I had been away for the weekend and had just arrived home all excited to see the new donkeys that had been delivered that day. I stopped the car at the gate and hopped out. Robert responded to my greeting a bit tersely, saying, “Go unload your stuff and I’ll talk to you in a minute. I’ve got to finish what I’m doing right now. I’ll tell you about it later.”

What he was doing was repairing the electric fence, evidently for the second time that afternoon. Unbeknownst to me at the time, the baby donkey had gotten spooked when he first arrived and ran right through the electric fence. Robert had repaired the fence, and the baby went charging through a second time. Fortunately, the mama donkey had stayed put inside the fence, and baby made his way back inside to her.  I had pulled up shortly after all the commotion. Once I heard the story, I understood why Robert was more interested in finishing the fence repair then catching up with me right then.

By late afternoon, mama and baby were standing peacefully in at one end of the pasture. The cows were way across the lake. Apparently, Wilma and Pork Chop were not yet interested in meeting their new friends. We left the four animals that way and went in for the night, wondering what would happen. In the morning, we found Wilma and Pork Chop standing near the donkeys, who we later named Lucy and Luke. The four friends have been no more than a few yards away from each other ever since.

Of course, there were a few minor scuffles in the following days. Pork Chop for some reason refused to let Luke get near the feed trough for the few days. She chased him away several times, threatening him with a charging posture, but not physically head-butting him. Lucy was a different story. She did not let herself get boxed-out from the trough. Once day, she turned her back on Wilma, pushed up on her front legs and kicked. Clearly, this was simply a warning. If Lucy had actually kicked Wilma full force, Wilma would have gone flying. Wilma weighed about 900 pounds at the time. I was always careful not to walk too closely behind the cows; I gave Lucy a much wider buffer zone from then on.

To get the donkeys used to us, we started giving them alfalfa cubes. Lucy loved the alfalfa cubes and did Wilma. When I was handing a treat to Lucy and Wilma came over for hers, Lucy nipped at her. The warning did not deter Wilma, she got close again while I was giving Lucy another treat. This time when Lucy nipped, she was taking the treat from me, chewing, and her lips kind of got stuck on my glove. My finger got in the way of her nip – ouch! My finger was sore and swollen for weeks.

Why did we get donkeys, you ask? Well, for one thing, several people had suggested them as guard animals for goats and also for young calves. Since we only have a couple of cows, we thought that was a good idea. Besides, we just think they are pretty neat and make a unique addition to our farm. Aren’t they cute?

 


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