It is with sadness that I report the sudden loss of our donkey, “Zeke”. He was the leader of the pack on our farm. But, it is with celebration that I write this blog. What a true and trusted friend he was! Every morning he would honk and bray from a distance when the back door knob was even slightly turned. He led the horses to and from the barn to breakfast and dinner. When danger approached in the form of a dog or unfamiliar human, he would come challenge or investigate while the horses ran in the opposite direction. If you carried an apple or carrot treat, he was first one there to pick-pocket the contents. If you held a pitchfork, he would demand a back scratch.
When leaving the house for the barn at dawn, he would call to alert us and the horses it was time to eat. In response, Afton, our large All American dog would howl back in response that we were on the way with food.
He would challenge a horse 2-3 times his size to playful combat. His low center of gravity gave him an unsuspected advantage for nipping belly’s and legs. And, his bite or kick to an unsuspecting dog gave him total respect and wide birth. Any christened K-9 always knew where Zeke was. Otherwise, he would sneak up on a distracted dog When we received Zeke on the farm 16 years ago, he quickly learned friendly cars (ours) to the occasional visitor. If he did not recognize you, he would come after the car successfully biting several bumpers before a driver could get a way. Once, after a long walk, I snuck up from tree to tree towards the barn. The horses worried but Zeke charged and challenged me before I could indicate who I was. My biggest fear is that I would show up in the local newspaper badly kicked and bitten, and my ego bruised by a donkey.
He could unlock a barn door or open a gate with ease. He could weather any storm. He could play jokes on the other horses or on unsuspecting humans by sneaking up to them in the dark. If you sat at the barn door to relax and enjoy the view while the animals all fed, he would imperceptibly back up and try to get rubbed first and then literally try to sit his 400 lbs. on your lap. He saw the dogs do it, he figured he could to.
He was the court jester, the entertainer, and was in charge. He has been a reminder of why we so like the country life and the farm. The morning is so quite without his call.