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Thursday, November 13, 2014

WINTERIZING THE DONKEY DEN

jenny and jack with winterized shed

The last days of decent weather before the forecast drop in temperature accompanied by wind, rain, ice, snow and everything else that can happen. Temperature is said to drop tonight and be blustery the next few days and cold all through November. Weather forecasts have been so inaccurate the last few years, I've learned to take it as it comes. I looked at the ten day forecast. Below freezing every night and highs each day slightly above freezing and sometimes not. The best part is little wind. I've used the last couple days to get 12 bales of hay from the barn to the stack by the donkey shed, covered them with a tarp to keep them dry. Today I brought 6 bales of last year's hay to stack in the open side of the donkey shed to give them a wall against the wind. The car's trunk holds three bales per trip. I've been using boards and cardboard to cover big holes and cracks in the shed's walls. It had a big hole in a side wall where chickens once went in and out. Another hole with screen up high for ventilation with chickens. I but boards over the openings. The door had cracks between the boards. Covered them with strips of cardboard stapled to the wood. I spread a bale of last year's hay over the dirt floor. They actually prefer the dirt, but I put hay in for insulation if it might help. Now I don't know if both can be comfortable in there. They will work it out. I wanted to leave a space above the stacked hay bales for them to see over it. It was cold and a light drizzle had begun when I went out a few minutes ago to see how they took to the new situation. Jenny was inside and Jack was looking in. I got some pictures of donkeys with new shed and went inside to feel it. Remarkable change just stepping into the space. No wind, but it still felt comfortable inside. 

donkey quarters

I'm curious to see if both will go in at the same time with a wall. What a job it was, dragging the hay bales out the barn door, only slightly wider than the bales, lifting them into the trunk, driving to the fence, throwing them over the fence, going back for three more and throwing them across the fence. They rolled about half way to the shed. I believe the tarp over the six bales will hold them in place and keep rain off them. I'm not worried about the donkeys eating the hay, it being hay they don't like. I put the tarp over the hay to hold the bales in place while donkeys bump against them, push at them, test them. My imagination tells me Jenny may claim the space and keep Jack out, though I'm not convinced it will be like that. One of the many things the donkeys have taught me is I cannot predict them. I like that. It keeps them fresh. I talked yesterday with my friend Marsha at the hardware store about Jenny losing her baby. Marsha knows horses, loves horses like I love donkeys. She asked me about Jenny's udder, how developed it was. I saw it the day before, lying down in the meadow with Jenny grazing around me. I noticed it had not developed and remembered thinking it odd. Marsha said it suggests premature. She said when the foal is born the udder is like a balloon. She said nature has a way of taking out the weak. I mentioned suspicion Jenny did not know what she was doing when she chose to lie down in the mud. Marsha said, "She knew what she was doing." Marsha mentioned that I had suspected February was the first time I felt like Jack conquered Jenny. 

 Christo was here

For the baby to have taken a year, as donkeys do, Jenny would have conceived the first couple days with Jack, which I don't believe she did. She's bigger than Jack and she was kicking him all over the meadow. Kept him looking like Mike Tyson after a slug-fest. Jack's face had that battered look again this morning. Jenny is back in heat, as donkeys go into heat within a few days after the birth. They are back at their courtship behavior, Jack wanting to climb on Jenny's back, and she's kicking with her ears back and her head down. It is not as vigorous a kicking as it was when she was new in the meadow and she didn't know him. This round, they are in love. Before, they were not. Jack was, but Jenny not. Jack fell in love first sniff. Jenny was six months falling in love with him. Their relationship is calm, calm like people who have lived together a year. Jenny commands Jack and he allows for it. Jack wants to be with Jenny all the time and she wants to be with him all the time. Jack has adjusted to having a woman who can kick his ass. She is willful, jealous, aggressive. Jack is humble, quiet, generous and non-aggressive, except when he wants to be. Jack is a good old boy. Jenny is Uma Thurmond in KILL BILL. She is a martial artist with her back legs. Both have powerful jaws and front legs too. Jack and Jenny are very different kinds of donkeys. Jack is a beast of burden donkey, one who would enjoy being a pickup truck for his human friend. Jack makes me suspect the companionship of humans using donkeys for beasts of burden since back into pre-history has linked them to humans in their DNA. Jack understands me talking. He is responsive to me. Jenny is too. I suspect Jenny has some Mammoth Donkey in her, as she's shaped more like a horse than Jack. Jack is donkey. Jenny is donkey mixed with horse somehow. Her head suggests a horse, whereas Jack is pure donkey. Jenny's baby was a miniature of her. 

jen

I saw today that one of them had dug at the grave, though not much. My feeling is it was the loose dirt that was the subject, not grave. They like to dig at dirt. They are good at clearing a circle on the ground of all vegetation to make a dust circle to wallow on. No rain for several days made their dust circles just right. Today I saw Jack rolling on one and Jenny rolling on another. They roll from one side to the other and back, legs swimming, and do it again until they're satisfied. They keep a thick layer of dust in their hair. It keeps parasites down and I suspect insulates in winter. Their hair is thickening and lengthening now. Last year at this time, Jenny's hair was long, curly and hot-chocolate brown. This year it is shorter, almost like Jack's, and a grayish brown like Jack's, with the hot-chocolate color remaining as a frost, a mere suggestion of the curls on her sides. I find it curious how a year with Jack has changed the nature of her hair. I think she is four. Possibly it changes with maturity. Their hair is so thick now, and longer, that it sticks out instead of laying back like in summer months. They are so covered with dust that when I touch one of them on the back, a cloud of dust rises. In the time Jack was new here, I thought it necessary to brush donkeys like horses. I bought a brush. He liked it. I brushed him all over while he stood still enjoying the sensation of his hair being brushed. As soon as I stopped brushing him, he ran for his first dust circle, dropped down onto his side, rolled back and forth, legs swimming in the air, replacing the dust I had brushed from his hair. I thought I was helping to clean him. I was messing him up. I'd brushed away his fly repellent. Never brushed him again. Just now thought I heard coyotes, jumped and ran to the door, opened it to yell at them. Wind chimes.  

 beautiful jen in the donkey den


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