Man … oh man … did I almost get us into a terrible situation this past week. I learned a lesson though. Stop thinking like a human when you are in a flerd! (Flerd = flock + herd) I was perseverating (yep – I mean to that extent) on the tension between Darby and the minis.
She takes her alpha role very seriously. She is IN CHARGE! Especially when I am not around… which … for a lot of October I wasn’t as I was working part time.
My not being around as much also meant the goats were separated from the jennies for long stretches. When I am here we all spend the mornings hanging out throughout the paddocks and the woods.
When they are out – Darby LOVES to gather the two of them into her space.
By the time November rolled around and I was able to rejoin the flerd for days and days Darby was having to work her way out of both the new moon (her grumpy period) and my return. I’ve noticed with her that my absence really bothers her. She sees me come in and out as I park beside the back paddock. She wails when I only pass by and don’t come out to hang out. It literally hurts her feelings. I know that sounds like ‘thinking like a human’. But I can assure you – our jennies feel ALL of the emotions I do. And it takes Darby a while to get over those feelings even when you DO return. She does a great job of holding a grudge.
I found myself approaching the dreadful prospect that Darby needed more than we were able to give her. And … that Rosie and Bella were bearing the brunt of her dissatisfaction. Roll that thought around in my head for days on end and I actually pulled right up to the line of having Darby rejoin her original herd way up in Pembroke. I was thinking that having other donkeys her size around would give her the companionship she wasn’t getting from her charges … as that is pretty much how she views the minis and the goats. (Not so much the chickens … she’d like them to stay out of her hay barn!)
As we came closer and closer to the day a friend had offered to help me trailer Darby north I became more and more distraught. I had convinced myself that this would be the best thing for Darby … that this would be the best thing for Bella and Rosie … that there were all kinds of benefits. (My Polyanna attitude was in full swing! Sort of like a battering ram that kept smacking me on the forehead…)
I spent the two days just prior to ‘moving day’ taking Darby for extra walks, practicing walking between and in and out of buildings at the fair grounds. Hoping this would help make loading onto a trailer less daunting for her (and me). Bella would bray and bray for us to come back … and my heart would get tighter and tighter. Until finally I realized this just was NOT going to happen.
THANK GOODNESS I came to my senses. Enough of that – OVERTHINKING – if I get frustrated with Darby’s bossiness and sometimes nips to the butts of Rosie and Bella I will remind myself of how it felt to think of losing her all together! Some day I may have to rehome my fur family … but not now. I feel like we’ve got YEARS ahead of us to just hang out and enjoy ourselves. And I am now totally aware that “I” am Darby’s standard buddy. Our days need to always include time for her to get some special scrunchies from me. (And vice versa!)
I do need to add here how much I appreciate the kind counsel and support of Darby’s grandparents up in Pembroke. Sue and Gary – you know who you are – are always available when I need to discuss donkey challenges. It would only be them I would turn to when thinking such thoughts – and only people as generous and supportive as they would also think of Darby and what might be best for her. Even if it meant taking her in to their herd! And… being supportive of me in saying ‘Even if you change your mind – any time before – any time after – it’s okay with us.’
Okay … time to get myself back outside to just ‘be’ with the flerd. All of them – still including Darby! Phew!