This is Georgia.

Here she is with her mother, Cheney.  Georgia is the larger, darker one.

Georgia and Cheney were the first farm animals we got when we moved here nine years ago.  We were told that they were mother and daughter, and we really have no idea how old they are, except that they are more than nine years old.  The guy said he thought they were something like four and six or six and eight and I knew he probably was lying and they were more like fourteen and sixteen.

The farriers have told us that they are well into their teens and probably in their twenties.

Anyway, they have always been our bad, naughty donkeys.  I’ve written a bit about them.

We have loved them.  We love to hear them bray.  I used to worry that their braying would bother the neighbors and then I found out that our neighbors love it too.  Braying donkeys make me smile.

Except tonight.

Dave was out at the barn after milking tonight, filling water buckets.  I had come back to the house to deal with the milk and clean the machine.

And Dave heard Cheney braying.

He knew something was wrong, just by the way she was braying. So he went looking for her.  He found her with Georgia.

Georgia has died.

She was lying down near the back fence, and Dave said that she looked like she simply dropped.

She’s been doing poorly for quite some time.  She foundered, we had two different farriers out to fix her feet, she’d be a little bit better for a while and then she’d start looking ill again.  When the vet was out here with Frances that day, we had him take a look at her.

He said that donkeys sometimes get adrenal problems and that it looked like that might be the problem. I asked him if it was treatable and he said, well, yes.  Sort of.  It was the “sort of” that stopped me.  He kind of shrugged a little and said, “You know she’s pretty old.”  And that was my answer.

What he was telling me was “Yes, we can treat it, if that’s the problem, but she’s old, it will cost a pure fortune and it probably won’t give her much time anyway, and maybe no quality of life.”

Georgia was sweet and we loved her, but she and Cheney were and are farm animals. They have a job. They aren’t house pets.  We can’t run an old folks home for farm animals.  If we try to do that, we’ll go broke and not be able to have any animals at all.

We gave her nine very good years.  She was petted and pampered, as far as the average farm donkey is concerned.  We provided shelter for her in winter when the weather was bad.  Most don’t get that.  She and Georgia have their own stall, which they always shared.

We will miss her.

But not as much as Cheney will.

I suspect we’ll have to find another donkey soon.  They are herd animals.

You were a good one, Georgia.

And now I’m going to go cry a little bit.


37 thoughts on “Georgia”

  1. I cried a little too. I’m so sorry Sally for your’s and Cheney’s loss. Yes, they are just animals, but they do manage to find a special place in our hearts. Extra pets to Cheney from me.


  2. Sally & Dave – I’m so very sorry for your loss. There’s simply no way around it, her death is a loss.

    “She was lying down near the back fence, and Dave said that she looked like she simply dropped.”

    Ask your vet, but that sounds like an aortic rupture, sometimes called an aortic arch burst. It’s a fast death. It’s…not unlike a pipe giving out due to metal fatigue – it just blows and in a very short time it’s all over. It’s actually not that uncommon but it’s underdiagnosed because not many people want to have their horse, donkey or mule undergo an autopsy. It’s happened to several of my elderly horses through the years and nothing makes it any easier.

    “In horses, rupturing of the aorta is a well recognized, but uncommon condition. It mainly affects elderly horses.”

    Except for the tears and the other practical matters. I’m so sorry. Please give Cheney extra scratches from me and my old farts.


  3. Awe. I owned my good quarter horse from the time we were twelve (he was older, my birthday is in November and his was in June) until he was 29. He passed away in his pasture the January before he would have been 30. I didn’t cry a little I sobbed a lot. It’s been 6 years since he passed and very few days go by I don’t think of him.


  4. I love that top picture with her ears up.

    I’m glad for Georgia they were together, in the end. It’s always hard for the one left behind or the one to see it. Even though Cheney is an animal, I’m positive by her braying she was frightened and upset.

    Good luck in finding a loving companion for Cheney ❤.


  5. I’ve never known what to say to anyone who has lost a loved one so I will simply say I’m sorry.

    And I will sit in silence with you.


  6. Animals get us down inside where few other things can go.

    I lost my elderly cat going on a year now. I’d fostered her as a two day old kitten. I was the only human she could stand. I kinda believe that pain and loss are part of love. Open yourself that deeply, you’re going to get hurt. But the pain is worth it. Even if it’s only a cat, a dog, or a donkey.

