For the love of Norma Jean…and my ponies.

For those of you new to the blog, Norma Jean is my donkey.  She is 27 now.  I’ve had her 25 years.  For all of those years, she lived with my two ponies, Slick and Dodger – both who have now passed.  Slick left us in 2016.  Dodger, just this April.

When Slick passed away, Norma Jean was so broken-hearted, it was palpable.

As a human, not knowing the depth of a donkey heart, I figured she would rally with the friendship of her other best friend, Dodger.  However, as time marched on, I realized that Slick was the ‘middle’.  He was the glue that kept the trio together.  Dodger loved Slick and Norma loved Slick.  Now that the glue was gone, we were left with two bereft equines… making due with each others’ second best.

But, lo and behold, after a long while, Dodger and Norma picked up the pieces – together.  They had each other… and although that wasn’t perfect, it ended up being enough.

As Dodger slowly lost his hearing and most of his sight, Norma Jean was there.  Her pony duty gave her a purpose – and Dodger appreciated his donkey eyes and ears.

And then Dodger passed – suddenly.

Norma was there.  She saw the whole ordeal and I think she was in as much shock as i was over the traumatic events of that day.  A transformational time for all involved.

Norma behind Slick in Grass Valley.


Norma has not been the same since.  I had convinced myself that she was sick or maybe dying herself… but she checked out healthy (for an older jenny).  The physical donkey was fine… but Norma was gone.  She was… blank.  The light had gone out of her eyes and she grew very grey overnight.  Norma, as I knew her, had left the building.

I even tried putting her with the new horse, Dalton – which was fine.  Norma went through the daily motions, but she wasn’t herself.

Until recently… I’ve noticed some subtle changes… she has been slightly perkier, showing signs of the old Norma Jean.  I’ve noticed that she will venture out into the 6 acres… she has even asked to be let into the pastures with the other horses.  And the best of all, she is braying again.  She is demanding attention.  She is acknowledging that she is still here.

Norma is starting to come back…

Yes, she is an old donkey.  But, she is my friend and I want to encourage her and give her the best life possible.

Dodger and Slick in Grass Valley.


I loved my Grass Valley ranch for many reasons, but the foremost was that it was perfect for equines.

Here, our place is not perfect for equines.  And, knowing that it isn’t great for equines, I don’t really want to bring any more equines here.  And that’s my dilemma.


However… Norma Jean has come a very long way.  I love her and I loved her ponies. Now that Norma is back with the living, should I take an opportunity to bring her a friend or two?

I think it is time.

After a bunch of consideration and waiting for 6 weeks for these two Bucket Funders to find homes…

I’ve decided to bring to Norma Jean a one-eyed pony gelding and a lonely jenny, who need homes – any home.  Perhaps this pony and this jenny will heal her heart, or help her soul, or patch the wounds of her losses.

My hunch is… that these two little equines were waiting for one big-hearted donkey.  Maybe instead of two ponies and one donkey, now there can be two donkeys and one pony.  Mix it up a bit and see where the pieces land.

Horsegods know, they all need whatever love there is to share.

Norma Jean. She’s been through a lot… but she’s coming back. The light is starting to shine again.

Jack, the one-eyed Shetland who was pulled from the kill pen in Texas. I am not sure of his eye issue, but I was told he is blind in one eye.  I’m praying that they like each other…

This little jenny still has no home… so I think she can come live here and let NJ show her the ropes…


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