Monday, June 28, 2010

All about Kai (Part 2) -or- Kai and the donkeys...and me

Any time an animal is removed from a herd (flock, gaggle, pack, pod), the dynamics of the remaining herd always changes. Behaviors change, dominant roles shift, and new relationships form. I watched this happen when I ran a satellite adoption center for foster donkeys in 2008, I saw it when we added Beau to our family in January 2010, and I'm a first-hand witness to it again now.

Since our family here on Critter Farm was reduced by two a little over a week ago, our small herd's dynamic has changed in two immediately obvious ways:
1) There seems to be far less (llama) spitting going on and
2) There are no longer two distinct and separate groups roaming the pastures.

Less immediately visible is that the interesting social behaviors between Kai and Chester and Beau, the donkeys, that I first noticed a number of months ago, have increased.

Kai now completely trusts Beau, preferring to eat with him at mealtimes:

Beau is the steady, gentle soul who never refuses to share. Here he is sharing with not only Kai, but Chester, too:

It is, however, Kai and Chester's relationship that I find most fascinating:

They do this a lot:

I also frequently find them grazing together, much closer than two animals should who previously tried to avoid each other. There is a lot of room on our property - there's no necessity for them to stand quite so close:

I've seen Kai on more than one occasion seek Chester out:

Just to sniff him:

And he will freeze whatever he is doing, and let her sniff for as long as she likes:

That's not to say, however, that if the situation is reversed and Chester is the one doing the approaching:

that she won't let him know - in very clear terms - that he has crossed the line:

Kai's curiosity and interest seems to be growing daily. She is now second in line to check out any newcomers to their pasture:

She also seems to enjoy watching the donkey boys chase and wrestle with each other. The poor and blurry quality of the next photo is due to my great surprise at Kai joining in on one of Chet and Beau's "running games":

Personally, I have a hard time resisting these guys:

so, if it could work out that she loves them, too:

well, this would just be the icing on the cake.

As for her human interaction, Kai continues to come out of her shy shell. It has been baby steps with her from the very beginning:

Lately, she has begun seeking me out:

and engaging with me in ways she previously wouldn't have:

I was lying in the pasture the other day and she got up from where she was kushing and came to graze beside me. This made my heart swell:

She *really* doesn't care to be touched - by anybody or anything, and we're still working on the whole haltering-without-great-upset thing, but that's ok. We're taking things slowly.

Not a day goes by that she doesn't make me smile:

I hope she likes being here as much as we like having her:


  1. It is a joy to read your posts, your love for your animals is so... complete. Lovely to see when previously neglected animals find a wonderful, loving home.

    Lot of love going on there :D

  2. Oh PS, I'm not stalking your blog, must just look at the right time

  3. Herd dynamics are just fascinating. Seems you have achieved the perfect balance for all concerned. Can't wait to watch the bonds grow closer.

  4. Hi Danni - I love animal dynamics, when they turn out well. I've had my cats at different stages, and the dynamics have changed a lot since I brought in a brother and sister. I've had them all since they were kittens, but the bro and sis lived with someone else for a while. I'm sorry to say my 5 don't get along as well as Chester and Beau and Kai - but they tolerate one another, and there's not as much hissing/growling lately. Sometimes the dynamics seem to change daily depending on their moods. I enjoy watching it, but wish they all got along better. Time will tell. I'm glad to see Kai warming up to you, and the donkey boys - she seems to be coming out of her shell, which is always a good thing. And you caught it so well in photos for all of us to see. Wonderful. Have a great Tuesday. Take care, from KY.

  5. Kai is adorable! Was she abused at her last home? Why is she so shy? - there must be a reason. I'm glad she is so close to the donkeys, in addition to the goats. And she is soon-to-be close to you.
    Thanks for the update at Critter Farm!


  6. well, this is really good news!kai can now be the reigning queen and that is exactly what she seems to be. or the mother hen! i love the pic with the carrot coin.

  7. The picture with the carrot made me laugh out loud. What a hoot!

  8. Well who really could resist those sweet faces? I mean even Kai, look that those adorable and sweet.

  9. I have a feeling by summers end that you'll have her in your back pocket. I'm so thrilled that she's decided to join the donkey boys herd instead of hanging out by herself. That proves she's got a good head on her shoulders.
    In that last picture, she has such a soft look in her eyes. It won't be long. :)

  10. less llama spitting? Now, that's the life!!!
    Your animals are too darm adorable.
    As soon as I figure a use for donkeys so i can justify them (for my husband's benefit), I am getting a few.

  11. Well, llama's are social beings, aren't they? I've always been delighted when my different animal species get along. They don't have to cuddle, just playing nice is a 'win' in my books. She's a darling girl and I'm sure she'll warm up to everyone in no time. It sounds like she's able to adapt to new situations very well.

  12. No one can resist a donkey or two in the end. I'm so happy to see that everything is working out for Kai.--Inger

  13. You know when Jack came to live here years ago, he didn't trust people. He fell head over heels in love with Belle.(the cow) Then when we lost Belle he acted out so. He now hangs out with Betsy but it is not the same.

    It took a long time before Jack would even let us rub his nose with jerking back expecting something different.
    I know Kai is happy to find trust. Even in baby steps!

    I enjoyed your post so much.
    Great pictures.

  14. Kai is so beautiful. She has such an air about her...its pretty amazing to be around her.

    The way she socializes is so interesting. Watching her with Chet makes me laugh every time. Her and that sniffing she does...and clearly, when the shoes on the other foot shes not nearly as patient about being sniffed all over. :-)

    And then with Beau...hes such an easy going guy...I love that they share hay together.

    Jeez. How I wish we could know what was going on in their heads...

  15. See...I love Kai!!
    Just don't let her see the picture you took of her and the carrot...she won't seek you out for a WEEK!!!

  16. well, I think it is icing on the cake! what a sweet little family you have!

  17. I'm really glad to read that the dynamic is moving in a good direction. They all have such sweet faces.

  18. That was a very nice post! I want your farm!

  19. Hooray for harmonious relationships amongst those who live together!


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