Monday, November 10, 2008

And then there was only one...

Every blog has its distinct personality, have you noticed? I believe that finding one's personal voice is often simply a matter of writing some stuff down and seeing what comes out. Based on this, for the most part, I believe my blog is generally light-hearted, colorful, often humorous and, well, pretty dang simple. I choose not to spend a lot of time analyzing myself or discussing my emotions or deep thoughts. I am 98% of the time an extremely private person.

So, for this reason, I apologize in advance for today's blog. It's going to be a bit of a mixed bag. There is some happiness, lots of personal sadness, more happiness and, maybe, just a bit more sadness. Ultimately, the bottom line to this story is a happy one. But the living through it has been a bit rough on this old gal (me).

Get on with it, why don't I?! Well, I think I shall. Deep breath. Can you guess what's coming?

Two of my adored-beyond-belief donkey boys, Brownie and Ian:

went to a new home this weekend.

In honor of this important event, on Saturday, I donned their favorite hat:

They love this hat:

We've always had good times with this hat:

Yet, despite the very happy outcome for these boys, this day was, without a doubt, the hardest day of my life here on Critter Farm. I'm giving serious thought as to whether I may just not be cut out for this donkey foster-mama business, after all.

The donkeys have already taught me so much. I learned even more this weekend. Brownie and Ian were to be picked up around noon so, I was up at the barn early, feeding, patting, and loving up. This is also the time I generally give the "behavior instructions" for the day: "Be good boys, don't fight with each other, and lift your feet when asked for hoof picking. The trailer ride is going to be a little scary - you didn't like the one you took to get here - but at the other end is a wonderful new farm, a loving family and a new horse friend to get to know."

And as I'm standing there, talking out loud to them, doing the tasks for them that I've done for these last six months, I crumble. Completely. Fully. I mean, I really put my heart in it. Now, I'm not an easy crumbler. I don't crumble often. I don't like to crumble. And I always try never, ever to cry. I was so mad at myself.

It was spellbinding to me that Brownie and Ian were both so responsive to the change in my mood. It was really quite amazing. Brownie wouldn't leave my side. Every way I turned, he matched my move with his body. Ian would simply stand right up against my back. I would put my hand out and Brownie would rest his muzzle in my hand:

So, we all just huddled together for a while and were quiet.

After a bit, it was time for drink. It was cute how hard they tried to get both their heads in the bucket at the same time:

Then it was time for more silent hugs and scratches:

All ears turned toward the driveway when they heard the truck engine:

It was time to go. Now, remember, donkeys really need to be convinced that they want to do what you want them to do, so trailering a donkey is not usually an easy thing.

I was able to lead Brownie all the way up to the entrance of the trailer:

We had practiced walking on a lead often enough, but it wasn't a surprise, really, when Brownie stopped cold, locked his legs and wouldn't budge when it came time to step up into the trailer:

Mary, his new adoptive mama, used a strap to apply some gentle pressure behind his rear, and this was just what he needed to coax him in:

Sadly, it was not so simple with Ian. And this is the part of the story, now, that gets really ugly. Ian the timid, Ian the mild, Ian the sometimes shy would simply not go into the trailer. It didn't matter that Brownie was there waiting for him. It didn't matter that Jim was coaxing him with baby carrots and handfuls of hay. He wouldn't get within about 2 feet of the back of the trailer. - This is really hard for me to write. The few other times I've recounted this part of the story, I've lost it completely. I will not be sharing the pictures. - The ground was wet outside the trailer and with the little bit of struggling we had to do to get Brownie in, the ground was now wet *and* slippery. When Ian locked his legs and refused to budge and we pushed from behind, he literally went down. As in on the ground...he collapsed. He just lay there, his front legs underneath the trailer, his head cocked at a weird angle against the trailer door and his body lying in the mud. Everyone had their own idea of what to do next and started talking at once. I just wanted everybody to shut up. I'm standing there, shaking, and trying, with all my might, not to ball and scream at everyone around me to just get the hell away from him.

