After the chaos of chasing Archie across the neighboring fields a couple of weeks ago, we decided it was time for him to head back to the sale barn. Today was the day.
We’ve had Archie on the farm for about a month. When he arrived, we intended for him to join our goats on the Goat Trails. But he had other ideas and quickly ended up in the corral with the calves.
Honestly, he was perfectly happy with the calves, but he was working them much too hard for the warmer temps at the time. After a couple of weeks to calm down and get used to the new-to-him surroundings, we decided it was time for him to move back into the Goat Trails. Cooler weather, including snow, were on the way and we wanted for him to be able to use the Goat House for shelter, water and grain with the others.
That effort landed him Facebook fame and resulted in us chasing him through nearby fields and essentially shooing him toward home.
The experience of trying to get Archie back into the pen made a few things very clear:
- He’s a bit more “unbroken” than we’re prepared to handle. We don’t exactly know much about donkeys or donkey training and that put us at a severe disadvantage for trying to figure out how to work with him.
- He desperately wanted to stay with the calves. Our calves. The neighboring calves. It didn’t matter. He likely had a specific job at his previous farm and we were trying to change that by putting him with the goats. It wasn’t working.
- The fencing around the Goat Trails wasn’t going to contain him. Our makeshift divider in the corral had made him a temporary space – but it will be awhile before we have the full pasture fence in place that would be capable of containing him better. Keeping him in that tiny corral all winter wouldn’t be fair.
We made the tough decision to send him back to the sale barn so that he could find a farm that is a better fit. As we unloaded the trailer on Saturday night, Archie wandered down the stalls and then back to us – getting closer to Aaron and I than he has in his entire month on the farm.
“He’s saying, ‘I’m sorry guys. Don’t leave me. Take me back home,'” Aaron quickly told me. Naturally, I tend to speak for the animals in much of the same way and got those vibes exactly. We absolutely hated seeing him go – but also knew he deserved the chance to find a better fitting farm.
We learned a ton in this process:
- We most likely need a sweet young Jennie donkey that is somewhat broken or trained. We want to learn the right mannerisms and training techniques – but we also want to start with an animal whose background we know a little more about.
- Our fencing likely needs an upgrade for donkey containment. The corral hacking was an epic win on the fly – but is not a long-term solution. We need to get rolling on the South pasture fencing so we’re really ready for some expansion next Spring.
- Selling at the sale barn is way easier than buying. We called ahead of the sale, loaded Archie up and dropped him off with hay and water the night before. They took our information. Our friend Brian gave Aaron and update on the sale. And, our check will hit the mail sometime this week. Shockingly straightforward.
Speaking of sale – by pure dollar signs standards – Archie did turn the smallest of profits. We bought him 1 month and 4 days ago for $210. He sold this weekend for $250.
Naturally – the auctioneers will get a commission. Then, there’s all the hay and grain he was fed. A couple of new lead ropes. Gas for the trucks. Not to mention the time invested in chasing him all around the farm. In most cases, we would call this an obvious loss – but Aaron and I agreed that the learning process here was the real win. We have to go through the steps a few times to figure out how this whole thing is supposed to happen – and bringing Archie to the farm certainly helped us with that.
You’ll be missed, Arch. I hope you always remember your adventures here happily.