There’s something new at our remote outpost deep in rural Texas County.

Actually, there are three new things.

They came in a package deal from a fellow resident of the Jillikins, who loved them but needed to move them. The gentleman wanted to find them a good home, preferably within the county.

When he contacted us, I was skeptical. But my skepticism soon gave way to grins and laughter.

My wife and I have often considered getting one as a pasture pet, but now that three donkeys are wandering around our property and sharing space with our three horses, it’s more fun and fascinating than I had ever envisioned.

Brothers Bernie and Abe and their buddy Joe Cool are like 24-7 entertainment. They’re some of the most expressive animals I’ve ever been around and are obviously quite intelligent.

Doug Davison

Doug Davison

And they’re extremely personable – in fact, they’re just plain friendly. Especially Abe, who absolutely craves human touch and is always right in the middle of things, wondering what’s going on or what’s going to happen next.

When the Three Amigos first came to their new home, we figured it might be wise to keep them separated from their larger four-legged counterparts. So we closed the gate between the two main sections of the property and the horses stayed down below while the Johns (which I’m told is the name for gelded donkeys) had run of the upper segment.

The reaction of each group was about as opposite as could be. The donkeys settled in right away and just sauntered around their section, checking out every square inch of the various grazing opportunities and sampling the yummy sticker bushes that birds have planted here and there along or near the fence lines. Meanwhile the horses were on high alert. Their curiosity and wonder had been greatly stirred, and they circled, pranced and stared at the alien beings from just the other side of the four-strand barbed wire barrier.

That went on for a couple of days. Horses with piqued interest and ears standing tall in amazement, donkeys playing it cool.

Then the morning came when we opened the gate. We were anticipating some fairly drawn-out drama, as the six members of similar species mingled for the first time.

But there was no NASCAR-like mega-crash. To the contrary, there was a minor outburst and then nothing but peaceful coexistence.

Not surprisingly, Joe Cool made the first move. At about age eight, he’s the oldest of the John-Boys and kind of acts like their leader. And he most definitely considers himself cooler than his five and six-year-old counterparts.

Also not surprisingly, when he made his advance into enemy territory, Joe was met by Sean, second in command of the horse outfit and no doubt sent into battle by his elder, General Sur.

At first it looked like we were in for some real fun. As Joe boldly walked straight down the middle of the main pasture, making a bee-line for the lush bottoms and spring head at the base of the hill, Sean moved sharply toward him, lowered his head and quite literally charged at his donkey foe’s hind end.

That hind end responded with a compact but calculated mini-buck and Joe’s reconnaissance mission continued. We pretty much expected Major Sean to spin around and bear his larger, longer guns to retaliate. But no such tactic was deployed; the bigger of the two opponents never made another move and before long there were three Johns becoming familiar with the dry wash in the bottoms.

Sean went back to camp and gave his verbal report to the general.

“Sir, our superiority has been conveyed, sir. Response was minimal, sir.”

“Good work, soldier. Stand down.”

Besides being funny, friendly and fearless, the Three Amigos can also be handled as riding animals. They’ll take a bridle and bit with ease, they can be saddled, and they respond (in their own donkey way) to commands like go, stop and turn. And the John-Boy bro’s are even a team – how cool is that?

Don’t be too surprised if you someday see my wife and I pull up in the Hardee’s parking lot in an old buckboard wagon being pulled by a couple of long-eared look-alikes.

There are so many neat things about these silly equine characters, like their gigantic heads and ears, their kind eyes, their spindly little tails, and their cute little trots. What I don’t like about them is – well, I can’t think of anything just yet.

Animals that are fun to be around, enjoy your presence and eat annoying sticker bushes.

That’s what I’m talking about.

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald.  Email:  ddavison@houstonherald.com.

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