    You loved her. You gave her a good life. The fact that it hurts means that she mattered, and that’s a good thing.

    My condolances.


  7. Sally and Dave, I am very sorry for the loss of Georgia. The bond between humans and farm animals or pets runs deep, and it is devastating to say goodbye.

    But you are so right. You guys gave her an incredibly compassionate and nurturing life compared to many others, and I always enjoy the stories. Your animals are sure loved! That’s true homesteading. Give Cheney some extra pets for me.


  8. I am so sorry for your loss, Sally and Dave. Donkeys live a long time and they are very stoic animals. Georgia tried the best she could. Poor Cheney.

    I have a bonded pair of donkey geldings, coincidentally, the same colors as your two. One (Snickers) is more bonded to the other than the other one (Buster) is. Buster will go do his job weaning and necking foals and love his responsibility. Snickers, not so much. When the pro goes to work we put Snickers with a horse or two and he is content. Can Cheney hang with the cows? I don’t know cows, so…

    I got my donkeys from a donkey breeder in Frankfort, KY who is a friend of mine. He has a breeding herd. He is also a quarter horse breeder and judge. His wife is a vet at Three Chimneys. If you want contact info at any time just let me know, when Cheney is ready.

    Donkeys are the most soulful equid characters on earth. They have much deeper personalities than horses do. They make me laugh every day, as does my pig.

    Now I will shed a donkey tear.


  9. I’m so sorry for your loss and Cheney’s.

    I will give special rubs to my ponies tomorrow in Georgia’s honor. Particularly the gelding who is 3/4 blind.


  10. That sucks, Sally. So sorry. Seems very unfair that Georgia went first. Poor Cheney. When the natural order is messed with, it just hurts your heart worse, somehow. I hate it.

    On the other hand….Cheney and Georgia got really lucky. They hit the lottery when they got their people. They’ve had good care and a comfortable safe home for…as the Irish would say….”Donkey’s years” (a very long time)

    If I come back as a donkey (or a cow)…I want to live on a farm just like yours, with people just like you and Dave.


  11. Can Cheney hang with the cows?

    I suspect she is going to need a donkey friend. They have always ignored Frances (although they respect her space and resent the hell out of her position as Top Animal), and they dare the boys to get anywhere near them. Cheney is going to be very alone.


  12. My heart breaks for Cheney and you Sally.
    I grew up with a donkey and she would come running and braying when I came home from school…
    I can understand how you can miss Georgia and I hope you find a special friend for Cheney soon.


  13. I am so sorry for your loss of Georgia. No matter what the breed they are our babies. We are their humans. I will light a candle for you for the energy to get through this time.


  14. Oh, Sally, I’m so sorry. Thank you for sharing this news with us and I really wish I could give you a hug right now.

    I’m so sorry.


  15. Sally, I am so sorry. Our animals, whether working or petting, always become a part of our heart. I do hope you find Cheney a new friend.


  16. Sally – Cheney may be very happy with an old mule that is ready to retire, or a younger mule who can work during the day and hang out at your place in the evenings. If they like one another, she’ll probably be the boss. Your neighbor already has mules so perhaps something can be worked out.


  17. I’m sort of thinking about a young jenny (no sex/reproduction issues) that Dave can work with, halter train, lead train, the whole thing. I think he’d enjoy it.


  18. Cheney seems to be adjusting. She’s not braying as much. She’s kind of hanging near the calves and Frances without acknowledging them and pretend they aren’t there since they are way beneath her. But I watched her for a bit and she’s grazing and drinking water, so that’s good.


  19. Oh Sally, Dave, and Cheney,

    I am so very sorry for your loss. She was a very lucky donkey to draw the “Davis” card, and I hope knowing that gives you some comfort.

    It sucks that we don’t get to keep our animal friends as long as we want to; it is just heartbreaking. ???Sending hugs your way.


  20. Tears run down from my eyes for you, Dave, and Cheney. I am sorry for your loss. (((HUGS)))

    You have taught me so much. Thank you,



  21. I’m sorry for your loss. You’ve had a rough go lately with your animals you so obviously love. Please keep sharing stories of them. My neighbor has a bunch including a donkey and a rooster. When I hear them I think of your guys and smile.


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