Redford arrived Sunday morning and my first sight of him was his perfect little jump out of the van, onto his bale of hay as a step, and down to the grass. He looked like he had done that particular move forever, and that was just about how his first day at November Hill played out.
He was absolutely and completely at home from the first moment on. You would never know he hadn't been here a dozen times already!
Rafer was so intrigued as Redford came into the stall next to his:
He and Rafer Johnson met over the 2 1/2 foot stall wall we had lowered so they could interact more easily. They touched noses, they shared hay, and they did a lot of looking and watching. Little donkey eyes met and studied, as only donkey eyes can. The horses, including Salina, were in the front field, and although they had access to the barn, they didn't come up right away. The donkeys had their own special time to say hello.
Redford is absolutely adorable. I had already forgotten how snuggly baby donkeys are - and although he is 7 months and some days old, next to the handsome, more mature Rafer Johnson, Redford seems like a teddy donkey! What a treat to get to watch him grow up as we have Rafer!
So... these two donkeys visited. And then suddenly Redford started looking at the wall between them. "He's thinking about..." and then he did it - he jumped right over the wall into Rafer's stall! Rafer jumped off to the side, clearly startled, and we all felt terrible. We had seen it coming but then it happened so quickly we couldn't stop it. We were all stunned too at the agility of little Redford - and Rafer wasn't quite sure he liked this little Flying Donkey coming right into his space. Redford got his halter on and went back to the adjoining stall, and we all gave Rafer time to relax again while we watched his leg to make sure everything was okay. We also added another board to the wall!
A little bit later (I think I have the sequence straight) the horses ran up the hill and Salina marched up to the back windows of the three stalls. Redford was in the middle, Rafer in the end stall to the right. Salina stuck her head in, expecting to see Rafer, but there was Redford! You could see the thinking process going on as she looked, amazed, from Redford to Rafer, back and forth a number of times, almost as if she couldn't quite believe it. There were two of them!
Suddenly a light bulb went off above her very alert ears. Wait! There's another stall! Maybe there are THREE! She went down to the last stall and looked in, just to be sure. It was the funniest thing I've ever seen. She was so hopeful - but when she saw there wasn't another one, she came back. And then she, Redford, and Rafer had a pow-wow right there over the stall door and stall wall. Redford walked up and let her sniff him. They stood with noses outstretched, and you could see that Rafer and Redford were both forming opinions based on one another. Redford looked at Rafer to see what he thought of Salina. Rafer watched Salina befriend Redford. (maybe that scary Flying Donkey who sailed into his stall minutes before wasn't quite so scary!) And Salina had no qualms at all - she was as happy as could be to have both of them.
After we said goodbye to Ken and Marty, who stayed and helped us navigate this important meeting, the geldings went back out to the field. Salina remained in the paddock with some hay, right by the stall windows. I went into Rafer's stall to muck and forgot to latch the door. When I turned around he had marched out the door and around the corner of the barn to stand by Salina - with the fence between them. He seemed so happy to be out and grazing in the sunshine, I decided to let him be for a few minutes. About that time, I heard a rumble and then Redford dashed out of the barn. This little donkey had jumped a 3 1/2 foot wall taller than his head!
I realized at that point we had to stop raising the wall and just let the two of them be together. They spent the rest of the day with Rafer's stall open to the barn aisle. They watched one another, shared some cookies, touched noses, munched on hay, and after the first hour, Salina went back out to the front field and Rafer Johnson was completely fine - because suddenly he realized he has a new buddy who wants very much to be with him. You cannot imagine (well, maybe you can) the absolute joy of standing in the barn aisle with these two precious donkeys and watching them bond.
They do it so differently than horses do - without all the fanfare, just those sweet donkey eyes measuring the situation and deciding that it will be all right.
Redford very appropriately has a star - and if his arrival here is any indication, it looks like he is one special Flying Donkey. The last thing I did before heading off to my Pony Club meeting Sunday night was kneel between two donkey noses and two donkey eyes gazing into mine - one on each side. Double the donkey love.
Welcome to November Hill, Redford! You have already taken Rafer Johnson's mind off the wandering mare, the puffy fetlock and hairline fracture, and the temporary confinement. And you have taken our breaths away with your jumping skills. We know you'll be very happy here.
And some more settling in photos, first playing donkey carousel:
Having a moment with the other red equine on the farm:
Shining his star light all over the barnyard:
Rafer Johnson, our little donkey of the light:
And finally, the November Hill donkey team: