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Thursday, July 2, 2015


john henry twachtman

Drove to town today for a bag of sweet grain and a mineral block for the donkeys. I let their last mineral block go too far. There was still plenty left, but it needed replacing. Jenny is in special needs now and I want to give her access to what she needs. The hardware store has a big pet German shepherd that lies at the doorway, either just inside or just outside. Today dog was outside. He's a gentle dog, not a remote threat. I speak to him and let him know I see him and will not kick him. I've learned the animals watch our feet. They're heavy and we swing them like hammers when we're walking. I tell Caterpillar I see her when I walk by her having a drink of water. The mineral block is approximately one cubic foot and weighs the same as the bag of grain I sling over my shoulder to carry, fifty pounds. A fifty pound square block is awkward to carry. I carried the mineral block from the car to the gate, hoping I could slip it between two bars. Didn't know if I could lift it over the top of the gate, about even with my shoulders. I don't have the strength or the stamina I once had and didn't want to push it. 

john henry twachtman

Both donkeys ran to the gate when the car drove in and parked. I carried the block to the gate and was able to slip it between two bars at the level I was carrying it. The donkeys were standing at the gate, anxious for a treat from the ice cream man. Jack brayed and Jenny kicked him in the chest a couple of times, both back feet. I thought I'd push it through the gate and let it fall to the ground the other side. Jenny had a better idea. She took a corner with her teeth and chewed off some small chunks. She chewed at the edges using her teeth and the power off her jaws to bite chunks from the corners. Jack nibbled at another edge. She allowed Jack to chew to his satisfaction. Jenny licked and Jack licked. They were like kids licking an ice cream cone. I held it in place letting them quench their need for the salt. Jenny had a big smile in her eyes. Jack was a happy donkey too. They went at it with such zeal I felt like I'd neglected them waiting too long to buy a new block. I remembered that every day I take grain to them and every day they go at it like they hadn't had their grain in a year. 

john henry twachtman

Jenny eats the carrots at least twice as fast as Jack. I try to keep a balance between the two, I know they notice, though Jenny always gets more. She's ready for a new one before the carrot she's working on is done. Jack stands and crunches until the whole carrot is chewed up before he wants another. I've decided to take more for Jenny. She needs more. She's feeding her baby too. Jenny is a slow walker with four months to go in her pregnancy. Jack runs like a polo pony to the gate at carrot and grain time. Jenny walks slowly with a gentle loping rhythm, a camel walk. Jenny taking so long to arrive is a change in their rhythm. Most often, they arrive together and I give one a carrot at one end of the gate and one at the other end. Jenny is the aggressive one. Jack having carrot when Jenny arrived late, he turned his back end to her and would not let her near the gate. She didn't appear disappointed, just stayed out of his kicking range. I tried tossing a carrot chunk over Jack to the ground at Jenny's feet. She couldn't see it. I threw another and she couldn't find it. This confirmed for me they don't see well looking downward toward their feet. Their entire head is in the way. I've seen it in Jack, too, that they don't see downward very well. 

john henry twachtman

They turn jealous as fast as they kick, so I stay out of the meadow with them. I take grain out into the field, can't pour it for the first one to arrive until he or she is there to see me pour it. If they don't see it, they can't find it. Jack arrives first, I pour some for him and here comes Jenny, diving at Jack with her teeth to run him away. I go to another place for Jack. Most often they settle down. Sometimes, Jenny will keep Jack away from both places. This is when I say, "I'm going to my barn," and leave them to it. They settle as soon as I walk away. I've seen them both eat from the same little grain pile at once, when they didn't know I was looking. Dogs and cats are the same. Humans too. Throughout my life I've learned from animals I've known. In the first weeks of getting acquainted with Jack, I asked him to teach me donkey nature. I enjoyed knowing Jack, one on one, friends. It changed the day Jenny stepped into the meadow. All his attention went to his babydoll. It's a sight how much Jack loves Jenny. Jack and I still know each other like before, it's just that his consciousness is totally tuned with Jenny, and hers with him. 

john henry twachtman himself


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