I’ve had a lot to learn about living on a homestead and especially about raising two miniature donkeys.
I’ve never had anything to raise bigger than a Golden Retriever or the Saint Bernard I grew up with and I certainly wasn’t well prepared for the challenges with Samson and Delilah.
Since the day they arrived in the back of the van, Delilah has always been a sweet, gentle little lady.
Samson has always been a character!
He can come up with more games to occupy his time and seems to have a knack for upsetting the tranquility on the homestead.
If he does something that he shouldn’t and I talk to him in a loud voice, he sticks out his little bottom lip and it begins to quiver as if to say, “I’m so sorry.”
The serenity on the homestead was temporarily disturbed one morning in spring when Samson and Delilah were only about 2 1/2 years old.
I was working in the house, and John was out in the barn cleaning stalls and grooming Samson and Delilah when he called and said, “You better come down to the barn. ... I think Samson knocked out his front teeth.”
I immediately went to the barn. Samson was just standing in his stall with his usual little boy look, bottom lip quivering. I pulled up his top lip and sure enough, he didn’t have any front teeth! My first thought was that he knocked them out chewing on his sweet feed/molasses ball that hangs in his stall. Delilah also has one of the balls so I checked and her front teeth were intact. John located one of Samson’s front teeth while he was cleaning his stall.
I ran back to the house and called our equine vet Dr. Ann. Feeling like a panicked new parent, I told her what had happened. I was told to watch him closely to be sure he was able to eat and drink and to make sure he wasn’t in any discomfort. Dr. Ann would be out in a day or so to check on him and to give them their booster shots.
I watched him on an hourly basis, and he seemed to be OK. He was eating sweet feed from my hand and from his dish, he was eating his hay and he was drinking water. Out in his pasture, he was grazing even though he had to cock his head to the side so he could grab some clover with his side teeth. Since they have prehensile lips, he was able to grab food with his lips and move it into his mouth. Oddest of all, he didn’t seem to be in any discomfort.
My thoughts kept going to a scene of Dr. Ann having to sedate him and grind out the stumps that were probably left in his upper gum. Or maybe he would get tooth transplants or “donkey dentures,” if there is such a thing, so he could eat without a problem. Or, he’d have to eat mush for the rest of his life.
Finally, Dr. Ann arrived. As she got out her medicine bag, I shared with her that when Samson knocked out his front teeth, luckily, we found one of them.
As she looked at the tooth, she had a little smile on her face and walked into Sammy’s stall. She immediately pulled up his upper lip and REALLY had a smile on her face. With a little chuckle, she told me Sammy was losing his baby teeth!
She showed us the stubs of the permanent teeth that were beginning to come in and then examined Delilah. It appeared Delilah hadn’t begun to lose her baby teeth yet, or she did and we didn’t know it.
You can’t imagine how foolish I felt! I had no idea that they would have baby teeth! Not one article or book I’ve read has addressed their teeth except in old age.
Dr. Ann told us that until the age of 5, they will lose all of their baby teeth and they will be replaced with their permanent teeth.
What a relief! Sammy won’t need tooth transplants or dentures and he won’t have to have the stumps ground out!
She gave them each a big pat, gave them their booster shots and was on her way to the next farm.
Sammy and “D” had been a part of my life for only two and a half years but what we’ve experienced would fill a lifetime.
I’ve had several people mention that I should write a book about life with these two, like a “baby book” on mini-donkeys.
I just might do that!
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