Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Definitely Older and Possibly Wiser: Your Boo (and me, too)

Let's take a moment to reflect, shall we? It's been a hell of a year. I'm not commenting generally on the state of the world (wars, economic crises, health care reform, etc, etc). I'm talking, very specifically, about animal husbandry.

Hell of a year.

Looking back, I would do a lot of things differently mostly in regards to bringing the animals to the land before figuring out their purpose in our lives. Also, I would ask more questions of the donkey seller before picking them up. For example, I would have asked if Chula was halter broken. Or, oh, I don't know, I might have asked if she had ever been touched BY A HUMAN BEFORE (trust me, this is essential). The Jenna of today is savvy enough to understand the abusurdity of loading a donkey, who has never before been touched, into a trailer. But I didn't ask. I didn't even ask if the donkey was tame. I just heard "donkey + baby donkey" and got in the car.

The real scenario went something like this -

Jose (donkey seller): "I have the donkey in a pen. Here's a carrot and a halter. Now go in the pen with the halter and tame the donkey."

Jenna: "That doesn't sound safe. Ok, here I go into the pen."

Never, ever, never do what I am doing in the photo above unless you have more experience with these creatures. Luckily Jeremy stayed at a safe distance to get a photo in the event that Chula were to punch me in the face with her hoof.

After the harrowing experience of loading the donkeys and bringing them home, I once again demonstrated my amateur status as a livestock handler. See for yourself:

Apparently I thought that staring Chula in the eyes while holding a carrot would make me her Number One Hero. Hardly.

This was exactly one year and one day ago. It's taken that long, but I've made some progress. I've figured a few (just a few) things out about this large animal business. I have almost totally given up on Chula being a pet. Being a donkey is enough. Boo, however, is a completely different story.

This is how Boo started out. Obnoxiously cute.

Unexpectedly cuddly. A pet.

But then he grew and, as you know, turned into a minor jerk.

Between the sneaky bites, the persistent pestering and his over-attentiveness (aggressiveness) towards the dogs....

incessant curiosity (read: pushiness)...

(I have to constantly keep him in a gentle headlock. Seriously)

we decided enough is enough. The vet has been contacted, the date and time are set, and on Saturday Boo goes from a Jack to a John, or something like that.

I hope he'll forgive me. The vet will knock him out completely at the land, partially to lessen the trauma but also obviously to make the whole process easier for all parties (Few livestock enjoy the luxury of a general anesthetic for castration. Eeesh.)

And so, on the eve of my birthday, I reflect on whether this past year, these encounters with the animals, and aging in general, has made me a better person....

I don't really think so. But it has taught me a lot of stuff about a lot of stuff.

Thanks to you, Boo, I know more about donkeys. I know more about cows now, too. And coyote "scat," as it's called. And the habits of scorpions. The varieties of fireflies. The unbelievable value of a good bale of hay. The overlooked importance of neighbors. Not that it's exactly on the scale of restoring world peace or resolving social stratification, but I've learned a lot. (Jeremy has too but I'm paying tribute to myself here. And to the baby donkey.)

We've come a long way this year and Saturday will be another adventure. I intend to be as involved as the vet will let me. I expect there will be tears (from Jeremy. He can't stand needles), and disgust, and awe. I didn't realize what we were getting into when we pulled the little trailer onto the land and released the animals one year ago. I still don't. Here's to growing older, realizing what you signed up for, and doing it anyways.

No comments: