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Saturday, February 7, 2015

Checkin' in on Donk and Gracie

I went to see Donkey and Gracie at their new home last weekend. As soon as he spotted me coming ‘round the bend, Donk came trotting down the path to meet me at the fence. It was nice to see that. He recognized me and he was happy to see me. I pet him for a moment, and his new owner Terresa pointed out that he had had his hooves clipped.
“Wow. He’s never had that done before; at least not at our place!” I said. Our farrier (the third and only successful one to trim the hooves on our big nervous Belgian) told us it couldn’t be done without a stockade. Luckily the glacial moraine that Donkey trots over in our pasture in the summer usually keeps his hooves trimmed down fairly well.
Terresa said the farrier just offered to take care of the donkey while he was there working with the horses. Donkey gave up the front feet fairly willingly but he never trusts anything that is going on where he can’t see, behind him. So he kicked, and the farrier hung on to those back legs until Donkey got tired of swinging him back and forth. Now he has four beautifully trimmed hooves. I told Terresa that Donkey learned that trick from the horse. Our farrier has to ride her feet like he’s in the rodeo until she gets tired and lets him finish her pedicure.
While we continued to talk, Donkey lost interest and wandered away, back to the feeder. The sheep then moved in for some attention. Gracie wasn’t quite as anxious to see me, as she has acquired a new beau, Dodge (get it? He’s a ram). She was probably worried that my presence meant the end of her date. She came over for a quick pet on the nose and then took off down the meandering path with her new bff, who kept sniffing her neck and trying to jump up on her hind end. She would slow down, turn around and wait for him to catch up, then take off again. He’s going to be exhausted by the time this mating season is through.
Big Mama, the matriarch ewe of the Triple B Ranch, was quite curious about the visitor. She is probably the biggest sheep I’ve ever seen. While we fussed over her, Donkey decided he would come back for another visit. As he approached we filmed him with my phone. Terresa commented on how handsome he is. I agreed. I swear that Donkey knows our tone of voice because all that fawning made his head swell a bit and as he passed the sheep he did a little flip kick in their general direction.
“Donkey!” I gasped.
“I have not seen him do that since he’s been here,” Terresa commented.
“Maybe it’s because I’m here,” I said. I think he was trying to assert his dominance over this portion of the farm population. I’m not sure how he would do with the horses on the other side of the fence but on this side, he’s the biggest of the bunch.
Jack, the little burro, came over for a pat and Donkey tossed his head at him to frighten him away. Jack didn’t stay around to challenge him.
So far Terresa says there has been no physical contact between the two guardians of the sheep. I hope Donkey minds his manners or he’ll be getting his chain reattached to his halter very soon.
I like that he has his sheep-guarding job back again, because that will keep him occupied. And he has Jack to keep him company. Donkey and Gracie have wonderful new owners who are very involved and attentive with their animals. Terresa is full-time farming now so she will be around if Donkey tries anything sneaky, like opening the gate with his big, agile lips and letting all the animals out. 
So far Jack has been the one gently removing the water heater out of the tank, probably because he was trying to find a way to pass the time on a quiet afternoon, or because he knew it would get him some attention. I know it’s only a matter of time before Donk decides the younger and less experienced Jack should learn a thing or two about how to have fun on a sheep farm.
I don’t want to label him a bad influence but he does come with a warning label. It reads, “trouble when bored.”

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