Often, my only contribution to xoJane staff meetings other than helpful suggestions like giving Charlotte the helm for the day or having an xoJane sleepover is weird animal noises. In fact, the assorted honking, clucking, meowing and other zoological sounds are how everyone else can tell I haven’t been dropped from the call. Last week, we had not one but two cats on the call as Leila and Rufus vied for attention and a chance to weigh in on editorial policy.
So when I looked out the window this morning and saw a donkey in the yard, I knew we were in trouble. Geese, people can handle, but braying?
I should explain that this is not the first time this has happened, and seeing a donkey in the yard doesn’t particularly ruffle me at this point. Equids happen, you know?
OK, so maybe they don’t happen to you, but we had a longstanding arrangement with the old neighbours that carried over to the new neighbours. Since we have a pasture, and we don’t have any grazing animals right now, we open the gate between the properties and let their animals come over and mow the pasture for us.
Our former horse neighbours.
This is a win-win for everyone: We get the pasture mowed so we don’t have to do it, so it looks tidy and doesn’t create a fire hazard. They get to save on feed by letting their animals eat our grass. And I, well. Let’s just say that my office window overlooks the pasture, so I get free entertainment as long as they’re out grazing.
Oh, and the chickens get exciting poop to pick apart.
There's food somewhere in this picture, I swear.
Which seems like a great deal, except that there’s actually a strong negative correlation between animals in the pasture and my productivity levels. Because I mean, really, if there’s a horse in the pasture, how can you not go out to say hello? Especially when it’s leaning over the gate with a tragic expression, hoping you’ll come out with a treat? And if it’s a donkey, the temptation is 10 times stronger, because donkeys are one of my all-time favourite animals.
So meet Joy the donkey, my newest productivity-suck:
Look at that FACE.
Donkeys are amazing. They’re infamous for being willful, but that’s really just because they’re wicked smart. Donkeys know what’s up and they take absolutely no guff from anyone; they’re a breed of livestock that exercises what’s known as “intelligent refusal,” which is a polite way of saying that if you tell them to do something dangerous, they say “Hell no, bitch.”
They’re also much more rugged and durable than horses, which is why donkeys or mules are the mount of choice in areas with rough terrain and poor pasture. Unlike horses, they’re not super-choosy about the quality of their grazing fodder, making them very handy for invasive species elimination. They’re what you call easy keepers.
And they’re incredibly cute and fuzzy.
Two are better than one.
Joy and his horse buddy are attached at the hip, which means when there’s a donkey, a horse is sure to follow. And vice-versa. And both of them are schooled experts at harassing me for treats. Either that, or they can tell I’m a total sucker for a tragic face. During today’s call, both of them wandered over to the fence and engaged in some heavy breathing that I prayed everyone else couldn’t hear, or I would have had some awkward explaining to do.
Between them and the chickens, it’s amazing I get any work done at all, honestly. The ladies actually rush over to the gate in expectation whenever I so much as open the front door, which inevitably forces me to dodge back into the house and hide, or give in to the inevitable and pull out a tortilla for them1.
And these are just the animals we actually want in the yard:
The only thing more annoying than deer in your yard is deer in rut in your yard.
1. Chickens love tortillas. The only thing funnier than chickens eating tortillas is chickens eating cold spaghetti. Return