Critter Stories · Farmtastic Stories

Tug Of Donkey

We love our donkey girls here at the farm. They have big personalities, make crazy braying noises when it’s time to eat, and they are great at keeping an eye on things. (Our city friends like to call them guard donkeys.)

And while they are oodles of fun 99 percent of the time, sometimes they are … well, um … donkeys!  Sweetie pie is about 7 years old, and from time to time gets a little limpy, which means we need to bring her up into a stall and let her get some rest and TLC.  (Cowboy is convinced that Sweetie Pie plays up the limping when she wants a little extra attention. Honestly, I wouldn’t put it past her; she’s one smart chica.)

Well we’ve had some rain, which means we have mud, which is when she usually gets a little sensitive. So out in the mud we tromped to get her a little R&R, farm style.  While with our horses you can whip on a halter and have the job done in two seconds flat, with the donkeys, not so much.

Now don’t get me wrong, Miss Pie is better than her dear sweet Mama Rose (that’s a whole other kind of rodeo), but she is still a donkey.  It’s a lovely rhythm of 2 steps, tug, release, 2 steps, tug, no thank you.  So we work our way up from the pasture to the stalls doing our delicate dance while all the other equines watch on in amusement.  (Yes, I do think they are laughing at us humans sometimes.)

Farm Photo - Sweetie Pie the Donkey
Sweetie Pie being a smidge stubborn. She is a donkey, after all.

And then the final show down – the big bad scary stall gate.  Now little miss knows good and well the gate is not a bad thing, but it’s her last stand.  So she has to make a show of things.  Who can blame a girl for trying. (Notice the taught rope in the photo and those ears and eyes.  She is saying, “No ma’am, no ma’am, mo ma’am.”)

Ultimately, she trots into the stall for some extra special care, at which point I do a little jig of victory.  She gets a good rub down, some fresh hay, and while I think I have won the grear tug of donkey event, I think our girl knows she is the real winner, but she is at least gracious enough to let me bask for just a moment.  Even donkeys have manners on the farm.


Critter Stories · Farmtastic Stories

Easter Donkey

A couple of years ago, I was asked if I would teach children’s Sunday school. An admitted struggler with the word “no,” I reluctantly agreed to teach once a month. You see, while this farm mama has a gift with the four-legged children, I fear I have no such gift with the two-legged variety.

After a couple of Sundays, I quickly learned that a room full of antsy middle schoolers, mostly boys, positively scares the beejeebers out of me. However, my favorite Sunday of all to teach was Palm Sunday. It was when my love of the four-legged got to have a part in my lesson, at least through pictures.

I had heard about the legend of the cross and donkey, and given the beautiful crosses that Sweetie Pie and Mama Rose both wear on there backs, I wanted to know more. So I spent a little time to look it up and research it for the kiddos.

The story goes like this (in a farmgirl’s words) … when Jesus was heralded on Palm Sunday He rode in on the back of a sweet donkey. At that time, the donkey did not have a cross. The little donkey loved Jesus and was so proud to carry his Lord and Savior through the town. A week later, when Jesus was crucified, the donkey was heart broken. He stood in the back of the crowd and watched as his Jesus died, tears falling from his gentle eyes. The donkey could not bear to leave Jesus, so he stayed until the shadow of the cross fell across his back. From that moment on, the donkey carried the cross of Jesus to show his love for his Savior and King. On the third day, when Jesus rose from the dead, the donkey rejoiced and passed his beautiful cross markings on to all those that came after him.

Donkey Photo - Sweetie Pie shoes off her cross markings
Sweetie Pie and Mama Rose are Jesus donkeys. On this Easter weekend they proudly display their crosses.

John 12:12-15 (NIV)

(12) The next day the great crowd that had come for the Feast heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem.  (13) They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” “Blessed is the king of Israel!” (14) Jesus found a young donkey and sat upon it, as it is written,  (15) Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion; see, your king is coming seated on a donkey’s colt.”

So on this Easter Sunday, we think about our donkeys and the symbols of Jesus that they carry all year through. We wish you and your family a blessed celebration of the ultimate sacrifice and gift that is Jesus.

P.S. That was my last Sunday to teach and I think it ended on a perfect note.  Teachers, you have my respect and thanks for all you do.  You are truly special, and I don’t know how you do it, but I’m honored for the experience and I hope those kiddos will always remember the donkey and Jesus.

P.PS. Another great story source

Critter Stories · Farmtastic Stories

Drama Donkey

As I’ve mentioned before, this farm mama has a day job, which occasionally calls for me to be out of town. But thanks to Cowboy and family, someone is always at the farm to care for the cast of characters that call Wild Horse Valley Home.

