Thursday, February 13, 2014

A Donkeys Tale


 


 

 
Some days this whole homesteading gig is just a big load of manure .Yesterday was one of those days. We lost our little miniature donkey Doolin.



"Lost" as in died, not as in he wondered into town, and hopped a bus for the warmth of Florida. I only wish he had.

After weeks of brutal sub zero weather, the temps broke yesterday am. We were elated. Almost 20 degrees ABOVE zero. But it was too little too late apparently. When Keith went out to do chores he heard our donkey call to him, not unusual as Doolin often called when he saw us or was hungry or lonely or bored.

But it sounded different and he wasn't standing by the feed shed as normally he does. He was instead around behind the shed lying flat out on the snow.

It's never a good sign when an animal is lying on his side out in the cold.

Keith came in to get me and it was obvious he was in dire shape. Irregular breathing, bright red blood on his nose, glassy eyes but his body warmth was still good. Keith went to get the tractor. While I waited, kneeling in the snow using my body to keep Doolin up right so he could breathe better I felt that he knew we were helping him.

The way he leaned against me--into me--was more than just fatigue. Rubbing him all over, trying to keep his circulation going, trying to encourage him made us both feel better I think.  With some pulling and lifting we were able to get him in the tractor bucket. He even fought us a little, kicking his abbreviated legs which was good and gave me hope. False as it was.



With my holding up his head and walking next to the tractor while Keith drove slowly, we got him into our machine shed and I called the vet. Our regular one was gone and the other told me "we don't do donkeys" but they would ask the vet for advice. I was ready to go to town to get antibiotics and steroids as I was sure that was what he needed.

Back to the machine shed to see if we could get him to drink but no. And then just as quietly as I have ever in my life seen an animal or person die, and I have sadly seen many of both, he just stopped living.

It took several seconds for me to realize he was indeed gone. Keith got my stethoscope and I listened but only to confirm what I knew.

Death is a regular part of the farm life. Animals get old, animals go to slaughter and sometimes when the weather is just too much animals succumb. But there is much guilt with this passing. Last week I noticed the bright red blood on Doolins nose and even though pneumonia normally produces frothy PINK sputum I still listened to his lungs and belly.

No crackles, (fluid) no wheezing and looking closer at his nose it seemed it was chapped and sore. I decided it was because of the terrible cold and ice and he was probably nosing around in the snow out in pasture just hoping to find some real green grass.

Even animals get tired of the dried stuff (hay) over the long winter.

I treated his nose with coconut oil and the bleeding improved. Then every other day or so I'd see a little more. But his appetite was good, he was active, he was...himself.

Until he wasn't.

I personally do not believe that animals have souls. When they die they die, But I do believe they have hearts and Doolins was big. A gentle creature from the time we brought him home as a tiny foal as a Christmas gift for our GK's 7 years, he had won all our hearts. Not that he couldn't be annoying. Always in your face whenever you tried to fix a fence or saddle up Ennis. He  had to be in the middle of everything!



Many kids got to ride him, many more got to rub his cartoonish face and long fuzzy ears. He was close buddies with our Shepherd Ashland as they spent hours chasing each other back and forth, back and forth in the pasture.

This morning Ennis is standing by the shed by herself. Ashland is laying at her feet ! She looks one way and then the other. I know she is missing her little buddy

She's not the only one.

 

19 comments:

  1. Oh that's so sad! What a tender post.

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    1. Thanks Karen. His buddy Ennis the horse and I commiserated in the barn together. She blames me I know. But a couple more handfuls of carrots will fix that I am sure. If only people could be so forgiving.

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  2. As a vet-kid, I know the cycle. On the farm, there is life and there is death. And you try to take it in stride.

    But I so remember my Dad coming home and crying, when an entire hog operation was lost to hog cholera, when a favorite farm pet died, or he couldn't save a little girl's horse.

    They get in your heart. ((((HUGS))))

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    1. Ah Miss Effie...I miss your hugs. Is it spring yet? Lord I need to see some color peeking through this white mass of hardship. Woe is me. Swing low Sweet Chariot as me da would sing :)

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  3. So sorry and sad to hear about Doolin's death. I know he brought joy to so many on your farm.

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  4. Such a touching story Donna, poor Doolin, may he rest in peace.

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    1. Thank Deb. I am sorely missing his good morning brays

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  5. That really is very sad. I've always loved donkeys, and if I had more land it would be filled with them. Commiserations, Cro x

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    1. thanks Cro. I too have always loved them and when I heard they live for 50 years I would tease my kids about who would "inherit" him. I guess poor Doolin just didn't read the same articles about his life span expectancy

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  6. Hugs, I'm guessing that you are doing the what if I had only done .... would the ending have been different? Been there so many times before. In fact every time I loose one of my livestock animals to causes I'm not positive of or even ones I know what they have. We try our best and sometimes we don't come out on top. It is humbling, It is hard but with each passing our compassion and resilience grows. I'm glad you had such a wonderful companion in Doolin. May the memories soon bring smiles once more to your face. How grateful I am to be surrounded by animals.

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    1. Holly. You summed it up so nicely. Many thanks

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  7. Such a touching tale you share of your Doolin. Thank you. Yes it is the cycle and as we mature and experience it first hand, it doesn't make it any easier for the heart to hold. Sending tender thoughts with understanding and sympathy. Your care was so tender to read about.

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    1. Pam, he was really...my favorite ass of all time :)

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  8. RIP, Doolin. You did what you thought was best. Even if you had realized it was something more serious before you had, you may not have been able to do much more, and being there in the end, so Doolin did not have to be alone, was really the best and kindest thing you could do.

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    1. Megan, it was as if he was waiting for us. He certainly gave lots of love to our family. It was the least we could do for him

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  9. Oh Donna, it's always a heartbreak to see something like that happen. No wonder folks want to shield themselves in the fantasy of television and video games. Sounds like he had personality plus and was a joy to have a round.

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    1. Leigh, 4 days past and still hearing his bray out in the field. My horse Ennis is very mopey. Eating and drinking but just standing around a lot. Yesterday I sat in the barn and we talked things through. It was too cold and ground to frozen to bury him so we are composting Doolin. Asses to ashes and all that!

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  10. Sorry to hear about Doolin's death. So sorry.

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