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.
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.
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 Google+.