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Donkeys On-Duty April 18, 2007

Posted by Laura in Farm.
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I mentioned in the first posting about the goats that we thought we had found a solution to our predator problem, but I didn’t explain what it was. Well, here THEY are.

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(Meet Woody and Buzz, named for favorite characters in the movie Toy Story. They still sport heavy winter coats).

We’ve known that donkeys are useful as guardian animals for a while now, but we’ve had trouble finding any to purchase. By the time we had responded to classified ads, the donkeys had always been snapped up or they were priced beyond what we were willing to pay. Last week, I was finally fast enough and a wonderful older gentleman farmer was willing to hold them for us until we went to get them the following day.

Saturday morning was yucky and rainy. The soccer field was under standing water, so Benjamin’s game was cancelled. Good thing, it turns out, because we had more trouble getting the trailer hooked up to the truck than we anticipated. It has been sitting unused for many months now and the tires had gotten quite low on air. It took a hammer, a screwdriver as a lever, and a whole lot of muscle to get the trailer hitch open. The trailer lights weren’t working either. Well, actually one worked, but not properly. When you put on your right blinker in the truck, the left trailer light signaled.

Once we got the trailer hooked up, we shooed the stowaway chickens out of the cab of the truck (have I ever mentioned how curious chickens are?) and we headed off to Ridgetop. We went the meandering back roads through some beautiful parts of Tennessee and arrived there at noon.

Some of the nicest folks you’ll ever meet came out and showed us around. We talked donkeys, old restored tractors, children/grandchildren, workshops, and so on for a couple of hours. They invited us in to visit and apologized for the state of their (spotless) house. I really enjoy talking to older farm folks- you just can’t beat ‘em.

We looked over the donkeys and found out all we could about them. We learned that donkeys should not be bred until at least 2 years old or the mothers may not have large enough frames yet to deliver safely. The farmer also mentioned that gestation is a full 12 months. (And I thought 9 months seemed long!).

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(Buzz kept a wary eye on me while remaining in the shelter of the trailer).

There were 2 jacks and 1 jennet (sometimes referred to as a “jenny”) available, with the parents on site. They all had the same father, so it wouldn’t be a good idea to let them cross. We decided to take the 2 jacks. The farmer had a line of people waiting to buy what we didn’t, so I’m sure the jenny was sold before the day was out.

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(Woody is mostly brownish-gray, but he does have some spots. Before buying these donkeys, I didn’t realize they came in any color but gray. The jenny they had was a lovely dark brown).

We got the boys loaded up and headed back home. I believe this was their first trailer ride, so they were pretty nervous by the time we got home. It took some coaxing to get them out into this strange new place. We’re not sure if they had ever seen goats before either.

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(We were blessed with the gift of this trailer by Joe’s grandfather who no longer keeps cattle. We plan to take it up to the local high school and let the FFA kids do some work on it for us).

Donkeys are known for a strong dislike of dogs. We have kept ours out of the pasture the goats and donkeys are in, but an accidental meeting is inevitable. We expect our dogs will steer clear of those tiny, but powerful hooves after that.

Last night, I caught a neighbor dog breaking into the metal trash can we keep the cat food in, but the goats were unharmed this morning. (The chickens and turkeys are closed into a henhouse at night for their safety). I hope the donkeys will continue to be a good deterrent to would-be goat diners.

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Comments»

1. amazinggrazefarm - April 20, 2007

They are adorable and I LOVE their names. Lets hope Buzz doesn’t try to sail over the fence. I still hope to one day get a huge mule!!!


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