Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Assimilation

Poor Jinx. He's had a hard time adjusting to his new home.

For about the first two days, he stayed in the far corner of the pasture (despite the pouring rain), so he could get the best view of the neighbor's horse. He had no interest in the shelters or the goats. I think he was homesick and wanted to be in a herd of his own kind. Or at least something close. He brayed pitifully from time to time.

Once he realized that his equine cousin was unreachable, he decided to try to join his caprine pasture-mates. Only they were a little freaked out by his presence. He tried to join them in the shelter during a rainy spell, but they slipped out en masse and ran to the other shelter. After a while, he came over to their second shelter, and they scurried out, around the back, and into the first shelter.

Once the sun was out again, they stayed in the same general vicinity, but if Jinx ventured too close, the goats were off and running. He'd occasionally chase after them, but it wasn't clear whether this was playfulness, frustration, or just an attempt to follow their lead. They're still keeping a little distance, but that distance is getting smaller.

Then last night, after we brought home a second goat buck, he got aggressive. I think he was doing what we pay him to do - chase away strangers. Because we had to divide up the pasture along gender lines (we're not ready for breeding yet), we only had one shelter in each half. We've got materials for one more shelter, but it's not ready yet. Since goats are less tolerant of rain and they're not ready to share yet, and since he was being a little too aggressive, we decided to temporarily move him to the other pasture with the cows. This would also give him a chance to commune with the neighbor's horse from 15 feet away instead of 100 yards.

Watching me move him from one pasture to the other would have been comical to any observers. I've read a couple of books by Monty Roberts, and several by Mark Rashid about horse training and handling. But a donkey is not a horse. And even so, I have essentially zero experience with such things. There aren't too many books on handling donkeys, and this is a young donkey with just a little training. It, um, interesting.

Despite all this, I used the handling techniques as I understood them, with some small degree of success. We're learning together, Jinx and I.

Once we made it to the other pasture, we had several bovine friends to cope with. They're used to being around other livestock, so I wasn't particularly concerned, but you just never know. The cow and calves came over to check us out. I led Jinx down to see Zippy, the horse, who had come out to greet us at the far fence. One of the calves feigned a charge at me. The beat of hooves coming fast made me flinch, but I stood my ground and he never really came close. I went ahead and made my exit anyway. They seemed mildly curious about Jinx, but didn't really put forth much effort to investigate.

After an uneventful night and day with the cattle, Lori brought him back in with the girls in the goat pasture, and he was happy to be reunited with his new herd. We're getting there.

He really is a sweet little guy...

2 Comments:

At 6/06/2006 9:10 PM, Blogger madcapmum said...

I'm always curious about how animals relate to one another in a domestic situation. Well, in the wild, too, but more so on a farm. Poor Jinx. Hopefully he'll find someone to bond to soon.

 
At 6/06/2006 11:03 PM, Blogger Mia said...

Assimiliation. *snicker* It sounds like he is already making small steps toward fitting in. I am betting the goats will be used to him before too long. That's a relatively uneducated guess, but my opinion nonetheless!

 

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