jack (l) and Jenny (r) at breakfast
The donkey meadow has a green 5 o'clock shadow. Wednesday I noticed the first hint of green, Thursday a little more. Overcast and rain, then the last two days of sunlight and warm nights, the donkeys are roaming about the meadow nibbling where they can find something long enough to bite. The fresh grass must taste especially delicious to them after a long winter of eating hay. The last several mornings I have been not so careful with my fingers giving them carrots. Both Jenny and Jack have touched my fingers with their teeth in such a way they could have bit, but recognized it was my finger on contact and moved their teeth to the carrot. It showed me they have no intent to bite my fingers and I need not be protective of fingers from here on. Out in the field with them, I walk around them close enough to make them automatically wary, but they show no sign of discomfort and I feel comfortable too. I feel affirmed every time I walk close behind Jenny and she doesn't even change the rhythm of her munching. I've been careful not to surprise them. They taught me early that donkeys are wary of human arms. They're unpredictable and they grab donkeys and control them. I've never controlled them physically. I've only controlled the donkeys mentally by showing them I am interested in their well-being and appreciate the persons they are. I was told so many times in the first months to carry a stick, they'll kick me, warned repeatedly. I knew otherwise. Like the time I had three kittens two weeks old and their mother ran under a car. I went to the vet to buy formula and ask for some tips. I was told they would die. I knew they would live, but also knew he wouldn't believe me if I said it. He would see in time. Caterpillar's eighteenth birthday is coming up soon, Mother's Day.
siesta time in the donkey meadow
The four-leggeds that have lived with me taught me their ways, their natures. I found when I allowed them to be themselves, not correct and scold them, not hit them, not talk down to them, and pay attention to their communications, the four-leggeds are benign, loving people who want to get along and be happy. Jack and Jenny are gentle and content with each other all day and all night. Sometimes when Jack brays, Jenny gets antsy, backs up to him and fake kicks him until he stops. I'm wondering if she's jealous because she can't bray like him. Her bray is a high-pitched squeal. I have the impression she is frustrated with herself. She's been trying a year and a half to get Jack's bray and it will not come to her. I'm guessing it pisses her off that Jack is such a good brayer and she can't get it; she's bigger than him and ought to be able to bray bigger too. She squeals like a hound dog in pain. She dislikes it so much she has stopped using her bray and just squeals. I do get the feeling she is intimidated by Jack's bray and resents him for it. It fits Jenny's jealous nature. I wonder, too, if the excitement seeing the Ice Cream man with morning carrots that sets Jack into a bray might excite Jenny too. She gets jealous over the Ice Cream man, wants him all to herself. Sometimes they back up to each other and have a fake kick-boxing match. Both hop up and down in back like they're kicking, but only touch each other with their back knees. It's play for them. No intent to kick or hurt. They just get excited and this is what donkeys do when they get excited. I take sweet grain to them in the mid afternoon. When it's time, they stand at the fence and bray for me. They back up to each other and pretend kick, hop up and down on the back legs, doing what donkeys do, sparring without hitting.
jack (l) and jenny (r)
I reach over the fence to pour the grain. I like having the fence between me and them. They get rambunctious in a way that they forget everything else but the grain. Jenny will have it first. I walk the fence to the place I pour some for Jenny, her beside me, chin over the fence smelling the container, squealing, ears back. Jack is close, wants to be beside her, but she kicks and keeps him back while he squeals and groans, makes sounds like a whimpering child crying. I pour it for Jenny and she's eating before I finish pouring. She doesn't care if I pour it on her head. Next, Jack squealing and dancing, his nose to the container over the fence, crying, groaning, squealing to have his grain. I pour it for him at the same spot every day and he, like Jenny, is eating before I'm finished pouring. They're done with me. I get too close and their ears go back. I'm not afraid of them kicking me the other side of the fence. They get so excited over the grain they lose consciousness and then I'm in a donkey mosh pit. I don't see any need to train the excitement out of them. They learn my ways, I learn their ways. Rather than attempt to stop them getting excited, I just get out of the way and let them have at it. Jack is a happy spirited donkey by nature. He forgives readily and defers to his baby doll, Donkey Jen. He loves Jenny so much he's in bliss in her presence. Jenny loves him the same. They appear to me to beam in the presence of the other. My presence changes everything for them. This afternoon they were out in the meadow resting on the hay they were eating, siesta.
I saw them through the window and thought Id see if I could sneak out the door and creep behind the white pine trunk as out of sight as possible. As soon as I set the camera where it could see them, Alpha Jack saw the camera and me. He went to braying. Jenny stood up, backed up to him and hopped up and down, forcing him to stop. He took off in a half gallop running to Ice Cream man for some grain. Jenny followed walking. They are as gentle with me as children. It's my love vibration that allows them to let down their defenses. I keep my arms down at my sides around them. I don't make sudden movements to frighten them. They are skittish as cats. I do with them like Jane Goodall did with the chimpanzees. The donkeys don't like to be touched by surprise. I keep my arms down and my hands to myself. I touch when they want to be touched. Today, I saw Jenny rubbing the bridge of her nose on the fencepost. I put my hand on the bridge of her nose and rubbed her where she was scratching. She wanted me to hold my hand still and she rubbed her nose on my hand where she had the itch or whatever it was she was scratching. It was fun for me to let her scratch her nose on my hand. The only place Jenny likes to be touched is on her back at the front shoulder where the stripes cross. Jack likes me to rub that spot for him too. After I rub Jenny on that spot, she likes for me to rub her neck, her spine, her rump, the shoulders of her legs. She will even let me rub her legs now. Touching legs was off limits for a long time. Jack loves to have his legs rubbed. Jenny will let me rub her legs after seeing me rub Jack's legs. She gets jealous and wants the same for herself. I like the love energy that flows around us the times of day we're together. It makes us gentle with each other.