It was so awful. I wanted to curl up on the ground with him.
Fortunately, he wasn't hurt. Jim loosened his grip on the lead rope so Ian's head was free. Mary released the strap that was supposed to coax him from behind. I tried speaking to him in a calm voice. Ian, then, simply got back up.

Ultimately, Jim and I did the old "link our arms, lift him from behind, and walk him into the trailer" routine that we've done successfully three other times before. It worked like a charm.

Once they were safely inside the trailer, we all heaved a collective sigh of relief - even the donkeys:

I truly believe Mary will provide a lovely life for Brownie and Ian:

The boys will now live in the exquisitely beautiful, world-renowned Columbia Gorge in the heart of apple country. They will be companions to Mary's nine year old Mustang, Echo, that she adopted through BLM as a weanling:

But, for the farm girl left behind, I will never, ever forget the joy these two have brought me:

They helped me find my written voice:

They brought me a new friend:

and they completely ran away with my heart:


  1. I think you should never, ever apologize for being brave enough to fall in love with creatures you knew would leave you one day.

    Thank you for sharing them with us, right up to the tears at the end.

  2. Aww, Danni. Such a bittersweet story, but it sounds like Ian and Brownie are going to a fabulous home. If you continue as a foster mom, maybe it's time to adopt a pair yourself to be permanent members of your family.

    Hugs from all of us at the 7MSN.

  3. Oh Danni!,
    I know just how you feel. I have the hardest time when our animals leave. Such a hard time.
    Glad no one was hurt with the loading.
    I am happy they both are going to a good home.
    Are you going to get more donkeys?
    You did a wonderful job being a Mom to them all. You should be real proud!

    Have a great day.

  4. I am sitting here crying. I know too they have a happy ending but it still breaks my heart. I truly think animals know whats going to happen just by picking up on our vibes. My goats have done the same to me. Hugs my friend and know you gave them a wonderful life till they found a forever home. They and you were blessed to have been in each others life.

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  6. Awww, goodness, that was so touching! :'-(

    I'm sorry that Brownie and Ian are gone, but I'm also glad they have a new home. You did your job. That's a good thing! And atleast you know they had a good time at your place. <:-) And you still have Pistol.

  7. awwwwwww.... ((hugs))

    You've discovered the major reason I don't have livestock anymore. They become pets if they stay for any length of time. And then they're gone, sometimes unexpectedly and other times well planned, but they're gone. I couldn't take another animal dying of old age or disease. It's too much for my heart.

    I'm thinking of you.

  8. Oh my, I almost cried reading your post. I am happy for the donkeys but I feel for your loss. I think what you are doing for these donkeys is wonderful but I too would have difficulty when I place them.
    Hugs, Kim :)

  9. Oh Danni,
    Tears are streaming all over Daisy Lu!!! You're such a good mamma and we sure will miss those two. Maybe it's time you just adopt Pistol and then you wont have to go through that again!!!
    Think of it this way tho you are doing such a service to these sweethearts! Just think of all the fun if you take on more...
    Hang in there Danni, you're in all our thoughts!

  10. Okay, deep breath. Im not gonna cry, Im not gonna cry, Im not hell with it all...I cant keep myself together. Dear, sweet Brownie and Ian. They stole my heart the moment I met them. And in its place they will always stay.

    You are a great donkey mama, Danni. The best ever. You loved them to pieces and they knew it. They so knew it.

    I am so very happy that I had the chance to meet them. And to be a part of their lives for a week. I got to love on em and play ball with em...oh, and scratch some ears. I got to see Brownie's lip just go to jello and get all jiggly when you rubbed his ears just right. And Ian, well, what can you say about Ian? He just loved to be loved. Those beautiful, dark eyes that just made your heart melt whenever you saw them.

    But really, it was your friendship that brought me to Critter Farm....the donks were an amazing, totally beautiful, more than lovely, truly once in a lifetime bonus.

    My heart aches for what you are going thru right now. Sending you a huge Marcee sized hug and Grayson has added a big, wet, sloppy kiss.

