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Third Times The Charm
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Guardian Donkey
Like Father Like Son

Peacock in Flight Peacock in Flight

Like Father Like Son

I'm headed home from a active day at work.  Early February and the temperature still is way below normal.  The car thermometer reads 16 below zero as I pull into the farm yard.  I'm greeted by a friendly bray from the donkeys as I head into the house to change my cloths.  Typical night chores; get the animals in their stalls, feed everyone and fill the water tanks.  It's about 7pm and pitch black as I head out to the barn.

I enter the barn and everything looks good.   I open the gate to let the donkey and alpacas in their stalls and quickly they all enter, eager for their nightly grain.   All except one donkey.  No worries, plenty to do, he'll come in before I finish.  I quickly work at the chores, drag the hose to each of the water tanks inside the barn, topping them off.  Chores are almost done, just need to fill the two outside water tanks.  It keeps getting colder, the wind is picking up, I'm guessing the air is about minus 20 below with a windchill of about minus thirty below.   The tanks are filled, now I quickly need to roll up the hose before it freezes and take it to the heated garage. 

And...I still need to check on the one donkey.  I'm guessing he is staying out tonight to make sure that the sheep stay safe.   We've seen foxes in the area and Luke (gray Mediterranean Miniature Donkey) is very protective of his herd of sheep.  As I walk toward the pasture, Luke is standing watch, looking very serious.  No worries, I think, I'll hand feed him some grain and let him do his job as night watchman.  As I get closer I hear the bah bah of an older sheep.   Sounds like she's in the back pasture...I better check.  Of course my pocket flashlight is almost dead.  As I walk the out to the back pasture, Luke is walking with me almost as if to guide me to a specific spot.   As I make my way into the pasture shelter, I see an old mother sheep with a brand new baby lamb.  Both mom and baby look good...but it's cold and I need to get both of them into the barn before the lamb freezes.

Time for problem solving.   I have very light, all the animals except for Luke are in the barn, it keeps getting colder.  How am I going to get this ewe and lamb into a stall?  I gently pickup the lamb and begin walking backward toward the barn.  I walk past Luke with the lamb as the mother ewe begins to follow.  This is good, now I just need to walk slow and steady so that the mother continues to follow me as I carry the lamb.  As we make our way toward the barn, Luke is bringing up the rear making sure that the mother sheep continues to follow me.  Next problem, if I go through the main barn door, the chance of the mother continuing to follow me is slim.  She'll see the flock and most likely run to the hay feeder.  I'll end up spending hours trying to get her into the specific pen with her lamb.  It's cold and this lamb needs to be under a heat lamp.  Time for plan B, we're going to go outside the pasture through the feed room door and then walk through the side feed room door and into a stall.  Sounds easy...

I quickly unchain the main gate, still holding the lamb.   Thirty feet and we'll be to the main feed room door.   Luke is still behind the mother sheep.  The challenge is that if the mom gets spooked she'll run into the main barn or worse the rest of the sheep herd will hear us and decide to see what's going on.  I move as fast as I can, we're almost to door; me with the lamb, the mother about five feet behind and Luke bringing up the rear.  We make it to the feed room one more door to go.  Our feed room is about 12 feet wide, so there is not a lot of room.  I get the side feed room door opened and back into the the stall.  The mom enters and I quickly close the stall door and enter the feed room.  Luke is standing in the feed room, just standing like a soldier.  He could be in a feed barrel having himself a feast, instead he is standing there guarding the open door doing his job as guardian donkey.  Another baby lamb is added to the flock.

Just like his father, Jimmy Jingles, Luke is a natural guardian and carries on the family tradition of protecting the flock at Rivers Critters Ranch.

Written By:  Tom Rivers 2/13/2014

Luke Mediterranean Miniature Donkey


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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