Our friend and neighbor, Karen, called us about two baby donkeys (one was only 6 months old) that had been abandoned at a sale barn a few hours east of our FHF Ranch. A man had purchased them with the intention of taking them to slaughter, and Karen just couldn’t let that happen… and so, Operation Salt & Pepper went into full effect.
We didn’t know if the little white donkey would make it – she was tiny, and she was nothing but bones. We also didn’t know if they were sick or injured, so both baby donkeys would need to be quarantined away from our other animals and see a veterinarian as fast as possible. Karen drove hours for the exchange that took place in the parking lot of a gas station. Then, we drove hours in the opposite direction to get them to our friends at the Humane Society of North Texas, who agreed to quarantine them for a month and provide initial veterinary care. It was an all-day labor of love from sun-up to sun-down, and we would gladly do it all again.
We’ve named them Salt & Pepper, and they are now the total joys of our Ranch. Shadow, our 3 year old donkey, has become their caretaker. Although Spirit, our pony, can often be found napping with the babies in a stall. After just one month at the Ranch, they already greet us in the morning with all the other kids and roll happily in the mud on our hill.
Salt gives hugs. If you squat down beside her, she wraps her neck around yours and lays her head down your back. Thirty days ago Pepper ran from us when we approached, and now she loves having her neck scratched. Sometimes when you’re squatting for a Salt Hug, Pepper will even come kiss your nose. There is nothing more rewarding than this love!
And Then There Were Three
We launched “Operation Salt & Pepper” to save two miniature donkeys, and we had no idea that we would actually save three!
One of the orphans, who we named Salt, was in critical condition – just skin and bones – and over the first 14 days at the ranch she slowly picked up weight with the help of medicine and tons of good food. But our second orphan, Pepper, nearly doubled her belly size! As we stood one morning and snapped a photo, we realized that Pepper was suddenly as wide as she was tall, and we just knew — we’re going to have a baby!
Woohoo! We started an official “Udder Watch”… a twice daily up-close-and-personal texted photo to our FHF family documenting the progress of Pepper’s udder (it’s one of the best ways to pinpoint the day and time of a donkey birth and also one of the most embarrassing photos to receive while in line at a restaurant).
A few hours before the baby donkey was born, we started checking in on Pepper every 30 minutes. We were SURE that the baby was hours away because of the milk that was dripping (check out the last photo we took before the birth). At around 3 a.m. we paused our check-ins, because a massive storm blew in. All the animals took cover in their stalls, and when we came out shortly thereafter, we saw two sets of ears coming from Pepper’s stall and an absolutely adorable full-furred baby already hopping around and tripping on buckets.
Welcome Arlo to the FarmHouse Fresh Ranch! We are over the MOON that we were able to save his mom (she is such a loving and patient soul), and that we also received Arlo as this extra special little gift.