Memories of Country Living
Our donkey Clinton and our Fainting Goats
I used to live out in the country. We lived in a house on an acre and a half of mixed woods and clearing. One side of our property was fenced off for the fainting goats and the little Jerusalem donkey that my husband named Clinton. They had a few trees in their pasture but mostly it was open and weedy. That is what goats like the best. We had four of them. One male and three females or properly, a billy and three nannies.
Jerusalem donkeys are named that for the stripe down their back and across their shoulders. The legend is that this is the type of donkey that was used to carry the pregnant Mary to Bethlehem and then later, to carry Jesus into Jerusalem. God rewarded them for their service, by marking them as the type that was used.
They also had a shed for shelter. It was four sided and had an open doorway which could be shut off with a heavy, clear plastic tarp. It kept them nice and warm in winter and was opened up and cool in summer. We had it divided so that the goats could go in further so the donkey didn't step on them when they laid down.
Fainting goats are also called Tennessee Fainting goats or myotonic goats. They faint when exposed to stress or excitement.They do not produce the adrenaline which allows an animal to cope with those things. No one is sure if they were bred to do this, but they all came from a small herd owned by one man that lived in Tennessee. They were initially used to help provide protection for the rest of the herd of animals from predators. If a wolf or coyote got into the herd, all would run. The fainting goat though would faint, providing a distraction to the predator. The predator would go for that one and leave the rest of the herd alone. They are quite interesting to research.
We also had between 8 and 30 rabbits. That number changed as they bred and we sold them. We kept certain ones and sold the rest. Most went for pets but some went to meat.
We had a nice house although not huge. It had a big deck on the back of the house which we filled with a table and chairs, more chairs, a bar-b-que, and a swing. There were french doors leading from the kitchen/dining room to the deck. When we were outside, we would often open the doors and make it a huge entertaining area. Friends would come over, food would be cooked and placed on the dividing bar between the kitchen and dining area, people would fill both tables and all the chairs for a good time. The kids would finish first and out to the yard and woods would go. Running through the yard, playing hide and seek, football and climbing trees.
The adults would sit and enjoy their dinner, good conversation and fun times. The men would usually end up down at the far end of the yard starting a fire in the fire pit. We had logs flattened on top, around it for seating. The ladies would go in and clean up the food and kitchen and then take marshmallows, graham crackers, chocolate bars, and sticks out to the bonfire. We would sit out there until two or three in the morning, joking, talking and enjoying ourselves. The kids would play until they were exhausted, eat s'mores for dessert and play some more. As they wore out, we would shuffle them into the house and they would scatter all over the furniture in the living room and in the bedrooms to sleep. The little ones would spend the night and some of the older ones would.
Our friends all lived within about a mile and we got together at our house the most because we had the best for the purpose. Some of their houses were smaller and none had a deck that big. We were also the only ones with a fire pit with seating. We had cleared the trees for the seats from the pasture and made seating from them. We scavenged some cushions for them from everyone we knew who was getting rid of an old couch or chair. It was usually comfortable out there even if we were sitting on logs. We had flattened them with chain saws.
I miss those days now. We moved and friends split up. We don't get together very often any more. When we do, it is a special time. We live in an apartment and we have to drive about 20 miles to get to their houses. It is always a lot of fun.
Our baby goat
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