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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

HAPPY DONKEYS

jenny

Yesterday was the day from hell. Rotten mood all day into the night. Running through my head like a mantra: You regard me with indifference--I regard you with indifference. A third was in the mix yesterday that I didn't bring up, but want to anyway, because it was as much a part of my rage cocktail as the other ingredients. I'd just been told about a donkey website in Canada, a "donkey refuge" where they took in unwanted donkeys. I want to find information on donkeys besides training and stock. A week ago I found a site that looked like it might be what I was looking for. Somebody named Meredith had a place, Ask Meredith. I was heartened, somebody who knew donkey nature. I wrote Ask Meredith with a specific question about Jenny. Next day I get an email, a form-letter email with my name placed in it like it was to me. It was about training and asking for money. The form-email scrolled half a mile, and nothing in it was something I was wanting to know. I do not want to train my donkeys to do anything but be donkey. They already have that. I'm looking for insight into donkey nature. Meredith wanted money. The donkey refuge in Canada wanted money. The website was nothing but appeals for money. Send money. It had a half minute video of donkeys braying and a half minute video of a man riding a donkey with a saddle. I know donkeys can bray and I don't want to ride one. I just want to know my donkeys. I've given up looking at donkey websites. I found several that are concerned with donkeys as stock and for training. Finally I have come to realize it's up to me. These are the two donkeys I know. Their personalities are so radically different from each other, I know they're different from other donkeys too. They have personalities just like humans do. They are individuals, just like humans are, though humans seem to be losing a sense of the individual over recent decades as we collectively conform to the television standard of seeing ourselves stock.

jenny
 
At carrot time this morning, Jack and Jenny were out in the middle of the meadow grazing. Jack saw me first and came running. Jenny took her time walking. Jack was already munching carrot when Jenny arrived. I was feeling open to them after realizing I'm on my own to learn donkey nature. These are my teachers, straight from the source. I don't need a donkey website to tell me to send money. Two-thirds of the time the phone rings it's an appeal for money. I recall a day back in the winter, I was talking to Jack and he was listening. I said to him, I'd like to be able to ride you like a horse. He smiled approval, a look in his eye said he'd like that too. I said, But I weigh so much I don't want to hurt your back. He fluttered his nostrils, raised his head and looked me in the eye, saying to me telepathically--I heard it as though my ears had picked it up--thanks for the consideration. I watch Jenny especially at carrot time. Her personality is so subject to change from day to day, I use carrot time to read Jenny's mood for the day. This morning she was quiet, didn't kick at Jack, didn't bite at him when I talked to him. Jack was liking me to pet his head and neck today. Jenny watched. I did not want to provoke her jealousy, so I went and talked to her awhile. Went back and talked to Jack, glad to see Jenny was not getting anxious. Carrots ran out and Jack walked back into the meadow a ways and grazed with his rear end to us, acting like he wasn't paying attention. Jenny likes me to touch her after she has seen me touching Jack. I've found she likes her cheeks rubbed, so I started there, scratched around her ears, put fingers inside her ears and felt I don't know what it was, little granules about the size of sand pebbles. It seemed like they were a kind of tiny parasite. I rubbed them out of the inside of both ears and just about put her to sleep. Her eyes closed and she stood still feeling me rub away whatever the nuisance was in her ears. I cleaned her ears with my fingers until I could not feel any more of the perhaps little bugs. I'm thinking they could be ear mites. Jack has them too. I keep them rubbed out of his ears as he will let me handle his ears. This is new for Jenny letting me invade her ears with my fingers. She's learned after half a year of knowing me that I don't harm or frighten donkeys.

jenny
 
I put my forehead on Jenny's forehead and rubbed both cheeks with my hands. This is not something she has ever liked. Today, she was soaking up the vibes of affection from the ice cream man. I talked to her in a low voice, no need to talk loud just a few inches from her ears. She stood perfectly still with the occasional switch of the tail for flies. She stood with her eyes half closed feeling my hand move up and down the underside of her neck, even let me run my hand over the curls on her back. She might have even let me touch her legs today, though I did not want to push her. Jenny had never let me touch her this long. She looked like she was ready to stand there all day with the ice cream man scratching her neck where she's rubbing the bark off a dogwood tree. I've an idea both donkeys have parasites. I'd like to cure them, but that involves money I don't have, too. They roll in the dirt for the bugs. Both donkeys are covered with dust, so much it has changed their colors. I've heard that guineas are good at eating ticks and all varieties of bugs. I'm thinking about buying two or three guineas to turn loose in the meadow with the donkeys. I see a crow pecking about in the meadow. A few minutes ago a lone turkey hen crossed the meadow, went under the fence, crossed the road and walked up the bank into the woods. Jenny and Jack grazing with their rear ends pointed this way, tails switching back and forth, from 1 o'clock to 11 o'clock, looked like lawn whirligigs with a propeller twirling in the breeze. I remembered the childhood game, Pin the tail on the donkey, and wondered why it has just now come to me after half a year of living with donkeys. Possibly it's due to my mind so seldom looks at memories from childhood. I tend not to think back before age 23 when I became a free agent, dues paid to obligations and duties. And seldom think of my life before the mountains, but for particular people from that time I stay in touch with.

jenny and jack

Jenny was having such a good time being rubbed and talked to, I decided to stay with her while she's in this mood. I have the time. I talked to her, petted her. I touched her right foreleg just at the shoulder, but did not want to end our visit. She'd have stepped back out of reach and broke the spell if I'd moved my hand toward her knee. This was my first opportunity to spend time with Jenny alone. Jack close by is too distracting for her. She wants to keep her eyes on him and bite or kick him. Jack left us to ourselves. He even turned his rear end toward Jenny like he might let her have it, but never did. He was showing a glimmer of jealousy. Their behavior this morning suggested Jack is still Alpha. He's a much gentler Alpha than Jenny is. If I'm talking to Jack and Jenny steps too close, Jack will kick at her telling her to get back. Jenny in the Alpha role is aggressive and jealous. Alpha status seemed to keep Jenny somewhat nervous with the responsibilities. It was Jenny outside the role of Alpha allowing me to pet her and talk to her, put my fingers in her ears. The ear rubbing caused her to close her eyes and her lower lip seemed to have a very slight involuntary tic from relaxation the way a dog's legs flop when it's relaxed in sleep. I tell Jenny I love her, I'm happy to have her living here with Jack and me. She is as gentle as Jack when she's relaxed from Alpha responsibilities. The only thing I'm able to suspect about Jenny giving Alpha over to Jack is it happened at the same time she fell in love with Jack. Maybe Alpha was her love gift, passing the role to the man she loves. He may be the smaller of the two, but he's her man. It is about six months they have been getting acquainted. I feel like Jenny's grief over losing her friends from before she came here has subsided. I tell her often I'm glad she's here, wanting her always to feel welcome. I love the Jenny I've learned to know, the Jenny outside the demanding Alpha role. I love Jenny in the Alpha role. She's a good donkey. I felt like this was a break through day with my donkey friend. Jenny stood at the gate in a still silence for about a half hour after I returned to the house.   

jack switches his tail
 
 
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