Save the donkey!

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by primroselane, Jun 19, 2005.

  1. primroselane

    primroselane Well-Known Member

    May 10, 2002
    Deep in the heart of Texas
    Donkeys used to be everywhere in Italy. Big black ones roamed Italy's heel. There were white ones on the little island of Asinara and gray ones with brown rings on their legs and a brown cross on their backs in Tuscany, where the princess lived. On Sardinia, they grew to be just two feet tall.

    At death, medieval peasants were buried with their deceased donkeys, in a nod to the beasts' value. St. Francis, the patron saint of Italy -- and animals -- rode one. Priests blessed them. Renaissance painters put them in their frescoes.

    Then came the combustion engine. Carts and plows were replaced by trucks and tractors. Donkeys were sold for meat. The princess missed them.

    So she and like-minded Italians are now trying to revive the donkey through methods used to preserve many things to which Italians are attached: identifying a niche market, creating a tourist attraction and, above all, going to the government and European Union for money.

    Donkeys, a symbol of Italy's impoverished past, might not seem as important as, say, Venice or family farming, both under threat -- unless you see something profoundly Italian in them, as Princess Nicoletta d'Ardia Caracciolo does.

    "Italy isn't Italy without donkeys," she said, gazing lovingly at the herd of 17 she keeps on land near Magliano, a hilltop town in far western Tuscany. "Italy without donkeys is like Italy without churches."

    In Sardinia, where the donkey population shrank from about 20,000 in the 1940s to a few score by 2000, researchers are keeping breeds of both the Sardinian ass and the Asinara donkey in a national park on Asinara island, once the site of an Alcatraz-style prison.

    In late May, the Tuscan town of Grosseto hosted National Donkey Day to show off the local Miccio Amiatino, the breed raised by Princess Caracciolo, as well as other stock from all over Italy. The town became a virtual time machine, filled with carts and little boys leading braying animals on rope halters.

    Donkey owners hawked donkey milk, which they touted as a substitute dairy product for people allergic to cow's milk. Ugo Corrieri, who heads the psychiatric department at Grosseto hospital, explained the possibilities of "onotherapy," the use of donkeys to improve the motor skills of disabled children and help children and teenagers who have difficulty relating to their surroundings. imilar programs employ horses for the same purpose.

    Maria Patrizia Latini, who keeps five donkeys for the use of both tourists and disabled children, said she was trying to persuade investors to explore the legendary cosmetic properties of ass's milk. The historical testimony is convincing: Cleopatra, Nero's wife Poppea and the Austrian Empress Sissi all soaked in baths of donkey milk.
  2. bergere

    bergere Just living Life

    May 11, 2002
    Now in Virginia
    That is wonderful, and Thank you for sharing that bit of information I enjoyed it!!

  3. JoyKelley

    JoyKelley Well-Known Member

    Jan 7, 2005
    I learned to ride horses on a bunch of Donkeys at church camp when I was 9. Now for the last year plus I have been enjoying my first donkey, a standard jennett , Fiona, age 2 next month. I wonder how anyone can get by in life without a friend like her. For example this weekend we worked out side alot. All the others, goats, horse and mule would say hi and then go about their business. Not Fiona. If i am outside she is with me, mostly. She likes to walk with her head under my arm . When we carried lumber , she "helped". When I hammer I have to be careful cause she's helping, When we used a chain saw we had to **** her away or she would help. When we used the rental track hoe, first day she had to protect me from the monster, by the second day she had to help with that too and I had to stay right with her to keep her from getting hurt. When I drive up she calls to me, when I come outside she calls to me, If I sleep to late , the others ask her to call to me to bring breakfast.

    A few months ago we redesigned/reconfigured her stall.
    She was not happy with the changes. I was sitting on my knees and she walked beside me and needing to express her displeasure she kicked me in the back. but the funny thing is that she didn't kick me, she gave me the barest of brushing taps. Just letting me know that she didn't like this but wouldn't want to hurt me. I was surprised to say the least at my own trusting stupidity. I could have been pounded but am thankful that she restrained herself . We are learning to get along she and I , I respect her intelligence and unique donkey realities, and she respects my fragilness and authority.

    I can't begin to describe how I have fallen in love with the silly little girl. I posted this before but last Christmas the grand kids were here, and I would let the littest ones sit on her and I would hold them. She was patient and allowed it but after the 2nd day I was squatted on the ground resting and she came and sat her bottom on my shoulders. She did it because obviously it was the thing to do, we sat on her , she sits on us.

    Don't you just hate when your heart is full and you really can't describe it , thats how it is with Fiona.
  4. Jan Doling

    Jan Doling Well-Known Member

    May 21, 2004
    Zone 9b
    In the nearby village of Geneva, there are miniature donkeys. Friday the owners found one dead in her stall...she had been assassinated (shot). I am guessing the noise irritated a neighbor. I just think they are the most adorable critters (but then Eyeore was always my favorite character).