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Guardian Donkey - Jimmy Jingles

Late January in Minnesota, we are having a cold snowy winter, the kind of weather that makes you wonder why we live here.   I pull into the driveway well after 7pm, the air temperature is -18.   It's cold, no idea what the wind chill is...I guess you get used to it.  As I get out of the car I'm greeted with a friendly Hee Haw from the donkeys.  No worries, they are reminding me that it's cold and they need to be put in their stalls.  This is normal, I quickly say hi to Cindy, change my cloths, call for dog and head out to the barn to quickly do evening chores.

As I enter the barn, something isn't right.   Normally, as I walk to the barn the animals begin coming in for the nJimmy Luke and female Olde English Babydoll Sheep Photo by Lori Holmight, instead, most of the sheep and other animals are standing outside the barn.  Ok, maybe its not as cold as I thought.   I stop by the old barn and grab the four bales of hay I'll need to feed out to the animals.  I enter the barn and I see Jimmy Jingles our white meditation miniature donkey standing in front of a stall, his son Luke a nice grey donkey is standing next to him.  Something isn't right.  These two little guys are standing like soldiers, unwilling to move.   Jimmy snorts as if to say "hurry up Dad" as I make my way down to where they are.  

As I get closer I hear the faint bah of a baby lamb.  It hits me, we just had the first baby lamb of the season.  Sure enough, inside the open stall is one of our Olde English Babydoll Sheep with her new baby lamb.  The lamb is in great shape.  She is clean and dry and clearly been nursing, her mother calmly standing in the stall, relaxed knowing that Jimmy is standing guard.  A new addition has safely arrived to Rivers Critters Ranch. 

Many farmers keep miniature donkeys with their sheep.  The donkeys are great guardians, protecting the herd from coyotes and dogs.  And while we have several donkey's that stay with the herd, it's only been Jimmy that I've seen protect the newborn lambs.  A new lamb is born and there is Jimmy Jingles standing guard, making sure that nobody bothers the mother sheep.  Each time I see this I smile, knowing that I have Jimmy Jingles watching my back when I'm not around; taking care of each newborn as they are born.

Written By Tom Rivers 2/5/14

Note:  A few days after the baby lamb mentioned in the above article was born, Jimmy Jingles unexpectedly died.  While I'll never really know why Luke was with Jimmy that night standing guard, I suspect that Jimmy was passing down his legacy of guarding the newborns to Luke.  Only time will tell...

Update 2/7/14 - When I entered the barn last night, I heard the faint cry of a newborn lamb, as I opened the door there was the baby lamb, his mother and Luke standing guard.  Luke looked at me, quietly brayed and as he was leaving the area he stopped turned his head and looked right at me as if to say "Thomas, I've got your back."  The legacy of the Guardian Donkey Jimmy Jingles lives on.

Rest In Peace Jimmy Jingles

Rivers Critters Ranch, LLC

We own and operate Rivers Critters Ranch, LLC, which was founded in 1997.  As the name suggests the farm belongs to the animals we seem to be just the caretakers.

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This site is dedicated to those of us who have dream to farm.   Inside you will find information, stories, pictures and advice outlining the experiences of a city born family who acted upon the dream to move to the country and  live on a farm.  Join us as we share our adventures! 

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