If you’ve experienced a bad day, being around loving animals is a sure antidote for the blues. Having an arm load of puppies kissing your face and snuggling your neck would give anyone a warm, fuzzy feeling. If you’ve never experienced the affection given by donkeys, you’re missing out. Bell Meadows Farm Miniature Donkeys has given birth to four furry foals all within the last month. It’s a love-fest right out of the gate.
After writing the last article about the donkeys, Melanie Graves Bell graciously invited my husband and I for a visit to the farm. Bell and her husband, Kevin are owners of Bell Meadows Farm located in the heart of Lone Oak, Kentucky. In fact, their farm is right across the street from our subdivision. We’ve witnessed the donkeys playing in the field from a distance but never had the pleasure of being up close and personal.
As we pulled up to the farm, Bell was on the tractor...ears equipped with noise reduction headphones mowing the sprawling acres where the donkeys graze and play. Four of the Jenny’s were in the field with their babies enjoying the fresh air. Two Jenny’s were in a separate containment area. One was about a month into her pregnancy and the other, Loretta, was a ‘wanna-be’ mom. In fact, Bell had her in a separate gated area for that very reason. Loretta’s maternal instincts were so strong, she tried to adopt one of the babies.
As we made our way to the field, we were greeted by Elvis, Bell’s 25 year old gelding. Bell said he looks for ways to get into the bedding stalls. We had to make sure we kept the 2 x 4 in place so he wouldn’t escape. You could tell Elvis was a wise old donkey.
One of the first babies to greet us was Alan Jackson. Jackson was the third foal born on the farm this season. Patsy Cline, Jackson’s mom, is the dark-haired Jenny that’s a first-time parent. Bell said “she (Patsy) didn’t know what to do at all.” after Jackson was born (many human mom’s can relate to that feeling). For the first night or two, Bell had to hold Patsy in place while Jackson nursed. Now, Patsy's cooperating.
Alan Jackson is an affectionate little fella. He’s healthy, active, and eating well. Patsy is still learning the ropes on ‘the joys of motherhood.’ Lucky for me, Jackson directed all his love and attention to me while visiting. He’s my buddy.
Jackson doesn’t know a stranger. He decided not to let me get too attached and made his way over to my husband for some extra lovin’. No worries, Martina McBride showed up for a pet.
Martina was the first foal born on the farm to Daisy Mae mid-August. ‘Marti’ as she’s affectionately called, was born at 5:53 am, August 13. Bell stayed up most of the night with Daisy Mae as she paced and got ready for the birth. Bell said, “She’s a labor pacer and is very sweet and loving while pregnant.” Almost immediately after giving birth, Daisy Mae had Marti nursing.
“Daisy Mae is very maternal,” said Bell. “She doesn’t let Marti get too far from her side.” Like many kids, Marti will push the envelope testing her freedom. She’s very independent. Bell did say that Daisy Mae and the other moms are letting the babies play together in the field. “It’s so sweet to watch,” said Bell with a big smile.
Ten days after Marti was born, Sheldon, a.k.a. Mudpie, arrived at the farm. Sheldon is a small foal and is very affectionate. His fur is mostly white with brown spots sprinkled here and there. You can tell he’s a momma’s boy. He stayed close to Gracie, his mom, while we were enjoying the company of the other donkeys and foals.
The newest baby was only 48 hours old when we came to visit Bell Meadows Farm. “Emma is an amazing mom,” said Bell. She stayed within a snout's reach of the newborn as we loved on the others. Bell said she’s very protective and doesn’t let her wander far.
Baby number four is waiting on a name that reflects her personality. Bell prefers to name her Jenny’s after female country music singers. Her girl ‘Marti’ was named after Martina McBride. In fact, several of Bell’s friends played a game on Facebook trying to provide the most authentic name for Marti. There was Wynona, Dixie, Hillary, Reba, and others. Ultimately, country music legend Martina McBride won the hotly-contested name-game.
After the fourth and final baby of the season was successfully birthed, it’s time to pay ode to the dad. “The herd sire, Opie, has done an amazing job,” exclaimed Bell. All the babies are healthy, happy, and beautiful.
Watching the foals grow up and mature is an amazing experience. Most of the neighbors in Lone Oak get glimpses of their lives from cars while driving by or at the farm’s edge while taking a walk. Bell Meadows Farm Miniature Donkeys is a happy place filled with lots of love. And, Bell’s right. The donkeys are just like dogs. They enjoy cuddles, pets, and a good conversation. Thanks Melanie Bell for sharing your world.