A hug from Bernard.

A goober face.

Geese. (GK, we’ll never look at them the same way again, either. ♥)

After Fergus died, I emailed our friends Stanley and Cindy at Lei Photography. Stanley and his wife Cindy last came out to visit the boys in March, just a week before Patrick’s arrival.  

My email to Stanley and Cindy explained that Fergus had died, and I asked if they had taken any pictures of him that Don and I hadn’t seen.  

Yesterday, we found out they had. And I smiled.

They had many pictures that made me smile.

Bernard’s never-ending supply of hugs…

…even for Stanley.

Bernard’s mischief.

And beautiful pictures of kissable, huggable Fergus.

Thank you, Stanley and Cindy. ♥

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A couple of days before Fergus died, I started taking pictures for what I thought would be a funny post… something about breakfast, lunch and dinner, and how the Boyz thrive on routine.

Breakfast: July 13, 2011; 6:29 a.m.

Lunch: July 13; 11:51 a.m.

Dinner: July 13; 6:18 p.m.

For a couple of days, I documented each meal with a picture and noted the time. My plan was to continue for a week or so.

Breakfast: July 14; 6:09 a.m.

Lunch: July 14; 12:37 p.m.

Dinner: July 14; 5:46 p.m.

Little did I know at the time, this was the last picture I’d ever take of Fergus. You see, he was perfectly fine.

But, life goes on.

Last evening. July 20; 5:27 p.m.

It’s still very quiet here, and I continue to fight the urge to check on the Boyz every five minutes, night and day. For me, sleeping is hard… there’s a constant need to know they’re okay.

Our love for Nigel has increased a thousand fold and we’re spending as much time with him as we can.  

Because Bernard and Ellsworth often pair off, Nigel has spent a lot of time with Patrick the last few days.

It warmed my heart to see Nigel and Ellsworth playing together on Tuesday evening… and, importantly, the Boyz have been good about helping Nigel check for alligators in the water tub. To this day, Nigel will not drink from the water tub by himself. (If Fergus drank, Nigel drank. If Fergus peed, Nigel peed. If Fergus pooped, Nigel pooped. You get the idea.)  

Patrick seems the least phased by Fergus’s death. Bernard is returning to his normal goober self.

Ellsworth is taking Fergus’s death the hardest. He’s quiet and not himself. Don and Danni agree that as the herd leader, Ellsworth is very serious about keeping a watchful eye on all his “peeps.” To have one leave – suddenly and confusingly as Fergus did, is more than a little baffling to him. He’s getting extra hugs these days too.

We are still in disbelief. Waves of tears have been shed here over the last three days, and more are sure to come.

The last time we saw Fergus alive was 8:3o Thursday night when Don and I walked around the pasture with the boys before calling it a day. Our beautiful boy Fergus was perfectly fine. He was not sick.

We got up as usual on Friday morning. While Don got in the shower, I walked to the kitchen to prepare morning meals for children. I looked out the window and saw something wrong… very wrong. The boys were standing around something on the ground in the corral… what it was I couldn’t tell. I walked closer to the window and realized it was one of the boys. Initially, I thought it was Patrick, but couldn’t be sure. I ran into the bathroom and shouted, “Don, pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease come outside now!!!!!!!!!!!”

I ran outside to find Fergus on the ground with his brothers standing around him braying frantically and pawing at the ground. Fergus was dead. Oh, why? Why? Why? I dropped to the ground and laid over him, sobbing. Oh my god, why? He was still warm.

Don came outside a few moments later and we tried to process what was in front of us. Disbelief. Why, why, why? Ellsworth continued to bray nonstop.

I went in to call the vet. Because we had no idea how Fergus died, we were very concerned about the other boys. At 6 am, we got Dr. D right on the phone… a godsend. Without the need for any discussion, Don and I agreed to have an autopsy performed and for Fergus to be cremated.

While we waited for Fergus to be picked up, the following events and observations occurred. We are not positive what happened in what order because we were in shock.

Don lovingly brushed Fergus. Ellsworth brayed frantically nonstop. We had to separate Bernard, Ellsworth, Nigel and Patrick from Fergus because they kept pawing and biting at him… telling Fergus to please wake up. Nigel was the last to say good-bye. He walked around Fergus twice… very slowly… smelling, looking, touching… We put a clean white sheet over Fergus. We cut hair from Fergus’s head and tail. I kissed his face as many times as I could. 

Fergus seemed to have planned everything down to the last detail. He positioned his body so that it would be in the shade of the bell tower when the sun rose in the sky.

The ground under Fergus was undisturbed. There was absolutely no sign of a struggle. Rather, Fergus looked peaceful… as if he had just dropped right there and gone to sleep.

Nigel watched with us as the man put Fergus on the trailer.  Fergus left Morning Bray Farm at 10:30 am.

Fergus’s autopsy revealed nothing obvious or conclusive. Dr. D thinks it was most likely an individual, catastrophic event… a heart attack, stroke or aneurism perhaps. He explained that the more sudden the death, the less likely we are to know why.

The boys haven’t uttered a peep since Fergus left on Friday morning. Morning Bray Farm is very, very quiet.

Annette said it perfectly on Carson’s blog Saturday: “This is the absolute hardest part about having animals. When they are old and have lived a full life it is still hard but it makes sense. When they are suddenly and unexpectedly gone when you’ve done everything right with their care… it’s impossible.”

Don and I talked about the “why” all weekend. Don thinks this has been in the plans all along. Fergus made sure that his best friend was saved from the holding pen at the BLM… and once Fergus was sure that Nigel was always going to be taken care of, he was able to let go and move on to help another.

On Friday evening, as we were standing out in the pasture with the boys, a V of geese flew over Morning Bray Farm. The first in months. We’re sure it was a sign from Fergus, the goose herder… herding geese over us to let us know he was alright.

