Donkeys are Great Companions

| 1/6/2009 12:07:00 AM

After having a couple of donkeys around for a few months, I have to admit that they are great companions. In fact, they are almost as fun to be around as the dogs … and it is because donkeys like people. 

 Donkeys are great companions.

I was cool with the whole donkey addition because we planned to bring sheep to the farm in 2008, and I wasn’t too keen on the idea of leaving them to fend off the coyotes on their own. Well, we got the donkeys, but not the sheep. Actually, we have a ram, but he still lives at my friend Bryan’s farm. I just didn’t get our fence upgrade completed in time … in fact it still isn’t completed. Oh, did I mention that it was Bryan that convinced me that donkeys would be fun? He was right.

Our male (jack) donkey, Jack is said to be at least 7 years old (the previous owners weren’t for sure). Our female, Valentine, is not quite a year. After keeping them separated for months, we finally turned them both in with the cattle and after a bit of chasing around, they have become fast companions. In fact they pretty much ignore the cattle and have formed their own little mini-herd.

Donkeys love treats.

Now, whenever we walk the pastures, Jack and Valentine come running. They heel better than any of our dogs and are tall enough that we don’t have to bend over to chuck them under the chin. Of course, the donkeys are really more interested in the all-natural, hormone-free range cubes or  in my coat pocket than they are in being  my companion, but I will take their affection, and gladly rub them here and there, either way.

Some folks won’t have an intact jack donkey around their place, but so far, Jack hasn’t been any hassle at all. We used to keep anywhere from 15 to 25 Angus bulls around (breeding stock was part of our business), so handling large rambunctious boys is nothing new. And Jack is far from rambunctious.

In time, we will rely on Jack and Valentine to keep the flock safe. In the meantime, they are great companions, and that is just fine with us.

Hank Will raises hair sheep, heritage cattle and many varieties of open-pollinated corn with his wife, Karen, on their rural Osage County, Kansas farm. His home life is a perfect complement to his professional life as editor in chief at GRIT and Capper's Farmer magazines. Connect with him on .

8/4/2015 5:57:39 AM

This article makes me a bit angry. As the facility manager of a satellite adoption center for Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue, knowing you have a jack with a jennet will only contribute to the epidemic of donkeys going to slaughter. Literally thousands are being sent to slaughter every year here. I don't understand why people will not geld or neuter their animals. The responsibilities of animal ownership include not adding to the overpopulation of companion animals, which many people consider donkeys to be. I will not even talk about using a donkey as a guard. I have loved this magazine and have looked forward to the helpful emails bit I will not support anyone who does not take responsibility for their animals.

12/1/2009 10:15:59 PM

Help! Need to borrow a donkey! Every year our little community of Horton, KS puts on the Christmas Luminarias--19 scenes from the life of Christ. It happens this weekend, December 6th, and the little donkey we've relied on for years died a month ago. We thought we'd be able to find a replacement, but so far nothing. Either too wild or no longer in the area. The donkey will be used in the "No Room in the Inn" scene. Usually our Mary sits on the donkey, but she could just stand beside him and let him eat if necessary. Does anyone out there have a donkey (not miniature) that we could borrow for a few hours 5-8:30 Sunday, Dec. 6? Call 486-2785 or 486-3862, ask for Viki Stone or Pastor Tom Stone or leave a message. Thank you!

11/15/2009 12:17:45 PM

I have a Blm Jack. He is about 6yrs old. I am the 3rd owner of him. I got him as a companion for my blind Belgian mare, whom I've had for Her mother (my beloved Kate) died last yr, she was Penneys eyes. The jack (Banjo) is a great compaion, but is totally wearing me down as far as doing his feet. I have the farrier every 8wks and Banjo has to be held by someone while the farrier works on him. I've tried working with Banjo, but he is getting more stuborn than ever. He has thrush is both back feet and needs to be tended to everyday (lots of luck). I'm close to 70yrs old and by myself, so it's difficult to pick up his feet. I've watched some videos on training a wild donkey, but it hasn't helped. The only thing I can think of is building him a shoeing stock like the one I have for Penney only smaller or give him up, which I would feel very bad about. I don't give up my animals, they are my family. Anybody with some suggestion would be greatly appreciated. Thanks and have a great day.

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