I’ve had the horses, donkeys, and Beulah Petunia in the upper pastures all summer. Here, they have about 20 or so acres to roam on the upper pastures plus a nice grassy lower field near the studio where the winter hay shelter is located along with a long stretch of shady ravine with a cool winding creek.
Shortcake, in the lower field near the horse shelter:
BP, still with us:
The first upper pasture had been kept cleared when I arrived here, but the second upper pasture had been allowed to grow up quite a bit. I haven’t had the means to clear it, but I re-fenced it this spring and opened the gate. There’s a lot of thick brush in here, but the path through that brush leads to a big grassy clearing at the back of the field.
In the woods just outside the fenceline at the back of the second pasture is where an old deer stand stood in crumbled remains. Ross rebuilt it this summer.
He won’t get to use it this fall since he’s out to sea, but he’s preparing for future hunts.
He rebuilt the platform and filled in the missing pieces of the ladder up.
And left my ladder out there, but how to get that back to the barn is a question for another day. The question hanging in my mind right now is Jack.
I’ve had Jack since the summer of 2009. He was 12 when I got him, so he’s 16 now. Donkeys can live to be 20 to 30 years old, similar to horses. Once Poky was old enough, she and Jack were put together in the same field. Not that that precaution turned out to be necessary because Jack doesn’t shoot straight. In spite of this issue, Jack and Poky have been inseparable for the entire three years they’ve been together. Okay, Jack is more attached to Poky than the other way around…. I never see them more than 15 feet apart, if that. Usually closer. Jack can barely stand to be separated during hoof trimming and often throws fits while Poky is being trimmed.
Sunday was farrier day. In advance of the farrier’s arrival, Morgan hiked to the upper pastures to gather down the horses and donkeys. She came down to the house and told me she couldn’t find Jack. The farrier was due to arrive any minute. I told her I’d wait for the farrier while she went back up to walk the field again. She came back down as the farrier was pulling in. No Jack.
Poky…..and no Jack.
Our farrier has been working with Jack for years, since before we had Jack. I told him Jack was missing.
He looked at Poky, and looked at me, and said, “Jack is dead.”
After the farrier finished the horses and Poky and we had more time, we went back to the upper pastures for a more thorough search. I walked the fencelines. There was no sign of a break. I haven’t had an escape in the upper pastures since last year. Jack and Poky got out and went to the neighbor’s. They were together, of course. After that, I had the fences reinforced and repaired in the first upper pasture and newly fenced the second upper pasture. I check on the animals in the upper fields every day to keep an eye on BP specifically. I saw Jack on Saturday, the day before the farrier visit.
Since Jack and Poky haven’t been able to breed, the two of them are pure pasture pets on the farm. Jack is the sweetheart we love. Poky is a bit of a….. (Fill in a word that starts with a B.) I never got another male donkey to do business because Jack loves his Poky so much. I wanted to keep them together. He seemed perfectly healthy, and he was still relatively young for a donkey, but as I learned with Clover, animals can suffer the same unexpected fates as humans, even heart attacks, at any age. I don’t know what happened, but I don’t think it was a predator attack. I have Pyrs in the field, and there’s no sign of an attack, which would likely happen in the open and leave evidence, not to mention that the donkeys are good-size animals and are fighters, but I don’t know. There’s some thick brush, especially in the second field. I’ll be able to see it all better come winter…..
Poky is here, and Jack isn’t. I don’t think this is a case of escape.
I’ve done all the searching I can, and I’ve let the neighbors know.
And maybe Jack will surprise me and stroll up the driveway. But I think the farrier has it right.
Jack would never leave his Poky.