The Mysterious Case of Jack


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.


  1. CarrieJ says:

    I hope and pray that Jack is ok. I’m glad to see BP looking good and carrying on.

  2. Yankee in NC says:

    I am sorry to hear that Jack is missing. Life and death are never easy.

  3. Leaves of the fall says:

    Awwwww….. poor Pokey.

  4. kup47 says:

    Poor Jack, I hope you find him. Nothing worse than not knowing.

  5. wildcat says:

    Oh no – I hope you’re able to find out what happened to Jack. 😥

  6. nursemary says:

    Aw, sweet Jack. I worry all the time about mine mine. They can barely get a nap that I am not out there prodding them to see if they are dead. If Jack is truly “gone”, better he leave first. He probably could not have handled it the other way around. Hoping he comes strolling in, with a new girlfriend.

  7. CindyP says:

    😥 I hope he does come strolling back up the drive, but today is Tuesday… there’s nothing worse than not knowing.

  8. EMarie says:

    Awww, I’m so sorry. 🙂 I tend to agree with you that Jack would never walk off from his Pokey. 😥 As an aside; I love your scenery…good pix.

  9. EMarie says:

    Sorry…I typed in the “sad” face that turned into a “smiley”. Not a time for laughing to be sure.

  10. denny144 says:

    Just wondering if the Pyrs helped with your search. I’m not familiar with the breed. Would they in some way let you know that they found Jack?

  11. bbkrehmeyer says:

    Do you have poachers? We had someone come onto our property once and shoot our beautiful black stud horse. Left him lying dead. No wsy he would have been mistaked for a deer or analope.
    If he is dead,you should be able to smell an animal of his size. Hope the mystery is resolved one way or the other. :heart:

  12. DeniseS says:

    Was totally captivated with the photo of the gate leading to the second pasture. The photo alone makes you want to go there for a walk. Then I read on and found out about Jack. I hope you know for sure soon so that you have some closure on this. Agree with CindyP. Not knowing is really hard.

  13. The High Altitude Tea Duchess says:

    If there is no blood and no sign of a struggle, he may have been stolen. Dead donkeys don’t just wander off. Do you think that if he went to die in the bushes that Pokey would have stayed by his side? Are there tracks into the bushes? Holes where he could have gotten into the bushes?

  14. Poor Farm says:

    Hi! I’m new on here, and sorry to hear about Jack as the first post that I read. I had a pair of horses once, with much the similar attitude; she could do or not, he couldn’t bare to be separated. So since she probably wouldn’t show any anxiety, there’s no way to know what happened to Jack from her. He could have been scared, but surely he would come back…had there been any lightning the evening after you left them? If it did occur, he would have to be standing on the root of a tree that was hit, and then you would find him still there under that tree. Just a tip from personal experience.

  15. Amy says:

    Unlurking to send sympathy. I’ve followed this blog for years now (I can’t believe how many) and totally just teared up at work hearing the news. I’m sorry for your loss.

  16. emit says:

    You need to saddle up an go over the pasture to look for poor jack! I know that when I come up missing a horse I have a empty feeling. There is no better feeling then finding them so saddle up go look you will be better off either way. I hope he is ok…….

  17. lavenderblue says:

    So sorry to hear about Jack. I’m afraid I agree that he wouldn’t just wander off if something wasn’t wrong. It is probably a good thing that Poky is ambivalent about their relationship. We had a lizard die of a broken heart once. Maybe you might after a bit look for a new companion for Poky. Wait a bit to make sure Jack doesn’t come wandering back. If there was another man there,it wouldn’t end well.

  18. Dghawk says:

    Sorry to hear about Jack. Dang animals. I hope you find him soon, one way or the other.

  19. LisaAJB says:

    Love the pic. of BP. Please let us know about Jack. Either way. :hug:

  20. ticka1 says:

    sorry about jack. hopee you find some type of closure.

  21. GaPeach says:

    I know how awful this sounds… but look for buzzards in the sky and if you see any circling you will have a better idea where to look. Sorry for your loss.

  22. Joell says:

    I will certainly say a prayer for Jack and miracles do happen, let’s not give up.

  23. boulderneigh says:

    Oh much better it is, in a not-good-at-all situation, that Jack is missing rather than Poky. She will survive; Jack would have died from a broken heart.

  24. yvonnem says:

    Maybe not dead, but stolen?

  25. dmcfarland says:

    I would be concerned he was injured. If Poky is less attached she would be willing to finally leave him. I thought the question if the dogs were with you and would they alert to him was good. Just heartbreaking.

  26. Claudia W says:

    I am so sorry to hear that Jack is missing. I hope you find him and that he just wandered off because he found some wonderful grass to munch on! Prayers for a quick find!

  27. bumblebee says:

    So sorry about Jack. Prayers that you find him.
    I was thinking about poor BP and if she misses her baby and grand baby? Glad she is still enjoying life….

  28. Jersey Lady says:

    So sorry to hear about Jack’s disappearance. My first thought would be that someone took him but if that were true, you’d think they would have taken both. What a mystery! Hope it is solved soon.

  29. Journey11 says:

    Oh no, here’s hoping he is ok! I agree with the commenter who advised saddling up and combing the pasture. It’s hard to tell what has happened… He could just be injured and unable to get up and could make it if found soon enough. My horse wouldn’t come down for grain last summer and turned out to have a sprain and wouldn’t walk on it. I found him lying down back along the woodline and was finally able to get him up and very slowly walked out. He was really happy when he got some water. He is healed up and is fine now! So it would be worth taking another look…just in case.

  30. MousE says:

    Oh Suzanne, I’m so sorry to hear this, and I am sure you are looking as hard as you can. Poor jack- maybe there is a happy ending somewhere in this….. fingers crossed. all the best to you and yours

  31. pookie22 says:

    😥 I do hope you find Jack alive and well. At least in finding him, either way, you will know. How is Pokey holding up?

  32. Dana says:

    Oh my goodness, how bizzare….so sorry to hear this but seems very odd that Poky is not acting strange either. This is quite a mystery so far. Sorry that you are having to deal with this loss! Dana Mama

  33. oneoldgoat says:

    Suzanne – I so hope this mystery has a happy ending. Thinking of you all (people and animals)


  34. whaledancer says:

    I’m very sorry. I can’t imagine that Jack would ever voluntarily leave Poky. You must be heartsick, and not knowing what happened makes it even harder. 😥

  35. Linda Goble says:

    So sorry!!!! I sure hope he shows up… Too bad you lived so far away!!!! I would help you look for him… I know when my animals disappear I get a knot in my stomach and I can’t stop looking for them.. I wonder if a pack of coyotes might of been the reason he’s gone, or the same thing that got your sheep… You need a four wheeler to get around on.. My heart is with you!!!!

  36. Diane says:

    Keep thinking of Jack. Hope he turns up for you. Just so sad he was not where he was suppose to be.

  37. joykenn says:

    It’s been 4 days now. Any more news about Jack? Is Poky concerned at all or missing him? Would the dogs be any help? Would they be curious if he were down somewhere if you walked them through the fields?

  38. amyg says:

    Oh Suzanne, My heart is breaking for you. Like others said, it’s probably better than if it was the other way around, and Pokey was the one missing. I truly hope you find Jack and he just decided to take a stroll for himself. Praying and hoping against hope. 😥

  39. anniecan says:

    Prayers for Jack….

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