Around Easter time, we acquired two little girl donkeys that are about two years old. I’ve since learned that “donkey girl” is apparently a city girl term and I should officially refer to them as a jenny. One jenny is called Patience – a name which was obviously given her by mistake. She’s a greedy treat stealer, will not wait her turn to have her ears scratched and will bite you if you’re not fast enough on the delivery of whatever donkey prize it is she believes you have brought for her and her alone. She’s a solid chocolate brown with a dark chocolate brown mane, tail and cross upon her back all supported by tiny little black hooves. The other jenny is called Peta. Sometimes I believe she should be called Petra since it means “stone or rock”, because when she does not want to move, no matter how hard you pull or push, it’s like trying to move a mountain of stone. She’s accustomed to being pushed around by Patience and mostly yields to her bossy ways. Once in a while, we’ll see her play the part of the passive aggressor and it’s quite comical to watch that routine. She’s mostly white save for a few good-sized chocolate brown spots on her back and some brown sprinkled in her mane. Like her “sister” she has a dark chocolate cross on her back but unlike her “sister” she has tiny white hooves. We toyed with renaming them, but their officially registered names are the ones I’ve written above. Yes, there is an authority where, just like dogs, you register your donkeys. Who knew?
Anyway, we’ve brushed and brushed and brushed out great globs of their now unnecessary winter coats, which they shed and shed and shed. While they’ll never have the sleek coats of horses, they do look much more comfortable after a good brushing. Sunday, since it was so warm, we decided they needed to have a bath. Halters were put on each jenny, lead ropes fastened and the two of them trotted merrily alongside Gary to their B-A-T-H area. Perhaps Patience assumed they were headed toward something new to eat and Peta was trotting along behind Patience, because, well, that’s just what Peta does. After the initial shock of the cool water, Patience seemed to enjoy her bath. She stood still and allowed Gary to spray her down, suds her up with equine shampoo and give her a good wash while Peta watched…from the distance of a stretched out lead rope and a strained halter from which she could not quite slip out her fear-filled head and run for the hills…or at the very least, to some place beyond the reach of the water hose. After some coaxing, pulling, and pushing (remember, when she does not want to go, it’s like moving a great mountainous rock), we got her kind of close to a now squeaky clean Patience. After a gentle soaking with the garden hose, we received nothing but the traditional equine wild eyed glare. We couldn’t stop there, we needed to wash her! Poor sopping wet Gary got just enough soap on her to lather up her coat a tiny bit. I had visions of a gleaming white coat but, due to her donkey stubbornness, we ended up with her having a quasi-clean coat of a shade of white similar to that of a dingy white t-shirt.
The original plan had been to bathe them, then address their hooves, which continue to grow longer and longer since they don’t walk on any concrete or rocky surfaces which would naturally wear down those hooves. But after Peta’s, let’s just call it ‘unwillingness’ to properly subject herself to the whole grooming process, we decided to call it quits. Fluffy clean Patience was led back to their corral and as usual, a sort of clean Peta followed along behind still wearing her equine wild eyes expression. Since their little hooves really needed to be cleaned and filed, rather than freak Peta out any more than necessary, Gary, the Master of Windy Hill, decided to call in a farrier.
The farrier’s name was Rick and he charged $35 per donkey. He really seemed to know his stuff. However, what he did not know was that had he told me it was $100 per donkey, I’d have gladly paid him that amount just to keep myself from having to use that weird pick and that awful rasp on their hooves. While I may be a city girl, I knew what those donkey girls had been standing in and it certainly wasn’t anything I wanted to touch. You know, I can really play along with the whole “country girl” persona but then once in a while I am forced back to my natural state, which is that of a full-blown City Girl who knows her limits. This was a classic example of City Girl meeting her limits. I am not afraid to say that animal poop freaks me out. I cannot touch it. Period. If I had to walk my dog in one of those places where you have to wag around a plastic bag and pick up their warm poop, I would just fall over dead. Were I to find myself in a competition in which tossing cow pies determined if I would live to see the next day, you’d best rally the family in their finest funeral attire and whip up a big ol’ batch of chicken spaghetti because I’d not live to see life on the morrow. It’s that serious of a freak out.
You know how it is when you call a contractor to come do some work for you? You agree with, say, the electrician, tile man, or a painter that they’ll be there on a certain Tuesday around 9:00 a.m. but they don’t show up till noon on the following Thursday? Well, I must say that farriers work on real time but with a wee bit of a country slant. That’s a good thing and John Wayne would be proud. Farrier Rick said he’d be there at 8:00 a.m. to do the job and at 7:45 a.m. I heard the crunch of unfamiliar truck tires on our gravel lane. Eeek, I was only half dressed! Having been raised in the country and being privy to this type of scheduling, Gary was already outside with the “girls”. Between the two of them, the guys that is, they had the “girls” ready to go by 7:50. After I finished dressing, I went out just before 8 to check their progress. I thought I’d find the guys chatting it up over coffee and a corral fence. No ma’am, they had already gotten down to serious business. They were finished with Peta and she was prancing around, as only a miniature donkey can prance, looking quite nice. Yes, she would have looked better had the whole B-A-T-H incident gone as planned, but nice she looked nonetheless. On the other hand, or rather other hoof, Patience, was reaffirming my suspicions that she was misnamed by trying to get away from the nice man with the rasp.
As I walked up on the whole “farm scene”, Peta was standing aside while Gary and Farrier Rick were holding Patience. Gary was the fortunate one as he was standing, facing me with Patience in a bit of a head lock under his right arm. Poor Farrier Rick was down on his knees (remember, they’re miniature donkeys) facing away from me with his right shoulder planted firmly in Patience’s right side and talking her into surrendering her right rear hoof. Like the bath, it was not going as planned. Farrier Rick stood up and said good morning to the Mistress of Windy Hill, dropped back onto his chap clad knees and began trying Patience from another angle. (Ha! Quite a play on words, that!)
With his hands full of ass, my husband winked and smiled at me so I took that as my cue to get back to the city where I was on familiar ground.
-by Alicia May Fisher
Mistress of Windy Hill Farm