Our donkey Benjamin is sometimes a little timid yet has a great imagination. He can for example start chewing on your sweater only because it is green, or he might run wildly braying over the field, pretending he’s the leader of a wild pack, only to realize when glancing back that neither the horse nor his mother, not even the sheep or the dog followed his pretend game… His friend the cow would have joined in the fun no doubt, but she sadly moved to a different farm some time ago.

The other day when it was so hot outside, he and his mother Molly decided to rest in the barn over the hot noon hours. They asked for permission to come in and while Molly marched into her stall she usually shares with Benjamin, her son walked down the aisle until he reached the horse’s stall and entered, a triumphant glimmer in his eyes. The horse chose to stay out in the field, for what is heat for an Arab? So I closed the doors and let them doze for a while.

In the late afternoon I checked on them and opened the doors to release them back into the field. They were in no hurry, but Molly walked out the barn for sweet grass was waiting after all. Benjamin however stayed in the stall. I didn’t think anything of it and let him enjoy the horse’s kingdom for a little longer. However at night he still didn’t leave the stall, although he stood at the window braying to his mother and the horse. He stayed in the barn for the entire night with only the sheep snoring in a pen down the aisle.

In the morning, I could tell he really longed for company, yet he wasn’t willing to even get near the stall door. I put a halter on his head and tried to lead him out, but he showed me the stubbornness of a donkey. I asked his mother to come in to give his son a nudge, but she walked in and out of the horse’s pen without her son following. I bribed her with a handful of oats to try again. She tried, but soon left unsuccessfully on her own. The horse showed up and I asked him to chase the young donkey out, but even though he was willing, he had no luck.

Whether it was his guilty conscience of being on foreign ground, or his wild imagination that something terrible might happen if he stepped from the straw onto the concrete of the aisle, perhaps simply his unfamiliar point of view, … whatever it was he was petrified in fear. In the very end his patient mother lead him out while I chased after him with a broom, and finally he stepped onto the dangerous aisle and happily braying ran outside into the field unharmed, rolled in the sand, played with his friends and most importantly filled his hungry stomach with sweet grass.

Donkeys are said to be stubborn, but they are also one of the most intelligent animals I know. They are known for doing things only when they fully understand the task or the situation at hand. I too like to know  the details before I sign up for something, I too like to know the pros and contras before making an important decision. But often our fearful imagination prevents us from taking the necessary step to get us over that threshold that keeps us from reaching our greatest desire.

It’s not the first time I learn from the donkeys…







June 10, 2017

It’s finally getting seasonally warm around here. Today we had sunshine, 27 degrees Celsius with a nice breeze and we completed the planting season. At least in the fields. In the garden I still have to replant a few things due to the unusually cold and wet May.

The cherry and apple trees in the orchard are full of fruit, so are the gooseberry and currant bushes. Hopefully this year I’ll be faster than the birds picking the cherries…

Though I’m still planting the garden, I already harvested a few things: rhubarb for the most delicious pie, young birch and hawthorn leaves & flowers for tea, and chives for e.g. scrambled eggs.

Speaking of eggs: our dog thinks he is entitled to get himself an egg a day. So that he doesn’t need to bother me, he decided to pick one out of the nest by himself… Everyday!

The ewes behave better, they’re busy growing a thick wooly coat that protects them from heat and sunburn. Well, you would think in this weather you rather take off your sweater, but wool actually regulates the body temperature in heat or cold. It’s the first year that I have no lambs frolicking around and I do miss them, but in August I may get a new Romney ram (that’s the sheep breed I have) and then hopefully new wooly babies comes next spring.

Scan 22

Lena and Pippa, oil on canvas