Today was the time change, I set the clocks the wrong way and woke up not knowing what was happening at all. I had planned to meet a few friends for breakfast before church, but when you live on a farm, plans change.
Reagan called at some hour before 7 (or was it 8?) and told me the donkey had gotten into the mares pasture. I pushed the cat off my chest and regretfully swung out of bed into the grey morning. In a shirt and sweatpants, I put on a jacket and my rubber boots, pocketing the keys to the ATV. I put the coffee on before I left, I didn’t have time to wait for it to brew, but at least it would be ready when I got back.
We keep the stud colt and donkey in the front field, they are separated from Tug and the mares by the panels we were going to use for the arena. From what I could tell, someone had been leaning on them, and the gap between the panels and the fence posts was big enough for the donkey to squeeze through. And the colt, I found out. I caught him easily enough and put him back, repairing the gap in the fence. He discovered he was alone pretty soon, and began running up and down the fence line, whinnying for his donkey friend.
His donkey friend was on the complete opposite side of the pasture, trying to woo the girl donkey. I had a handful of feed in an old Folgers can and a halter and lead-rope swung over my shoulder. He was interested in the feed and let me put the halter on, but not as interested in going anywhere that the girl wasn’t. I led him halfway back, but he would not cross the creek. Not for anything. I pulled and pleaded and yelled, but there seemed to be an invisible line that I could not get him to cross. Sitting down in the mud I could keep him from backing up, but I couldn’t get him any closer to where he needed to be. I tied him to a tree and caught my breath.
We must have been a sight. A girl fighting a donkey. Since I tapped out he was fighting the tree, running around it, braying for Ginnie who was clearly relieved to be rid of him. I decided to get smart and let him wear himself out, while I went and got some more horse power.
I returned with the ATV, ready for business. Just next to where the horses cross the shallow part of the creek, we have 4 railroad beams that make a bridge, reaching from bank to bank and spanning the water. I didn’t want to get stuck in the mud and stuck with a donkey so I drove over the creek across those. I tied the love-sick burro to the back of the ATV and tried to cross again. He wasn’t having it. He just about sat down all the way, I was afraid I was going to break the halter. Looking back I think it was the gaps in the beams that really scared him. Of course the reverse button on the ATV doesn’t work, so I had to tie him back to the tree, cross the beams and turn around. I gathered some speed, held my breath, and crossed the creek no problem.
I tied the donkey back to the ATV (I couldn’t make any of this up if I tried) and pointed us back at the creek. As stubborn as he is, I think he knew what was about to happen. I wanted to tell him it was pointless to resist. He did anyway. I got up to about 5mph going through, when I hit the water I looked back and he had all 4 legs braced, head up and tail down, I punched it and he slid through the mud like he was on skies, his eyes wide and rolling. It would have been funny if I wasn’t so tired. The ATV slowed down a bit on the other side of the bank, I was afraid he was going to bog us down, but with all the mud he couldn’t do much but hopelessly back pedal. Once we made it across he jogged happily along behind me, like he didn’t have a care in the world.
We got to the barn lot and I went over to lead him to his proper pasture where the colt was already waiting, ears pricked. Because of all the pulling, I couldn’t get the rope untied from the back of the ATV. With a sigh, and a bray from the donkey, I went to the barn and got another halter. I made the switch and led him back to his bachelor buddy, after turning him loose he didn’t move an inch. He was either tired, or love sick, or both. The colt nibbled his ears and rubbed his neck, all panic gone from his mind.
I got back on the ATV and went up to the house, the lead-rope still tied to the back. Sadie met me at the door and asked me what happened: My legs and backside were covered with mud and I was still out of breath. We sat at the table over our coffee and I tried to think of a way to describe the past hour, even though I still had no idea what time it actually was.