Category Archives: Norma Jean

She had an idea…

I know I probably talk too much about my donkey and her thought processes – and if I do, I’m sorry.  I just find it fascinating.  Now that she is free to roam around in my paddock, I can observe her – just being Norma Jean – often.

And today, this happened…

(Except, I only got photos of the last part.  So just go with me on the first part.)


I was in my office looking down into the backyard.  I saw Norma, visiting with Ethel Merdonk and Princess Buttercup Pebbles.

Then she turned around and went up to the new tree to nibble on the green weeds around it.

Here is where it got interesting…

I saw her pick up her head and stare straight forward.  Her ears were rotating around as she contemplated… something.

This was all happening as she was staring (I thought) straight into the living room through the French doors.

As I continued to watch, I clearly saw her switch from contemplation – to having a complete plan and execution decided.  I swear.  I saw the lightbulb go off and her whole demeanor changed.  She was on a mission.

Norma Jean walked straight forward, at a healthy clip, towards the downstairs windows.


I was a bit alarmed because I could tell that she was marching directly towards the French doors.   She doesn’t see that well and she had her fly mask on…which didn’t help.  I was hoping she was going to stop and not crash through the glass doors.

I flew downstairs to find… this.


I was so relieved that Norma had stopped at the door, I immediately went to the fridge.

I know, I know, rewarding her with watermelon was a bad idea, but I just loved that she was peering in to see what I was doing!  Or maybe she just realized that the windows were windows and that she could see inside… or maybe she saw a reflection and thought that I might be around in there.  I have no idea, really.  All I know is that she had an idea, and she went for it.

After gifting her the watermelon, I thought I’d better get Norma back down to the barn before she figured out how to turn the doorknobs… so I decided to feed 20 minutes early.

Norma must have read my mind because she dashed around to the front of the house and BRAYED for everyone to hear that I was coming out to feed – early.

She loves watermelon… and I was happy that she didn’t crash through the doors.

Thank goodness her head was facing away from me… her bray can be very loud…


I put on my hat and walked to the barn.  Norma Jean followed as fast as her little donkey legs would take her.

And as soon as we both arrived, she ran in front of me and blocked my path.

Norma:  You need to pay the fine.

Me:  I just gave you watermelon.

Norma:  I know, but that isn’t the fine.  You know the fine.  Pay up.

And so with that, the oldest donkey on the farm put her head into my chest and I paid the fine of cheek rubs and forehead kisses.

After she finished braying, she waited patiently for me to put on my hat and sleeves to go feed.

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I guess I now have a tea-time porch donkey.

As many of you know, I am now letting Norma Jean, my 30 year-old Jenny, roam the property from dawn until dusk.  I think this freedom is challenging her mind and gives her vast choices throughout the day, which I think enriches her life.  I feel she was struggling to maintain status in the herd, but now on the outside, she has clout and is also safe.  And, I know she is eating all of her supplements and not rushed at mealtime – very important for her because she had 2 choke episodes while in the herd.

At night, she beds down in the barn.

This arrangement has been fun for her and enlightening for me.  I never knew how entertaining it would be to watch NJ make decisions.

(I do remember, long ago, when I put a Go-Pro on the top of her halter and let it run for a half hour.  Now THAT was entertaining!

Anyway, it has been truly a joy to watch Norma go wherever she wanted and do whatever she wanted, within reason… I do keep her out of my garden after she fleeced all of my rose bushes…

It started about a week ago, with Norma coming up to my evening reading spot on the porch. She noticed that I was eating chips.

She won because she is such a good donkey – I gave her a tortilla chip or two.

Vivey was frightened and appalled at the same time, “You’re going to let HER up here?!”


Yesterday and the day before, I noticed that NJ was in the flower bed outside our front door right around mid-morning.

Hmmmm.  This would not be my first.

Well, THIS MORNING, I found her right at my front door, looking in!  I let the dogs out and back in, NJ didn’t move.  I asked her to move and she actually got closer to the door and just tilted her head outward.  I walked away, and she just watched.

Does she want tea?

I’m not sure because I next found her looking into the living room – so maybe she wants to watch TV or read a book.  Sigh.  Maybe she is just curious.  Maybe she can feel the air-conditioning if she stands outside a door.  Maybe she always wondered what happened inside the house.


But I’m guessing she’ll be back tomorrow.

This is how it starts. Don’t let your donkey stand in your flowerbed, or the next thing you know, she’ll be at your doorstep.

Here she is, getting more bold, again joining me on my evening reading on the porch session. I had no chips, but she was inquiring…

The next day, when I came home, I found her guarding the front door!  I was incredulous.  She was like, “And, so what?”

This morning. (Excuse the dog slobber and paws on the glass – this made them CRAZY.)

I tried to shoo her off of the porch, but she wasn’t having it. She simply turned her head.

Later, when I went out to check on the waters, she was still there. Eventually, she left.

And now, just 10 minutes ago, I found her here. Looking into the living room. I can’t say as I blame her because I’m 7 mins late feeding – and we all know how THAT goes…


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