• Delaney's Donkey

    20c in Belfast yesterday.
    We took the dog for a dander over to the new apiary site at Minnowburn, a National Trust property.
    A couple of my friends used to work for the National Trust and always refer to it as the National Front. I have been milliseconds away from letting slip the F word on a couple of occasions when speaking to the head warden.

    We have a second site 200 yards away on private property where one of our BKA members has 4 colonies in a paddock.
    The hives were recently fenced off as the property owner has acquired two Shetland ponies and a donkey. I had to lean the bike on a different fence last week as one of the horses started to eat the saddle off it.
    On the way out I noticed that the donkey was in with the bees, not right in the hive of course, that would be ridiculous. This particular donkey has criminal antecedents of knocking over bee hives. There has been a lot of talk recently on the bee forums about bee armageddon and bee holocausts, but I imagine your average donkey has no time for any chatter about bees being the canary in the coalmine or the lack of midges on the car windscreen compared to years gone by.

    I rang Alan, the owner of the bees, and let him know there was a dangerous donkey on the loose. He lives on the other side of town and was peeling potatoes to feed Sunday guests, so asked me if I could get the donkey to the correct side of the fence. It's poor etiquette to separate a man from his potatoes anywhere on the Island of Ireland.

    I have to hold my hand up here and state that I know feck all about donkey management, although I imagine there is a perception out there that the Irish are natural Donkey whisperers. I was once knocked from my bike by a mule in Mexico when it spooked and ran as I approached, pulling its tether taut across the road just as I was riding over it.

    To get the donkey on the right side of the fence, I had to move it about 30 yards to a gate. The bee colonies blocked the way in a kind of bottleneck. The only equipment I had was an apple and a dog lead. No veil or smoker. And unfortunately a donkey does not come equipped with a collar like a well dressed dog.
    I tried the apple but the beast would only take one step forward before expecting a significant reward.
    I then looped the dog lead around its neck and tried to lead it to the gate but it was a case of one step forward two steps back.
    My other half Colette, and the dog, were watching from outside the paddock. The dog started to make the whimpering sound it makes when she knows that things are not stacking up. She does this if she sees someone really drunk and falling over, or a man wearing a crash helmet standing on a wall with his hands in the air, that sort of thing. Sorry, didn't mean to bring my mates into the story. Colette started to take photographs. I was thinking of that article about the man beating the elephant covered in the Sun last week, so the option of taking a stick to it was quickly discounted. I had no desire to become a pariah in the national media and the Sun runs regular stories about donkeys being beaten, usually by the Spanish.
    I eventually got the donkey to the gate through a combination of pulling with the lead and pushing at its back end with the other arm. The apple was completely eaten before the half way point. It slowed down in the bee bottleneck as I reckon it muct have previously been stung a time or two. Luckily it was quite a small donkey.
    Are there Shetland Donkeys?
    The two ponies came over to welcome back their asnine mate. I had one hand on the latch and the donkey was pulling me backwards, reversing away from it. The ponies were going buck mad on the other side, jumping up and down like spring lambs shaking their oversized heads. For a horrendous moment I thought they were going to push past me and get in with the bees as well - the equivalent of total meltdown at that Japanese reactor.
    I pushed the donkey through the portal and got the latch down. One of the ponies hurtled towards him like a guided missile and butted him on his side. They careered off.
    He is probably back in there again today. The grass is greener and I can see why he would not want to share a paddock with those two ponies.

    This article was originally published in blog: Delaney's Donkey started by Jon
    Comments 2 Comments
    1. Trog's Avatar
      Trog -
      Loved the link! (and the story)
    1. AlexJ's Avatar
      AlexJ -