baby donkey two days old
I'm happy for Jenny that her baby arrived without a problem or any sort of complication. She fell into mother mode the moment her baby was out in the air. She is still my friend Jenny with a new aspect of her personality come forward. Her attention is on her baby at all times. She's the same with me as always. She's a good teacher. She's a rough teacher, but she's a rough donkey with a rough baby. In the first hours, baby wanted to walk in front of mama's legs. Jenny hit it with the side of her head to push it to the side. I used to wonder how mothers taught their babies without language. Of course, babies don't have language, so language is out of the picture. Baby would walk back in front of her feet and Jenny would knock it to the side, teaching it over and over, as many times as it takes, teaching it to walk beside her, not so close in front. Today baby walks to the side of mother's head when not out front leading the way or behind mama.
mother and child
Jenny is comfortable with me near her baby. I don't do anything to push her into discomfort. My approach in Jenny's early days, weeks, months with her baby is to stand back, admire, talk to Jenny, call her Beautiful Jen, let her know I mean no harm to her baby. I think of Jane Goodall sitting among the chimpanzees, being still, body language saying not a threat. I keep arms down and when I use them go slowly like there is no rush. I've discovered recently that when we humans move fast like we do, jerk around like we do, make unpredictable arm movements, the animals become wary of us. The donkeys have taught me the pace of their flow. I move as though there is no hurry about anything, I have all day, may lie down for a nap if I take a notion, and the donkeys pay me no mind. They see me, but feel no alarm. It's when I move fast and unpredictably they watch closely and stand back with a wary edge. Sitting still or moving slowly, both donkeys are available to be touched. Moving fast, they back away from my hand. I've learned this as a form of communication between us. Body language is important to them. I show them I'm in physical tune with their flow.
new in the world
Baby is learning to meditate early in life. Mama grazes on what's left of the green grass and the hay I take to them in the mornings, baby has nothing to do. Baby can't graze, can't be nursing all the time, so baby stands in place, stands still and almost falls asleep standing up. I've watched baby stand motionless for a long time. It's what donkeys do. They stand still all day. Stand in place and graze, move a step or two, stand in place and graze, take another step or two and graze some more. They are in motion all day and are still all day. Baby is learning that donkeys stand around a lot. Nothing much going on but grazing. No marauding dogs, no predators, no bull donkeys moving in on Jack's territory. They have a peaceful home, a meadow with a fence around it to keep everything and everybody out, shelter, a primate to give them carrots and hay in winter when the grass is gone. I don't want to push myself onto the baby donkey. I'd rather she slowly get to know me, see me every day, see Mama Jen is not afraid of me nor is Jack. I am part of her world and she will know me as such. She will learn from Jenny I'm to be trusted. That's when I'll start getting to know baby more personally. Baby and Jenny need each other's undivided attention now.
baby meditates while mom and dad eat their grain
Today, Thursday, I went out into the meadow and sat on the exposed root of a big maple to watch them. Jenny and baby walked out into the meadow, I set the camera on video and followed what they did. Jenny is aware the camera is an eye that sees her, but I think that's as far as she can get with it. She walked up to me, wanted to feel it with her lips and then her teeth, wanted to see what it was made of, maybe good to eat. I know what she's doing, so I don't freak out from fear she'll eat my camera. She just wants to feel it, see what it's made of, understand it. It spooks her a little bit, aware it sees her, and she doesn't know what it is. While watching the baby I was feeling the chosen name in relation to the donkey herself. Edie never rang right with me. Miss Ed sounded and felt just exactly right for the donkey I was looking at. I ran them both over and over in my mind, listening to their sounds and feeling them. Miss Ed feels right. Edie feels like a name tag. Miss Ed feels like the donkey herself. I am feeling like I'm going to let it be Miss Ed, maybe Miss Edie her grownup name. My feeling is it will be Miss Ed. When I see her, I think Miss Ed automatically. I'll ruminate on this some more.
photos by tj worthington