It took Jack awhile to learn to conquer her. When he learned how to take her down, she fell in love. He's not a man if he can't kick her ass. I feel impulse to throw my arms around Jenny's neck like I do Jack, but hesitate to alarm her when we're so relaxed with each other. I was taking some pictures of Jack and she was grazing close to my shoe. I let her go to see what she'd do. She wanted to smell it, felt the texture with her lip. I let her feel the texture of my shirts with her lips and teeth. She doesn't intend to bite, only to feel the texture. She was moving her lips over the shoe, then she opened her mouth wide and took my whole foot sideways with her teeth and started clamping down, knowing what she was doing, playing, wanting to see me jump. I let out a tiny yelp, not a scold, but like it could be in pain, and she let go immediately, jerked her head back. I let her know I was not hurt or mad. My heavy outdoor shirt has flaps on the pockets that, of course, are never buttoned. Sometimes she will take hold of the flap with her lips, then take it with her teeth and tug on it in fun. I make the merest yelp and she lets go right away. I think donkeys feel with their lips and teeth like we feel with fingertips.
I've learned to let them examine me with their nostrils without apprehension. A few months ago when Jenny was becoming comfortable with me, in the time I was taking them hay every morning, she wanted to sniff me. She'd never been comfortable yet to get up next to me and give me a good sniffing. I hadn't been totally comfortable with her either. I stood still and let her go over me like a double-barrel vacuum cleaner, feet to head, front and back, even sniffing the top of my head and face. She very lightly went over my face with the outside of her upper lip and her whiskers. I stood still and trusted her. She was apprehensive, ready to spring, but I wanted to stay still and not alarm her, let her feel that I am comfortable. It was successful. She sniffed until she understood me better in the donkey way of knowing somebody. I was grateful she let me in to that intimate part of herself, needing to know her new human by scent. Every morning after the last chunk of carrot, I show her and jack my empty hands, put them close to the nostrils and let them smell my hands. At first, it was to give evidence the carrots were gone. It has become now something we just do. I offer them the palms of my hands to sniff, they sniff, one at a time, they're satisfied and it's done. Jenny's love light has lit Jack's love light too. I feel the love vibe coming from Jack today just like from Jenny. I loved it when Jenny nudged my back. It wasn't forceful, but it was firm, just right. It wasn't alarming though by surprise. First thing in my mind was not aggression, but wanting in on the petting that's going around. She disliked being touched so much, I learned not to press her and kept hands off mostly. Now she wants hands on. She will stand at the fence and let me rub her cheeks and neck, clean out her ears. She loves being touched now. Before, the nudge would have been aggressive wanting me to stop giving Jack so much attention, wanting all for herself. Today, it was just a nudge that said, "My turn?" I want to spend more time in the meadow with them now, feel their love energy. They are at peace and each is the focus of the others undivided attention. Even grazing far apart, each has an eye on the other. I never imagined I'd have opportunity to witness two donkeys fall in love. This is good as it gets.
jack and jenny