Sunday, July 25, 2021

A Very Happy Birthday to the 14-Year Old We Live With and Love

 Rafer Johnson turned 14 this week and I’m trying to resist the urge to ramble on about how unbelievable this seems and how fast time passes. Both are true, but this year on his 14th birthday I’d like to tell a few stories about our lives with Rafer Johnson.

We met him when he was only a week old. He was with his mother Contessa but he was already incredibly social and very calm in his demeanor. 

When Rafer arrived on November Hill at six months of age, he marched forward from his journey led by his friend and caretaker Marty, and he bravely met four very large and very intense equines. Keil Bay and Little Man appeared as if they were viewing an alien landing. Cody was his usual no-nonsense self, but he was surrounded by the alien watchers he lives with so he wasn’t quite sure if maybe he too needed to be ready to bolt. Salina was intense, but from a different place. She saw, I think, a baby horse with kind of long ears and no mama, and she was more than ready to step in and manage him. 

Rafer spent his first day here meeting and greeting these new family members through the fence, and late in the afternoon we began introducing him 1:1 to each herd member in a separate space from the rest of the herd. This went well, though Salina was so smothering we did not let him spend that first night with her. Instead, Rafer shared a stall with Cody, whose calm and no-nonsense acceptance seemed like the right way to proceed. The next day Rafer gradually transitioned into the full herd, one horse at a time. Salina notched it down a little and by the end of day two she and Rafer were two peas in a pod.

This remained true until she died at age 30. Rafer was always with her, and when I walked him through the barn to see her after she passed, he put his head onto my chest, looked into my eyes, and there were tears on his face. He stood by her grave daily for weeks, and he removed her halter from its hook and brought it to me on a near-daily basis for several months. He mourned and grieved her loss as much as we humans did. 

In a surprise move as the months went by, Rafer became joined at the hip with Little Man. They had always gotten along, but Little Man was always at odds with Salina during her lifetime here. He refused to follow her boss mare directions and she constantly tried to keep him in line. Somehow I expected Rafer to shift his intense devotion to Keil Bay, Salina’s best friend. But he shifted it to Little Man, and the two of them are rarely far apart. 

Today’s 14th birthday portraits reveal a very handsome donkey who stole our hearts when we met him and has kept them close ever since. He is a zen master and a love bug. He is our beloved Rafer Johnson. Happy Birthday, Rafer! We love you lots!

Photo credit goes to my amazing daughter, who always captures the spirit and soul of every living thing she aims her camera at!


Grey Horse Matters said...

Happy Birthday to a very special donkey boy! Rafer is the best there is, so sweet and sensitive. Love his pictures, your daughter is an amazing photographer! She really captures the personalities of all the animals she photographs.

billie said...

He is, and she is! :)) Thanks for the birthday wishes for this very sweet donka boy.

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness! Rafer Johnson is SOOO handsome!!!! His dad is well into his 30's so I expect Rafer Johnson will be gracing your pastures for many years to come!

Happy Birthday, Rafer Johnson!!



Grey Horse Matters said...

Well, today is my birthday so it was fun to wish him a happy day. Wish I was 14 too!😏

billie said...

Happy Birthday, A, from all of us here! I am sure you are still 14 in spirit, at least on some days! :))

billie said...

Marty, we think he is one of the most handsome donkeys ever! :)

I’m so happy to hear that Rafer’s dad is living such a nice long life. I figure both Redford and Rafer will be around for my older years and the two of them can walk on either side in lieu of a walker. :)

Thank you for the birthday wishes!