My god, Fergus. We miss you so much. We will always, always love you. We promise to take care of Nigel. Promise. ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

And yes, my love, we’re smiling because you happened.

Thank you all for your condolences. We can’t possibly begin to tell you how much your support has meant to us… it has helped to keep us somewhat sane. Sending love from all of us to all of you.

We were fortunate to have a new friend, Cat with Cats, visit us over the weekend.

The Boyz could barely contain their excitement when they realized Cat arrived bearing gifts of Paco treats.

As always, it was great fun having a fellow animal lover in our midst.

Cat was great fun and great help.

Thank you, Cat! ♥

The Boyz reminded me yesterday that they haven’t been featured on the blog in a while.

I’m sorry, Boyz.

You’ve missed the new game that Bernard likes to play. He comes up behind me and gently puts his head between my legs so that I’ll put one of my legs over his back. 

I think  know he just likes being hugged.

Patrick continues to come out of his shell more and more with each passing day. He’s a remarkable donkey boy.

So does Nigel, by the way. We’re now touching Nigel’s face, so it’s a matter of time before we get a halter on him. He’s a remarkable burro boy. (Many thanks to Mel in NY for your advice with Nigel.)

You’ve also missed how happy everyone is when Don daddy gets home.

Daddy pushes down tree branches so the Boyz can eat leaves. The Boyz love leaves. Good golly… just look at Ellsworth’s face.

I kind of think the Boyz look like giraffes when they’re eating leaves from the trees.

Yes, Patrick… that’s a good thing.  ♥

It was one year ago on April 16 that we brought Fergus and Nigel home from the BLM holding facility in Canon City, Colorado.

And it was last week that we received Certificates of Title for them and their adoption became official.

A wild horse or burro actually belongs to the Federal government until the BLM issues a Certificate of Title.  After you’ve had the animal for one year, the BLM sends you a Title Eligibility Letter, which you must have signed by a qualified person (such as a veterinarian, county extension agent, or humane official) verifying that you have provided humane care and treatment for your adopted animal. Once you sign and return the Title Eligibility Letter, the BLM mails a Certificate of Title to you. After you receive the Certificate of Title, the animal becomes your private property.

There was a lot of excitement here at Morning Bray Farm the afternoon the big brown envelope from the BLM arrived in our mailbox. Don showed Fergus his certificate, and Fergus rejoiced at the news of his adoption being official.

Patrick was very excited about all the commotion and wanted to know where his certificate was.

Don’t you worry, sweet boy. You’re not going anywhere and you’re officially a part of this herd, okay?

Then Don showed Nigel his certificate.

And Nigel gave his lip of approval.

Both Fergus and Nigel have come so far in the past year. We’re so thankful that they’re here with us and part of the amazing herd at Morning Bray Farm. ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

I made Paco treats for the boys the other day.

Judging by the looks on their faces, you can tell who has had Paco treats before.

Bernard has no shame.

Yes, Bernard is actually smiling.

I love that Goober.

Ellsworth loves Paco treats too.

So does Nigel.

What do you know… Fergus too.

Fergus does a great James Cagney impersonation every time.

Can you tell from this picture that Patrick hadn’t yet experienced a Paco treat par-tay in his mouth?

And that in this picture he had?

Patrick decided instantly that he loves Paco treats too.

Life is good. ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Our friends Stanley and Cindy did it again. They captured the emotion of every moment they were here last Saturday.

Just like they did last August.

Thank you once again, Stanley and Cindy. ♥  You both are amazing, talented and wonderful… and the boyz love you! (So do we.)

You can also visit Lei Photography on Facebook here. ♥

Patrick’s braying started at 1:30 a.m. Tuesday morning. He has an excellent set of lungs and begins his brays with an extremely high-pitched “WHEEEEEEEEEE!” followed by a bellowing “HAAAAAAAAAAAW!”  “HAAAAAAAAAAAW!”  “HAAAAAAAAAAAW!”

After this repeated four times over the next hour (every fifteen minutes or so), Don got out of bed, got dressed and went outside to sit in the corral with Patrick for a couple of hours. After Patrick brayed twice more, Don gave up and came inside.

Because we think Patrick was calling the boyz (he couldn’t see them or hear them because they had gone out to sleep in the pasture), we decided to physically introduce everyone on Tuesday evening to avoid a repeat performance of Patrick’s overnight serenade. 

Patrick’s first inclination was to check out the green Jolly Ball. His first toy?

Everyone was very interested in saying hello.

Bernard insisted on being the first to meet Patrick.

Fergus wanted to be next.

Nigel joined Fergus.

They were very curious and assertive, but never really tried to touch Patrick.

I think initially whether it was from humans or donkeys, Patrick didn’t know how to handle the attention he was receiving.

As soon as no one was paying attention to him, though, Patrick covertly tried to check things out.

Nigel was the most expressive about putting Patrick in his place.

Meanwhile, Ellsworth was promising Don that he would be on his best behavior.

Bernard, Fergus and Nigel came out and Ellsworth headed in.

Ellsworth was a perfect gentleman.

He was gentle. My heart soared.

Patrick was still nervous.

I think Ellsworth did his best to reassure Patrick.

I’m not sure if Ellsworth’s feelings were hurt, but here’s what he did next.

He went to Don.

Don reassured Ellsworth that Patrick would soon come around. Don’t worry, Worth.

What happened next amazed me. When Don opened the gate to let Ellsworth back into the main corral, Ellsworth pushed the gate open all the way.

It’s as if Ellsworth was saying, “It’s okay Dad. Patrick can come in now.”

 And Patrick came in.

And we all slept extremely well on Tuesday night.  ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