j.c. mattingly
moffat, colo.

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June 23, 2014
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John Mattingly: Socratic Rancher 6-23-14

One of my old friends told me about a story that appeared last week in the national news that deserves to be memorialized in print. The story involves a wether goat named Mr. G and his life companion, a donkey named Jelly Bean.

Mr. G and Jelly Bean grew up together on a small farm in California where they were kept as pets by a kind old man who demanded nothing of them except that they enjoy life, though this particular pairing is rooted in common sense. It is typical to keep a goat with horses and donkeys because they have proven to be natural companions.

The old expression, “Get your goat,” comes from the occasional practice by racetrack bettors to influence the outcome of the race by stealing the goat that was the companion to a particular, favored horse, thereby upsetting the horse and reducing the chances of that horse performing well in the race.

So Mr. G and Jelly Bean lived an idyllic life as pets. This, in itself is a welcome story in contrast to much of the divisive news we hear these days. Unfortunately, the elderly gentleman who kept Mr. G and Jelly Bean either passed away or became incapable of taking care of them. The animal rescue folks came and rescued the goat and donkey, but were unable to find a home for them together.

Mr. G was accepted by a woman who had a small farm in southern California and Jelly Bean found a new home in the far north of the state. Upon arriving at his new digs, however, Mr. G immediately fell into a deep and despondent melancholy. He went into the barn provided by his new keepers, flopped down in the straw, and put his head into repose, producing the most doleful expression possible from a goat.

When a goat is depressed, the goat is capable of producing such a sad expression that it influences all other creatures around it, including flies. The new keepers of Mr. G reported that even the flies were fleeing the barn, and eventually, the humans themselves became so depressed that their concern led them to report this to the animal rescue people who had placed Mr. G with them. Mr. G’s new keepers then learned that he had grown up with a donkey, and the alert animal rescue person had a thought that perhaps the two creatures missed each other.

The animal rescue person contacted the new keepers for Jelly Bean and that person revealed that, indeed, Jelly Bean was terminally depressed, honking and braying, even crooning, in tones reminiscent of the saddest of sad country songs about loss of love, companionship, and even life. Jelly Bean had refused to eat and even drink water. So the new keeper of Jelly Bean offered to haul the donkey up to the small farm where Mr. G was, to see if that would lift the spirits of the two creatures.

Fortunately, Mr. G’s keeper had a camera on hand when Jelly Bean arrived. The moment Mr. G heard Jelly Bean braying from the back of the arriving trailer, Mr. G jumped up and dashed to the gate and began bleating a robust welcome, which was met by Jelly Bean braying in an equally robust greeting.

The concert of the bleating goat and braying donkey produced a melody of unmistakable happiness, while the sight of these two creatures uniting was one of the most heart-warming I have ever seen. Both did the Dance of Joy common to their species, rejoicing in the reunion, going nose to nose many times to reaffirm their connection.

Once the greetings were over, of course, Mr. G and Jelly Bean went straight to a hay feeder and began eating, side by side, but even as they did, they occasionally stopped to look at their life companion, just to confirm the other’s presence.

My old friend observed, “If goats and donkeys can get along, why can’t humans?” ❖

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The Fence Post Updated Jun 17, 2014 03:56PM Published Jul 8, 2014 12:19PM Copyright 2014 The Fence Post. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.