What do you have on your farm that you consider stubborn or strong-willed? Don’t look at your spouse or loved one! I’m thinking livestock here.
I’ve been reading about donkeys. Though donkey owners and breeders say donkeys aren’t stubborn, they definitely have minds of their own. In “Roget’s Desk Thesaurus,” synonyms for the word “stubborn” include “obstinate,” “tenacious,” “headstrong,” “willful” and “pigheaded.” In other words, someone stubborn or headstrong could say, “When I’m right, I’m right” or “Don’t mess with me.”
Donkeys personify those characteristics. Have you ever come across a donkey guarding a herd of cattle, sheep or goats? Donkeys are trained leaders and expect their herd to follow them without question. Should there be an errant animal, “long ears,” as they’re also called, protectively herd their family of animals. Kind of like a mom with her kiddos. Don’t mess with a mom, and you sure don’t want to mess with an irritated donkey.
Donkeys have strong front legs, big teeth and loud mouths. Being fiercely protective, they’ll kick, bite and bray to ward off intruders. You’d best be wearing earplugs if your donkey is sounding the alarm with “aw-EE, aw-EE” due to a wily coyote.
It’s good that burros are strong, because they can also break cattle to lead. I think it’s time we buy a burro for our cattle. My tender tootsies have been stepped on one too many times when we’re attempting to lead cattle where they don’t want to go.
The willfulness of a donkey melds well with being a farmer. I don’t know one farmer, male or female, who isn’t tenacious. They must be to live such a life. I know one particular farmer who fits the mold.
Did I just say that out loud?
Hayhurst writes from Terre Haute, Ind. And yes, her husband, Terry, approved this column!