My last post was all about Pedro, the miniature donkey from Marion.
Puts me in mind of another donkey: Gumdrop, the guard donkey.
Gumdrop is a regular-sized donkey, not a miniature like Pedro. She’s a working donkey, and has a full-time job guarding sheep. Gumdrop lives and works at Biltmore, and she spends all her time grazing pseudo-peacefully in the pasture with her flock. I say pseudo-peacefully, because Gumdrop has a secret: she’s an undercover donkey-ninja among the sheep.
The Biltmore sheep occupy a quiet hillside pasture on the estate. They move around some, creating the quintessentially pastoral “sheep-dotted-landscape” that you might expect to see on a farm. If you glance at the pasture, you just see sheep. Look more carefully, though, and you’ll see that “one of these things is not like the others” (remember the Sesame Street song that helped generations of kids differentiate between similar things?). One of these things is Gumdrop the guard donkey, efficiently cropping grass, apparently unconcerned with the world around her. Mess with her sheep, however, and it’s Gumdrop en garde!
Unbeknownst to me, donkeys have a reputation as reliable pasture guardians. I knew they were smart and stubborn, but I had no idea they could be trained or encouraged to be watchdogs (watchdonkeys?). Gumdrop keeps a constant watch on her sheep and her pasture; whether friend or foe, nothing goes there without her approval. Over the years, Gumdrop has protected the flock from a number of dogs and coyotes with less than honorable intentions toward her wooly constituency.
Hark! Who goes there? With Gumdrop on the job, not nobody, not no-how. Gumdrop also has a sister in the rent-a-crop business; her name is Jelly Bean. Between the two of them, if you can’t stand the hoof, stay out of the pasture.