My name is Chris Pile and I am the farm manager of The Donkey Sanctuary’s Derbyshire Centre. I took on this role in July 2007 and have thoroughly enjoyed it ever since. I currently have three full-time staff and two part-time staff that cover the weekend rota.
I like to think of the Derbyshire Centre as a mini version of the main Sanctuary in Devon, as we have our own New Arrivals unit for donkeys which allows us to give the donkeys a full medical check by a qualified vet, before they can join one of the main groups on the farm. Our maximum capacity on the farm is about 50 donkeys so making sure the right donkeys go into the right group is essential. We have a main group which consists of young fit healthy donkeys and donkeys that may be fit for our foster scheme, and there is also an oldies group for those donkeys that need an extra bit of special care and are unable to make the long journey to Devon; it means they can enjoy the rest of their lives here at the Derbyshire Centre.
We also hold many donkey care courses for the public to enjoy if wanting to own or foster a donkey, or even if they are just interested in the donkeys and the work we do at the Sanctuary.
The Derbyshire Centre has about 21 acres which, in addition to the donkeys being able to graze, we also grow hay which we use to feed our donkeys during the year, so growing a good crop is essential!
Those of you who have visited the Derbyshire Centre before, already know that it can get pretty cold during the winter months - last winter especially we had snow drifts up to four or five feet in places! It can make hard work for the day to day running of the farm.
You may have read about the case of Laurel, Hardy and Tim that we rescued from a barn in the North West of England and if you have been following the story you will know that they are now thriving at our main Sanctuary in Devon.
We also had a call to pick up of a four day old donkey colt foal called Easter, which had been rejected by his mother which we willingly took under our care giving him the best chance in life we could. Feeding the little guy was very tiring, consisting of bottle feeds every two hours during the day and three hours by night. Now that he is fit and fully rehydrated we decided to travel him to Devon where he can be monitored closely by our very experienced veterinary team.
These are just some of the daily tasks that we are privileged to undertake and will always be here for any donkey that needs our care.