After last week's long distraction with the fast-growing baby donks, Phil and I decided to give Ashley, Zena and Mr Khan a wide berth until after lunch. So instead we headed off in search of Ruby, Ruby, Ruby!
No, not the Kaiser Chiefs - but a long-legged, long-eared lovely who currently resides with the rest of the Foster Donkeys at Garmston Barn.
Like our good friend Nutty who lives in the neighbouring paddock, Ruby is a larger-than-life character who has made herself known to us - definitely not the shy and retiring type at all! I first met Ruby when Maxine showed Phil and I around Slade Farm on our first day as QTVs (Quality time Volunteers) back in the early spring. Ruby was at the gate stretching her neck to see who was coming to visit her. She was all ears, legs and big, soft muzzle. We learned that Ruby is 3 years old and was hand-reared - and loves attention!
Since that first meeting we have spent many memorable times with Ruby. One week - Donkey Week actually, we were grooming the foster donkeys and a large wagon of Donkey-Weekers trundled up the lane. On board was Steph - one of the grooms responsible for looking after this particular group of donks, and we heard her calling, "Ruby, Ruby, Ruby!" Amidst a great cacophany of braying, flying brushes, QTVs and ropes, Ruby led the charge across the field to greet the Donkey Weekers and Steph!
On another occasion I was greeted by the sight of Ruby looming out of the mist in the paddock carrying a feed bucket in her mouth, which she unceremoniously dumped near my feet. "Sorry Ruby - I'm here to groom, not feed! " Her disappointment in me was palpable that morning and she disappeared back into the mist in search of Phil.
This week I found Ruby chomping on the grass behind the shelter with Robbie. From behind Ruby resembles a young giraffe - all legs and little co-ordination. Apparently, when she was very young, she'd charge enthusiastically up to the grooms and collapse in an ungainly heap of tangled legs. Fortunately she doesn't do that anymore!
Leaving Ruby to focus on feeding, Phil and I set up ready to groom the other donkeys. Due to the hot weather, most of them are shedding their coats in handfuls so we needed something in which to put the hair. Phil came out with a cardboard box, which we proceeded to fill with donkey hair.. until...yes you've guessed it! The sound of ripping cardboard and clouds of donkey hair heralded the arrival of Ruby!
Having cleared up the mess and secured Ruby with a headcollar, I started to groom her - but she was far more interested in trying to undo the rope with her teeth. After a while she decided to be really helpful (Although I'm not sure helpful, is the right word to use!) and hold Robbie's headcollar rope for Phil.
Our visits to Ruby are to end shortly as she is setting off to pastures new. Ruby is going to start a new life with her foster family in Cornwall. I'm sure that she will bring them great fun and joy - and Phil and I will truly miss her.
It's been a great pleasure knowing you, Ruby, Ruby, Ruby! xx