This Valhalla Project blog provides updates on the 200-acre pilot property in the Ozark mountains with information on construction, farming,
animal husbandry, and future energy programs. Valhalla has established a very special retreat and reintegration facility for post-911 combat
Soldiers and war zone civilian workers transitioning back into the civilian world; see our "Valhalla Vision" page for an overview.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Animals: Donkeys (Two Standard Issue Burros)


PERMANENT DUTY ASSIGNMENTS

Weed control
forage doubles as essential dietary component

Soil enhancement
production of high-quality manure for vegetable garden applications

Guard Duty
chasing away coyotes, wild dogs, and other predators;
random dismounted patrols; protection of smaller farm animals

TEMPORARY DUTY (TDY) ASSIGNMENTS

Packing and Carrying Assistance

Assisting with moving straw bales, garden soil, groceries, visitor luggage,
and other essentials. May require competence with the use of small wheeled
carts or specially designed backpacks

Specialty Therapist
Occasionally responsible for carrying out special Soldier mental health
and welfare projects, on a case-by-case basis as required
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Two obviously hungry donkeys chowing down
in Zormat, Afghanistan (Spring 2010)
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"Donkeys, or burros, have gained popularity among ranchers and farmers for protection of sheep and goats. This practice capitalizes on the herding instincts as well as natural dislike and aggressiveness of some donkeys toward dogs and coyotes. With proper management practices, guard donkeys can be a great asset for protecting sheep and goats." -- Texas Department of Agriculture (click here for more).
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Donkeys are extremely hard to intimidate, and even much larger animals will often run away rather than challenge a determined burro:


Generally speaking, while donkeys can be very gentle with children and the disabled, their natural instinct will be to attack canines:


Some people try very hard to help donkeys and dogs to become friends, yet on Valhalla we will want our donkeys to instantly defend the other farm animals from wild dogs and coyotes - without hesitating. It would be unreasonable to expect the donkeys to sort out the differences between friendly from invading canines. Finally, even "successful" attempts to train donkeys to overcome their very strong natural instincts are rather dubious in the end anyway, as very shown in this video:


With friends like that, who needs enemies? For this reason, the Valhalla farm dogs and donkeys should work seperately - very much away from each other - at all times.
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What can a donkey possibly teach a combat Soldier
or anyone else who might feel abandoned or betrayed in any way?

Remember this classic story...
One day a farmer's donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally, he decided the animal was old, and the well needed to be covered up anyway; it just wasn't worth it to retrieve the donkey.

He invited all his neighbors to come over and help him. They all grabbed shovels and began to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. Then, to everyone's amazement, he quieted down.

A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well. He was astonished at what he saw. With each shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up.

As the farmer's neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up. Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and happily trotted off.

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