Tag Archives: Donkeys

Not In My Job Description?

Writing yesterday evening about charging down a potholed driveway, trying to catch a bus, got me thinking this morning about what other strange adventures my work out at Langford entailed.

Essentially I worked for an Architect who lived and worked out of a converted barn, with 17 acres of land attached to it. I was employed as a CAD technician doing drawings for all manner of new houses, extensions and barn conversions, among other things, a nice clean desk job, well so you would think.

As I wrote yesterday, I had a long walk down the drive to the barn, the drive was in need of repair, there were deep potholes and if one of the neighbours came down the drive, I had to step aside into the hedgerow, in my nice shoes and trousers!

But I couldn’t get into the barn/offices unnoticed! No, there was no way I could ever do that, before I got into the office I had jobs to do, I would be reminded every morning as I walked down that drive, sun, wind, rain or snow, it didn’t matter, they would let me know every morning, like I was ever going to forget.

I was greeted every morning by the hungry cries of a pair of donkeys and half a dozen geese. There was also a pair of Guinea Fowl, with which I had a real running battle with the male, it really hated me and I didn’t care him much either, you can read about the time the bloody thing tried to blind me here !

My first job was to tend to the animals every morning, feed the donkeys, replace their hay, top up their water and from time to time clean out the hooves, not a nice job, getting your face close to a third of a ton of donkey, who wanted to kick your head in, luckily the pair of them never got me!

Then feed all the birds and replace the geese’s water, not a pleasant job at all, needless to say I smelt of geese droppings most of the day, nice!

It didn’t matter where the donkeys were in the fields, they seemed to know when I was due, they would spot me and let out a loud cry as I approached. James was shy and quite timid, he rarely let you get close to him, but Sophie his sister was the complete opposite, she didn’t mind, she had a habit of trying to eat my coat and as I was getting their food ready, she would rest her head on my shoulder or just nudge me out the way in eagerness.

The geese on the other hand could be aggressive, but never really attacked, they would make lots of noise, rear up and flap their wings, but that was about it, they could be intimidating at times though.

Apart from having to stick my hand in to bath of water full of geese droppings, the funniest story of the geese and I, came when the barn was put up for sale.

I got a message one morning there was to be a viewing, the estate agent was handling it, but could I make sure everything was tidy. No problem, that should be fine, that was until I got down to the gates to the barn and found all the geese running around the garden!

They had all found their way through a very small opening in the wire fencing that separated the garden from the fields beyond. With about twenty minutes to spare I had to get these bloody geese back through the fence, close it up and quickly feed everyone and tidy up, a sense of panic set in.

My first idea was opening up the hole a little wider, then throw a bowl of feed over the fence to the other side of the opening, good idea, they would follow the food, wrong, the donkeys came and ate it all, not a good start!

So I grabbed a long stick and went about trying to round them up and herd them through the gap, it seemed to work until one made a dash in the other direction, then as I tried to get the gathered up the rest scattered and I had to start again. I persevered, over and over again, eventually I got them all safely through the gap in the fence, closed the gap behind them, chucked them some grain, sorted the donkeys and then rather sweatily and very late got into the office to start work. There was definitely some serious bad language going on that morning, I’m glad there is no CCTV footage of me trying to round up the geese, it would be one of those shown on those TV clip shows or YouTube!

The other interesting time that came to mind was trying to get James, a full grow male donkey into a horse box and then the after care!

James had somehow got an insect bite on his, shall we say, private parts, which had become swollen and infected, so much so it required an operation that needed to be done at the vets. So the first task was to get a shy donkey, which liked nothing to do with humans into a horse box!

Sophie & James, The Donkeys

Sophie & James, The Donkeys

Now Sophie his sister, she was inquisitive and was easy to get into the box, but we didn’t need her, so we had the idea he may follow her in, we could get him in, secure him and then get her out.


He wouldn’t have it, we pushed and pulled and he dug in, when they say donkeys are stubborn, they aren’t kidding, James was the epitome of stubborn, he wasn’t having any of it, after a few hours of trying everything, we called in the Vet, we were out of ideas and he was scheduled for his operation the next day.

While waiting for the Vet, we kept trying, after about five hours the Vet arrived, a big Nigerian fella who I could hardly understand, when I say big, I mean I’m only five foot four and half inches tall, he towered over me and was twice as wide as me also.

He gave James a bit of a sedative injection to calm him down, then said the only way was to physically lift him in!!

Was he kidding, this was a third of a ton donkey, his idea was for the two if us to lift in this donkey who was fast becoming docile and even less responsive.

We got James to the door of the horse box, we both stood either side of him and locked hands behind the donkeys backside, James had no intention at this point of moving anywhere, so with a massive effort we managed to lift his back end and push him into the box. I think I got the short straw, as Jeff was so much bigger than I was, I’m sure this imbalance meant I carried most of the weight of a dead weight donkey, needless to say, I tore a number of back muscles, just the day before I was due in London for a three day Karate course, luckily my friend practices Shiatsu, he treated me a few times over the weekend and I got through it.

