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Cape Fear Voices / The Teen Scene named 2024 Non-Profit of the Year by North Brunswick Chamber of Commerce

Cape Fear Voices/The Teen Scene

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Musings of a Retired Hobby Farmer

Part I: Donkeys
Dan Dodge

During the Spring of 1999, my husband and I decided to leave the bustling cities in Hampton Roads Virginia and relocate to the pristine countryside of Isle of Wight County, also in Virginia.  We continued to commute to our professional jobs in national defense and public administration until our retirements in 2001.

We purchased an 11-acre place that had several out-buildings including a 5-stall horse barn with 2 adjoining fenced pastures, an equipment shed, and of course, a house for us to live in.

After moving in, we decided that we needed something to live in the barn and eat the pasture grass [less mowing for us]…  We nixed the idea of cows, simply because, as we discovered, it was best to get them when they were a day-old.  This meant that the calf/calves would need to be bottle-fed.  I really did not want anything I had to bottle feed  — and then a few years later, take it to the slaughterhouse to put meat on our table.

We opted for a pair of donkeys: Luke and Lillie. A half-brother & half-sister who were both a year old.  These two sweethearts had never seen grass before and they were mesmerized by it.   Shortly after they arrived I stood in the barn doorway to the pasture one afternoon and called for them to come and have their evening feed.  Lillie came gleefully galloping toward me.  It seemed that she had no desire to stop and I was concerned that she might run me over.  At the same time, I thought that if I moved or showed fright in any way, she would have the upper hand in our relationship.  So I stayed put and did not move.  She stopped about 5 inches from me and proceeded to nibble on my shirt.  I had won her over.  She was mine.  Luke, on the other hand, was a bit of a stoic and ambled up to us to see what was going on.  He began to nibble on my shirt sleeve.  Seems I had won him over as well.

Jump start a few years and Lillie was ready to become a mom.  With a little networking, I found a male donkey, Nick, owned by Eddie.  So we made a date for Lillie and Nick.  Eddie showed up, riding a horse & leading Nick.  There was also a Beagle who trotted along.  Beagle did not belong to me or to Eddie.  Seems he just wanted to join the parade.  Reminded me of a long-ago read of Don Quixote.  The play-date did not go as planned, much to the chagrin of my curious neighbors who showed up with their folding chairs to witness the encounter.  After about an hour, with Lillie standing behind me & looking over my shoulder at Nick who was standing behind Eddie, looking at Lillie, it was decided to take Lillie on a little vacation to Nick’s pasture.  Lillie returned a week later and promptly fell asleep in her stall.  Ten months later, I went into the barn early one morning and saw two sets of eyes looking at me.  Sophie was born!


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