We have warm sun the last few days and with temperature rising above freezing in daylight and fading below freezing in the night. The donkeys are showing me something deep in donkey nature I'm gradually coming to see is important. Important to donkeys. They have taken to using their den for a toilet. After just a few days, I looked in yesterday and the hay I'd spread was wet and matted flat, a big circle of donkey droppings in the middle. I put some hay over it, thinking I was helping keep them clean. They don't want to be clean. This morning I looked at the hay. It was matted wet and a circle of donkey biscuits in the middle. In exasperation, I thought, If that's what trips y'all's trigger, have at it. I have it narrowed slightly considering they do not use their sleeping quarters for a toilet in summer. This leans me toward seeing it may, indeed, be about warmth, keeping the surface of the ground warm. Scent surely has a major role in it. The floor would be the blend of both their scents. Possibly, given that they are an item now, lovers living together, wedded in the donkey way, it's looking like this could be how they blend their scents. It is no longer Jack's scent and Jenny's scent, it's "our" scent, the scent of "our" bond, "our" den, "our" meadow. I saw them fall in love and saw them make love. It is a love making event for them. In their early months, when Jack stepped around behind Jenny, she would kick with both back legs, kicks that meant business. Now, he steps around behind her with romance on his mind, Jenny not in heat, she just hops up and down on back legs once or twice, just a gesture. A year of living with her, he gets it. If talking is not enough, she will elbow him with her back knees to say, "Listen, boy, I'm talkin to you!" He stays with it, Jenny knows how to stop him by force. She brings out the bigger hammer.
jenny and jack
Yesterday morning, carrying the hay out into the meadow in full sun, like usual I stop just inside the gate to let Jenny pull off a swatch from the edge on one side, and Jack to rip some loose from the other side for himself. I don't pull my fingers back. Both will tear at the hay close to a finger without touching the finger. I did not teach them to lay off my fingers. They taught me they don't want to bite my fingers. Most often, Jenny will walk on my right side and Jack will follow. She walks proud like a horse with a cropped mane, punk donkey with a natural mohawk. I take for pride her keeping an eye on Jack, keeping him aware his place is behind her, not in front. The Empress Donkey Jen will be first to have hay when Ice Cream Man puts it down for them. Jenny first, Jack second, get it?! I walked out across the ground and noticed right away Jenny was on my left and Jack on my right. Jack was in a playful mood wanting to laugh. He bit some cloth on my heavy shirt sleeve and tugged on it like a dog. I let out a yelp like a puppy and he let go immediately. A few times he has bit the flap above the pocket and tugged on it. It's play. He's wanting to make me jump or squeal "uncle." Jenny outside her usual order, which she is particular about, I knew was not going to take it. And Jack in Jenny's place. Jenny made a dive at Jack with her teeth, reaching across in front of me holding the hay, her right shoulder pressing me against Jack. He spun around quick as a cat to kick, Jenny spun around, and I was between them. I also knew neither one would kick me. It came to me, Jack took Jenny's place to provoke her in play. He was feeling playful, wanted to pull a good one on Jenny, make her jump. I stepped out of the way unhesitant about getting donkey kicked. I knew neither one would kick me, even in play, and knew as well, they know where their feet are. They have good aim. Yet, when they turn on a sparring match, I want someplace else. It's a donkey mosh pit of two.
I get my kicks seeing them up close in a kicking frenzy. They're so primal, small chunks of mud encrusted in the hair on their backs where they rolled in the mud and it dried. Their stripes like body paint. They wear it like Amazon Indians paint their faces and bodies. The caked mud dries in their hair, maintains the layer of dust to keep the varmints down, their own version of flea powder. I see their sides still damp in the morning from sleeping in their piss all night and I marvel. My impulse is to clean them. They'd just-a-soon I not. I want them to live as close to their donkey nature as possible in captivity. I used to think of the fence penning them in. They don't see it like I do. The fence keeps everything and everybody out, keeps them safe. This spot of ground is their territory. They don't want out. The world beyond the fence is uncharted in their minds. Dogs cross the fence and turn around running in a hurry. I've not heard coyotes recently. They come through here on a big circuit they cover, taking a few weeks to make the round. They surely find enough food to keep a pack going. I've an idea the coyotes like to make the donkeys jump, taunt them, say mean things in the night like, "I'm going to kill you, then I'm going to eat you." And Jenny says, "If you know what's good for you, you'll stay out of my strike zone." I walked away from Jack and Jenny leaving them to their sparring match that amounted to no more than hopping up and down in back pretending to kick. Ears back, heads down, manes arched on the bend of their necks. They bring to mind the Trojan War, the horses' heads in marble, the curved neck, and in my mind's eye a cropped mane. I'm happy they are free enough with me to play their donkey games in close proximity.
I walked out into the meadow a ways, Jenny directly behind me, Jack staying out of Jenny's strike zone. I put some hay down for Jenny and she was munching before it settled. Jack ran a half circle around Jenny. I spread some hay on the ground for Jack. He ran up close just a few feet away and kicked his back feet up in the air like he does when he's having a good day. I wasn't concerned that he was kicking at me. He was kicking for me, showing me he's feeling good this morning. I loosened the hay for him while he munched. He knows what I'm doing, makes it easier for him so he doesn't have to do it. I went to Jenny's hay, Jenny who does not like man nor donkey inside the radius of her rear end when she's eating. I walked up beside her, picked up hay to fluff it up for her. She kept on munching like it wasn't an issue. This is another measure of how relaxed we've become with each other by way of trust. Jenny is open to me by degrees more than ever. Her eyes have been inaccessible to me from her arrival until maybe just a few weeks ago, or more. Now she looks me right in the eye. I talk to her at carrot time and she looks me in the eye. I've caught eye contact with Jack a few times. He's not one for eye contact unless for communication. Jack brays for me as soon as I walk out the door in the morning. Jenny does her best to bray. Jenny is of a sensitive intelligence. It has taken her a year learning to bray from Jack. She had the inbreath, the Hee part, but could not blow the horn for the Haw, which is blown through the throat stretched out the full length of the neck to make a donkey didgeridoo. She is getting it. Her bray this morning was full throated and audible. She still hasn't found the horn of it. She watches Jack while he brays, wishing with all her might she could find her own horn. It amuses me to see her study Jack's braying. It comes to him as natural as walking, but Jenny has to work at it. When she finally gets it, she'll light up this holler with a bray heard a mile.
jenny and jack