My Love Affair With Donkeys

The Afternoon I Went On A Donkey Buying Spree.

Right after we moved to our place in Bertram, I decided we needed to get some guard donkeys. I inquired around and found a women down the road a piece had three Jenny’s and a Jack she wanted to sell. Being green to buying such animals, I went to see her and ended up making a deal for the whole bunch. Of course I paid about double the going rate. I’m not even going to tell you what I paid. It’s been about 27 years ago that I made that transaction, so let’s just say I’ve forgotten the price. But my best guess is that ol’ gal was mighty proud of herself as I drove away with them in my trailer.

I swear this happened. When I got them home that afternoon, they didn’t want to come out of the trailer. The little Jack was in the back and unloaded as soon I opened the gate. All 3 of the Jenny’s were up in the front compartment and refused to come out. I eased up in the trailer to coax them out. I was going this all alone, with a whole house full of boys and I still haven’t figured that out. When I got behind that first one she hauled off a kicked me, right in the shin. I got around her and pushed her out the back. Then I went back in there to retrieve the 2nd one, being a lot more careful this time, I measured how close I got to her, but she landed a hoof on my other leg. I finally got her out. I thought about just leaving the trailer backed up to the chute and going in the house and letting that third one take her own sweet time getting out. But for some reason I went back in there to push her out. I’m not even going to embarrass myself telling you what happened, because I figure you are already ahead of me on this.

By the time I got in the house I’d been kicked on both shins and one knee cap that had already start to swell up. But I may be a bit slow to learn some things, but I was never got kicked again by a donkey after that. That doesn’t mean I didn’t have my own battles with them dang Barbado sheep. Those big rams can run and hit you before you can react. I think that’s what put me out of the sheep business.

Now That Wasn’t My First Donkey Experience.

In about 1959 I got Tar Baby. He was a fine specimen. Kenny always had good horses, but I preferred riding Tar Baby. He was given to me by my Grandmother Leona’s brother, Uncle Ed Purcell.

That’s me on TarBaby

I rode him in many rodeo parades and just for a leisurely ride. I usually wasn’t in a hurry, so neither was Tar Baby. When it came time to help gather cattle or goats, I’d have to mount up on a horse. Otherwise I was fine with my donkey.

This is my whole family on TarBaby

We kept him around until about the time I left home, which was close to dozen years later. He was given to neighbor over the road, Loftin Meredith, so he could tie colts to him so they could be taught to lead. I hear he had a fairly good life. I lost track of him after that.

This is a picture of me on Tar Baby with our Cousin Peggy on Sunburst (a very fine Shetland) and Kenny on the ground. This was taken in 1961 when I was 9 yrs old. Appears I was barefoot out in that rocky pasture, which was most of the time around there.

Now Back To The Purchase Of The Donkey’s Many Years Later

That put me out of the donkey business until we moved to Bertram some two and a half decades later. Needing something to guard my Barbado sheep from dogs and coyotes I decided to buy some miniature Sicilian donkeys. They are reputed to be very good for that purpose.

I started out with a Jack and 3 Jenny’s in early to mid 1990. The gestation period is a long 11 months but it seems like there were always little ones running around. I gave donkeys to everyone that came along. Several times the ones I gave away came back, because the owner would need to get rid of them.

About 8 or 9 years ago, when we’re were moving to Corpus Christi I decided to take them to an exotics sale in Lampasas just to get them off of the place. To sell a donkey (or horse) in a public sale they have to be Coggins tested. More on that later.

With help from my brother, we took them to the vet for testing and then Kenny took them on to the sale. The only one that didn’t go was the little jack. Lucky is his name. He is the smallest donkey on the place, Always. When one of his offspring become a few months old, they become bigger than him. I have a tender place in my heart for a poor little fellow that has spent 2 decades with his only duty being to make more babies.

Figuring his days were numbered, I’d let him retire and hang out by himself. Kenny returned later that evening with one donkey, a little jenny in the trailer. The vet had made a mistake. The paper work on the test showed a jack, so they refused her. I told him to dump her out. Maybe Lucky did need a little bit of companionship.

Back To Selling Donkey’s At The Exotics Sale

I looked up a while later, after our three year jaunt off to Corpus Christi and 3 more donkeys had appeared. One by one, every 11 or 12 months or so. Then those 4 left together in a trailer soon after we got back up here. I was out of the sheep business by then and didn’t figure I needed to keep going through that cycle. That left Lucky here alone. He made it a little while and ended up dying here on the place. He had become a sad looking creature, I guess old age had caught up with him.

It was at a time when the Central Texas drought was at its worse. There was no grass. Hay cost was at an all time high. Donkey prices were at an all time low. Therefore with the price for donkeys being so cheap they charged a per each price to sell them instead if a percentage. I think it was $20 per head. So that and the cost of the Coggins test at $25, that was $45 total expense each.
They brought as much as $30 and as low as $5. There were more than 20 head. I think it cost me about $400 just to get rid of them. Not a savvy business deal but one I didn’t regret. I had gotten out out of these sheep business. I was getting to old to be a battering ram for those things.

This Was Lucky. The Neighbor Lady On The Back Fence Line Kept Him Well Fed. Maybe Too Well Fed At Times. It Appeared That He Foundered And Died.

Now we have Sampson. He actually belongs to my daughter in law Tish. I get the hear the braying without having to care for him.

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