Admittedly, the number of critters we have is due to me, and my inability to say “no” to a creature in need. And while Cowboy is an animal lover too, sometimes they just flat wear him out. Honestly, this last couple of weeks I think they have been conspiring against me to demonstrate just how much work they are.

This summer has been one of emergency vet visits for injured horses and donkeys, multiple busted stalls from bucking and playing, and Maybelle has been on a cricket bender flying around the yard and garden chasing them, eating them, and then unceremoniously throwing them up on the living room floor.   The latter has become such a problem that Cowboy has even considered that we may need to get chickens to contend with the crickets and grasshoppers. I’ll keep you posted on that potential adventure. I digress …

On my recent work trip, I got a text from Cowboy that Sweetie Pie the donkey was limping. As I prepared to speak at a media conference, I was guessing I was the only one getting texts about injured donkeys. Sometimes I feel like a girl with two personalities, high-tech product manager and poop-scooping farm girl.

Anyway, Cowboy and I quickly came up with a plan. Sweetie Pie and Mama Rose were put in the oversized stall with fresh hay and water so she could rest until we could assess the issue. (Where Sweetie Pie goes, Mama must follow.) I reminded Cowboy where the donkey and horse aspirin was to give her some relief. (Yes, there is such a thing.)

Animal Photo - Sweetie Pie the donkey soaking her hoof
This is from earlier in the summer when Sweetie Pie hurt her back hoof. This time she was not willing to soak it like a good donkey. We tried, and we had flying buckets to prove it.

After calls to the vet and farrier, we decided it was likely an abscess and scheduled the farrier to come as soon as he could make it out to us. Cowboy was on donkey duty and kept me apprised daily of how our little Pie was getting along. She was limping pitifully on her front left leg.

However, Cowboy noticed something odd. If Sweetie Pie did not see him looking at her, she moved much better. The moment he would turn and look at her, the limping would ensue with pomp and circumstance, as though her front leg was absolutely useless. Was our little donkey playing on Cowboy’s sympathies? Are they that smart? You bet your bottom dollar they are!

Finally the farrier arrived and found that Sweetie Pie had indeed injured her little hoof with a puncture wound, likely from some type of thorn she found out in the pasture. The farrier made quick work of it and opened the wound so it could drain and give her relief. However, while he said it was likely uncomfortable, he thought our little Pie was a bit of a “drama queen.” Really? You don’t say!

Just like two-legged kiddos, the four-leggeds know how to get attention with the best of them. The good news is that Sweetie Pie is on the mend, that is as long as we don’t look at her.

Critter Stories · Farmtastic Stories

My Donkey Found a Duck

Yep, you heard me correctly.  My donkey found a duck.  Sweetie Pie the donkey was hot on the trail of a little brown duck.  And this is how it all started …

It was a Wednesday morning, and I distinctly remember because I was busily gathering up the trash to drive it down the driveway for pick-up.  (Yes, driving the trash down the driveway is the norm – either in the tractor bucket or piled in the back of the little Jeep.  Either way – carrying it is not an option in the country.  Heck, we’re lucky we have trash service at all.)  And as usual, I was in a hurry, when I happened to notice that Sweetie Pie was dead focused on something in the pasture.

For those of you who have a donkey, you know that they are experts at spotting things, and when they are seriously paying attention to something, it’s usually worth checking out.  You can imagine my surprise when I rolled up to find Sweetie Pie nose to beak with a brown duck.  Keep in mind, our farm doesn’t have  pond or a lake, so a random duck in the middle of the pasture was quite a shock.  The good news – the duck was alive and alert but not making any attempts to make a break for it.

My save-the-animals instinct kicked in, and I dashed into the barn to grab a cat kennel to collect the duck (yes I said cat kennel – in my mind it was the right size).  My second germ-a-phobe instinct kicked in, and I decided to grab a pair of latex gloves, which happened to be blue, just in case the duck “had something.”

Back into the pasture I went cat kennel and gloves in hand, Sweetie Pie standing guard and thankfully not stomping or attacking.  As I went  to grab the duck, Mr. Duck found his inner duck self and wings and began flapping like mad and running as best he could through the pasture.  Clearly Mr. Duck was injured but not enough to make this is an easy catch.  So off I went running after the duck, blue-gloved hands waving, yelling behind me at Sweetie Pie to stay away.  Oh what a farmtastic site!

Well after much fussing, Mr. Duck made it safely into the cat kennel, where the dogs and cats all checked him out with faces that pleaded, “Please mom, let’s not keep another critter.”  So I loaded Mr. Duck up into the Jeep and drove him off to our local small animal vet, who was kind enough to take him in and nurse him back to health.  Mr. Duck was released into a local pond and has yet to be back in the pasture. Sweetie Pie continues to keep watch.

Donkeys - Sweetie Pie and Mama Rose
My donkey girls.