A logical choice! Let me introduce you to all four of the current long-eared residents of Slate Range Camp: First, there's Rose, who has been here the longest. She arrived in November of 2003, is a Frosty Russet (referring to her coloring) and is now 12 years old. She is versatile, having experience in packing and being ridden, and I hope one day to train her to drive a cart. Unfortunately, she is also a piggie when it comes to food, and tries to push everyone away, so we have to watch her weight.
April came next... she was once living in the wild on the Sheldon Wildlife Refuge and was harvested by the California Fish and Wildlife Service in December 2003, along with a small herd of animals removed from the range because they were at risk of being hit by cars and trucks on Highway 395 at the edge of their habitat... she lived with my friend Ginny, who has a licensed animal rescue facility, for three months after being released from quarantine... Ginny had agreed to bring a half dozen animals to her ranch and begin the gentling process, so that they would be more adoptable. We visited her place right after the group arrived, and Glenn got to choose this time... he liked her distinctive dark coloring. After Ginny had been working with April for awhile, she realized that we had selected a 'twofer', meaning April was pregnant! Ginny and her husband Dave delivered April to us in May 2004 - here she is with Glenn when she first arrived...
she looks pretty durn round, doesn't she? Her ear position shows that she isn't quite sure about that hairy guy, even though she thinks butt scratches sure feel good... how come he doesn't have long ears?!
Well, we were still surprised when she gave birth to Assteroid only a week later... we had been watching for the usual signs of impending labor, and thought she had more like a month to go (did you know that donkey gestation is 365 days?)
Here, mama and baby are resting just a few hours after birth.... I also managed to catch another photo of donkeys at rest this morning, in preparation for this special post... you see, while donkeys here at the Camp like to lie around in the morning sun,
they don't like you to catch them at it... they are generally a bit too wary to be caught on film napping!
Assteroid is now almost four years old, and a grown-up. He has the traditional donkey coloring, with the cross marking on his back, just below the base of his neck (see the poem below, for a reference to the myth associated with this marking) He was gelded when young, since breeding donkeys wasn't in our plans, and now that he is fully grown, we will begin training him to pack as well. He already leads well, and likes to hike with us!
Assteroid is the wooliest of our donkeys, and we are already brushing to shed out his winter coat. He is sporting a rope harness in hopes that I can get his still semi-wild mama to let me put it on her once it smells like him...
This photo is the best one I have of him so far... he is posing in pack gear with a friend of his former owner, Sally and one of Sally's mini-donks. He is also in the foreground in this morning's pastoral shot of donkeys at rest. Abe is a 10 year old BLM donkey, brought in from the Twin Peaks Herd Management Area near Susanville, in northeastern California, and is a gelded Blue Roan. Here's a close-up of Abe... not the best portrait, but you can tell that he is stockier than the others, though close to the same height.
Do we have a favorite? Well, we can't tell you that, because they might hear... each has special qualities and each is a great joy to have as a part of our lives... since we aren't playing favorites, D is also for Dog... the dogs don't understand what all the fuss is about donkeys and want you to know that they improve our lives daily as well! Jere are Jake (l) and Elwood (r), clamoring at the barrier to the inner yard, as I return from taking donkey photos... who could resist their appealing faces?!
I leave you with this little poem, though not reflecting our own sentiments about donkeys, it does accurately reflect the commonly held beliefs... we hope to educate you further and encourage you to love them too!
When fishes flew and forests walked
And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
Then surely I was born;
With monstrous head and sickening cry
And ears like errant wings,
The devil's walking parody
On all four-footed things.
The tattered outlaw of the earth,
Of ancient crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,
I keep my secret still.
Fools! For I also had my hour;
One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout about my ears,
And palms before my feet.
- G.K. Chesterton