After reading recently the very sad news about Jubilee, the lovely donkey who we all loved and who was part of the "Meet and Greet Team" down at the main sanctuary in Sidmouth, it made us think about a little group of four donkeys here at Axnoller Farm who also do a wonderful job of meeting, greeting and escorting us when we visit them every week. Obviously, not such a busy job as the one down at Head Office, but these lovely donkeys do an excellent job of making us feel very welcome :-)
Their names are Sweep, Toby, Daisy and Whitey and they live in the Dutch Barn here at the farm. Most of the donkeys in this group are middle-aged and we love spending time with them all. Maggie and I usually go our separate ways when we go into their barn or field. So after our day with them we often discuss when we get home which donkeys we have seen and what they have been up to.
We soon found there was a common thread and that we had experienced the same treatment from the same four donkeys. They are always the first to come and say hello, and they then take it in turns each week to escort us round the barn or field as we groom or give a hug to their many friends.
This week it was my turn to be escorted by Sweep. He is a very friendly, sociable chap who is used to meeting the public, as he was a beach donkey in Weymouth before he retired here from his duties on the beach along with many of his companions who also used to work with him there. They are not all together in the same group now at the farm, as some are younger and older and need different care. However, in the Dutch Barn Sweep still has his old friends Sunny Jim, Colin, big, beautiful Ben, Peaches and Kelly to keep him company. We know their former owner comes quite often to see them, which is lovely for them all.
Also this week Maggie had the pleasure of Daisy's company on her rounds. Daisy is a pretty, gentle donkey who loves a cuddle and some special attention. A few years ago she lost her best friend and companion, Blackie. We were concerned about her for a time, as they had had a very close bond, but we kept an eye on her to make sure she wasn't too sad. Eventually she made friends with another little donkey called Whitey, and they are now very happy in each other's company.
Whitey is also one of our "Meet and Greet" donkeys. She is, of course, white and came to us from Ireland. We don't know her history, but along the way she lost her tail! She is the sweetest little donk and whatever happened in her past she is now a happy girl enjoying the company of her two special friends, Daisy and Toby.
This brings me to Toby, our final "Meet and Greet" donkey. He is never very far away from Daisy and Whitey. He is a very handsome boy who loves nothing more than just being with us, resting his head on our shoulders and having his ears tickled. He is very conscientious and takes his escorting duties seriously. If he thinks we are spending too long with another donkey, we get a gentle nudge to move on. Sometimes, though, we do wonder if perhaps he is just trying to say "Hey! I think it's my turn now for a bit of TLC!" Either way he always gets an extra hug at the end of the day to thank him for his escort duties and for making our time with him very special.
We always look forward to calling in to see this group and it will be our first port of call next Tuesday before catching up with all the other wonderful four-legged residents at the farm.
Axnoller Farm is one of our farms in the Devon and Dorset area and is not open to the public. We invite our supporters to come and join us during International Donkey Week held each May where you can spend time walking and grooming donkeys as well as a chance to meet like-minded people.