Have I ever written about Jack and Jill, my two donkeys? I’m sure I have talked about them as part of my day-to-day life but have I told their story? Hmm…
Hubby wanted a barn. I think every man wants a barn (and should have one if space permits!) Not that long ago, he finally got his! Now building a barn IS a big thing! Just the trenching of the ditch from the front of our property to the rear, three feet deep (below frost line), to get water (and electrical and wifi) to the barn was a big deal! Worker bees, delays, decisions… it occupied much of our time getting our barn built. On one side of the barn separated by a wall is a “garage”. THIS is what hubby wanted. The other side of the wall was to be for animals; what “I” wanted!
Our three Nigerian Dwarf goats LOVED their new stall. Thick, dry bedding, a place for food/hay to stay dry, easy access to their water bucket… what’s not to love? Off of this stall, the goats have a big play yard with climbing areas which they love. Now we had a way to contain the goats when we didn’t want them to have access to our entire pasture.
And then we had another stall empty. Hmm?? After much research, we decided on donkeys. Why donkeys? Because their eating habits are very similar to the goats. They are smaller than horses so would do less damage to our small acreage. And unlike horses, donkeys “think” more and are less likely to get spooked and get tangled up in our fences.
So off to the local donkey rescue we went. We toured the facility but unfortunately they didn’t have what we were looking for… miniature donkeys. We learned that donkeys need to be kept in pairs; as herd animals, they need each other to not feel isolated. Back home, we realized we might need to keep looking hoping that what we wanted might find us? And then I found a listing for two (sort of) miniature donkeys being re-homed from across the country. These two donkeys were a child’s pet aptly named Jack and Jill but were relinquished to this horse rescue.
I contacted the horse rescue but learned someone else had already applied to adopt these two donkeys. I was encouraged to also apply as the rescue looked for the “best” home; not just the first one that applied. Long story short… It was determined that “we” would be the best home for these two donkeys but we still had the dilemma of how to get these two rather large animals from Ohio to Colorado?
And then we learned of yet another problem. These two donkeys had halters placed on them but were never checked as they grew larger. Consequently, their halters had grown into their faces. The horse rescue had to surgically remove these halters from these two animals that were hardly tame. Their wounds were deep, infected, and very painful for these two creatures. Bones that had grown through the halter rings would be forever misshapen. Upon hearing this news from the rescue, I still agreed to take the two donkeys.
Transporting the donkeys was really not that big of a problem. There are services that do this. The rescue was afraid I would object to the cost of their transportation but by this time, I was already committed to these two beasts of burden. And so my two not-so-miniature donkeys set out to move from Ohio to Colorado. Once here, I ended up paying the transporter in hay! I had an abundance of hay from last year’s cutting which apparently is thought to be of higher quality due to our shorter growing season? Who knew?? Back when our field was cut, I paid $3.50/bale of hay that was cut, raked, and then baled. I sold each bale for $10 to the transporter to pay for the shipping of my two donkeys. This worked out well for both of us!
Upon seeing Jack and Jill… I thought they both were just the most beautiful animals ever, deformities and all! As their wounds were still healing; I was instructed to continue their treatments. And I was instructed to “free feed” these two; unknown to me at the time, they both were severely malnourished! That was the start of my education on equines/equids and large animal husbandry. There was SO MUCH to learn! I was very fortunate that I had a good equine vet, and met a lot of other people who helped me help my donkeys along the way often when I most needed the help! This was my start into my amazing journey with these two animals!
P.S. Much later, I decided to write a book on this turning point in my life with the idea it would be a photo journal type of book of Jack and Jill’s first year living with us. Royalties from this book are donated to our local donkey shelter to help other donkeys with similar histories as Jack and Jill. This book is available on Amazon/Kindle if anyone might be interested.