  11. Oh-my-gosh, Dani . . . how difficult I can see that was for you. But you have to remember that you've done a great job in doing what you do best for those donkeys, and that is to find them a loving permanent home. They'll be oh-so-happy in their new home. But I can surely understand your sadness at the same time. You've come to truly love them as your own. Oh how hard it must be.

  12. Oh honey, I'm so sorry! I hate trailer incidents. I'm so very glad that he wasn't hurt in any way. He'll be right as rain once he settles in at his new home.
    How is Pistol feeling about being the only donk? He is sort of a loner, but they are herd animals. Maybe he'll warm up to human contact now.
    Any chance any new donks will be coming your way?

    Praying for a release of the horrible afternoon for you. Hopefully new pictures of them in their new home will make you feel a bit better!

  13. ((((((((( I have no words ))))))))))

  14. I am so sorry for your loss, I feel it very deeply. You see, you have just dredged up memories that I have been avoiding writing about even though I knew that once I had started on that path that I would have to finish. You will read about it soon on my blog site.

    I wish that I could give you some consoling words; but I can't think of any adaquate enough. Just know that others feel your pain and wish you the best. (I hope you feel the big hug from here)

  15. Oh Danni, I am a sappy crying mess. I know they are going to a nice place, but...

    Don't you dare apologize for sharing your feelings. We all know you have a tender and kind heart or you wouldn't be doing this in the first place. We all would be feeling the same way if we were in your shoes.

    How is Pistol doing? Maybe he could be adopted by you. I wish we lived closer and I would bring the wine this time. Maybe 2 bottles.

  16. Hey farmgirl, I'm a regular reader, but first time commenter.
    I'm so verklempt after reading this...sniff3x... Big, big hugs to you, hope you don't mind hugs, I love em, on a difficult & happy event. I tried so hard not to bawl my eyes out...poor Ian... I'm glad that you have the other animals you live with to help you with all the feelings! Then they ebb away...then they come back...then...well, you know feelings aren't linear. :] (that's my verklempt smile) Hope you start to feel somewhat better.
    You are an incredible donkey foster Mom, don't know how you do it. Looking forward to reading Brownie & Ian's updates. If your mud dog doesn't mind, my two doggies send their introductory wet nose kisses to the donkey Mommy. :)

  17. Oh Danni, this was a tough one. As I sit here tears streaming down my face, I just want to reach out through the blogisvere and give you a hug. Hang in there girl and remember no matter how hard it is, the payoff is so great!

  18. Oh my goodness, talk about heart wrenching, I could hardly bear to read what happened next but was SO relieved when there was a happy ending! You must miss them but be comforted by the knowledge that they will be living in donkey heaven, and that you did your part to make it happen!

  19. I am so sorry :(
    but at least you know that they are going to a good home, hopefully you will get updates on them!

  20. Oh Danni, now I have tears in my eyes too. I cry very easily. I let it flow whenever I feel the need. Your sweet donkey boys will always be with you. They live within your heart. They came to you when you needed each other and now they are making room for more donkey relationships in to occur in your life. You helped them and loved them dearly, and they know that. And so do we.

  21. We end up keeping all ours. Couldn't be as strong as you. Good that someone can.

    Keep up the great work.


  22. I am shedding tears with you my friend. I knew in my heart something was up. I don't know how but I knew.
    I have no words. Thank you for telling us. I am glad you opened up and let us in.

  23. {{{{HUGS}}}}}

    I can only imagine what you are feeling right now. I can't imagine fostering animals that I know will, one day, have to go to a new home.

    You will make what is the right decision for you and your farm when you decide if you will continue the foster program or not.

    Here's more hugs {{{HUGSS}}}

  24. The pain of living with animals is that they give you the extreme feelings. There's no bliss nor joy like a beloved pet and definitely no grief nor heartache like saying farewell. It's never easy. I truly believe that the love we have for the animals is often deeper or purer than love for humans. Emotions about humans are often mixed with many different sides and elements in them. Even a mother-child relationship can be rather mixed, no matter how dearly the concept "mother love" is used. But the way we love our animals is something else! I guess it's a good thing, but dang it hurts at times like these!

    Hugs from Finland!

