Yesterday I gave my two donkeys away to what I hope will be a better home, where they can act as guardians to sheep and graze on 20 acres. I gave them the best care I could in the near year that I had them, but I felt like they were really bored. They loved going on walks, their goal being to sample every growing thing they could fit in their mouths. But Ethel was so hard to control - one time she kicked the lead out of my hand and galloped down the road to visit another donkey (also adopted by a neighbor, they had come from the same place). And dragging them back home was always very difficult, involving lots of pulling that left me with a backache, despite carrot bribery. The final straw was being told that the new owners of the house next door might be coming after me to move the existing coral five feet back.
I didn't know much about their past - as the farrier I hired to trim their overgrown and damaged hooves said, between spits of tobacco, "it ain't like you can call up carfax and get a history on these animals." I was told they were adopted out after being captured wild by the BLM, and received paperwork from their captures about seven years back. According to the vet, they're about eight or nine years old, so they must have had a few years of free roaming. Enough to remember what it's like (another farrier wisdom: "donkeys don't never forget nothin"). How strange that we (humans, that is, not me and the farrier) tamed and bred these animals for mining work over 100 years ago, set them loose when they were no longer needed, and now decide to round them up to either be shot or shuffled around to screwball caretakers like myself. Now supposedly the "Wild free-roaming horses and burros act" of 1971 declares them to be “living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West.” and stops them from being slaughtered, after a long letter writing campaign started in 1959 by a woman known as "wild horse Annie". However, there are reports online of National Parks and the BLM hiring out hunters to shoot as many as they can find, as well as videos of inhumane treatment during round-ups. A particularly painful one to watch shows a donkey being yanked up by it's ears. It still refuses to budge - a testament to how incredibly stubborn they truly are. Donkey advocates say that they are being unfairly vilified without scientific evidence as destroying habitat. That seems a likely bandwagon for me to hop on, except I can't help but wonder that the BLM must have better things to do with their time than pick on these stubborn creatures for no good reason whatsoever. And I've seen how they can eat. With similar gusto as the folks I've witnessed (and joined) at the Pizza Hut buffet up here in Yucca Valley.
At any rate, I'm heartbroken to have them gone and hope the pain of the empty corral passes soon. Twiggy had gotten very affectionate, and would nibble kisses on my face with those big fuzzy lips in the photo above. Ethel was essentially a b*tch, but did love her ears rubbed and quickly learned some tricks like this one: http://instagram.com/p/qNqF3oNPI-/?modal=true . She was mean to Twiggy, biting her and blocking her from the hay at feeding time, but I would sometimes see them being affectionate (only out the window when they didn't know I was looking). Last week I caught them sunbathing together, and got some photos of Twiggy annoying Ethel by deciding to take a dustbath. I'm glad I could find a home for them together, and just hope they are happy.