I finally finished reading the Donkey Companion. Among other things, I now know how to milk a donkey. Well, in theory any way. Did you know that donkeys can live for forty years! Rufus is only a year old. I can imagine myself at seventy-eight, out by the barn getting donkey kisses and picking burs from Rufus's ear hair. If donkeys are like people, his ear hair will be extra wild by then, right? If his hooves need trimmed every two months for the next forty years, then we better make friends with a farrier or learn to do it ourselves.
While I've been reading about how to care for a donkey, Rufus has been learning about new and exciting things - like his red ball. If you watch the video above, of Rufus playing with his ball (at least I think he's playing), you will likely be very bored and wonder when he's going to do something more interesting than stomp his front feet in the general direction of the ball. Spoiler alert - he touches it with is nose! It's kind of cute in the last scene when he gives me kisses, but otherwise, after a few seconds, you get the gist.
Not only has Rufus learned about his ball, he is also learning about having a leash tied to his halter. We don't have any trouble putting on or taking off the halter now, so I started introducing the leash. Once he was cool with having it near him, and then on him, I clipped it to his chin.
Whoah. It's like having a snake attached to your face, I'm sure. I let him drag it around inside his pen, and he stepped on it a few times. If I hold onto it I can get him to take a few steps as I lead, but when he feels the pressure on his face, he holds his ground.
Now that I've finished reading his manual, I know what our goals are. The book is full of fun donkey stuff, like cart pulling and competitions, but from what I can tell, the most important thing is that he be able to be tied to the fence without freaking out, allow his hooves to be trimmed, his body touched, and to take medicine for worms. He also needs to be castrated, poor fella. The book is full of warnings about how unpredictable an un-castrated male donkey can be. Like most things, I've been given conflicting advise. One very experienced horse person told me not to have him castrated until he was over two years old. The book says it should be done as soon as possible, even as early as six months. Since it would be good to wait until there aren't any flies to land on the wound, Rufus and I are working toward a goal of being able to be tied, wormed, and handled by late fall or winter, so the vet can work with him for the surgery.
Rufus and I are getting to be good friends. He's very cuddly, and wants me to hold his face and neck and give him hugs and scratches. We keep our lessons with the halter and leash very brief so we don't get impatient or bored. Our newest game is to pull the cart through the pasture and collect donkey manure for the garden. Thank you, Rufus!
Rufus says, Blech! This game is gross!
Wendigo doesn't think it's a gross game at all, but she must not have taste buds. In the past week she has eaten donkey dung, a rotten egg, a snake skeleton, and a giant shed snake skin that was in the root cellar. The snake skin was at least four feet long, and she gobbled it up like spaghetti! Doh!