S and I have been talking a lot lately about several issues, and what we could do to solve them. These issues jump all over the place, so bear with me. I do have a point.
- One was little N’s CP. He is doing fine, but it is always a concern on the back of my mind–ensuring he uses both sides of his body equally, making sure all his muscles stay loose and stretched out.
- Another is A, who tends to be very off-balance and clumsy. The poor guy has mishaps daily that usually result in injury. He hardly even cries any more because it happens so frequently.
- Another, totally unrelated, but possibly more pressing, issue is that the coyotes and fox are really moving in around here. We haven’t had any problems yet, but I am well aware that chicken happens to be a favorite dinner for fox, and coyotes are often pretty keen on unguarded goats (especially little goat babies). With winter approaching, I have been getting increasingly nervous about how our animals would fare once the wild food supply dwindled in the coming snows.
- In addition to the safety issues, I have been having a big problem with wasted hay. The goats tend to enjoy browsing through and eating the leaves, but not the stems of our hay. This is really good, horse-quality hay (meaning a bit pricey!), so waste is a big deal.
- Another issue is that our weekly one-on-one dates with the older kids have dwindled a bit since we have moved out here. We live so far from everything that it just isn’t very economical to use the gas to drive into town if we don’t have to. We have also been trying to save money, which has meant no more horse-back rides with them. M, in particular has really been asking, obviously missing that time alone, riding trails with Mom.
Well, all I can say is I think God has provided the solution to all those, and more–and in a completely unexpected, unplanned way! Meet our newest addition, as of Monday evening:
I was on Craigslist the other night (often the case since we are always looking for inexpensive farm supplies), and came across a rescue looking to quickly re-home some donkeys. I knew S would never go for it, but for whatever reason, I half-heartedly brought it to his attention anyway. We were both well aware of the multi-purpose potential posessed by donkeys.
You see, donkeys have a God-given instinctual hatred of the canine species. In many domestic donkeys, however, this instinct has been somewhat bred and/or trained out of them, or they are too small. So, using a donkey as a guard animal is somewhat hit-or-miss. Certainly livestock guardian dogs are better, but we prefer to wait until we get to the farm to get one of those. Anyway, if you are lucky enough to find one that is gentle and has the guarding instinct, then, like a horse, it can also be ridden, pull carts and loads, and they are intelligent enough to teach all sorts of tricks. To top it off, unlike horses who tend to be very flighty when spooked, a donkey is more likely to just freeze up and think about the situation a bit before reacting. This makes them very good mounts for young children.
So, I found this ad, mentioned it to S, we discussed the opportunities it could provide, and he actually agreed that I should at least call and check on the situation. We knew most rescue organizations require all sorts of strings-attached agreements, which don’t interest us. I also knew that any donkey over about $100 would be a no-go at the present time, and that was highly unlikely. Nonetheless, with the odds stacked against us, I called. The lady asked a few questions about my horse-related experiences, which I answered, and I honestly told her what I was looking for. She then explained that one of the donkeys, an almost-4 year-old jenny (female), was larger than average, hated dogs with a passion, was very sweet natured, and loved kids! In fact, over the weekend, they had taken her to the county fair just for some socialization, and she spent several days being loved on by children, and being exposed to all sorts of sights and sounds. Concerned about how she would act around my goats (some donkeys will chase, play rough, and/or hurt goats), the lady explained that she had been housed with goats and chickens all summer. She sounded perfect. Then the lady said there was just one big problem…there was a good chance she was 3-4 months pregnant! (of course, I’m thinking, “THAT is NOT a problem! HOW COOL would that be?!) So, I finally said, “OK, let’s talk price.” She then said, to my utter surprise, “if you will take her, you can HAVE her. I’ll even deliver tomorrow, when I pick her up from the fair.” There were no strings attached, except the request that we provide a loving home. HOLY SMOKES! You can imagine my surprise. So, I tried to stay calm. Anyone who knows me knows my life-long passion for horses, and I was within 24 hours of having a cousin to the horse, anyway. I told her I had to talk it over with my husband, as he had the final say, and hung up. S was totally game to give it a try!
This evening, we confined the kids indoors, didn’t tell them what was going on (though we told them we had something special for them), and when the trailer arrived, I went out to give the donkey a once-over evaluation before committing. Granted, it’s only been a few hours, but I don’t think this situation could be more perfect! When they unloaded the donkey, I was once again thrilled that we weren’t dealing with a little mini, rather, she is a good 11-12 hands tall! That means I could actually ride her enough to get her well trained for the kids to ride. She was also a total sweetheart. We introduced the kids, who I think are still in shock (BTW, Mom, M acted just like I did with Sonshine, exclaiming, “That’s the surprise? That’s just a donkey.” Of course, I couldn’t get her away from it later.)
So, we are now the proud owners of a donkey. We are going to take our first school break of the year tomorrow and spend some time working with her. Great as she is, she is a typical rescue with few manners and little training. I love having a clean slate to work with though. I am just amazed at God’s handiwork though. I mean, seriously, what are the chances of everything working out this way? Just 2 days ago, we had all the above issues we were somewhat concerned about, and through one classified ad and a phone call, God provided a donkey that could guard our goats and chickens, that was large enough and old enough to ride, that loved children, that could provide hippo-therapy for A and N’s physical issues, that could provide a way for M and I to once again have our one-on-one horse riding time, that could thrive on the “waste” hay the goats don’t eat, and who knows how much more is in store?! I even just “happened” to bring all my horse stuff back from Red Gate on our last trip, so I have all the necessities. The only items I need to find are a few pony-sized items for riding.
Thank you, God, for your provisions, and thank you, Honey, for allowing it to happen!