It didn’t stop there, when James came back after his operation, the area needed keeping clear of any further infections. Essentially the bite that had become infect was on his foreskin, so basically he had been circumcised! But the area needed keeping clear of further insect bites, the Vet’s had provided an ointment that would keep flies and other insects away, it just had to be applied around the area, daily!

I’m sure by now you’ve guessed who got that job, oh yes, I can’t remember volunteering for it and I can’t say that putting ointment around a donkeys privates was I my job description, but I got the task.

So I had to find a way of keeping a nervous donkey calm, he probably hated me for manhandling him anyway, whilst I smothered a thick ointment all around his privates and his stomach! The first few days weren’t easy, but I put food down for him to keep both of them occupied and applied the stuff to the area as required, not a pleasant job, I can also say I do know where the term hung like a donkey comes from also! But after a few days it was a lot easier, I think he understood I was only trying to help. After a couple of weeks he was healed and no longer needed treating, so we went back to our normal stand off relationship, although he was after that a little friendlier to me.

I once had to treat Sophie also, this time a syringe of medication to be squirted down her throat, making sure she took it all! This was probably harder than treating James’ bits, she hated it, day after day I had to try to hold her head, nose to the air with one arm, whilst using the other to get the syringe as far down her throat as possible and then squeeze, then holding her head up and rubbing her throat and neck until she swallowed!

I miss the donkeys now, I saw them last in December of last year for the first time in over a year, they still seemed to remember me. Sadly they escaped from their paddock a few months ago, they found themselves on the main line rail tracks, where they were hit by a high speed train and killed outright.

There were lots if things I did whilst working for the Architect that you wouldn’t expect to do in your day to day duties, the donkeys and animals were one thing, but I also ended up baby sitting from time to time, decorating, cleaning and gardening, amongst many other things. I spent most of my working life working for small companies, usually just me and my boss, in that environment you just get used to doing whatever is needed, being that baby sitting, looking after donkeys and everything else in between, so I have that whatever needs doing I’ll do it attitude.

The sad thing is though, I lost that attitude for a while, when I lost myself in a bottle, there were lots if things I needed to do, some weren’t pleasant either, but I just gave up for a while, the only thing I managed to do was create a real mess.

Now I’m trying to get back into that attitude at work, do whatever is needed, not just what my job description says, then to carry that attitude to my Church duties and karate. The hardest place is to do this at home, but I’m trying, I just need to try a bit harder.

Flash forward a century 
In an overgrown cemetery 
My tombstone lays so peacefully 
Dirt and grime over time slowly cover up the line: “He lived a full life, and so wonderfully” 
But no one remembers that life I’m just history 

Nothing more than distant little memories 
But I am in a place where I never felt more home
And now my old life seems to be Nothing more than distant memories 

Sadness strangely fills the mind 
Of a young girl trying to find where 
They say her great grandfather lies 
And as she gazes at the stone 
Of a man she’s never known 
She doesn’t think that’ll be her one day 
Where no one remembers your life 

We forget the treasure to come 
In a life that won’t let us down 
Where we’re much more than distant memories

Behind The Scenes Revamp

Going back to between Christmas and New Year I started some behind the scenes renovations that I wanted to carry out on this blog, the main one was the to totally overhaul my Music For Inspiration section, I wanted to simplify it a little and list the songs by artist.

Back then, even after only about 100 posts, it was slow process to sort and basically I abandoned my attempt and any changes to the Music page, I’ve been meaning to revisit the page for sometime, but never felt the urge to pick it up and start again.

So a little devoid of ideas of what to post this evening, I decided to pick up where I left off in January and revise that section of my blog, but unfortunately as it is a bigger task than a few hours this evening, there still isn’t much to see, but I will continue working on this and other changes over the coming weeks.

Don’t worry I don’t intend to change the content of what I write and how I write it, it will remain me, written by me, as always completely honest and completely me.

On another sadder note, some of you may remember these two characters from my post A Left Eye & The Guinea Fowl:

Sophie & James, The Donkeys

Sophie & James, The Donkeys

For over five years my first job upon arriving at work was to tend to these two lovable rogues, each morning I would put out their food, top up their water, periodically clean out their hooves, hold them whilst the farrier clipped their hooves and well the worst job relating to a pair of donkeys, is applying ointment to a male donkey’s privates, whist the other eats your jacket and you’re constantly watching that the bloody thing doesn’t take offence and kick you in the head.

Luckily for me James knew I was really there to help and refrained from kicking me in the head, but that didn’t stop Sophie trying to eat my jacket all the time, fun times and happy days.

But sadly this week I received the news that both donkeys were killed over the weekend, on Saturday morning they both escaped from their paddock and made their way across the neighbouring fields, only to find themselves on the train lines close by, where tragically they were hit and killed by the high speed London to Edinburgh train.

Having spent so many good times with the two of them, it is quite upsetting to hear of their fate, but also there is a sense of comfort that there was no great loss of life, the train it seemed continued with no significant damage and no injury to any persons.  A train hitting two donkeys at high speed could have ended in a fairly serious accident, thank God it didn’t and only two innocent donkeys lost their lives.

