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Tuesday, July 8, 2014


donkey jack

I took some carrots into the meadow for the donkeys. They were at the far end of the meadow. Instead of calling them, I walked to them. Jack saw me first and came running. Most often he will start walking tentatively, stop about fifty feet away, run up to about ten feet from me and walk the rest of the way. That's his pattern. This time, he saw me from quite a distance, maybe fifty yards, and ran all the way, ran right up to my hand with the carrot. Jenny came casually walking, no big hurry. She walked out around Jack. He swung his rear end around at her with a grunt in a serious way. I'd never seen Jack so jealous. Jenny stepped back and I extended my arm to her with carrot. Jack didn't like it. They both moved around me, not like I was the center of attention, but I was in the way. Jenny came to me for a second carrot and Jack bolted into gallop and ran between us, pushing Jenny back and hitting me fairly hard. I know I was not his target, just collateral damage (no problem). He didn't come close to knocking me down, but hit rougher than he has ever been with me. He knocked her back away from me and me back from her. He was serious too. No laugh was associated with this trick. I let out a yelp that didn't slow Jack down. He did not intend to hit me, but as I've found before, when they go at each other, their focus of attention is like they have blinders for anything in the way. It's up to me to get out of their way when they get antsy. He hit me with his left front shoulder and it was hard. I realized again what a powerful beast Jack is. He knew me physically well enough to know he was not overwhelming me. He knows I can't take a forceful bump like a donkey can. He also knows I can to a point, and he knows the point. I felt his weight and his power, and that only peripherally. It was Jenny he hit. I just happened to be in the way. I wasn't afraid. They started dancing around each other and I said, "Bye, y'all. I'm going back to my barn." When I turned to walk away, they settled down.

