Jay, Donkey Friend
If there was one farm animal who had stolen my heart, it was Jay, my donkey friend.
When I first met Jay, I admittedly didn’t get him. He was always with the sheep and there to protect them, yet he stood out like a loner, a renegade of sorts.
Most times, he’d just go about his day silently, doing what donkeys do — grazing out at pasture, munching on some hay, or just standing there looking all stoic and charming.
But while Jay is usually a gentle giant, he can also emit a bullhorn-like “Hee-haw!” when alerted to intruders.
I haven’t seen him get physical yet (well, except once when he was on top of the alpha ram — don’t ask, I don’t know), but apparently they will bite and kick any predators in defence if it comes down to it.
Although it felt like Jay barely noticed me at first, after spending lots of time with him and the sheep out at pasture, we became good pals.
I’m in love with Jay’s big, signature ears — they turn from side to side like antennas, locating where a sound is coming from.
I read that the way a donkey moves its ears communicates how they are feeling. For example, “forward and alert means attentive and willing, and pinned back clearly shows a ‘leave me alone, or else’ attitude.”
Any time a new visitor comes to the farm, it seems Jay knows long before our guest is even in sight. I’ll hear that familiar hee-haw bellowing from within the depths of the sheep barn, our donkey friend giving us a heads up that a foreigner is on the premises. We know, Jay. We know.
Donkeys originated from the African desert, and wild donkeys (or burros) live in desert plains, making them super resilient.
Come to think of it, I had actually stumbled upon a group of wild donkeys high up in the Andes mountains when I did a hike up to Marcahuasi, “The Stone Forest”, 4,000 metres above sea level.
It was the most surprising sight to turn the corner and see the donkeys trot into view. How the heck did they survive up here? I wondered.
But I guess it shouldn’t be that shocking, now knowing their esteemed line of heritage.
One thing I hadn’t known about donkeys before meeting Jay was the level of emotional connection they seem to have with others.
They are also affectionate animals and will become depressed if they don’t have companions. That made me sad to think of a donkey like Jay not having any friends and just feeling down on himself.
I recently came across an article, “Donkeys Gather To Say Goodbye to A Friend Who Died”, that includes a video showing how a group of donkeys reacted to one of their donkey friend’s passing. The donkeys gathered around and cried out, emotionally stricken with grief. Grab some Kleenex, it’s a tear-jerker.
Sometimes I wonder if Jay is lonely for a lady donkey (called a “jenny”). Hey, a donkey’s got needs too. In the meantime, we have to give our donkey friend lots of love.
I’ll often stand around petting his awesome hair and soft ears for several minutes, making sure he knows that he’s not alone in life. Not to worry, bud. I will love you!
Besides, who wouldn’t want to have a donkey friend like Jay?
>> Read the next post in the #farmlifebestlife series: Antonio Gomes: The Modern Day Shepherd