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Monday, January 19, 2015

Saying goodbye to Donk and Gracie

Occasionally when you live on a farm things become abundantly clear. This is going to be tough for me, and the Farmer as well. There will be a few tears – and there have been already, at least at my end. It’s time to say goodbye to Donkey, Gracie, Misty and Chelsea.
No, they don’t have to leave in one fell swoop. This isn’t an emergency; we’ve been considering it for months, since we sold all our sheep. But there is a natural order in which some things should be done. That’s why it has taken us so long to come to this conclusion. I’ve been having trouble getting my head around it.
I didn’t grow up on a farm – I’ve only been on one for seven years so it’s a different way of thinking that I have had to adapt to. In my world growing up, animals were pets but they were also part of the family. You committed to them, you did your best for them, and you didn’t re-home them unless it was absolutely necessary.
But on a farm, things are different. Every animal has a purpose. We are definitely downsizing, the Farmer and I. We sold all our sheep last year because I was finding it too exhausting, both physically and emotionally. So we really don’t need a sheepdog or a Donkey anymore. I kept my favourite sheep Gracie because she is more of a dog than a sheep – but without Donkey to protect her she will have to go too. I don’t want to look out the window someday and see that she has been picked off by a coyote.
If Donkey leaves, Misty has to go too. Since her sister died, Donkey has been her best friend. I’m sure if left alone she would cope – maybe join up with Mocha or one of the more agreeable cows – but she really belongs with other horses. At 12 years she is middle-aged so I don’t know how much training she will accept but she is a beautiful animal if someone is looking for a companion for their horses.
The sheepdog, as I have written before, has taken up barking as a new occupation, with no sheep to herd. She is also getting on in years but would be far happier working on a sheep farm to the end of her days. It’s her most favourite thing to do in the whole world. She’ll even herd people if you linger around in her space. That’s why I think a working sheep farm would be the best place for her, with someone who understands high-strung Border Collies.
I don’t want them to just go anywhere. I need to know who will be caring for them after me.
So I woke up the other morning and realized, a friend a few concessions over has recently started into the lambing business, and she has had a few struggles. I think a donkey would solve her coyote problems, and he would also help bring the sheep up to the barn at night. Gracie would blend right in, and probably have another lamb or two before she retires as well.
If you’ve never had a Donkey you haven’t witnessed their ability to communicate. They are keen surveyors of their kingdom, watching for anything that is amiss. When the Farmer has changed the landscape even slightly, by bringing something large and colourful out to the burn barrel, or setting up targets in the middle of the field for practice, Donkey always has to comment. He brays loudly, then slowly approaches the inanimate intruder to ensure everyone is safe. He is the perfect guardian of the farm.
On the other hand, he can get himself into some trouble, because of his horse-like tendency to get bored and mischievous.
So Donkey and Gracie will be heading to the sheep farm down the road, where I can visit them – and hopefully hear about them often, in the writings of their new owner. I know they will be happy there, and a welcome addition to another working sheep farm. That is their happy place. I can’t wait to see Gracie when she notices the other sheep.
Now to find a home for my big blonde girl, and my yappy little sheepdog. Any takers?
If you know of someone, please contact me. I’ll be the one over here looking dazed and confused, missing my pets.

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