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Monday, November 16, 2015

DONKEY TALK


jenny graced by the light
 
Jenny is swelling up big. She has an inner stillness that is not aloof, rather soft hearted, aware she has a baby on the way. Today at grain time, I poured Jenny's grain, she was jealous of it, Jack stepped too close and she popped him with a back hoof. It was not a kick to hurt, just to get his attention, tell him he's closer than is allowed when Jenny is having her grain. Jack gets anxious, squeals and moans waiting for me to pour his grain. He, too, is jealous of it when he's having his grain. I wanted to talk with Jenny and went back to her after pouring Jack's grain, stood still and talked to her about her baby and soon I'll be calling her Big Mama Jen. I leaned down to look under her to see how her udder was developing. She took a sideways step with her rear end toward me, body language to stay back from her grain. I told her I don't eat donkey food. I went back to see Jack and he would not have me near. I needed to walk between a small tree and the fence, but Jack got a little too anxious when I stepped too close. His grain was just the other side of the fence. I stepped around the tree to give him peace of mind.

jack graced by the light

Neither one was threatening. It was body language in both cases, the warning that says a kick is next if you don't pay attention. I have no problem with it. We communicate by paying attention to each other. Jenny tells me she's not comfortable with me so close when she's eating, I pay attention and give her some space. That's all she wants. Both the donkeys are quiet in this time. I'm taking hay to them daily now. I've found a way to keep them from crowding me at the gate when I want to enter the meadow with an armload of hay. I throw two small servings of hay over the fence in a place away from the gate. They eat the first offerings of hay and leave me alone to carry the hay out into the meadow where they can eat it in warm sunlight all day. I also enjoy carrying the hay out into the meadow with Jenny just a few steps behind my back and Jack behind Jenny. They understand I am an easy pushover and have no physical power next to theirs. They are powerful beasts. They know I am no match for them. In the hierarchy of who can kick whose ass, I'm at the bottom and we all know it. I don't push them. I go among them in peace and they go in peace with me. I imagine they feel protective toward the primate because it's so puny.  

first hay of the winter
 
They appreciate that I do not manhandle them, don't treat them like stock. Though I have full confidence they will not kick me, I also pay attention to their language of movement and snorts. We communicate by eye contact. I use tone of voice with them, like they do with each other. They have a language of grunts, whines, squeals. Like slang, the meaning is in the context. The times I've been between them when they decided the other was too close to me and a kick-fest erupted with flimsy primate in the middle. I don't believe they would have kicked me had I stood still. That's not something you think about when two donkeys start kicking all around you. It startles me and I function spontaneously, like get out of there fast. I put my hand on Jenny and holler, Donkey Jen! to get her attention and she stops. Jack stops too. My action is automatic and Jenny stopping immediately is just as automatic. I don't have to hit her with my hand. Just the touch of the hand renders her quiet, like stilling a vibrating drum head. We are friends. We are bonded. I hand-feed them carrots daily, take grain to them daily and provide the hay. They know I mean no harm. I go in peace.

jenny's belly

First thing I learned from Jack was to keep my arms still. They don't know what to make of our arms. They're unpredictable. They might take a notion to grab a donkey. I noticed Jack jumped back every time I moved my arms. I stopped moving them unconsciously and relaxed my arm movements, letting Jack see the motion slow enough to follow it. By the time Jenny came into the meadow, Jack had taught me donkey nature. I already knew to keep my arms at my sides around Jenny. She was traumatized, taken from her goat friend and her human friend without her consent. I hear Nina Simone sing, I loves you Porgy, don't let him take me, don't let him handle me and drive me mad. Jenny was abducted by force and turned into a meadow with a serial rapist, who, the day before, had no idea he was a stud. I will stay back from her baby until she invites me to interact. I know her jealous nature. It's in her like grain in wood. I do like Jack, honor it in her and we have no problem, Jenny is the sweetest donkey we could know.

donkey jack
 
 
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