Now I wonder how many of you have had the dubious pleasure of having to deal with that most holy of animals, the veritable, venerable and downright vicious beast of burden, the donkey.
They might look cute and give the impression that they will tirelessly work for their masters with a song in their heart and a brightness of step.
Bollox, they have a mind of their own and when this mind wants to work they are great. They will go places that tractors would fail and they will work all day. However if they decide they don’t want to work they will not.
I was collecting the turf from the bog over the space of three or four days and would manage approximately four trips a day, loading and unloading myself. It was a lovely job no rush, no pressure, just me and my faithful beast of burden.
I got up early on day one and went into the yard to tackle the donkey to the cart. I was greeted with the usual grunt and attempt to remove my hand as I attached the equipment and cart. Now the cart had high sides to accommodate as much turf as would be safe and comfortable for the animal and I would stand in the cart when we were on our way up the mountain. The donkey looked to be mad for road and struck a merry pace towards the bog with me standing tall as man and beast began their daily toil.
I loaded the cart at the bog and set off for the return journey walking beside the cart to ease the burden and lost in my own daydreams. I repeated the process without incident and at the end of the day gave the animal a bit of a rub down and a nice feed and released him into the field at the back of the house. All was right with the world and I looked forward to the next day.
Got up for day two. The spawn of the devil, Beelzebub, didn’t really look in the mood today as I walked down the field to collect him The jaundiced eyes looked at me with complete and utter contempt. After a protracted period of time I eventually had the donkey ready for the cart without losing either hand or getting my arse slapped by a flying hoof.
I attached the cart and was ready to go and encouraged the donkey to move on out of the yard. Well he just turned his head towards me as if to say.
“Listen Mr high and mighty, I ain’t going anywhere today so you can feck off”
I thought, no way was a donkey going to get the better of me, so I offered it more encouragement in the pulling on the reins department when the mild mannered, docile and sweetest of creatures went stark raving bonkers.
His first move was to go with the direction of my pulling and head butt me in the chest sending me flying backwards and as I had let go of the reins in my pain proceeded to try and shake the cart off by banging it against the wall.
I caught him by the bridle and was whispering nice things into his ear (people said they heard these encouraging words half a mile away). He then proceeded to try and attach his yellowed knashers to my forearm with the intention of taking great lumps out of me.
He backed away at speed and the cart hit the door of the outside toilet, splintering it in two. Now in my preoccupation with the donkey, I hadn’t noticed that the ould lad had walked across the yard to have his daily movement in the outside toilet and was reading the paper with his pants down around his ankles when half the door landed in his lap.
Well the ould lad then started with the abuse (people said they heard his words of endearment a mile away). Between his tirade and the donkeys roars it was bedlam in the yard. At this stage the donkey was in the middle of the yard having bolted away from the toilet taking the rest of the door with it.
It’s eyes were wide and staring and the nostrils were flared as I approached him head on. I just knew that there was only going to be one winner in this contest.
I untackled the donkey and let it loose into the field, not before he tried to remove my left leg with the most vicious of kicks and I swear he smirked as he galloped away down the field.
I went in home with the donkey laughing at me and the ould lad still swearing at me from the doorless toilet. I found other things to do that day.
Day three and we were back to normal, I guess he just wanted a day off.