jenny and jack munch jewelweed treats
I'm getting the impression from morning carrot time that Jack is becoming more forceful in his role as Alpha. At the fence, he will swing his ass end around at Jenny to push her away from me. This is what Jenny did when she was Alpha. Jack was slow to become aggressive as Alpha, but he's getting there. I'm not worried about him. It's just interesting behavior. I'd trust my life to Jack. I'm not worried about him turning on me. Their antsiness happens when I'm around; it's one of them pushing the other to have carrots all to self. Possibly Jenny passed her jealousy to Jack with the Alpha. This was the first time I saw Jack show jealousy with aggression. Mostly, he swings his rear end toward her and makes a sighing groan. Today it was a buffalo grunt and a show of power. He didn't kick at her, though he would have if she hadn't backed out of range. I actually like being in so close to them when they start dancing and kicking. I feel safe. One or both might step on my foot, kick me intending to hit the other, or knock me down. I don't care. I had a brief interior laugh when Jack went into action and Jenny went into defensive action. They were so big, so heavy, so powerful, wild, dynamic, snorting. Handing them carrots is one thing. Standing defenseless in the meadow, two voluminous equines hopping around me, going at each other with me in the middle, can get a little unnerving really fast. Fortunately, I don't have fear of them kicking me or fear of a kick hurting if one does kick. I have no fear of them because I know neither one has an intent to hurt me. Collateral damage is another story. That's called shit happens. An accidental kick would not be anything like a kick with intent behind it. I feel like I've gone into a new zone in relation to the donkeys. I saw earlier today that I no longer have any fear or apprehension of them. They start acting up, I know it's not about me, except that it is totally about me, and I step out of the way while they dance around each other, feign biting and kicking, ears back, bump, snort, push.
big mama jenny munches morning carrot
I'm thinking with fair confidence that Jenny is, indeed, pregnant. Talking Sunday with my friend Pat, who has donkeys, Mongolian horses and goats. She talked about them at length, at my prompting. I was wanting to hear what she had to say about donkeys. She noted that the donkeys fill out through the winter eating hay. They lose weight this time of year; the big barrel shrinks. Jack has thinned a bit since winter. Jenny has not. Jenny gets bigger. I was wondering if she was just getting fat. No, she'd be thinner now than in winter. I noticed her belly has grown considerably and has a slight lump in it. She likes it when I run the brush over her belly hair. Reaching down under her belly is quite a stretch. I told Pat that Jenny has had a very peaceful air the last month and a half or two months. She quieted down after she gave Alpha to Jack. She was so unpredictable for two to three months, I would read her temperament each morning at carrot time, see what kind of mood Jenny was in. Some days she'd be aggressive and feisty, take the carrot touching my fingers with her teeth, just to let me know she can. Other days she would take the carrot with her lips or her teeth and not come near my fingers. Some days she was fiercely aggressive with Jack and other days only mildly aggressive. She was always aggressive toward him in some manner. However, this was only when the ice cream man was with them. They get jealous over the carrots as metaphors of my attention, or something. All the women I talked with about Jenny's behavior told me she was pregnant. I've believed she was, but it didn't show. This calm spell is a part of the pregnancy, too. If she conceived when I suspect, it would have been February. Donkeys carry for a year. This is looking at cold, hard winter. Though it may have been later, explaining why it has taken so long to show. I'm guessing it will be February or March when Jenny has her baby. Pat said she started with two donkeys and the herd grew to seven. She said the baby donkeys are cute beyond cute. She said I will fall in love with the baby. They start playing a short time after they're born. She fell in love with all of hers and could not let them go. 
jack's ears
I've already named the baby. Male or female, it will be Sherpa. It is sherpas that act as human donkeys to carry supplies for Himalayan climbers. I like the word, and like it for a name. A sherpa is a humble man, a Buddhist. A donkey is humble. Humility is the first characteristic I noted getting acquainted with Jack. Jenny was so out of sorts it was awhile finding humility in her. During her first six months, she was in grief, in shock, outraged, and aggressively defensive. By now, she's at home, she's with her man, she has her own personal autonomy, the freedom to be fully herself. She's safe in a meadow surrounded by barbed wire to keep everything out. Anything the fence cannot keep out, donkey can. I learned Sunday soon after talking with Pat on the phone that next door neighbor's dog is suddenly blind in left eye. He believes she (Jolene) was donkey kicked. I thought she knew to stay out of the donkey meadow by now. I've seen Jolene go out of her way not to cross the donkey meadow. Months ago when Jenny was new, I saw Jolene and Martha get run out of the meadow. As soon as a donkey sees a dog in the meadow, both donkeys take off in a bee-line gallop toward the dog. Dogs dive under the fence. Martha, Jolene's sister, will lie on the ground just this side of the fence and watch the donkeys. She wants with all her might to cross the line and go into the meadow with the donkeys. She dares not. All I can figure with Jolene is she, too, has a constant urge to want to be in with the donkeys, chase them and make them run. If she came within kicking range of one of the donkeys, she did get kicked. I can't imagine her getting close enough to one of the donkeys this long, eight months after she has learned to leave the donkeys alone, definitively. Dogs are learners, and I know Jolene has a good mind; she's a good hunter, fast and smart. I also know of Jolene that she's impulsive. She will know not to do something and do it anyway. Her impulsiveness is the only way I can see her getting close enough to a donkey for a head kick. She learned at least seven months ago to stay out of the donkey meadow. I'm thinking the likelihood of a human hitting her with a stick or a rock is more likely than a donkey kick. If she did go after a donkey after knowing not to for so long, she needed a kick in the head. The only way she could get close enough to be kicked would be to sneak up on one, and that's not possible. All I can make of it is something besides donkey hurt the dog. If it was donkey, the dog knew it was taking on a buzz-saw. Like Mama Gump said, Stupid is as stupid does. Another mystery never to be solved.    
jenny scratches her neck on the fence wire


  1. What a perfect name for the baby!

  2. The depth of observation and insight in your descriptions is pure gold, TJ. Who knew a boy named Jack, a girl named Jenny and an ice cream man could be so dad-gum interesting?