Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Top Ten Reasons for Owning a Donkey

We have two new donkeys in our barn, and they fill me with joy. Let me introduce you to them.

This is Mr. Chocolate:

And the one below is Mr. Big:

Last year, when we had to put my old horse and my dear jenny, Josie down within a month of each other, I thought my sadness would never end. We had no animals at all in our barn for several months, but soon it was winter, and when the temperature dropped to eleven degrees, I had to admit it was nice not to drag on fifteen layers of clothes to go outside and feed each morning.

But my heart was broken, and I moped around the house depressed for months. Practically my entire life has been built around the morning and evening schedule of feeding livestock. It lent a certain rhythm to my days, and gave purpose to my life. So without animals in the barn something was deeply missing.

Out of old habit, I searched through online postings for horses and donkeys needing a home, but the truth is, I'm getting almost too damned old to ride, and with health and back problems plaguing me, the responsibility of a new horse was more than I wanted. Then I heard about two donkeys looking for a new home. Just right, I thought, and so Mr. Chocolate and Mr. Big were delivered to me, and with lots of hugs and tears and smiles, became my new boys.

These donkeys were both rescues at one time - Mr. Chocolate from an auction with long slipper feet, and Mr. Big from a pasture where no one wanted him. But they have been taken care of (with a lot of love) for several years by a caring woman who now passed them on to me.

As the rain lets up and we have the occasionally sunny day here in the Pacific Northwest, we are working on training. Mr. Big is very sure of himself (named for his attitude, not his size.) Mr. Chocolate is a bit shy and extremely bonded to his little friend, Mr. Big. Mr. Chocolate still needs a lot of work on leading, but is gaining confidence daily.

The donkeys and I are bonding, and my heart is full again. They are like big furry puppy dogs in the pasture - full of love and sweet equine kisses and brays.

So I will now share my

10) You have a little pasture, and you need something to put in it.

9) You are too old, or too stove-up to ride anymore, but you still like to feed.

8) You love horses, but you want another equine mind to figure out.

7) You need a companion, or your horse, cow, sheep, llama, or goat needs one.

6) Compared to horses, donkeys are really low maintenance.

5) Your donkey is always happy to see you.

4) Donkeys are teachers - they teach you how to be patient and kind.

3) Donkeys make you laugh, and laughter is good for the soul.

2) That wonderful sound they make, which endears you to all of your neighbors: Hee haw.

1) Those ears, those ears, have you ever see ears like that?


Dreaming said...

I am in love! I have come to love donkeys through several blogs that I read. We can't have them where I live because the HOA won't allow them - mayhap because of the noise they make?! We do have one that lives just outside our community and I can hear his plaintive Hee-haw-haw-haw in the evenings when I am down feeding the boys.
Congrats. They are the cutest. I love Mr. Big's coat - it almost looks like he has dreadlocks.

Linda Benson said...

Dreaming - I hope you get to own a donkey someday, too. There is absolutely nothing better than a donkey hug! And actually, those dreadlocks belong to Mr. Chocolate - he is one Wooly Donkey! I'm looking forward to warmer weather and less mud to see what I really have under all that hair - LOL.

Mrs. Mom said...

AMEN, Linda!! May you and your new boys have many many happy years together. Your list of reasons to have donkeys is perfect!!

Francesca Prescott said...

Aww, they are just gorgeous! I've always loved donkeys, in fact when I was a little girl and we lived in an apartment my favourite thing to do on a sunny afternoon (or even on a rainy one) was to go across the field and down the country road to feed the donkey. And now, right across the road from where I live, there are two donkeys. One is a big, tall one (don't know what breed) and the other is a small Sardinian donkey whom everyone thinks is a baby, but he's actually older than the big one, not to mention way more bossy! They do make lots of noise, but it's such a lovely noise, and doesn't bother me at all.

Thanks for a lovely post, Linda.

Anonymous said...

My 10 year wedding anniversary present was a mini donkey. We named him Ripley because who would believe that I got a donkey for a wedding anniversary gift?

I simply adore him.

I'm so glad you have two long ears to love. They are fabulous!


Laura Crum said...

I'm glad to hear about your donkeys. i've often thought that even when/if I can't ride any more I would certainly want to have horses for the the exact reasons you mention--the ritual of feeding, the pleasure of just watching them interact...etc. I've never had a donkey, but I've handled mules before and found them very intriguing. And someone down the road from me has donkeys--it always makes me smile when I hear them bray at feeding time.

Linda Benson said...

Mrs. Mom - Thanks!

Francesa - there are some different breeds of donkeys in Europe, including the long-haired Poitu (which Mr. Chocolate reminds me of at the moment.) In America, they are generally classified into miniature, small standard, large standard, and mammoth - depending upon size. (Mr. Big is a small standard and Mr. C is a large standard.)

Betsey - I love how Ripley got his name. Great Story!

Laura - Maybe you'll own a donkey one day. They do bring smiles to your face - that is much of the appeal ;)

Francesca Prescott said...

Linda! I forgot to mention that a few years ago, when my kids were still quite little, I went with one of my good friends and her two kids (friends of my kids) for two days of donkey walking in the Bourgogne, in France. We had two pack donkeys carrying our stuff (overnight bags and snacks), and we walked for about four or five hours both days, the first day to our overnight stop, and the second day back to where we'd come from, but via a different route. It was WONDERFUL! Once my son (who was about nine or ten at the time ) had got over the fact that, within half an hour of having started out, we definitely weren't "nearly there" and quit asking how much longer, all the kids really got into it, and Val (my friend) and I just loved walking for hours through forests and pretty little French villages and tiny country roads. We were exhausted when we got to our "gîte" the first night, but the lady was wonderful, and prepared us the best omelette ever with fresh eggs and herbs from the garden. The donkeys were adorable, and only kicked up a fuss on the second day, refusing to cross a little stream. Well, they had to cross that stream as we weren't turning around...so I waded in and stood in the water persuading these two big eared guys it wasn't so bad!

Lovely memories!!!! I strongly recommend a couple of days of donkey walking!

Rosanne said...

Oh my gosh! I LOVE your donkeys! I have a mini donk the same color. He is such a sweetie and great company for my horses. I can't imagine my life without a donkey!

BobbieNoSocks said...

It's gotta be the ears

Linda Benson said...

Francesca - thanks for sharing that. I love the idea of Donkey Walking. We are such an automobile culture in the U.S. - donkeys kind of force you to slow down and enjoy life - I would love to go touring with a donkey!

Rosanne - yes, donkeys make great companions for horses, don't they?

And Bobbie - yes, the ears have it ;)