“Little ditty, ’bout Jack and Diane
Two American kids growin’ up in the heartland” John Cougar Mellancamp, 1982
The original Jack and Diane dates back to 1982, but Buck ‘N Run’s Jack and Diane to just last year when we moved to the country. I thought I would share the story of how they came to be the “Buck” of the Buck ‘N Run Ranch.
Adam Shultz, the excavator for our pond and irrigation, is a true country guy. His license plate is “Bow Kill” for goodness sake. While working on our property last year, he routinely kicked piles of dried poop and identified the species of animal responsible for the deposit. On more than one occasion he identified the culprit as being “coyote.” Maybe it was just my imagination, but as I walked the five acres over those early days I began to identify piles of poop as coyote too. How could I live in a place with my beloved chickens if there were coyotes roaming freely and pooping everywhere? I consulted with Adam about the issue.
Adam, “get yourself a donkey.”
Me, “a donkey?”
“Yes,” Adam explained, “donkeys hate coyotes and will keep them off the property.”
Me, “never had a donkey before.”
Adam, “get yourself a cheap, old donkey and when it dies I’ll come dig a hole with the backhoe and bury it.”
Wow, this was sounding better all the time. I started scouring Craigslist looking for cheap, old donkeys, about ready to die. They were few and far between. Well, probably not truly few and far between, but no one really advertises them as such for fear of losing a sale.
Before long I saw this ad; Very sweet tame standard donkey needs new home. – $300. In no time we were off to meet Jack, a five year old standard donkey who just happened to hate coyotes and spent his time chasing them across the back of the seller’s land. Other than not being about ready to die, he sounded perfect!
For Michael it was love at first sight. For me, it was “he’s kind of big isn’t he?” “How long before he dies?”
None of that mattered. We paid the money and the sellers loaded him into their horse trailer for delivery to us. He was unloaded from the trailer after an hour’s drive for the first look at his new home.
He settled into his new quarters.
We took a walk and I explained to him that I am in charge and he will be expected to follow my rules. Note the forward ears and tail between his legs. He is listening and understands that animals are not spoiled around here, he will work for his food, treats are few and far between, and no braying before noon. Done.
The next morning I awoke to loud hee-hawing at 6:00 a.m. I went out to find him pacing in a figure eight pattern next to the gate. What the heck? Adam never mentioned that. A little online research and I found out that pacing is a sign of stress. He was probably missing his pasture mate, a mare with whom he was hopelessly in love. He paced for a few more hours until I was sufficiently worried to wake Michael up.
Me, “we have to buy Jack a donkey.”
Me, “I found one for sale. Get up.”
Michael, “yes dear.”
Soon we were in the car headed to a see a white mini jack for sale about an hour from the house. We arrived at L Bar L Ranch where Lynn Podesta breeds the most beautiful mini donkeys in the world, garnering prices of $8,000.00 and up. We were there to see a little gelding selling for $250.00. We were taken to the stall to see him and, to be honest, he kind of creeped me out. He was sort of albino looking with freaky pink eyes. I think I may have started pacing in figure eights in front of his stall. Lynne offered to show us around the rest of the facility and I jumped at the chance.
She took us to a back section of the breeder barn with rows of stalls for the stallions she uses in her breeding program. Most were outside for a bit of exercise but some were in their stalls. The last stall on the right hand side housed a lovely dark donkey that Lynne told us was a female. She was being housed with the Stallions instead of the mares because she was not going to be bred.
Lynne, “She’s about a half inch too big.”
Ah, a plus size girl. Lynne opened the gate to her stall and I went in to visit. Her name was Diana and she had to be the sweetest thing I had ever seen. While we talked, Diana snuggled right up next to me. I was so taken by her that I barely heard the conversation. When it was time to go look at the albino boy again, I left the stall of the plus sized girl named Diana. She came out of the stall with me and snuggled right up next to me, prepared to go home with us. She escorted me down the aisle toward the albino boy’s stall.
A second look confirmed our decision not to buy him, but the extra time with Diana convinced me that she was going to come and live with us. I asked if she was for sale and, after a long session of haggling we ended up buying the little plus sized donkey for $850.00. Lynne said she would have started the price at $6,000.00 if she weren’t too big. Well, too bad, she’s too big for Lynne’s breeding program but just right as a pasture mate for Jack. Lynne said that Diana was only two years old and that at three years old she could be bred. Breeding her to a smaller male mini would probably produce a foal of the correct size. She said to contact her when we were ready to breed Diana. We paid for her, arranged for a horse transport, and left to await delivery of our girl the following day.
Jack paced in figure eights for the next 24 hours, wearing deep ruts in the dirt by the gate. He didn’t eat, drink, or sleep. I worried that we would need to call Adam in with the backhoe if we didn’t get a friend for Jack soon.
Finally the young man with the horse trailer arrived bringing Diana. We had read online that we would need to keep the two of them separated for the first three days to prevent fighting. One of them would have to be locked in the round pen and the other on the outside.
Here they are being introduced through the fence.
Here is Michael leading Diana down to the round pen to begin the three day separation.
Here they are five minutes after talking us out of the three day separation.
They went off together and have been inseparable ever since.
Ah, donkey love.
Tomorrow, Part 2: Jack and Diane, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly