Chris- First to Come to Baker’s Acres-First to Go

Chris, on the left, went over the rainbow bridge today. We will miss him.
This Chris, on the left, went over the rainbow bridge today. We will miss him.

My husband fell in love with the donkey who lived in this house when we bought it. We wanted to buy Festus with the house, but the owner didn’t want to sell him. They had been together for a long time. Stephen talked about that donkey quite a bit and I had decided I would get one for him when I heard hay was so expensive, folks were giving them away. I waited til I thought we could afford it and I found two donkeys being given away . I snapped them up and they were both males.

Okay, I thought , “We’ll see how it goes.”

Stephen was on the computer when the donks were delivered . He’d stayed home from work because he had pneumonia. He wasn’t to go outside anyway, and since it was a surprise, I made him promise to stay there and not look. The guy finally got to the end of the drive where we were to let them into the pasture. First, Chris descended from the trailer and was happy to get into the pasture. Even though it was the week after Valentines, there was still grass for them to munch on.

I asked the former owner of these fine badonkadonks, “What are their names- do they have names?”

“Anthony and Chris, he said drably, I named them after mah brothers.”  I felt my eyes roll into the top of my head as I chuckled to myself.

While Anthony was fairly friendly, Chris acted as if he’d been abused at one time or another. He was very shy, didn’t want to be around people, didn’t want to be touched, and went as far as to walk off if one tried to pet his face.

When they were settled into the yard, I went to get Stephen and tell him he could come out and see his new “surprise”. Livestock! We were out in the country, after all . And didn’t he just love Festus? Here were some donkeys of his very own, I beamed with pride and a sense of accomplishment. I guess that was about 6 years ago. The years have been good to us and to the donkeys. Why, the next year, they got girlfriends, when Blanch and Bambi came to join our family. We had two foals, both males, both Bambi’s. The firstborn, Gregory, was from an unknown father- she was pregnant when she got here. Thirteen, though, was Bambi’s and Chris’s child-looks just like Chris. But, it was Blanche Chris loved . Blanche loved him back. However, Blanche lost a foal a couple of years ago and has never been pregnant again.

The boys have since been gelded, so there will be no more babies. That’s okay. We were up to six donkeys- each loved greatly. Why donkeys? Well, they are great guardians of livestock. Coyotes close by? They don’t come up where donkeys are watching. They know the donkeys will kill them if they get close. Donkeys have wonderful and diverse personalities. They are sure to get a laugh out of anyone passing by.

So, this morning- when I went to feed the animals this morning, my eyes burned with tears when I saw Chris lying by the barn door. I ran around to the door of the barn where he lay and saw he had passed away . Rigor mortis had not set in , so , I knew he hadn’t been dead too long. I pet him and walked to the house where Stephen met me bringing dog food.

“I’m sad to say that Chris has died this morning,” I hollered to him.

“What? What”

“Chris has died.” Stephen walked quickly to the barn, bending over to pet him just as I did. Tears fell from Stephen’s eyes  and mine. Now, we had to get busy, find out what to do.

In the meantime, I began thinking of how scared Chris had been when he first came, how untrusting he was. I thought about a couple of days earlier when we had both petted his face, hugged him , without any fear from him. A bit later, Stephen and I figured out why we have so many animals. We take the rescued, the unloved animals, animals who are afraid and love them while they live out their last days here.

Chris, the first donkey here, the most fearful donkey we had was the most loved donkey. He left this place knowing love. That’s our job- to love these guys for the rest of their lives. Thank you, God for Chris- a great blessing. We return him to you-a donkey who knew love and loved in return.

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