Here's how my week went - I was cruising craigslist for a livestock trailer for when we get to the point of purchasing more miniature highlanders to expand our herd. Well instead I came across a miniature donkey for sale and honestly, I couldn't resist. Lo and behold I found myself exchanging messages with a family about purchasing their miniature donkey named Jenny.
My naive self thought, "what would be so different about having a donkey? They're friendly so I'm sure they'll get along great with our minis and they eat the same food. Easy peasy." wow was I wrong.
The family arrives with little jenny and she is SO cute, I can't even help myself with how cute she is, and she stands only at 30" tall. To put that into perspective, I am 5' 5" and her and I see eye-to-eye when I'm on my knees. I mean, the average height of your counter tops are between 34-36" and she probably won't grow that much taller. Anyway, so the boy that sold me his donkey, that he worked so hard to halter train arrives with his mom and they walk jenny back to our pasture.
"Where do you want her?" he asks.
"Anywhere is fine with me!"
So he takes her halter off and first thing she does is take off for the minis. I'm thinking, "Cute! She wants to be friends and play!" The mini's were curious and excited at first bucking around and then all the sudden, all hell broke lose. Literally. You might as well have lit our newly renovated house on fire and added to the mess with how terrible the rest of my day was.
If animals could speak, my guess is the mini's would've said, "Run Forest Run!" in that moment, because they ran when Jenny ran. They hopped the fence and took off in our neighbors field toward the busy road. Both me and this kid, who so kindly just sold me his donkey, take off running. "I've never herded cattle before!" He exclaims as we're gasping for air. "Don't worry, we're not gonna catch up to them anyway, so you're doing fine. We just have to keep them off the road."
We crest the hill and I see three little fluffy highland butts trotting down the road toward the railroad tracks. Awesome. I call Holden yelling at him to get back home ASAP even though he was over an hour away and to call everyone he could possibly know in the area, even though we had just moved here.
I call like the 4 people I know in Hampton and Holden called the other 2 he knew. "We are so screwed. I'm going to have flattened highlanders on the train tracks at this rate," I thought. The donkey salesman runs back to our house and grabs our ranger so we can catch up to the minis as I'm still running down the road. I get to the T in the road where it turns to go into town and the most wonderful local guy stops with his jeep and turns our minis back around. "I'm Terry, I just live up the road. You look like you need some help." I just about cried. Next thing I know, more guys stop with their trucks helping us herd the minis. Then another guy shows up with his ranger to help. All the sudden I had an army of people who just happened to be in the area and heard what was happening or drove by and stopped. One guy lived an hour away and saw what was happening and stopped to help me. Even our 80 year old neighbor comes out in her yard with her slippers on to watch the whole ordeal. "Helloooo Neighbor!" she yells as she waves from her front step all while my minis run through her yard. Mind you, Holden still isn't home at this point.
We were out there for HOURS trying to get these three wrangled up. With them being in a new environment and being by people they weren't familiar with, probably spooked them even more, but everyone tried their hardest to get them rounded up without hesitation, and they didn't even know my name.
After 4 hours of running around in our neighbors fields, one guy went home, grabbed his skid loader and some cattle panels and we rounded them up into a temporary pen for the night. Needless to say, it was getting cold and dark and everyone was exhausted. Once we got them in the pen, we stood in the dark field laughing about the dumbest most painful experience they had ever encountered herding cattle all while we finally exchanged some names.
I gathered what dignity I had left and we all headed down to the local bar. I definitely wasn't cooking that night. Holden and I walk in and the six people there turn their heads, "Hey are you guys the new cattle people down the road?" Not even 20 minutes had passed since the late night herding and people in town already knew who we were and what had happened.
We spent the rest of the evening buying beers for everyone and making new friends. Truthfully, I had never been more grateful for a small community more than that moment in my life. It definitely reassured Holden and I of the decision we made to move.
Naturally, we invested in an electric fence the next day and a halter for Jenny so we could introduce the four at a slower, safer pace. Today they got to know each other a little better, but they are strictly on a look, but don't touch, basis until they've been around each other a little longer. So far things are going well and no one decided to run away. Regardless, I'm still happy we decided to add Jenny to our herd, because she loves making friends, eating carrots and cuddles. Although, I'm not sure how Holden totally feels yet.
In the end, I guess having our cattle escape wasn't so terrible after all (however, I'm sure some beg to differ), because it was one way we made friends and learned who our neighbors were really quickly. I want to thank everyone and anyone who helped us and made us feel welcomed into the community. I don't know what we would've done without your help and generosity.
Please stop by anytime and meet Jenny. I'm telling ya, she loves people, and she'll love you even more if you bring carrots!
Holden & Billie Asmus