Monday, March 03, 2014

A Bray-ve New World

It was a weekend of final plans and procedures put into place, preparing us for the arrival of two new inhabitants of Silver Oak Farm.

The decision had been made to employ the donkeys for Chicken Patrol.  These two lovelies, which we'd named Roux (because Gil is Cajun) and Shelby (because Keller said so) had already taken post with goats and cattle.  Knowing how intelligent and quickly they learn set my mind at ease that I could transition them to bird stock easily, if I played my cards right.

Roux is the gentler, friendlier one of the bunch:

She was also the more pregnant one.  The knowledge she was expecting was a boon in my eyes, as it meant that a babe could be raised with birds from the get-go, and be fully integrated with them by the time she (or he) came of weaning age.

The trip to retrieve them wasn't wrought with peril, but it sure was full of delays and deterrents.  We arrived just before dusk, and the seller aided in the loading of these two with a bit of a struggle.  Donkeys will freeze when they are fearful, which gives them their infamy of being stubborn.  The little two-horse trailer was unknown to them, and they just. weren't. sure. about all the fuss concerning a cross country ride.

The late arrival home led to the decision to leave them trailered overnight, rather than release them to a strange new field in the dark.  I was a tad suspect that Roux was soon to deliver; and somewhat in the know that a trip such as this might just send her into labor just because of the stress.

Through the night, the sound of Shelby and Roux jostling the trailer would ring out.  That would set off the gobblers, and soon the quiet night would be filled with a moment of noise, and settle once again.

Nine o'clock.
Three a.m.

Enough sleep had been slept that the Five A.M. jostle awoke Gil.  He gingerly went outside to speak to the two newcomers.  All was well within the little trailer for two.

Seven a.m. gave way to a rhythmic kicking against the trailer door.  The sublty was enough to allow me ample time to make a cup of coffee, but present enough to cause me great curiosity.  With the brew almost complete, I stole away into the cold morning air.

Donkey ears greeted me through the window.  I spoke in low, reassuring, welcoming tones, and hoisted myself up the back wheel.  Roux was saying hello herself, and Shelby, ever the timid one, was curious only to gaze my way . . . but I soon understood that Shelby really felt like she was in the way, for there, just below me, was a jet black little baby burro the size of a Great Dane dog.

I squealed and ran inside to get Gil.  Strawberries and apples were the celebration on tap for the new mom, season though she was at the task.

In the blink of an eye, the entire day shifted.  No longer a plan to release to pasture - the cold front had a tail on it that reached right down to the Coast, and it was threatening to drop us into the teens this nearly-spring-night.  So, shelter had to be secured.  No better place than the framework of the barn at Silver Oak.

The task was a joy, although time consuming.  At several junctures, checks on the now motley crew of three net the knowledge that the little trailer was a true benefit, as windchill was kept off of the little one, now learning to nurse.  The body heat of the two adults filled the makeshift travel stall to a very warm temperature, perfect for incubating baby as she gained her strength.

With plenty of daylight left, we were able to move everyone to a secure place for the night.

There is much training to be done - young and old alike - but given the special birthday event, I think we will celebrate with nuzzles and scratches for awhile.  :)


Wendrie Heywood said...

What a wonderful surprise! Gorgeous little one too.

RadhaKrishna Kumar said...

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