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A Lesson From Albert, the Donkey

(Best read with a southern twang!)

Whether this story is true or not is of no great consequences to the point of this blog. Often, it is the fictitious masquerading as the real that moves us.  While the story of Old Pappy is a construction of my imagination, it might as well be true, for the heart of the story springs from the myths and legends passed down from one generation to the next.  I am sure if we gathered the testimonials of the thousands of farmers in the early part of the Twentieth-century, Old Pappy’s story would be an archetype to many of them; for since religion had not yet been pushed out of the public square, one wonders how a conservative Mennonite could be driven to swearing to high heaven all because of a stubborn donkey named Albert.

Living in the mid-west, I am used to seeing tractors combing the rich fields of Iowa and Nebraska each spring and fall. I sometimes forget a hundred years ago people were still using oxen, horses, and donkeys to create the furrows that would hold seeds like a womb. Self-sufficiency books I read have given the impression that the laborious part about using these animals was not so much the time it took to till the land, for back then the farms where significantly smaller.  Furthermore, one local farmer tells me, the process of plowing for a farmer could be a fairly pleasant experience, who sees an art piece coming into form.  No!  The problem found its roots in the very psychology of these animals.

In Old Pappy’s case, it was Albert the donkey that drove him to swearing madness. Each spring Old Pappy would bring Albert to the field, and each spring Albert would resist every one of Old Albert incentives to get the job done. Albert was simply pig-headed, not caring one bit for the suffering of Old Pappy ablaze in the hot sun. Nothing Old Pappy did could influence Albert. He just wanted all the power. When stirred to the right, Albert pulled left towards the grassy field on the south bend. When asked to hasten his steps, Albert ambled about daydreaming about the shady oak tree just over the ridge. Basically, that flippant Donkey couldn’t have cared a toot for the welfare of the darn farm! If Old Pappy could not plant his seeds, then there would be no harvest. Without a harvest, Old Pappy would not be able to buy feed necessary to keep the other animals alive—including Albert. What self-destructive behavior on the part of that Donkey.

I imagine Old Pappy cursing the sky while running to get his shotgun.  I imagine his wife pleading with him to not shoot their only source of income.  I imagine his sons hiding in the bushes out of fear of the uncertainty. It is truly amazing that a fool of a Donkey could render a pacifist to bare arms.  Luckily, the tractor was invented and Old Pappy was the first to buy one. Ironically, one of the ways he could afford the new John Deer was because he auctioned off Albert!

According to recent studies, you have an 80% chance of divorce if your marriage is dominated by a male who will not accept the influence from, nor share power with, his wife.   What could have saved Albert the Donkey from being sold? If only Albert knew and practiced the ancient proverbs: “The way of the fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice,” and, “Whoever hates correction is stupid.”

Therefore, men, if you are hell bound to destroy your marriage do just one thing: act like a Dumb Ass!


This is Brandon’s third blog.  He will be a regular contributor going forward.  His other blogs to date are:

The Stubborn Zaxes

Brandon Wall, our new blogger, looks at a classic children’s story about stubbornness and concludes that while stubbornness is temporarily satisfying, in the end the results are devastating for everyone.  Marriage and stubbornness are not the way to go.


Staff Researcher, Brandon Wall, suggests it would be more profitable for your marriage to develop YOUR own internal character than to point fingers at your spouse.  You are going to have habits no matter what.  You may as well have good ones while you are at.


Dr. Bing Wall is a therapist specializing in marriage and relationships and issues facing single adults with a practice in Ames and Urbandale, Iowa.  To set up a time to see Dr. Wall click here or call 888-233-8473.  For more information about Dr. Wall click here.

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