Rippey has an unusual pair of residents — Winnie and Eeyore, two burro-sized donkeys who call a small pasture inside the city limits home.
Winnie and Eeyore don’t pay much mind to the passersby on Highway 144 through the edge of town. Let someone walk up to visit with them, and the equation changes.
On a recent day, owners Laurene Black and Nicky Matters, who live in rural Greene County near Jamaica, stopped by to see how the pair was doing. As soon as the couple pulled up in their car, Winnie and Eeyore made greeting noises that only a donkey could make.
“Did you hear them greeting us when we got here?” asked Black. “They are always happy to see us.”
The donkeys’ journey from southern Iowa to Rippey started with Matters’ mother, Sharon Barnett, who died in February.
“She lived in Derby where she had a little farm,” Matters says. “When she moved there we gave her two miniature horses. We raise miniature horses, and we knew she would like them.”
Her animal menagerie didn’t stop with the horses, however.
“When she died we inherited two donkeys, three miniature horses and three goats,” Matters says. “We kept the donkeys and the horses and sold the goats.”
“We have a friend who owns property in Rippey, a farm that was grandfathered in when the town grew around it,” Black says. “He needs to keep livestock on his place for most of the year to keep the right to have livestock in town. So, he borrowed Eeyore and Winnie, and they seem to like it just fine.”
Their friend feeds and cares for the animals. Just recently, children who live nearby asked for brushes so they can brush the donkeys. That’s OK with Eeyore and Winnie. The two donkeys have developed a following after just three months in Rippey.
“I think the town has kind of adopted them,” Matters says. “They just love to be brushed. We hear that the children in Rippey like to come over and visit with them. Eeyore and Winnie are very friendly and love the attention.”
As the two donkeys listened to their owners being interviewed, their antics to get attention included sticking their heads through the slots in the gate and reaching over the fence to nuzzle whoever stood close enough.
“I think Mother would have liked the idea of the donkeys being here,” Matters says.