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Thursday, January 28, 2016

Paco's Birthday Picnic

Today is Paco's eleventh birthday. As you might know if you follow along here, we always throw a little party for Paco because of all the donkeys he has always needed the most reassurance, as he is our resident worrier.

Now usually we celebrate at Old Barn with just the donkeys, although Stella and Iris, or The Head Troll, often crashed. One year, at Paco's request, we had a Fig Newton Layer Cake, and although it only lasted minutes, it was a huge success. Other years we play party games with animal crackers.

But this year, things were a bit problematic for a barn party. The flock and Otis the llama are sharing a field with the donks so I had to improvise. I told Paco not to worry, that I would surprise him.

The day started with mist, but it was warm. By noon it was gorgeous with something we all relish this time of year-sun. I decided it was a perfect day for a picnic, donkey style.

So I trudged to the upper fields where I could see the flock grazing. I couldn't see the donkeys, so was unsure if they were there or in the old barn napping. But it was so pretty and warm, I lallygagged along with my picnic item, a big bag of animal crackers. The sheep came over to greet me and I hung out with them for awhile. It gave me time to check out growing bellies of the bred ewes.

Suddenly, the flock was alerted to noise, and fled back about twenty feet, as Otis gathered them in his protective llama circle. The donkeys had come up from a hidden part of the field, behind brush. They were eager and happy to see me. Pino and Lucia were the first to arrive to sniff out my picnic offering, then Matilda, and Paco stood back a bit, waiting.

"Paco, come on over, it's a birthday picnic of animal crackers!" I said.

He swooshed his tail and came a runnin', his little stout head tucked downward in donkey play.

"I'm eleven," he said proudly.

"I'm twelve," said Pino.

"I'm nine," said Lucia.

"I'm old," said Matilda.

"I'm fifty seven," I said.

They all looked at me, in a somewhat quizzical, almost horrified look-thinking about how old that was, to a donkey anyway.

"You'll be dead soon," said Paco, worried.

"I hope not, I could live to be eighty, or ninety," I said.

"That's ridiculously old, " said Matilda.

"We're here to celebrate Paco's birth, everyone, that was a wonderful day for all of us because I can't imagine my world without him. So let's all share our animal crackers," I said.

"I want the elephants!" said Lucia.

"I can't eat the elpants," said Paco.

"El-e-phants," Lucia corrected.

"El-pants," he tried again.

She sighed.

And suddenly the flock and Otis, who had been hanging back in the distance, hoping perhaps for a late invite, fled backwards again, behind Otis. I heard grass and fast movement behind me.

It was Marcella. This complicated things, as Matilda is protective of the donkeys and flock if Marcella comes by. Fortunately, she learned quickly to be submissive to Matilda, and she sat by my side like a pro picnicker.

It was a quick party, they often are with the donkeys as the food is usually the inspiration for them to keep the party going. Conversation can only last so long when you are a donkey, I've found.

When the last cracker had been eaten, Paco looked around, walked away a few steps, then turned around to look at me. I caught his expression in one of the photos here.

"Are you sure you won't die soon?" he asked.

I hugged him.

"You mustn't ponder death too much, Paco. It is the bookend of life and it is what is in between we should focus on. And I don't want you to worry about it."

And they slowly left the party. But then, Paco saw one more forgotten animal cracker, all alone, lost in the tall grasses, and as Marcella caught on to his find, he swished his tail, and reared his round rump up a bit to tell her, matter-of-factly,

"I am the birthday boy, it is mine!"