  25. Oh my. This hurts. Doing what you do is amazingly selfless. I just don't know that I could go through what you just did. You are so kind and I hope you know that a small part of you went with the boys. They will remember you and they will be fine.

  26. Oh my god, you had me in tears. I'm so sorry you had to let these two go, I'm so glad you were able to give them a loving place to breathe until they found a "forever home", I'm so sorry the experience was hard for you, I'm so glad you had them in your life for the time you did.

    Big hugs, Danni - you're doing a wonderful thing for these animals.

  27. Big big hugs for you, Donkey Mamma.

  28. I can sense your loss through your words. I am sorry you had to give up Brownie and Ian. However, I am glad that they went to a good home. Hang in there and remember the good times you had with them.

  29. Animals can move us in such deep ways as we never though have done a wonderful thing.

  30. Oh Danni I am so sorry for you. As for your writing, you have always touched me but this story was incredibly moving.

    I always thought you were so brave to be doing what you are doing with the donkeys, now I am convinced you are as brave as anyone can be!

    You will do it again but I think next time you will do it differently and you will not allow yourself the connection that you had with these ones which is a shame in itself! Life is meant to have heartache as much as we think it should not...we learn from each being that touches our soul!

    Go on warrior Danni and get yourself some more donkeys to love!

  31. First hat.

    I am sure it was tought to say good-bye but it is a great thing you do so take pride in that! I am not familiar with the new destination, but is it any drier there?! I am sure they will do great...and to have a new pal too in the mustang! Very exciting!

  32. We will all miss them. xoxo

  33. I'm sorry for your loss. Even though it was expected, it's still difficult when a friend leaves your life. Will you be getting some more rescue donkeys? Or maybe some permanent residents?

  34. No one had posted yet, Danni- I think 'cause there really is nothing that could be said to make the loss any easier. But, so you know, we are here with you and maybe shed a tear with you over your boys. I think that you are an awesome foster mama- as time goes on you will know if that is your place in the big picture. It used to hurt so bad to send a chicken I had raised off to an "unknown" home- even after vetting them good and hard. It gets easier, it does. Thinking about you today. :)

  35. Awww farmgirl you made me cry. Love your blog. I have fourteen chickens and found your link on backyard chickens yahoo group. Good stuff.

  36. I would like to thank each of you who commented for your supportive words and kind thoughts. It was a personally challenging weekend for me, but reading your messages (how'd you all get so damn WISE?) was like getting a big, strong hug from each one of you.
    I really, really appreciate you reaching out to me. I'm truly touched.
    Thank you. -danni

  37. Have you ever seen a goat cry? If you were here, you would be seeing one now. You are very strong. I could not do what you are doing. I would adopt them myself and then not take anymore - and then wouldn't that be weird - a goat walking about with donkeys following her? I am sending you a resting head is the closest thing to a hug a goat can give.

  38. While trying to read your blog, tears are streaming down my face. Had to read it again. I was there when the six of them arrived and have shared your joy and love for these beautiful animals who helped you begin your new life on Critter Farm; they were truly sent to you for that reason. You know I share your heartache like perhaps no other. Where are the damn kleenex? No, that's a white plastic bag....ok, here they are. Someone said something about adopting a couple of donkeys permanently. Isn't that an idea? Then you could take on others, and when they leave to another home it won't be quite as devastating. This is your mom talking who just wants to make your pain go away.

  39. Danni now look what you have made me do. I'm sitting here crying big fat old donkey tears. Don't laugh...this made me really sad for you. Take heart in that fact that you did such a great job and all that love really paid off for those two. Looks like they will have a great new home and a little piece of your heart.

  40. Just wanted to tell you that I love your Mom. She is so supportive, funny, and understanding. She made me cry just reading her sweet comment.

  41. I've started to read this several times, and marked it to come back when I could take it.

    My nose is all reddened up here. Graet story. You're my hero.

  42. Oh Danni! :( I can only imagine how hard that was..... but the thing is you made a difference in each of those donkeys lives and in the people that you placed them with. You have good memories of them, and a good heart to keep you strong.
    Hugs, Tammy


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