Rooftops by Jesus Culture
Here I am before you
Falling in love and seeking your truth
Knowing that your perfect grace
Has brought me to this place
Because of you I freely live
My life to you, oh God, I give

So I stand before You God
I lift my voice because you set me free

So I shout out your name from the rooftops I proclaim
That I am Yours, I am yours

All the good You’ve done for me
I lift up my hand up hand for all to see
You’re the only one
Who brings me to my knees
To share this love across the earth
The beauty of Your Holy Word

So I stand before You God
I lift my voice because you set me free

So I shout out your name from the rooftops I proclaim
That I am Yours, I am Yours
All that I am I place into Your loving hands
And I am Yours, I am Yours

Here I am, I stand with arms wide open
To the one, the Son, the everlasting God 


A Left Eye & The Guinea Fowl

Before life took it’s turn for the worst and I faithfully followed it down to the bottom of a bottle, my work took me out of town into a small village, the offices I worked from were in a converted barn, which also doubled as my Boss’s home.

I don’t drive, not that I’ve lost my license due to many insane drunk driving incidents, no actually I have just never learnt to drive, never held a provisional driving license or sat behind the wheel of car.  There are enough maniacs on the road without me joining the Road Rage brigade.

So each morning I would walk into town, catch a bus to the village and then walk to the Barns.  My first job each morning was not to put the kettle on, far from it, I had loads to do before that!

The Barns were surrounded by about 16/17 acres of land, which my Boss kept a number of animals on.  These included two donkeys, five geese, two Guinea Fowl and two dogs, plus a number of wild rabbits, foxes and even a visiting peacock from time to time.

So my first job each morning was to tend the animals, so dressed as smartly as I could in my shoes, trousers and shirt, I climbed over the fence from the garden area into the paddock, firstly to feed the donkeys and ensure they had fresh hay for bedding, next feed the birds, the geese and the guinea fowl.  I also had to ensure the donkeys and birds had plenty of water.

The geese had an old bath which was kept filled with water, but the geese weren’t particularly house proud and would get in the bath and well, do their business (OK, I am being overly polite here, I didn’t really want to use the word crap), so you can image the water after a few days wasn’t very clean.

I often had to reach down into the slimy geese poo water and take the plug out of the bath, then refill it.  What a great start to the day, now I had to sit at my desk all day smelling of goose dung, nice!

The Guinea Fowl started out a mating pair, the male was extremely protective and for a bird of his size, he was bloody aggressive.  When I walked across the garden each morning he would just run into my legs, attack my shins.  Why?  I haven’t got a clue, I was the idiot that fed him, why attack me?  I had to kick the bloody little git off all the time, but he always came back for more, day after day after day, eventually I never let him get too close, I would just kick out anyway, I think that wound him up even more, he still kept coming.

If you have seen my post Fireworks, Well Homemade Ones!, then you will know about the damage done to my left eye and how lucky I was to still have sight in it.  Well, I am surprised this left eye hasn’t abandoned me, just given up after the neglect I’ve shown it, fireworks, punches, kicks, etc and then to top it all a flying Guinea Fowl!

The mail usually never turned up at the barn until after lunch, the post box was just outside the main gates on a brick pillar, next to the pillar was gate into the paddock where the donkeys and geese were kept.  On this one day I went out to collect the mail and that bloody, stupid, crazy Guinea Fowl was perched on top of the gate, I pointed a finger at the bloody thing, I told him to stay there, don’t do anything stupid!

So as I opened the mail box and took out the mail, the lunatic bird flew straight at my head, it hit me, yes you’ve guess it right above my left eye, I could feel the scratches and blood starting to build up in a small scratch above my eye brow, I was furious, the bird did a runner before I could at get it, I was ready to make Sunday dinner out of it.

When I got back into the office I went to inspect the damage, there were scratches around my poor left eye, where the bird’s claws had dug in, but the most interesting scratch went from my top eye lid to the bottom one.

Once again I must have blinked or just closed my eyes as the damn bird hit me, it had scratched right across my eye, once again I was lucky, I dread to think what that bird’s sharp claw would have done if it had got beyond my eyelid and actually scratched my eye.

The stupid bird eventually disappeared, it’s partner was killed by a fox and some months later, I think he was taken by a fox too, he was never seen again and no I didn’t have any involvement, if I was involved he would have been on a plate and I would have enjoyed every bite!

The Original Angry Bird

The Original Angry Bird

He really was the original angry bird, I’ve heard of little man syndrome before, but this thing actually had little bird syndrome!

I was struggling to find a song to actually go with this post, there aren’t many songs about getting beat up by a Guinea Fowl, especially Christian ones, so I’ve gone with this, Fire with Fire by The Letter Black, because if I ever see it again I am gonna fight fire with fire and let the little git have it!

“We’re fighting fire with fire
The flames are burning burning
Higher and higher
It always has to be an eye for an eye
Justice remains the one and only desire
Fighting fire with fire”
(Fire With Fire by The Letter Black)

Sophie & James, The Donkeys

Sophie & James, The Donkeys

I have further tales of my time tending animals, just one of my many diverse job descriptions, especially storied of my time with the donkeys James and Sophie, but they are for another post.