Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Donkeys !

I've been wanting to go on a photo shoot down some of my favorite country roads around Vicksburg, and yesterday I had some free time to do just that. But I have to admit that I had to literally make myself turn off HGTV (I'm hopelessly addicted), and leave my nice cool house to venture out into the 90+-degree-heat-of-the-day afternoon. It was hot and dry and dusty, and I had to clomp around in freshly cut grass along the county roads — but, I was so glad I went, because I was able to capture something I've wanted to take pictures of for a very long time.

I've passed by these crosses many, many times as I traveled on I-20, from Vicksburg to Jackson, but have never been able to catch these guys near the road when I happened to have my cameras with me (click on the picture to see the "guys").

Yesterday, I was driving down the frontage road and was delighted to see some of them grazing by the fence close to the road.

The sign says, "Donkeys for Sale," and after seeing them up close, I wanted to take them home with me.

Their faces were so sweet and innocent looking, and their curiosity about what I was doing was greater than their fear of me. Of course, I was standing on the outside of the fence about 20 feet away from them, too.

This sweet little lady ambled up close to the fence, as if to say, take my picture, too! She looked very pregnant, and captured my heart. Isn't she beautiful!

These two fellows seemed to be saying, "You watch my back, and I'll watch yours!"

I love these profile shots ...

I enjoyed visiting with the donkeys and was so pleased to have finally captured them for my photo collection.

While editing the pictures, I realized that I knew nothing about donkeys, so I turned to Google and found the following information:

From Wikipedia:

The donkey or ass, Equus africanus asinus, is a domesticated member of the horse family. A male donkey or ass is called a jack, a female a jenny, and an offspring less than one year old, a foal.

While different species of the horse family can interbreed, offspring are almost always sterile. Nonetheless, horse/donkey hybrids are popular for their durability and vigor. A mule is the offspring of a jack (male donkey) and a mare (female horse).

Although formal studies of their behaviour and cognition are rather limited, donkeys appear to be quite intelligent, cautious, friendly, playful, and eager to learn.

They have a notorious reputation for stubbornness, but this has been attributed to a much stronger sense of "self preservation" than exhibited by horses. Likely based on a stronger prey instinct and a weaker connection with man, it is considerably more difficult to force or frighten a donkey into doing something it perceives to be dangerous, for whatever reason. Once a person has earned their confidence they can be willing and companionable partners and very dependable for work.

In the Bible, Mary is portrayed as riding a donkey while pregnant. Legend has it that the "cross" on donkey’s shoulders comes from the shadow of Christ’s crucifixion, placing the donkey at the foot of the cross.

And from the All About Donkeys! website:

Donkeys prefer to do what is good for the donkey, which is not always what the human thinks is best. They are very friendly, and their nature makes them excellent for children. Donkeys can perform all the gaits horses or mules do, but galloping is usually not on the program unless dinner is being served.

Donkeys also make wonderful guard animals and will take care of an entire herd of cattle, sheep or goats. The natural aversion to predators will inspire the donkey to severely discourage any canine attacks on the herd. Dogs and donkeys usually don't mix, although they can be trained to leave the house or farm dog alone.

Here is a picture I captured a couple of years ago of a baby goat with his/her "nurse donkey." Notice how the donkey put herself between me and the little goat.

You now probably know a lot more than you wanted to about donkeys, but I find them interesting and endearing animals and I loved photographing these. I hope they all find happy new homes where they will be loved and well cared for.


Southerner said...

The stripe on the back is in the shape of a cross and these donkeys are called Jerusalem donkeys. Folk lore is that they got a cross marking after carrying Jesus.

Jenni said...

Love it! Thanks for sharing.... and your photos reminded me of another Bible story about donkeys, the one of Balaam and his donkey that was smarter than he was!!!!